Devotionals

According to Rashi, these words refer to the Temple Mount in Yerushalayim. He explains that the foot of the ladder in Yaakov’s dream was in Be’er Sheva, and its head was in Beit El. Therefore the middle of the ladder hung over Mount Moriah and the intensity of the encounter with Hashem occurred in that… Read more »

The Hebrew word used for ‘insignia’ in the verse is aydut (עדות). This term, usually translated as ‘testimony,’ is often used to refer to the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written and the ark that contained them (see Exodus 32:15 and 26:33). As the Ten Commandments are representative of the entire Torah, Rashi… Read more »

With these words, Chavakuk asserts that it is the faith of the righteous person that grants him life. Israel’s acclaimed national poet, Chaim Nachman Bialik, a pioneer of Zionist Hebrew poetry wrote: “This particular people called Israel has, despite all the vicissitudes which for two thousand years have daily, yea hourly, attempted to expel it… Read more »

This verse describes the future redemption of the Jewish people from all the nations amongst whom they are scattered. The “ingathering of the exiles” was the stated goal of the first Zionist Congress in 1897, and remains a central mission of the State of Israel. This objective is reflected in the Knesset’s 1950 “Law of… Read more »

Yirmiyahu describes the Land of Israel as eretz chemda (ארץ חמדה), ‘a desirable land.’ The commentator Radak explains that Yirmiyahu uses this description since Eretz Yisrael is desired by all the nations. Hashem’s holy presence is so palpable there, that everyone senses its holiness and wants it. One needs to look no further than the… Read more »

Yeshayahu speaks in his own voice, rejoicing in Hashem’s goodness to His people. The salvation of the Jewish people, returned and dwelling safely in their own land, will be as visible as the fine jewels worn by a bridegroom and bride on their wedding day. In the meantime, while Har Habayit lies in ruin, the… Read more »

This chapter is one of three that describe the failed attempt by Balaam to curse the People of Israel. His plan is foiled by Hashem, and instead of a curse, Balaam utters a reluctant compliment, “There is a people that dwells apart, not reckoned among the nations.” For better or for worse, the Jews have… Read more »

Indeed, God is the ultimate redeemer. Time and again, Hashem lifts the Jewish people up from the brink of destruction and depths of despair and helps them to stand upright once again. A shining example of this is the founding of the State of Israel. Merely three years following the end of the darkest period… Read more »

As the prophet and judge of the People of Israel, Shmuel could follow Eli’s example and require that the people come to him. However, he does not wish to live in an ivory tower. Shmuel becomes a different type of leader, who goes to the people in order to meet with them, inspire and serve… Read more »

Every seventh year, all farms, fields, orchards and vineyards in Eretz Yisrael are left untended and unharvested. To this very day, the Sabbatical year is kept in Israel. The message of this unique commandment is similar to that of Shabbat. Just as we are commanded to keep Shabbat and cease our daily activities every seventh… Read more »

Although Eretz Yisrael is divided among the tribes by divinely-directed lots, Kalev asks for, and receives, Chevron. He and Yehoshua had been the only scouts sent by Moshe who stayed loyal to God and promised the people that they could succeed in entering the land (Numbers 13:30). Therefore, he receives this reward. As Rabbi Shlomo… Read more »

King Shlomo concludes the building of the Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. This holiest place on earth is a massive and awe-inspiring complex that brings the entire world closer to God. Though Hashem will allow it to stand only if the Children of Israel serve Him properly (see 9:8), Rabbi Shlomo Aviner points out that God’s… Read more »

The kibbutz movement, which began in the 1920’s, was primarily a secular enterprise. Jewish pioneers sought to create an ideal living environment guided by brotherhood and shared idealism. However, there was also a religious kibbutz movement. In 1944, a group of religious Jews founded a kibbutz on the principles of Torah and religious idealism. They… Read more »