Devotionals

devotional

This chapter is one of three which describe the attempts by the prophet Balaam to curse the Jewish people. His plan is foiled by God, and instead he utters a reluctant compliment, “Indeed this is a people that dwells alone and is not counted among the nations.” For better and for worse, the Jews have always… Read more »

devotional

The Torah begins with the letter ב/bet (‘In the beginning”/בראשית) and ends with the letter ל/lamed. Put the letters together and you get lev/לב, which means “heart.” The Torah is the heart and soul of the Jewish people and is an expression of God’s love towards all of mankind. By learning its words, we glean… Read more »

devotional

This verse describes the half-shekel dues which were contributed by every Jew to the Temple in Jerusalem. A half-shekel was given, instead of a whole, to impart a beautiful lesson that each person is incomplete unless he is part of a larger community.

devotional

King Solomon’s beautiful description of the Land in springtime rings just as true in our days, in the modern State of Israel! When “the winter has passed, the rain is over and gone” (verse 11), travelers come out to see the gorgeous blossoms, and the songbirds can be heard throughout the Land.

devotional

Throughout the Holocaust, there were Jews of faith who summoned unimaginable reservoirs of spiritual strength, “remembering” God and risking their lives to study, pray and perform mitzvot in the most dire circumstances. The greatness of those persecuted, their love of God and one other, often shone through in these faithful acts of spiritual resistance.

devotional

In the Bible, God sends down from the heavens rain to sustain, manna to miraculously nourish, and burning “fire and brimstone” to eradicate evil from the Land (Genesis 19:24). The sulphuric acid that destroyed Sodom and Gemorrah left its mark in the Dead Sea region. In 1911, Moshe Novomeysky, a European industrialist, visited the Dead… Read more »

devotional

Throughout the Holocaust, there were Jews of faith who summoned unimaginable reservoirs of spiritual strength, “remembering” God and risking their lives to study, pray and perform mitzvot in the most dire circumstances. The greatness of those persecuted, their love of God and one other, often shone through in these faithful acts of spiritual resistance.

devotional

When king Ahasuerus offered Queen Esther up to half of the kingdom, it was not only an exaggerated gesture, but a specific geographic location. The Talmud notes that the half-way mark of Ahasuerus’s empire was the site of the Temple. Ahasuerus tells Esther that he is willing to do anything to make her happy short… Read more »

devotional

The wisdom of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) is described in this verse as the “beginning of His way.” The Hebrew word for beginning, ‘reishit,’ is also used to describe the Children of Israel, called the first of God’s grain (Jeremiah 2:3), and is the first word of the book of Genesis, describing… Read more »

devotional

God promises that He will never erase the covenant made with the Patriarchs that the Land of Israel belongs to the Children of Israel. Often the enemies of the Jewish People appear strong, and even claim many innocent victims. But the message God continues to send is that those who oppress the Children of Israel… Read more »

devotional

In the upcoming Torah portion, which we will read on Shabbat, we learn about Bezalel, ּthe very talented artisan who constructed the Tabernacle and its furnishings. It says that “Bezalel did everything that God commanded.” In Hebrew, Bezalel means “in the shadow of God” בְּצֵל אֵל. A fitting name for one who truly understood that… Read more »

devotional

In our verse, King David thanks the Almighty for saving him many times through His earthly messengers. In our days, the Almighty continues to send each of us His messengers to help us in the difficult moments of our lives. Our job is to be as attuned to God’s intervention as was King David, and… Read more »

devotional

We learn from today’s verse about Esther’s very humble and difficult beginnings as an orphan with neither father nor mother. Mordechai not only became her primary caretaker as a child, but he instilled in her the Godly values that followed her throughout life, and she never veered from his guidance. In her role as Queen… Read more »

devotional

This chapter contains Ezekiel’s famous vision of the valley of dry bones coming to life. In the prophet’s time, Israel was destroyed and the people scattered to the four corners of the earth. Yet, when God asks Ezekiel “can these bones live?” he doesn’t express doubt or hopelessness. He answers that anything can happen if… Read more »

devotional

Often, it is the success of a project that history records. When great kings of antiquity built monuments to celebrate victories or to worship a pagan god, we know nothing of the ordinary people who participated in the construction. In fact, it is likely that these temples and monuments were built by slaves who were… Read more »