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Bava Kamma 31-37

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May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel Ben Harav Yoel David Balk a”h.

Bava Kamma 31

A driver suddenly stopped his car; the car behind him crashed into his vehicle and sustained damage. Is the driver liable?

A practical question: Reuven was driving his car and suddenly stopped in the...

Korach: One Potato, Two Potato

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Bamidbar: 16:30

The synagogue board meeting was scheduled to begin at 8 o’clock. All the chairs were lined up at the majestic oak table in the old board room, with a typed agenda arranged before every place by Mel Landau, the shul secretary. Most of the synagogue had been renovated in 2005, but the board room was still in its 1960s glory, with red shag carpeting and flowered wallpaper. Why pay to redo a room that is used once a month for an hour?

Normally, of the 10 board members, six or seven would show up to any particular meeting to make sure there was a quorum for voting. But tonight everyone was in attendance, and most surprisingly, everyone was on time. And it was a closed...

Dairy/Meat Equipment—Not a Sephardic Concern!

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The Gemara (Hullin 111b) records a dispute between Rav and Shmuel regarding the following case: Hot fish was placed on a meat plate (a plate that had hot meat placed on it, thereby causing “meat taste particles” to be absorbed into the plate). These Amoraim debate whether it is permissible to subsequently eat the fish with dairy. Rav rules that it is forbidden to do so, but Shmuel rules that it is permissible.

Rav believes that it is forbidden because the fish absorbed a meat taste. Shmuel believes it is permissible because the fish is two steps removed from the meat; first the meat is absorbed in the plate and then the meat in the plate is transferred to the fish. The connection...

Do Hebrew Words Sometimes Have Two Opposite Meanings?

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Some scholars have suggested that Hebrew words sometimes have two opposite meanings. I would like to closely examine this claim in the context of Biblical Hebrew.

An example often given is barech. In Job 9:2, it is used to mean “curse” (“curse God and die”). But this is not a true example of a word meaning its opposite. Barech unquestionably means “bless.” But sometimes barech was used euphemistically to mean “curse” because of a desire to avoid using the actual word for curse.

What about the root KLS? In Tanach it means “to mock.” See, e.g., Psalms 44:14 (laag va-keles). Yet in Rabbinic literature and in our prayers, it often has the meaning “to praise.” An...

Parshat Korach: The Rejection of Leadership

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At times, we are challenged to uncover the underlying reason why chazal chose a specific chapter in the Navi as the haftarah that would connect to the message or theme of the Torah reading. This week’s haftarah, however, requires no deep analysis to understand our Rabbis’ choice of the 11th and 12th chapters of Shmuel Aleph for the haftarah. The rebellion of Korach and his followers against the leadership of Moshe and Aharon read in this week’s parsha was not simply a denial of Hashem’s choice, but also a reflection of their blindness to His guiding hand and ongoing miracles that accompanied them throughout their travels in the desert. After all, if God had rejected the...

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