Defining the Essence of a Jew
A Taste of Talmud
The Talmud in Tractate Avodah Zorah asks a question, “How do you sell wine to a non Jew?” The dilemma is that a non Jew does not become the owner of the wine until he pays for it. Therefore if he would pick up a bottle of wine he would make it prohibited for consumption by a Jew. Not only that but it would even be prohibited for a Jew to sell this wine. This is due to the principle that you may not get benefit from wine which was handled by a non Jew. Therefore the answer is you must receive the money from the non Jew before allowing him to handle the wine. Please note this only applies to “non mevushal” wine, wine that was not cooked / heated. The reason for this prohibition is that a non Jew is assumed to dedicate the wine for idol worship through his handling thereby making it unacceptable for Jewish benefit.
A Taste of Halacha
The Fifth of the Ten Commandments is, “Honor your father and your mother so that your days may be lengthened on the land which G-d has given you.”
The question posed by the commentators is,
“Why do we not make a blessing before doing this Mitzvah, as we do before shaking a lulav or donning Teffilin?”
We learned a novel approach given by the responsa called “Binyamin Ze’ev”. He says the blessing we say before doing a mitzvah makes note of the fact that we are different than non Jews. However this is not true in regards to honoring ones parents, they are required to honor their parents as well. Therefore we can not say “You have made us holy and different with this Mitzvah! So no blessing is said.
A Taste of Parasha
When Eliezer, the servant of Avraham first meets Rivka he gives her numerous gifts. Our sages teach us a secret message was being conveyed with each of these gifts. For example, he gave her two connected bracelets that had the weight of 10 gold shekel. This was a hint to the fact that her descendants would receive the Ten Commandments. What was the hint in the fact that they were connected? Rabi Y.T. of Salant, answers, this was a hint to the fact that you can not accept half of the Torah without the other. Rivka would be the matriarch of a nation that would say we will do and we will here to both sides of the Tablets. The Jewish nation adheres to the first five commandments that represent steadfast devotion to serving G-d as well as being extremely careful with dealing judiciously with others.