Devotionals

When Rahab speaks to the spies, she reports that the Canaanites are afraid of the Children of Israel. They are well aware of the miracles Hashem has done for the Israelites — both forty years earlier during the time of the exodus, and more recently in the battles against the Amorite kings Sihon and Og… Read more »

Despite the bitter slavery the nation suffered at the hand of the Egyptians, the Torah teaches that we must care for all of Hashem’s children, even our persecutors, and not treat them the same way they treated us. In fact, the Torah emphasizes universal feelings of sympathy and compassion for all, and warns against rejoicing… Read more »

The goal of settling the Land of Israel is not simply for the Children of Israel to be a nation like all other nations. For that, any land would have been sufficient; the Holy Land would not be necessary. Rather, the purpose of being in Eretz Yisrael is to be a holy nation living freely… Read more »

“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread” says the Bible, so why do we refer to the holiday as “Passover”? Rabbi Tuly provides a Jewish teaching that explains the difference between the two names and gets to the very heart of what this special festival is all about. Unleavened Bread, or “Matzah” refers to… Read more »

The prophet Yirmiyahu captures the sense of utter loneliness that prevailed after the destruction of Yerushalayim and the exile of the people. He describes their feeling that there was no one to stand by their side or to provide any sort of comfort in their time of need. Over many centuries of exile, Jews repeatedly… Read more »

The prophet Yirmiyahu captures the sense of utter loneliness that prevailed after the destruction of Yerushalayim and the exile of the people. He describes their feeling that there was no one to stand by their side or to provide any sort of comfort in their time of need. Over many centuries of exile, Jews repeatedly… Read more »

‘Abib’ in Hebrew is Aviv (אביב), meaning ‘springtime.’ The Torah has already stated that the redemption from Egypt took place in the first month, the month of Nissan, which is in the springtime. Why is it necessary to state explicitly that in happened in the month of Aviv? Emphasizing that the redemption took place in… Read more »

The omer is an offering of barley brought to the Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalayim on the second day of Pesach, corresponding to the sixteenth day of the month of Nissan. Only once this offering was brought, all grain that had taken root prior to the time of the offering may be eaten. According to the… Read more »

Normally, suicide is absolutely forbidden in Jewish law. However, there are rare exceptions. The Sages teach that King Shaul’s death is even greater than his life. Though he knows it will lead to his death, he and Yehonatan lead the army into battle. Rather than allow himself to be captured and killed, he falls on… Read more »

South of Jerusalem’s Old City is an Arab neighborhood. Down the hill from the Temple Mount and in the heart of the Arab neighborhood of Silwan is a pool of water. Silwan is the Arabic name for Shiloah, the pool fed by the Gihon Spring mentioned in this verse.

Water is often used as a metaphor for Torah. The Talmud (Taanit 7a) explains that “just as water leaves a high place and flows downward to a low place, so does Torah knowledge flow away from those who are arrogant and toward those who are humble.” Furthermore, just as water nourishes and sustains the “thirsty… Read more »

Yoshiyahu is a righteous king who restores service of Hashem and observance of His Torah among the Children of Israel. His unique ability and success is symbolized by the massive observance of the Pesach sacrifice. Rashi notes that there had never been as many people observing this commandment. The Pesach sacrifice is a central commandment,… Read more »

Yehoshua establishes a monument from twelve stones taken from the Yarden, each representing one tribe. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner notes that this monument represents the “unity but not uniformity” of the Jewish people. There are twelve individual stones, which symbolize the diversity of the tribes. But the stones are not scattered. Together, they form a unified… Read more »

The zealot, Pinchas, sees immoral behavior among the camp of Israel, and immediately responds with an iron fist and a sharp spear. Ironically, Pinchas is rewarded for his violent action with Hashem’s “pact of friendship,” known in Hebrew as brit shalom (ברית שלום), literally ‘covenant of peace.’ With this striking detail, the Torah illustrates a… Read more »

Throughout the Bible, horses are mentioned as animals of war. Here, King Shlomo is emphasizing an important lesson that is no less true today than it was when he said it centuries ago: Man prepares as much as possible, but ultimately, all victory and success comes only from Hashem.