maaser

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The Land We Married

And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: 'Command the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land of Canaan, this shall be the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to the borders thereof.” (Numbers 34:1-2) And ye shall inherit the land by lot according to your families—to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer, thou shalt give the less inheritance; wheresoever the lot falleth to any man, that shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers shall ye inherit.” (Numbers 33:54) And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the [...]

The Entangled Tenth

And all the tithe of the herd or the flock, whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:32) This Shabbat, I was called up to the Torah for the last aliyah (lit. “ascent”, meaning the reading from the Scroll) of the book of Leviticus. This portion talks about tithing animals, giving the precise procedure for doing so – every animal is released from a pen one by one while being counted – one, two, three, … , ten. The tenth animal is touch by the rode and consecrated as the ma’aser – tithe. The Torah states that every tenth animal is holy unto God. What is the state of the animals before counting? They have two possible states: (1) chulin, i.e., “not sacred” and (2) ma’aser, [...]

Korach Disentangled

Korah the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi took [himself to one side] along with Dasan and Aviram, the sons of Eliav, and On the son of Peles, descendants of Reuven. (Num. 16:1) There is a curious aspect to the story of Korach’s rebellion. We can understand why Korach (Korah), being of the tribe of Levi, may have had a claim to the priesthood thus causing a rebellion against Moshe and Aaron HaKohen, the High Priest.  The Torah tells us, however, that some Reubenites, i.e., members of the tribe of Reuven, got entangled with the followers of Korach in this rebellion as well.  But what did they have to do with it?  Not being descendants of Levi, they surely had no claim on the priesthood!  Why did they [...]

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