gratitude

Shemot: No Thank You

“And Moshe was frightened and he said, behold the incident is known. And Pharaoh heard about the affair and he sought to kill Moshe” (Shemot 2:14-15). How did Moshe's killing of an Egyptian become public knowledge? Did not Moshe “look this way and that way” and see “that there was no man” (Shemot 2:12)? While it is possible that Moshe simply failed to notice some passing Egyptian, such an interpretation seems highly unlikely. If the Torah tells us that he looked and saw no one, it is most likely that there was no one to see.

Powerless in Toronto

It’s always important to remind ourselves to be thankful for those things we take for granted—like having electricity. As many of you know firsthand, and many others have undoubtedly heard, we Torontonians are slowly recovering from an ice storm that began this past Shabbat. Of course, some are luckier than others. Our home is still amongst the 90,000 Toronto households (down from over 300,000) who eagerly await the return of power and heat to our homes.

Brachot 59: What a Blessing

One of the most well known blessings is that of dayan emet, the blessing said upon the death of an immediate relative accepting G-d as the true judge. It is a statement of great faith in G-d, Who “gives life and takes it away – let His name be blessed”. Less well known is the ruling that if the deceased parent was wealthy, the inheriting child makes a second blessing. This blessing is none other than a shehechiyanu, the bracha in which we thank G-d for having reached a most joyous milestone.

Brachot 50: Gratitude

“From the blessings of man, we see if he is a scholar or not”. How, and more importantly, whom one blesses tells us much about a person. How we word our blessings was of great interest to our Sages; after all, before speaking to a king, we think over each word we want to say, and mistakes reflect a lack of seriousness. How much more so when speaking to the King of Kings!

Brachot 40: Getting It Wrong!

A striking feature of Talmud study is how it seamlessly moves from subject to subject; and how, almost out of the blue, one finds oneself discussing something that seems totally disconnected from the original discussion. The Mishnah discusses the case of a person who mistakenly makes the brachah of boreh pri ha-etz on a vegetable, ruling that one must repeat the proper bracha of boreh pri ha-adamah. The Gemarah questions the need for such a ruling, as why should one think that one fulfills his obligation by claiming a vegetable grows on a tree?

Brachot 35: No, Thank You!

The opening Mishnah of the sixth chapter of Brachot discusses the various blessings one makes on different types of food. The Talmud attempts, but is unable, to find a scriptural source that tells us that one must make a blessing before eating, finally concluding that we need no source. It is a sevarah, a simple, obvious, logical inference that one must bless G-d before we eat, as "it is forbidden to benefit from this world without a blessing". Verses in the Torah are (generally) needed only to tell us that which we would not otherwise know.

Yom Ha'atzmaut: Turning Dreams Into Reality

“When G-d brought back those who returned to Zion, we were like dreamers” (Psalms 126). Who would have believed that after 1,900 years—and a mere three years after the greatest tragedy in Jewish history—the Jewish people could become sovereign in their land? Throughout most of our exile, Israel was a distant place: physically, spiritually, and perhaps most important, conceptually.
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