Devotionals

Though the kingdom has split and ten tribes have rejected Rechovam and the house of David, God does not want there to be a war between the two kingdoms. He reminds the southern tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin that despite the rift, the members of both kingdoms are brothers, and they should therefore treat each… Read more »

Psalm 118 is recited towards the end of the Pesach seder, and uses a word that is central to the themes of Pesach: ‘Maytzar’ (מצר), meaning ‘straits’ or ‘distress.’ This word is closely related to the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim (מצרים). On an emotional level, Egypt symbolizes the agonizing straits that constrict us. Each… Read more »

The Hebrew word for ‘Egypt,’ Mitzrayim (מצרים), is connected to two Hebrew words which offer insight into the nature of that country. The name Mitzrayim is related to the Hebrew word tzara (צרה), meaning ‘tragedy’ or ‘distress.’ This connection teaches that Egypt was a land of suffering for the Children of Israel, who suffered in… Read more »

Sefer Shemot starts with the letter vav (ו), which signifies the conjunction ‘and,’ thus connecting it to the end of Sefer Bereishit. In fact, the passages beginning with Shemot 1:1 and Bereishit 46:8 are practically identical, each containing a list of Yaakov’s descendants who accompanied him to Egypt. The end of Sefer Bereishit describes the… Read more »

Iyov contrasts the passing of man to the death of a tree. Once a man has departed from this world, he cannot be brought back to life. A tree, on the other hand, though seemingly lifeless, can be revived. Similarly, Yeshayahu writes (6:13) that though a tree appears dead after it sheds its leaves, the… Read more »

After the threats of the Assyrians and the supplications of King Chizkiyahu, Hashem performs a wondrous miracle. The Assyrian soldiers besieging Yerushalayim are struck down in one night, thereby saving the city and its inhabitants. This miracle was repeated in the twentieth century, during the Six Day War. The surrounding Arab nations had threatened to “throw… Read more »

During the Messianic age, non-Jews will play an essential role in helping the Jewish people settle the Land of Israel through agriculture, as this verse states, and they will also partner with the Jews in spiritual pursuits. Rabbi Israel Lipschitz (1782-1860), in his commentary Tiferet Yisrael, quotes this verse to prove that non-Jews will participate… Read more »

These words are spoken by Yosef to reassure his brothers that Hashem will one day bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into Eretz Yisrael. The Sages point out that the phrase used by Yosef, “surely take notice,” is repeated many years later by Moshe when he tells the Jewish people that the time had… Read more »

The Hebrew word for tribute in this verse is Shilo (שילה). Fourteenth century scholar Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, known by the name of his Bible commentary as the Baal Haturim, reveals a hidden connection between the word Shilo (שילה) and Mashiach (משיח), the Hebrew word for ‘Messiah.’ According to the mystical study of gematriya, every… Read more »

David expresses his conviction that the battle against Goliath and the Philistines is far more than an ordinary military affair. Goliath taunts the entire Nation of Israel, and thus by extension, the God of Israel. Defeating him is therefore not only a military necessity, but also a spiritual imperative. David understands that an attack on… Read more »

At the time, this is the greatest calamity to have ever occurred to the Children of Israel. Hashem permits Nebuchadnezzar to destroy His Beit Hamikdash, the spiritual center of the universe. He also allows the burning of the king’s house, which represents the monarchy, and the houses of prayer and study in Yerushalayim. The nation… Read more »

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 »