Temporary Townsmen and Walled-City Dwellers on Purim
The sages instituted a number of days for the reading of the Scroll of Ester. The Mishnah introduces the novel concept that there are situations in which a walled-city dweller reads on the fourteenth and a townsman reads on the fifteenth.
God “lovingly chooses His nation Israel.” Love implies a bond. God's choosing Israel is the bond by which He ties them to Him - via the Torah. The Torah and its study serve to create a bond between Israel and God, and this bond is reciprocal in nature.
The students of Rabbi Akiva are aware that there is an obligation to give one's life in a time of religious persecution, but they are surprised at the fact that Rabbi Akiva fulfills the commandment of “Shema” even while being tortured to death.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself – Unity and Uniqueness
We all possess something in common with Adam. Adam contained within himself all of his offspring. Still, he was created as an individual and the world was created for him alone. Exclusiveness and unity find expression in each of his descendants.
The opening Mishna of tractate Sanhedrin states: A slanderer [is judged] by three - these are the words of R. Meir; the Sages say, a slanderer [is judged] by twenty-three, because such [an offense] involves capital punishment.
Human beings, capable of ascending to a level higher than that of angels, are worthy of enjoying the shelter of the Clouds of Glory, clouds which offer supernatural protection. Being under these clouds is like taking shelter "under God's wings."
The Sages are well aware that a mere gaze can eventually lead to promiscuity. A wise person keeps his eyes to himself and knows better than to put himself into a situation which will demand overcoming his baser drives.
It is forbidden to use arrogance in a contemptuous manner, placing oneself above others, yet there are certain situations in which one has to be bold, not reserved, and to know one's self-worth. Our sages teach that in the generation of the messiah chutzpah will abound.
Slichot has a unique order of prayer.
After sin the world is created afresh with the potential of global tschuva.
Global tschuva necessitates a special tfillah.
Yom Hakippurim is connected to a unique tschuva and the creation of a new world.