Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Hilchot Shabbat and New Questions

I have just put up the next 4 shiurim from Hilchot Shabbat. They include an introduction to the melachot (forbidden Shabbat activities), some of the laws of saving lives on Shabbat, and a very interesting section on the importance of knowing the difference between Torah law, Rabbinic law and customs etc. Have a look at (or click on the link at the side).

There are also a couple of new questions at - about why we are not permitted to say G-d's four letter name as it is written, and what to do when you go to the kotel for the first time.
If you have any questions for me you can post them there (or e-mail me directly).

Enjoy. I would also welcome some more feedback from you about these sites.

Rabbi Sedley

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Parsha - Noach

Click here for the full d'var Torah on Noach

“Noach, the man of the earth...” (Genesis 9; 20). Ramban explains that the description “man of ...” denotes a complete dedication to that thing, and a separation from anything else. As soon as he left the Ark Noach immediately set about sowing and planting the desolate world that he found. He devoted himself entirely to the earth. Similarly, Moshe was described as “man of G-d” (Deuteronomy 33; 1), signifying his complete devotion and total dedication to G-d.
In the very beginning of our portion Noach is also described as a man, but a ‘righteous man’ (6; 9). According to the Ramban’s definition this means that he dedicated himself to righteousness, and separated himself from anything else. Noach transforms from the epitome of righteousness, to a farmer, concerned not with righteousness, but with the earth. In the same verse that Noach is described as being a ‘man of the earth’ the Torah also shows us his descent from his level of sanctity. “vayachel Noach”, “Noach debased himself” (9; 20).
One could mistakenly assume that it was Noach’s concern with the earth that caused him to lose his righteousness. We assume that someone designated by G-d as ‘righteous’ must spend their time removed from worldly pursuits, engaging with the spiritual. Yet from his birth Noach had been recognised as someone able to work the earth, and transform it like nobody before him. He had a special relationship with the earth. Since the time of Cain nobody had been able to till the ground, yet during Noach’s lifetime the curse of the ground disappeared. Noach is also credited with the invention of the plough allowing people once again to work the ground (Midrash Tanchuma Bereishis 11). In fact Noach was named for his relationship with the earth, “And he called his name Noach saying, ‘This one will bring us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands, from the ground which G-d has cursed’.” Lamech, Noach’s father, recognised his potential to work and develop the ground, and remove its curse.

click here for the rest of the d'var Torah (in pdf format)

Please send me an e-mail or post a comment to let me know whether your enjoyed this d'var Torah.
Have a great week.
(PS Hopefully tomorrow I will be posting a couple of new Hilchot Shabbat shiurim).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Parsha - Bereishit

I'm going to try and put up a d'var Torah each week (bit bli neder). Mainly they will be taken from things I wrote many years ago when I was in Edinurgh.
Here is the beginning of the first one:

(click here to download the pdf file)

(Blogger keeps cutting the end of this d'var Torah off, so this is only the first few paragraphs. Click on the link to see the whole thing. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to post a long blog here, or why it isn't working?)


“By ten Divine utterances was the world created. But what does the Torah mean to tell us by this? Could not the world have been created by one single utterance? It teaches us that G-d will exact severe punishment from the wicked who destroy a world which was created by ten Divine utterances, and that He will richly reward the righteous who preserve this world which was created by ten Divine utterances.” (Ethics of the Fathers 5; 1). The S’fas Emes explains that with each utterance of creation G-d created more laws of nature, and thus made it more difficult to perceive Him directly within the creation. Had the world been created with only one utterance, G-d’s Presence would be directly perceived, which would leave no opportunity for free choice, and hence no reason for reward for the righteous or punishment for the wicked. This is why the Hebrew word for world, olam, is related to the word for hidden, he’elem. The creation of the world was an act of G-d hiding Himself, and each further act of creation made G-d less revealed in the world.

At the end of our Torah portion there is a list of the ten generations from Adam to Noach. Anyone studying the portion would usually skim read this part, as it is repetitive, and doesn’t contain anything interesting except construct a timeline of Jewish history. There is a similar section at the end of next week’s portion, Noach, which again simply lists the generations from Noach to Avraham. It seems that even the Mishna considers these sections unimportant parts of the Torah, as it states, “From Adam to Noach there were ten generations, to show the extent of G-d’s patience...” (Avot 5; 2).

... Continued on the pdf file - click on the link.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Something non-Halachic for a change.
These are the sources for the shiur about Mashiach that I gave at Midreshet Rachel v'Chaya today.


audio shiur in mp3 format - shiur was about 1.5 hours. Takes less than 8 minutes to download.

Mashiach Part 1 mp3

And the second shiur given today:

Mashiach Part 2 mp3

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Havdala part 2

And here is the continuation. Now you can send your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.
send them to:

Havdala part 1

This is the first part of Havdalah material (I am open to suggestions about organising it better - have a look at the second part before sending suggestions)

Oneg Shabbos

Here is a shiur on Oneg Shabbos (or Oneg Shabbat if you prefer). It is mainly about eating (and fasting - but that is mainly for the vegetarians). I think I should add a section about sleeping because that is also very very important on Shabbat!


Here is part one of lighting candles. The only problem is that I can't find part 2. Let me know what you think is missing, and perhaps e-mail me questions and issues on kiddush that I did not yet deal with.


Here are some of the laws of kiddush. I have a feeling there is supposed to be a part 2 of this shiur, but I don't know where it is, so please tell me what is missing so that I can do the continuation.


Here is the introduction to the Positive Mitzvot of Shabbat. A short shiur to begin with.

Preparing for Shabbat

This includes the Mitzvot of Shabbat that you can do all week long - such as buying food, having a wash, doing laundry etc. (you get the idea).
Don't forget to send comments to

Shnaim Mikra

This is mainly for the guys. It is the laws of reading the parsha each week before Shabbat, twice in Hebrew and once in Aramaic (and according to some opinions also with Rashi and or/English commentary). It also has laws of getting called to the Torah, Hagba'ah, Gelila etc.
Remember to post me any comments, corrections or suggestions.
Thank you

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hilchot Shabbat Shiurim

Dear All
I am trying to post the notes from my shiurim that were given in Midreshet Rachel v'Chaya and at Darche Noam. Please don't use them to decide Halacha (always ask your local Orthodox Rabbi), but please do use them to learn the issues and topics so that you can know what questions to ask.
I have spent 2 years avoiding editing them, so I hope that you will be able to point out to me all my mistakes - typos, spelling mistakes, leaving out information, giving irrelevant source material etc. All comments gratefully accepted.
The files are in pdf format, so you should be able to read them on your computer. If you have any problems let me know.
If you find this site useful please tell others about it. If not, please tell me.
By clicking on the advertisements you will earn me some money, without costing you anything. If you do, thanks. If not, also fine, and thanks for looking at this site. The main thing are the shiurim.
Also (another advertisement for me) if you are interested in purchasing mezuzot from me send me an e-mail. They were written by me, myself, and checked by Rabbi Tabasky from the store 'HaSofer'. They are 12 cms in size. The cost is (if you are British) 20 pounds (+p&p) or if you are American $40 (+p&p). If you live in Israel or somewhere else e-mail me and we can work out a price together.
That's it for this first post. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Rabbi David Sedley