Rabbi Moshe Taragin

Found 22 Search results

  1. Battling Empires and Battling Devils: Shmuel, Rav Chiya and Rebbi Yitzchak

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 1

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 17 minutes

    This short series looks at Chazal’s introductions to the Book of Esther. What is the real miracle of Purim? Although Israel has betrayed God and are exiled from their land—God will not abandon them. Purim is a template for Jewish History, and contains the first real instance of antisemitism. But just as the commemorations of Purim will never be abolished, the Jewish people will never be destroyed, and the covenant will never be nullified.

  2. A Tale of Two Cities: Chanina bar Ada

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 2

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 17 minutes

    What’s wrong with enjoying Achashverosh’s feast? While the Jews of Persia spent 180 days partying, the Jews who had returned to the Land of Israel were fighting for their lives and were trying to build the Beit HaMikdash. The Persian Jews had distanced themselves from the destiny of the future of Am Yisrael, enjoying lavish feasts while ignoring Jewish history. The Persian Jews needed a jarring reminder of their collective identity and national destiny, and this came in the form of Haman’s edicts.

  3. In the Market for Genocide - Dispatchers of Dread

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 3

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 17 minutes

    This shiur examines the significance of dispatching letters - a newly implemented advancement for a vast empire - and the fear experienced by the Jews after hearing Haman's edict of destruction. The fear is immediate—and the dread gradually builds up, as the people have to wait months for the day of their impending doom. There is a sickening feeling as the advanced technology of the day is being used against them.

  4. Suddenly - Sinister Sales and Societal Values

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 4

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 18 minutes

    Why do Chazal characterize Achashverosh as "the first of the sellers" and Haman as "the first of the purchasers"? How is this reflective of Haman's evil displayed in the megilla? Market forces are used by Haman and Achashverosh to sell the Jewish people to their death. A deeper message that emerges is that Jews must be indignant when injustice takes place, and must not be part of a value system which idolizes wealth.

  5. Bears, Culture Wars, and Historical Movement

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 5

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 28 minutes

    Why does Reish Lakish compare the Persian Empire to a bear? He uses imagery from Daniel's apocalyptic dreams to send a deeper message about Purim within Jewish history. Bnei Yisrael must understand that history can accelerate—there are historical opportunities, though not always maximized. More than a face-off with Haman, the Jews must struggle against a culture and empire which attempts to control without a moral spirit.

  6. A Better Smell and a Better World

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 6

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 23 minutes

    Pesukim about shrubbery in Yeshayahu are interpreted as symbolizing Esther, Vashti, Mordechai, and Haman. Is Vashti evil? Why does she appear here? The symbolism in Yeshayahu suggests tangible, objective improvement. In addition to justice against the would-be destroyers of the Jewish people and Temple, the triumph of the righteous heroes cause an objective improvement to society at large.

  7. Purim's Significance a Few Years Later: The Return to Zion

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 7

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 17 minutes

    This shiur explores linguistic and thematic parallels between Megillat Esther and the Book of Ezra. The two texts share similar events, motifs, and apparatus of recovery in situations of crisis - perhaps most significantly that of fasting. Ezra's confessional prayer seems to suggest that he derives inspiration and hope from God's Hand which, while hidden, is ever-present, as in the events of Megillat Esther.

  8. Learning How to Daven From Nineveh

    Chazal's Preambles to Megillat Esther: Part 8

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 17 minutes

    This shiur highlights the significance of Tefilla in the Megilla. The strength of prayer, exemplified by the gathering and fasting of the Jews, is such that prayer can affect Divine will—and therefore choices are crucial. The megilla helps repair the lack of focus on Tefilla in pre-exilic times, and paves the way for a greater centrality of Tefilla in Jewish life.

  9. The Function of the Temple Menora

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

     Chanuka candles may not be used during the time they are lit. This halakha (among others) indicates a halakhic association between the menora we light and the one lit in the Mikdash (whose oil is not to be used for non-hekdesh purposes). In light of this linkage, this article will analyze the menora of the Mikdash. What is the function of the menora, and what is its relationship with the Mikdash? What is the purpose of the Mikdash? What is the difference between an ideal menorah and a less-than-ideal one?

  10. Shall Kohen and Prophet be Slain in the Sanctuary?!

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    Why is the story of the murder of a Kohen and Prophet in the Beit Hamikdash so dominant in the midrashim and in the prayers of Tisha be-Av? The connection between him and the tragedy of Tisha be-Av is quite indirect; why, then, is his murder presented as such a fundamental and important event?

    The Sages pinpoint several sins that were themselves the cause of the destruction. Aside from these specific sins, the Sages regarded the nation's refusal to accept rebuke from the prophets as a fundamental factor leading to the great tragedy.

    The people would ignore the prophets of God and wave off their warnings with stubbornness and a complacency born of illusion. They convinced themselves that God would not destroy His own Temple. They wished to continue making merry and living their worry-free lives, rejecting out of hand the concept of reward and punishment. Additionally, people of vulgar spirit who were living successful lives were incapable of accepting advice from dusty, wandering moralizers.

    For this reason Yirmiyahu mourns for the destruction, which came about mostly because of the nation's inability to listen to the prophets and their messages. Every individual always has the ability to repent, thereby avoiding punishment and destruction. But the moment he shuts himself off and blocks his ears, the road to repentance is closed.

  11. Eikha: A Verbal Capsule of Jewish History

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    The word "Eikha" - an incredulous cry of "how?!" occurs three times in Tanakh. To underscore the succession between these three occurrences of the term "eikha," the Midrash comments that Moshe witnessed the Jews during their triumphant moments and recited, 'Eikha'; Yeshayahu saw them during their degenerate period and recited, 'Eikha'; and Yirmiyahu encountered them during their tragic torment and recited the same term. By building this sequencing, Chazal establish more than just historical or prophetic symmetry. Their message is that Jewish history – at every stage - can only be described with the term "eikha."

  12. The Role of the Watchmen in Shir Hashirim

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    תאריך פרסום: תשע"ה | |

    The watchmen appear in Shir HaShirim at two extremely dramatic, pivotal moments. At these critical moments they are not passive bystanders, but actually intervene. What is their role? We delve into these two passages, looking at the text as well as comments of Hazal. These two seemingly similar narrative are foils for each other and serve as metaphors for vastly different periods in Jewish History. The dramatic literary devices can help us appreciate lessons about exile, return to the Land, our relationship with God, and of the missed – and renewed - opportunities of Jewish History. 

  13. Reuven, Leadership, and Responses to Guilt

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin |

    Much of the narrative of the conclusion of Bereishit is dominated by the struggle between Yehuda and Yosef. Yet a third - and more natural candidate- is discarded without the drama surrounding his brothers. Why is Reuven stripped of his natural license, ceding leadership to his two younger brothers? By closely exploring the characters of Yehuda, Yosef, and Reuven, we can understand why Reuven was deemed unworthy to be a leader, and learn about the importance of failure, guilt, and forgiveness in leadership. 

  14. Two Negotiations and Two Historical Struggles (Chayei Sarah)

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    תאריך פרסום: תשע"ו | |

    Parashat Hayyei Sara contains two negotiation stories that parallel each other: Avraham's request to buy a burial plot in Hebron from Ephron the Hittite, and Avraham's servant's quest to find a wife for Yitzhak in Aram Naharayyim. What is the significance of the juxtaposition and of the many similarities? In this shiur, we examine the many parallels between these two stories, such as the journeys, the initial ease and then the adversity and obstacles. We discover that they complement each other, and together they raise questions about universalism vs. particularism. Though these concepts (and stories) seem to contrast and negate  each other in some ways, in Avraham and his people they are interconnected.

  15. Purim Special - The Culture of Shushan

    Cultural and Historical Challenges of the Megilla Story

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 54 minutes

    In this shiur, we analyze two layers of the story of Megillat Esther: Events didn't occur in a vacuum, but as part of cultural struggles and historical challenges.  As we examine the historical and cultural contexts of the story, we find that there is structure to the megilla supported by the numerous feasts in the story. These parties become an icon for a problematic type of multiculturalism: Shushan lacks a shared ethic or value system, so it unites in valuing and celebrating money and the power of wealth above all else. The overlooked letter-carriers in the Megilla help to highlight the flaws of this misplaced value system. 

  16. Kiyor, Shabbat, and Betzalel - Creativity and the Mishkan

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 33 minutes

    Vayakhel and Pekudei details the materials and the rituals of the Mishkan. One of the most fascinating vessels described in at the end of Vayakhel is the kiyyor (the washbasin) at the intersection of the sacred and the mundane. The washbasin was constructed from copper from the “mar’ot ha-tzov’ot”- assumed to refer to an ancient form of mirrors. Where did these mirrors come from? Who donated them? We see conflicting opinions among the commentators. We also look at the Divine inspiration of Betzalel, and the section about prohibiting melakha on Shabbat. All of these topics come together to send a message about the value of creativity and how it contributes to, and fits in with the Mishkan.

  17. Three Languages of Teshuva

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | 31 minutes

    Touching on the meaning of the different holidays, we look at three perspectives on Teshuva highlighted by Hazal, which find expression in Tanakh. We examine various pesukim from Tanakh that provide different approaches to teshuva: teshuva as a healing process, a redeeming process, and teshuva as a burden. We look at the positive and negative aspects of each metaphor, as well as the challenges that each approach poses to the transformative teshuva process. 

    Seeking to define these overlapping and conflicting voices of teshuva can help us to clarify our own personal teshuva processes.

  18. A Desert Gift

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    The blazing provision of Torah certainly highlights both its transcendence as well as the terror seized the audience at Har Sinai. The ambience of Matan Torah – at least as portrayed by Parashat Yitro – is dominated by billowing mountains; the mountain was transformed into a terrifying furnace.

    However, the symbolism of desert and the manner in which this climate contributed to Matan Torah is far less obvious. The Midrash equates the three, suggesting that the wilderness and dunes reflected an essential facet of Har Sinai. In fact, the pivotal role of a desert environment is already established by the  Biblical text in Bamidbar 21:18. What special aspects of Torah does a desert setting demonstrate?


  19. Dreams and Dialogues in Shir Hashirim

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    תאריך פרסום: 5777 | | Hour and 11 minutes

    In this shiur, we look at the four main poems in Shir HaShirim: the song of longing and wistfulness, the wedding preparations, the frustrated expectations, and the search for renewal (as well as the chorus of the “oaths”). We consider the nature of the communication in Shir Hashirim, and explore the multiple perspectives within the songs and within the midrash and commentaries on Shir HaShirim. As we navigate the blending of time and blurred consciousness in the dream sequences, we ask:What messages about Am Yisrael can we uncover from the dream metaphors in Shir HaShirim? What roles do the dreams play in expressing emotions, and how many characters are really in Shir HaShirim?

  20. Weather and Environment in Shir Hashirim

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin | Hour and 4 minutes

    Shir Hashirim details a complex historical relationship between God and his chosen people. What role do weather and climate play in framing the repeated attempts the to bridge between the King and His bride? What happens when the darkness suddenly shifts into daytime?

    Click here for a downloadable audio version of this lecture

  21. Shir HaHshirim: Returning to the Vineyard

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    תאריך פרסום: 2022 | | Hour and 5 minutes

    In this lecture, we’ll delve into the contrast between vineyards throughout the sefer of Shir Hashirim and its implications on the depths of our relationship with God. We’ll see how Shir Hashirim teaches a valuable lesson on the importance of redemption and how to become worthy of one.


  22. Architecture and Identity: How Buildings and Structures Shape Shir Hashirim

    Rabbi Moshe Taragin

    תאריך פרסום: 2023 | | Hour and 10 minutes

    When reading Shir Hashrim you have to read it in two lights, one, the literal story itself, and two, reading the characters as a representation of the relationship of God and the people of Israel. In this lecture, we’ll hyper-focus on the architecture in the story and show how it represents the identity and growth of the characters throughout the story.