Devotionals

In 1936, archaeological excavations in the city of Yericho revealed the remains of an ancient synagogue. A huge mosaic was uncovered with pictures of a menorah (candelabrum), a shofar (ram’s horn) a lulav (palm branch), and the concluding words of this psalm, shalom al Yisrael (‘May all be well with Yisrael’ or more literally, ‘peace… Read more »

On the seventh day of creation, Hashem (God) ceased the creative process and rested. The seventh day of every week is called Shabbat. On this days, Jews emulate Hashem by ceasing to use creative powers and instead rest. By observing Shabbat, Jews affirm their belief in Hashem as the Creator of the universe who is… Read more »

Yaakov’s family descends to Egypt to escape the famine in Eretz Yisrael. In this verse, Hashem assures Yaakov that when the Children of Israel are in exile, Hashem’s presence will accompany them. Rabbi Yehuda Lowe, a sixteenth century Talmudic scholar known as the Maharal, points out that the word ‘descend’ in this verse was carefully… Read more »

This is the only time the Bible tells us how Hashem “spends His time.” From the beginning of the year until the end, it says, the Creator of the universe focuses “His eyes” and attention on Israel. If we combine this idea with that mentioned in verse 22 instructing us to walk in Hashem’s ways… Read more »

Despite the predictions of punishments that will befall the Children of Israel, Amos ends his prophecy with a message of hope. He proclaims that the day will come when the people will return to the Land of Israel, build houses, plant vineyards and trees, and enjoy their fruits. This is reminiscent of the idyllic times… Read more »

To allay his brothers’ fears that he will take revenge for selling him into slavery, Yosef observes that their actions were part of the divine plan, and will undoubtedly bring great salvation. The short term benefit is already clear in that, due to his position, Yosef will be able to save his family and the… Read more »

Many commentators point out the incongruity between Yosef’s question and the brothers’ answer. Yosef asked only about their origin; why, then, did the brothers supply a reason for their travels? The question is strengthened by the fact that assumedly, their reason for coming to Egypt was self-evident. Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin answers that the brothers were… Read more »

The word for Tabernacle is Mishkan (משכן), from the Hebrew root ש-כ-נ, which means ‘to dwell.’ The Mishkan was erected in the desert as a temporary dwelling for Hashem, which was ultimately replaced by a permanent resting place, in the form of the Beit Hamikdash on Mount Moriah. But getting there took some time. Korah… Read more »

How does one express praise and thanksgiving to Hashem? This small psalm provides direction with its abundance of verbs: “Shout”, “serve”, “come”, “know”, “enter”, “thank”, and “bless”. It presents seven directives for man to be able to manifest his feelings of gratitude in actions, and teaches that if one experiences God’s grace somewhere in the… Read more »

The menorah and olive branches depicted in Zecharya’s vision were chosen as the centerpieces of the State of Israel’s emblem. According to its designers, the olive branches symbolize the state’s peaceful intentions. The image of the menorah, copied from the Arch of Titus, attests to the link of the Jewish people with their glorious past… Read more »

The Hebrew word for ‘light’, ohr (אור), is very similar to the word for ‘awaken’, ayr (ער). According to Rabbi Michael Munk in his book The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, this teaches that light is the element that “awakens” creation to development. Just as physical light stimulates the growth of plants, spiritual and intellectual… Read more »

The prophet addresses Yerushalayim, calling upon the city to awaken and shine its light upon the world. Chaim Weizman (1874-1952) was a prominent scientist and Zionist leader who would have the honor of becoming the first President of the State of Israel. In 1948, Weizman eloquently explained the illumination that Jerusalem would provide the world… Read more »

Daily Devotional

Psalm 23 has stood by the Jewish people as their support through the darkest days of persecution and exile. Over the centuries, no evil murderer or terrible tragedy has been able to crush the resilient spirit of the Jews, when they remember that “You are with me” (verse 4). King David certainly has a difficult… Read more »

It is remarkable, notes Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, that at this early date, the Land of Israel was already known as the ‘Land of the Hebrews.’ While the Torah chronicles and elaborates on events in the lives of the Patriarchs and other monumental occur­rences that influence all of Jewish history, it provides little commentary on… Read more »

The verse here labels Potiphar ish mitzree (איש מצרי), ‘an Egyptian,’ in contrast to Yosef, who is called Ha’Ivri (העברי), ‘the Hebrew’ (verse 14). Since we already know the nationalities of these individuals, why are the labels necessary? The Egyptians were known for their arrogance and condescension towards the nomadic tribes. Despite their prejudice, Yosef… Read more »