Nitzavim VaYelech: Writing Your Own Song

ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל שימה בפיהם למען תהיה לי השירה הזאת לעד בבני ישראל Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach thou it the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. Deuteronomy 31: 19 The last commandment of the Torah is…

Superstitions and Divinations (Part III)

This is the third part of a series on the topic of תמים תהיה. So far we have noticed an apparent contradiction between the prohibitions of the prohibitions mentioned in Parshas Shoftim and Sanhedrin, and the seeming widespread superstitious behaviour sanctioned in the Talmud. We saw that the מהרש”א differentiated between optimistic superstition and pessimistic superstition, but then we saw two clearly pessimistic cases. Let’s…

Superstitions & Divinations (continued)

This is a continuation of my last post on Parshas Shoftim, to read from the beginning, click here. Primary Sources from the Talmud: Let’s start by talking a small survey of relevant sources in the Talmud and then go on to the later Rabbis (including Maimonides) and their rulings: Sanhedrin 65b We shall start from the תנו רבנן close to the bottom of the page,…

Superstitions & Divinations: Parshas Shoftim

Being Whole-hearted Due to the sometimes long quotes and nuanced subject matter, this can make for somewhat of a longer read. As such, I have supplied synopsis sections conspicuously labled TL;DR, so if you’d rather just rely on my summaries, or find your eyes glazing over – skip to there. As always, all the translations are my own (except for the ones with thou and…

Parshas Re’eh: Mourning and Self Flagellation

בנים אתם לה’ אלהיכם לא תתגדדו ולא תשימו קרחה בין עיניכם למת “You are children of the Lord, your God. You shall neither cut yourselves nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead” Deuteronomy 14:1 The concept of cutting oneself as an act of mourning is very foreign to the sensibilities of us modern-day westerners, but is surprisingly common among many unrelated pagan…