Parsha from Rav Alex Israel & Brendan Stern

Rav Alex: Choosing Slavery

“…Nothing is more unbearable, once one has it, than freedom.” (James Baldwin)

Our parsha opens with the Jewish Slave:
“He shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free.”
In other words, the Torah wants people to be free, not enslaved.
But then, the slave is quoted as saying: “I love my master” and the slave opts to remain a slave!
* Who would CHOOSE servitude over freedom?

• Is this a reality in human nature? Do people prefer to be enslaved rather than free?
• For some, freedom is an unbearable burden, and a limited, prescribed life might be preferable to the dazzling choices offered by freedom!

CLICK on here to read more.

Brendan Stern: Mishpatim–Shekalim – Two Halves Make a Whole

The Torah describes how special sacrifices were offered after Matan Torah. Moshe took the sacrificial blood and divided it; half the blood was placed in basins and then onto the people, and the other half was sprinkled on the altar (Shemot 24:5-8). Rashi (Ibid. 24:6) comments that it wasn’t Moshe who divided the blood into two portions, but rather an angel, as Moshe would not have been able to divide the blood into exactly equal portions. Why was it so important for the division to be exactly precise, such that it required angelic assistance? Rav Yitzchak Hutner suggests that the division of the blood into equal portions symbolises the two categories of the Torah. The blood sprinkled on the altar represents the obligations between man and Hashem, while the blood sprinkled on the people represents the interpersonal obligations. Lest one suggest that one category outweighs the other, an angel came to split the blood with an unparalleled exactness!This concept is alluded to when Hashem summoned Moshe to the top of the mountain and informed him that he would be receiving “Luchot Ha’even” – “stone tablets” (Ibid 24:12). The word “Luchot” is written without the letter “Vav,” such that it can be read in the singular form (“Luchat”). The message emphasised is that although the Luchot were written on two tablets, they are essentially one and the same. We cannot prioritise one category over the other; both are equally integral parts of the “package deal” of Torah!This is why the proclamations about “shekalim” (annual half-shekel contributions towards the costs of communal sacrifices) and “kilayim” (the prohibition against mixing two species together) were made simultaneously (Mishna Shekalim 1:1) – to highlight that we shouldn’t blur the boundaries between our different modes of behaviour when it comes to donating of ourselves towards holy endeavours!


Shabbat in at 4:53, out at 6:06.


Pre-Shacharit shiurim at 8am at the ELC, Shir Chadash in Talbiah and Eretz Chemdah. Rabbi Gideon Sylvester is speaking this Shabbat at Eretz Chemdah.

Daf Hayomi – Hour before Shabbat out at Katamon Shteiblech

Afternoon shiurim at Nitzanim at 4.55, Ramban – 5.20, and Seudah Shlishit at ELC at 4.55.

Shabbat Shalom!


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