Devotionals

Jewish tradition understands that the passages of the Tanakh are not always presented in chronological order. According to Rashi, this story (along with the narrative of Micha’s idol) occurred at the beginning of the era of the Judges. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner suggests that these narratives were placed here, at the end of the book, as… 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 »

The Shabbat (שבת), ‘Sabbath,’ is designated as a sign between Hashem and the Children of Israel that Hashem created the world, and resting from work on Shabbat is the sign that the Jewish Nation recognizes God as the Creator. Each week, Jews reaffirm their submission to Hashem by sanctifying the Shabbat, and they recite this… Read more »

In his first vision, Yirmiyahu is shown an almond branch, makel shaked (מקל שקד) in Hebrew. Hashem explains that the branch symbolizes His watching over His word to perform it. The Hebrew word he chooses for ‘watch,’ shoked (שֹׁקֵד), also means ‘to hasten.’ Yirmiyahu deli­berately chose this word since it is similar to the word… Read more »

The prophet Amos proclaims that the people of Israel will return to the Land of Israel, build houses, plant vineyards and trees, and enjoy their bounty. He promises that Hashem (God) will plant the people in their land, never to be uprooted again. Since Hashem has replanted His people in Israel, they have responded to… Read more »

Ramban points out that when referring to the homes of the Children of Israel, the verse first mentions tents of Yaakov and then dwellings of Israel. He explains that “tents” are temporary living quarters, referring to Israel’s sojourn in the desert, while “dwellings” implies a permanent living space, hinting to the established life of the… Read more »

Be’er Sheva, mentioned in this verse as the southern boundary of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael, was a vital city in biblical times. Be’er Sheva is one of the primary places where Avraham lives and digs a well, be’er (באר) in Hebrew. Yitzchak builds an altar there, and Yaakov passes through on the way to… Read more »

In this chapter, which summarizes the wars fought by the Children of Israel to take possession of the Promised Land, we are also reminded of the wars Moshe fought. Moshe led the people against Sihon and Og, and captured the Gilead and the Bashan. This area became the inheritance of the tribes of Gad, Reuven… Read more »

Yoel tells B’nei Yisrael [children of Israel] that all is not lost; if they repent, the impending disaster can be averted. However, the repentance must not focus on external symbols and behavior, but rather must consist of a genuine change in thoughts and actions. Tearing one’s clothing is a sign of mourning, but Yoel cautions… Read more »

This verse conveys an image of the enemy lurking on all terrains and in all locations. Unfortunately, even after arriving on the shores of Israel following the Holocaust, Jewish refugees from Europe encountered persecution. Having survived the Nazis, these Jews were met by a new enemy: The local Arab population, which fought violently to keep… Read more »

After Avraham (Abraham) demonstrates his unwavering faith in Hashem (God) with the binding of Yitzchak (Isaac), the Lord assures Avraham that all the nations of the world will be blessed through him. When we look at the many contributions that the State of Israel makes to the entire world even beyond its spiritual message –… Read more »

The promised child, who will be the strong and fearless judge Shimshon (Samson), is to be a Nazarite from birth. This is an unusual situation; most nazarites choose this status temporarily, for a limited period. Though typically people do not take such vows nowadays, a famous exception was Rabbi David Cohen (1887-1972). Known as “The… Read more »

Figs are one of the seven agricultural species that are special products of the Land of Israel. They are first mentioned in the Bible in the beginning of Genesis(3:7), when Adam and Chava (Eve) cover their nakedness with fig leaves. The Talmud compares the Torah itself to a fig tree. Just as one always finds… Read more »

Deuteronomy contains Moshe’s (Moses’) farewell speeches to the People of Israel. They are camped on the banks of the Jordan River, finally ready to cross over and inherit the land that Hashem (God) promised to their forefathers. Since Moshe is not allowed to enter the land, he takes this opportunity to impart to them the… Read more »

The Book of Ruth ends by emphasizing Ruth’s great reward for her selfless dedication to her mother-in-law and her late husband. She gives birth to a child who becomes the grandfather of King David, making Ruth the ancestress of the Davidic dynasty as well as its future descendant, the Mashiach (Messiah). Most other nations would… Read more »