Devotionals

The Chosen People have many biblical titles: Hebrews, Children of Jacob, and Israelites, to name a few. What is the origin of the branding “Jew,” in Hebrew ‘Yehudi?” It is first employed as a specific ethnic title during the Babylonian exile, as seen in Ezra, Daniel and Esther. Historically, this name indicated an association with… Read more »

Job contrasts the passing of man to the death of a tree. Once a man has departed from this world, he can not be brought back to life. A tree, on the other hand, though seemingly lifeless, can be revived. Similarly, Isaiah writes that though a tree appears dead after it sheds its leaves in… Read more »

The word ‘nays’ (נס) in this verse refers to an ensign or banner, but in Hebrew the same word also means ‘miracle’. Just like a banner serves as a reminder to onlookers, a miracle is also meant to remind “all inhabitants of the world” that God directs all events from behind the scenes

The verse here labels Potiphar an ‘Ish mitzri,’ an Egyptian, in contrast to Joseph, ‘Ha’Ivri,’ the Hebrew (14). We already know the nationalities of these individuals, so why the labels? The Egyptians were known for their arrogance and condescension towards the nomadic tribes. Despite their prejudice, Joseph will rise in rank among them. He will… Read more »

The last Hebrew word of this verse is ‘tzedaka’ (צדקה). In Hebrew, this word is used to mean both charity and justice. This teaches that giving to those who are less fortunate is not just an act of benevolence or kindness. In Judaism, giving charity is an act of justice and righteousness, which fulfills a… Read more »

Many times in history, the enemies of the Jewish people eagerly awaited the day when the Jews would finally meet their ultimate demise. Alas, their plans have always been divinely foiled. This verse reflects the hatred that Israel’s enemies, both historical and contemporary, have always felt towards her. Less than one month ago, those who… Read more »

This verse teaches that those who do “what is right” and “speak the truth” will merit to dwell with the Lord. According to Rabbi David Kimchi, “speak the truth” implies that it is not enough to think or know the truth, but you must speak about it and spread it. Finding the truth in a… Read more »

The Hebrew word for ‘light,’ ‘ohr’ (אור), is very similar to the word for ‘awaken,’ ‘ayr’ (ער). According to Rabbi Micheal Munk in his book “The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet,” this teaches that light is the element that ‘awakens’ creation to development. Just as physical light influences plants to grow, spiritual and intellectual light… Read more »

The words in this verse, translated as “wise in heart,” are understood by the Sages as “wise about hearts,” or “wise about innermost thoughts.” This means that God knows what is in man’s hearts and judges accordingly. While man has the capacity to judge his fellow only by what is obvious to the human eye,… Read more »

Jacob did not bury his beloved wife Rachel in the family plot in Hebron, but rather in nearby Bethlehem. Jewish tradition explains that Rachel was intentionally buried in Bethlehem, along the road on which the Jews were forcibly marched into exile following the destruction of the First Temple. At that devastating moment in Jewish history,… Read more »

Isaiah’s prophecy refers to the time after numerous calamities will befall the Land and the People of Israel. Following a period of war and destruction, the Holy Land will be restored to its former glory. Just a few weeks ago, terror struck Israel in the form of hundreds of arson attacks. In the period of… Read more »

This verse appears towards the end of the description of kosher dietary laws. God draws a clear parallel between obeying the kosher laws and sustaining a status of holiness; we are to be holy as God is holy. The Bible instructs the People of Israel to distinguish between things which can be eaten and things… Read more »

The Ingathering of the Exiles, known in Hebrew as ‘kibbutz galuyot’ (קיבוץ גלויות), is promised throughout the Bible. Although scattered throughout the four corners of the earth, Ezekiel describes that one day, God will gather the Jewish people and return them to their ancient soil, the Land of Israel. For centuries, Jews have been praying… Read more »

One of the most wicked kings to rule over the Land of Israel during the time the Holy Temple stood was Manasseh. Throughout his reign, he “did what was evil in the eyes of Hashem”. One of most terrible deeds was that of systematically destroying all the Torah scrolls and alienating the people from the… Read more »

In this verse we learn the reason behind our matriarch Leah’s decision to name her son Yehudah (Judah). Yesterday, synagogues all over the world read the Torah portion of Vayetzei in which all of the Twelve Tribes were born and named by their respective mothers. When parents bestow the chosen name upon their child, they… Read more »