While the entire Nation of Israel is commanded to maintain a certain level of holiness, the Kohanim were held to an even higher standard. For example, a priest may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body. Therefore, he may not participate in the burial of anyone other than his immediate relatives. However,… Read more »

The last word of this verse is tzedaka (צדקה). In Hebrew, this word is used to mean both ‘charity’ and ‘justice.’ While in English these concepts are very different, the Hebrew word teaches that the act of giving to those who are less fortunate is not to be seen primarily as benevolence or kindness. Rather,… Read more »

The Bible commands the Israelites to set aside a certain portion of their crops, grown in the Land of Israel, for the poor. The corners of their fields, the forgotten sheaves and the grains that fall during harvest are all to be left for the needy (Leviticus 19:9-10, Deuteronomy 24:19). In Megillat Rut, Boaz sustains… Read more »

The date is one of the seven special species of Eretz Yisrael (Deuteronomy 8:8). Like each of the other species, the date, which grows from a palm tree, is also a symbol of the People of Israel. The Sages teach that the palm tree is unique, in that every part of the tree can be… Read more »

Once the entire Nation of Israel unites behind King David, he is able to conquer the holy city of Yerushalayim from the pagan Jebusites, and to rule there for thirty-three years. His palace is located in the City of David, just outside the present walls of the Old City of Yerushalayim. After fifteen years of… Read more »

According to Rabbi Yosef Rosen, a great nineteenth-century Torah scholar, the job of awakening the will of Hashem to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash is not limited to the Jewish people. Rather, the third Temple will be built by all of mankind. And if the Beit Hamikdash is to be built through prayers and good deeds,… Read more »

Man lives on earth in two different spheres: As an individual with his own personal struggles, and as part of something bigger; a family, community and a nation, each with its own dynamic. Psalms 146 and 147 present the individual and the communal praise of Hashem. In this psalm, the individual is confronted by the… Read more »

The first chapter of Sefer Yeshayahu begins with a description of the devastation caused to Yehuda during the Assyrian invasion of 701 BCE. Only through Hashem’s kindness and mercy, and not through their own merit and strength, do the Jewish people merit to remain in the land. The people remark that they were nearly wiped… Read more »

Once again, David is in a perilous state. Enemies from close and far depress him and make him feel lost and alone. In this psalm, he invokes a different technique to lift himself out of the morass: Memory. Isolating one’s consciousness to the here and now can be lonesome and disheartening. Remembering that one is… Read more »

Daily Devotional

While the Bible makes frequent mention of military affairs and speaks often of soldiers, the important principle that emerges is found in this verse: Ha-sam g’vulaych shalom (השם גבולך שלום). Translated here as ‘He endows your realm with well-being,’ these words literally mean ‘He who makes your borders peaceful.’ We must always remember that ultimately,… Read more »

This verse, describing the conquest of Kiryat Sefer, demonstrates Otniel the Kenizzite’s power as a military leader. However, Otniel is more than just a strategic tactician. The classic commentator Rashi (Joshua 15:15) notes that Kiryat Sefer, which means ‘the city of the book,’ gets its name from an incident that occurred after Moshe’s death. Due… Read more »

Psalm 148 can be divided into two parts. The first half speaks of Hashem being praised in the celestial spheres, while the second half speaks of human praises of God. Though both seemingly exalt Him the same way, as it says, “let them praise the name of Hashem” (verses 5 and 13), the praises are… Read more »

Daily Devotional

This chapter deals with the laws of purity applying to a woman after childbirth. In this context, the Bible also mentions the law of circumcision, the removal of the baby boy’s foreskin on the eighth day of his life. Circumcision was the first commandment given to Avraham, as detailed in Sefer Bereishit chapter 17. That… Read more »