Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

Oz Torah. Torah reading: Bo

JUMPING THE GUN There is a rabbinic tradition that the tribe of Ephraim were in such a hurry to be free from slavery that they left Egypt thirty years before the appointed time (they had misunderstood a passage in Gen. 15:13 and miscalculated the date of the deliverance). They did …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Torah reading – Va’era

WHO WAS MOSES? There is a classical essay by Ahad HaAm which asks the question, “Who essentially was Moses?” Ahad HaAm examines a number of theories, e.g. Moses was a general, Moses was a legislator, Moses was a prophet. Another approach comes in the Torah itself. In Ex. 2:19 he …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on L’chayyim

Question. Why do we say “L’Chayyim” when we have a drink? Answer.    Wine “gladdens the human heart” (Psalm 104:15). In moderation it is an aid to health; the sages used to say when they took a drink, “Wine and health to the rabbis and their students!” (Shabbat 67b). But wine …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Torah reading – Vayyechi

JACOB LIVED. The patriarch had two names – Jacob and Israel. After his all-night wrestle with the unnamed assailant, the name Jacob was replaced by Israel. Yet with this week’s portion we find “Jacob” back again: “Vay’chi Ya’akov”, “And Jacob lived”. Why does the text come back to the old …

Read More »

OzTorah – Torah reading: Vayyiggash

HE SAID THE SHEMA. Rashi tells us, following the rabbinic sages, that when Joseph and his elderly father Jacob finally met again, the pious old man said the Shema (Gen. 46:29). Perhaps it was because his first thought was to thank God that the long-cherished dream of reunion with his …

Read More »

OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi..”Salvation”

SALVATION. Question. How do the Jewish and Christian views of salvation differ? Answer.The opening words of Psalm 27 are “HaShem Ori V’Yish’i” – “The Lord is my Light and Salvation”. Salvation (“yeshu’ah”) is a major concept in Judaism, but in a quite different sense to Christianity, which holds that a …

Read More »

OzTorah. Torah reading: Vayyishlach

WHY SHOULD ESAU CARE? Rashi turned a Biblical verse into a rhyme when he quoted Gen. 32:5, “Im Lavan gar’ti” (Jacob’s statement, “I dwelt with Laban”) into “Im Lavan gar’ti v’taryag mitzvot shamar’ti” (“I dwelt with Laban and observed the 613 commandments”). Who was Jacob talking to? His brother Esau. …

Read More »

Ask the Rabbi on “Maccabi or Maccabee?”

MAIMONIDES – PHILOSOPHER OR THEOLOGIAN? Q. How can some texts describe Maimonides as a philosopher? Wasn’t he a theologian? Aren’t the two roles contradictory? A.  As a theologian Maimonides uses rigorous philosophical methodology to reason about the faith and tradition which he upholds. It should be said, however, that modern …

Read More »

OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyetzei.

A DOUBLE CAMP. At the end of the sidra, Jacob declares that a certain place is to be called “Machanayim” – literally, a double camp (Gen. 32:2). This place was the border post between Israel and the neighbouring land. As Rashi explains, basing himself on earlier rabbinic sources, it was …

Read More »