Devotionals

devotional

Grapes play a prominent role in Judaism as we begin our Shabbat meals and other rituals with a blessing over a cup of wine. The honored fruit can also teach us a vital life lesson answering an age old dilemma faced by religious thinkers, of how bad things can happen to good people. Just like… Read more »

devotional

The opening of Genesis outlines God’s intimate involvement with the natural world and describes the Almighty proudly looking upon His handiwork and declaring, “v’hine tov meod” – “and behold, it was very good.” Man is created and is immediately charged with caring for creation, as an “oved,” a worker who builds and crafts, as well… Read more »

devotional

The Children of Israel were fed manna from heaven the entire forty years they wandered in the desert up until they were literally in sight of the Promised Land. The Jews then, went from being directly sustained by the manna to being sustained by the bountiful produce of the Land of Israel. R’ Samson Raphael… Read more »

devotional

The Jewish people are not questioning their faith in God. Rather they are wondering to what extent God is involved in their everyday lives. This question was a natural outgrowth of the presiding worldview regarding God’s interaction with Man. In Egypt, and civilization in general, God and nature were viewed as static, with unchanging rules… Read more »

devotional

In Judaism, the mitzvah of honoring the dead is called the “khesed shel emet,” the truest kindness, simply because the recipient has no way of repaying the kindness. With no repayment in sight, the deed of caring for the dignity and burial of the deceased is completely altruistic.

devotional

All of God’s bounty is beneficial for us and there are many delicious foods that grow in the Land of Israel, yet the Creator of the world singled out seven species of fruit and grain as being particularly blessed (Deut. 8:8). Did you know that Israel’s Seven Species are not only delicious foods, but contain… Read more »

devotional

David’s first question to the Almighty reveals his longing for the Land of Israel; his desire to ascend to “one of the cities of Judah.” The Almighty responds by choosing Hebron as David’s first destination and initial kingdom. The reason for choosing Hebron is simple: so that David could pray at the gravesites of the… Read more »

devotional

The biblical story of David vs Goliath, described in today’s verse, gives us tremendous encouragement as Israel stands on the frontline against massive enemies. No matter how uneven the odds, God grants victory to whomever He desires. While our enemies come with modern day “spears and javelins” the small nation of Israel defends the Land… Read more »

devotional

A great Bible commentator of the 13th century wrote that no where in the world would one find a land which is good and bountiful when settled by its people, but desolate when ruled by foreigners. However, this is exactly what God promises regarding the Land of Israel, as it says in Leviticus (26:32), “And I will bring… Read more »

devotional

Haggai prophesies of a time when all the nations of the world will recognize God, whose glory rests on the Temple in Jerusalem. Haggai then promises that “in this place” there will be peace which will resonate to the entire world. How we await that day! The Hebrew name for Jerusalem, “Yerushalayim” יְרוּשָׁלַיִם contains this… Read more »

devotional

Naomi’s husband Elimelech and her two sons Mahlon and Chilion, were all leaders of their generation who were severely punished with untimely deaths (see verses 2-5). Their punishment was the result of the grave sin of abandoning the Land of Israel during a time of famine. Their actions greatly demoralized the struggling nation of Israel…. Read more »

devotional

This verse describes the Hebrew month of Shevat. On the first of Shevat, Moses began his final address to his beloved people – the Book of Deuteronomy. He taught and opened wellsprings of Torah knowledge for 37 days, until his death on the seventh of Adar. Our Sages say that those sparks of inspiration are… Read more »

devotional

The Jews have many biblical titles: Hebrews, Children of Israel, and Israelites, to name a few. What is the origin of the title Jew, in Hebrew ‘Yehudi?’ It is first used as an ethnic description during the Babylonian exile, and indicated an association with the tribe of Judah (‘Yehuda’), from which most of the Babylonian… Read more »