Devotionals

In the above verse, the beginning of the year is called teshuvat hashanah which literally means ‘the turn of the year.’ The Hebrew year is cyclical in nature, and the holidays are repeated at the same time each year. In a certain sense, the beginning of a new year is in fact a return to… Read more »

The prophet Yoel (Joel) tells the Children of Israel that all is not lost; if they repent, the impending disaster can be averted. However, repentance must not focus on external behavior, but must consist of a genuine change in one’s thoughts and actions. Although tearing one’s clothing is a sign of mourning, Yoel cautions that… Read more »

In the Bible, Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is described as flowing with milk and honey. In a literal sense, this refers to goat’s milk and date honey. On a metaphorical level, milk is a nutritional necessity, whereas honey is a savory delicacy. Hashem (God) promises that the Land of Israel will not only… Read more »

The above verse refers to the celebration of the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and the first of the High Holidays. Rosh Hashana begins tonight at sundown. The story is told of a small, uneducated child who did not know Hebrew and this could not participate in the Rosh Hashana services. He… Read more »

This verse captures the mission statement of the People of Israel, to be “a light of nations.” Yeshayahu (Isaiah) calls on the Jewish nation to ignite the world with righteousness. The establishment of the State of Israel enables the people of Israel to carry out this Biblical mandate through its democratic government housed in the… Read more »

In this prophecy, Hashem (God) promises that the land will again be inhabited by the house of Israel and that it will flourish, pledging that the mountains will grow trees and produce fruit. Since the Jewish people have returned to Israel, the land has indeed begun to flourish, and there are once again trees growing… Read more »

Malachi’s last words mark the closing of the era of prophecy. He ends his final message by stating that the day of Hashem (God) is coming, preceded by the arrival of Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet. On that day, the prophet’s role will not be to overthrow nations, but as verse 24 continues, to “reconcile parents… Read more »

The word chaifetz, translated here as ‘experience,’ also means ‘desire.’ This verse means that God desires that various biblical commandments be observed at specific times of the year. Each season contains unique powers. The month of Elul, for example, which precedes the High Holidays, is conducive to repentance. Adar, the month in which the joyous… Read more »

Unlike King David who began his rule only over Yehuda (Judea), King Shlomo (Solomon) ruled over a united kingdom comprising all of Yehuda and Yisrael (Israel). Everyone in the kingdom recognized King Shlomo’s rule, due to the universal recognition of his God-given wisdom. I Kings 4 ends with a reward for unity among the People… Read more »

The Land of Israel has a supernatural quality to it. While under foreign oc­cu­pation, it resembles an arid desert. However, under Jewish sovereignty, it comes to life, flourishes, and yields great produce. Indeed, for nearly two millennia, as the land switched hands numerous times between various foreign powers, including the Romans, the Arabs and the… Read more »

God created a world in which man and animal alike can live and prosper. Had Hashem (God) desired that only the animals would roam the world, there would have been no notion of mishpatecha, ‘your justice,’ nor tzidkatcha ‘your beneficence.’ However, as the verse says, “Man and beast You deliver, Hashem.” Man, with the capacity… Read more »

Mordechai encourages Esther to intercede on behalf of her people, taking a leading role in the redemption instead of sitting quietly on the sidelines. In every generation there are those who threaten Israel. Ultimately, Hashem (God) will defend His people and His land, but it is up to each of us to decide if we… Read more »

With a trusted friend, even actions that seem hurtful ultimately turn out to be beneficial. A well-timed reprimand from someone who loves you can guide you to a better course of action. An enemy, however, should not be trusted. Even if he appears to offer love and support, he will ultimately lead you astray. This… Read more »

This verse is the source for the biblical command to settle and inhabit the Land of Israel. It emphasizes the importance of living in the land. As Deuteronomy draws to a close, the Children of Israel are on the verge of entering the Promised Land and fulfilling these words. They would remain in the land… Read more »

Even though Hashem’s (God’s) Temple had been destroyed for fifty years, Daniel continues to turn in its direction when praying. Indeed, Jews throughout the ages have maintained the tradition of praying facing Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), showing their eternal connection with their holy city. This is a fulfillment of King Shlomo’s (Solomon’s) wish when dedicating the Beit… Read more »