Parshas Bereishis.




  1. Why does the Torah mention the creation of Shamayim (the Heavens) in the first verse but then again in verse 8 it says: “… and Hashem called the Rakia (sky) – Shamayim …”?
  2. What is the root of the word Shamayim?
  3. Why is the word Earth (or land) sometimes spelled “Eretz” and sometime “Aretz”?
  4. Why doesn’t the Torah describe the creation of spiritual worlds and their contents – the angels, the souls of people etc?
  5. Our sages mention in the Talmud that there are seven skies; what is meant by their teachings?


One answer to all these questions:


Our sages describe in the Talmud (Chagiga 12b) that there are 7 types of Rakia (seven skies). Another opinion there is that there are only two skies – Shamayim and Shmey Hashamyim. As usual (and this is especially true regarding Agada – homiletic parts of the Talmud) the two opinions do not contradict each other. The GR”A (Vilna Gaon) writes that the seven skies are divided into two groups – the lower two skies are called Shamayim, while the higher five are called Shmey Hashayim. The word Shamayim comes from the word “Sham” – “over there” since they are always at a distance. The higher five skies are even further away, that’s why they are called Shmey Hashamayim. (This answers the second question.) 


In truth, the lower two skies correspond to the lower two Sefiros – Yesod and Malchus, while the Shmey Hashayim correspond to the five Sefiros above them[1]. Discussing the concept of Sefiros in detail goes beyond the purpose of this short article, but we will need to say a few words about them, especially since this concept will be essential throughout our commentary on the following parshios as well. In general, Sefiros can be viewed as parts of Divine will or as ways of Hanhaga – Hashem’s rule over the universe. There are ten such ways. Everything in the spiritual and physical realms is a result and projection of some combination of the ten Sefiros. Just as all physical materials, with their great variety, are composed of just a little more that one hundred elements, so too, everything spiritual is a combination of these ten general spiritual roots. The names of the Sefiros are:

Keser – Crown, Chochma – Wisdom, Bina – Understanding, Chesed – Kindness, Gevurah – Strength, Tiferes – Harmony,   Netzach – Perseverance, Hod – Splendor, Yesod – Foundation,  Malchus – Royalty.                   


The Sefiros are divided into two general groups – the first three have to do with thought, while the lower seven have to do with action. Similarly, in their projection to human body, the higher three Sefiros correspond to the head, while the lower seven correspond to the body. The lower Sefiros are themselves divided into two subgroups – the five Sefiros from Chesed to Hod a viewed separately, while the lowest two – separately. As we mentioned the seven skies are divided into 2 groups: the last two, corresponding to “Yesod” and “Malhus” and the first five, corresponding to higher Sefiros. Similarly, the GR”A writes (in his commentary on Agada, Brochos), that the seven species, for which the Land of Israel is praised, correspond to the seven lower Sefiros. Wheat corresponds to “Chesed,” barley – to “Gevurah” etc. This would explain why the word “Eretz” (land) is mentioned in the verse a second time before the last two species: olives and dates – corresponding to “Yesod” and “Malchus”.


Now, the GR”A explains (in his commentary to Bereishis) that the word Shamayim mentioned in the first verse in the Torah is hinting to all the spiritual worlds, while the word Aretz (Earth) hints to the entire physical universe. Later in the tenth verse, the word Eretz (spelled with a different vowel – segol) means just the land, that we call earth. Similarly, the shamayim mentioned in the eight verse means the physical sky, and in general the Torah does not dwell on the spiritual Shamayim from now on. Only the first verse of the Torah talks about the spiritual creation, from now on, the Torah will discuss the physical world while the spiritual can only be deduced. (This also relates to a known question of why the Torah nowhere openly talks about the Olam Haba – the World to Come. It certainly hints many times that there is reward after death, even wicked Bilaam prayed that after death he should have a portion with the righteous, but the Torah does not discuss it openly. It rather mentions as a punishment that certain sinners will have the soul cut off, from which we can learn that everyone else will have a portion in the eternity, see Ramban on Vayikra 18:29. However the rewards in this world are mentioned many times but they apply only when our entire nation deserves it collectively. In the end of days our nation is also promised a tremendous closeness to Hashem, which is of course the biggest reward there could be.)  We not got answers to questions 1, 3 and 4.


According to the description the Talmud gives to the “seven skies”, the two lowest skies seem to be physical, while the other five are described as completely spiritual, thus belonging to a separate group. The lowest sky is called “Vilon” (curtain). It has nothing of its’ own. It only comes out during the day and gathers in at night[2]. According to the description, it seems that Vilon is the Earth’s atmosphere. It is known, that we see the blue sky due to the refraction of sun’s rays[3]. It is thus proper to say that “it has nothing of its’ own”, since the air is really transparent. Similarly its’ corresponding Sefira: Malchus is described in Kaballah as having nothing of its’ own (Zohar 2:233b, see also Etz Chaim 43:2).


The next Rakia is described as having all the planets, stars and galaxies, and thus includes the rest of our physical universe[4]. The description of the other five skies is completely spiritual, and they therefore belong to a separate group. This answers the last question. Note also that the GR”A[5] mentions in his commentary to the prayer “Yaale Veyavo”, that the eight synonyms in the beginning of this prayer correspond to the seven skies, (the last two relating to Aravos – the seventh level). We are beseeching Hashem to let our prayers come close and reach Him and be accepted!



Parshas Noach.




After the Great Flood, new life started. The Torah carefully describes the descendants on the one surviving family – Noach and his three children – Shem, Cham and Yafes. Our sages received a tradition that core seventy nations came out from Noach and thus all of the people of the Earth are descendants of these families. Do we know where the various families settled and can we know what contemporary nation belongs to which of these families?




The GR”A has a very interesting explanation regarding the various nations that came out of Noach and it will be interesting to publicize it here. He writes in a similar vein in at least two different places – in his commentary to Divrey Hayamim (the book of Chronicles – the last book of the Bible, 1:1:4), in his commentary to the Mishna (tractate Negaim 2:1). We will start by quoting some of his words on the Mishna. Negaim is a tractate which deals with the laws of Tzaraas (a variation of leprosy). If a person had white discolorations on his skin, he had to show them to a kohen (a priest, descendant of Aharon) and depending on the conditions sometimes had to live outside the walled Jewish cities until the mark disappears. In general, these laws were designed at the time the Hashgacha (Divine Rule) was much more open, and this particular sickness was a punishment for gossipers and other sinners, so that they will spend some time alone and repent before being admitted back to the camp (Talmud, Arachim 16a). One of the conditions required in order to check the whiteness of discoloration is that the rest of the skin is normal (average) color. The Mishna mentions that by a “Germoni” the leprous mark seems not as white since his skin is very white, while by a “Kushi” (a black man, an Ethiopian), the opposite is true. The Aruch (a very early medieval commentator quoted by Rashi and other Rishonim) writes that the word “Germani” means a German, whose skin is very white. The Rambam and other commentators also point out that the word “Germani” comes from the word “GAREM” – a bone which is very white.


The GR”A goes further explaining that the Germans (as well as the rest of Northern Europeans) are descendants of the first son of Yafes – Gomer. We thus find that Gomer’s own first son is called Ashkenaz which is the Hebrew name for Germany! (This is also brought in the Talmud, Yoma 10a that Gomer was an ancestor of Germamiya, and the GR”A says that one letter was copied incorrectly in our versions of the Talmud and it should say Germaniya – Germany. The same applies to the famous prediction in Talmud, Megila 6b, that Germany is composed of 300 fighting provinces and if they will ever unite they will try to destroy the world. There also, the Talmud uses the word Germamiya, but the GR”A and Yavetz amend this to read Germaniya – Germany. The prediction was of course fulfilled during the world wars.) The GR”A also mentions in both commentaries that the general division of the world between the descendants of Noach was like the division of the three central continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). Shem took the East, Cham took the South and Yafes took the North. Moreover, in each case the older children settled in the land farther from the center – the Land of Israel which is in the center of civilization where all three continents meet. The younger children on the other hand settled closer to the Holy Land. Another interesting observation is that the nations that lived farther south generally have darker skin, while those nations that settled further north are light skinned. Lets examine some of the proofs to the GR”A’s approach.


As we mentioned, one of the proofs is that the first son and the first grandson of Yafes (Gomer and Ashkenaz) were ancestors of the Northern European nations. The fourth son of Yafes is named Yavan which means Greece in the Holy Tongue. The third son of Yavan is called Kitim which means Romans in Hebrew (see Targum Onkelus – Arameic translation of Bemidbar 24:24). Obviously the later descendants of Yafes did settle in southern parts of Europe near the Mediterranean.


Regarding the sons of Cham, we can easily identify three out of four. Kush – the first son is Hebrew for Ethiopia (and all of black Africa). Mitzraim – the second son is Hebrew for Egypt. The last son, Canaan had twelve descendants all of whom settled in and around the Holy Land itself.


At last, regarding the descendants of Shem, his first son – Eilam is generally identified with Persia (modern Iran) and Media (see for instance Daniel 8:2), but some place it even farther, between Tigris river and India (Rabbi Arye Kaplan’s commentary quoting an early Midrash). Even though later descendants of Eilam probably spread even further East and became ancestors of Chinese, Japanese and possibly American Indians and Australian aborigines, at that point in time, in the beginning of the new civilization, the first son of Shem settled only as far as Iran. The second son of Shem – Ashur was an ancestor of Assyrians who lived closer to the Holy Land. The third son – Arpachshad – was our ancestor; Avraham was born near the Euphrates River. The fifth son of Shem – Aram is Hebrew for Syria – the closest country to the Holy Land (there are actually special laws in the Talmud for Syrian territory for in many ways it has some of the Holiness of the Land of Israel).


What we wrote so far applied during the original settlement of the seventy nations. Obviously, after more than four thousand years, there was a lot of migration; some of them are mentioned by the Torah itself (see Devarim 2:19-23). Our sages describe that at a later time the kings of Assyria used to move nations from one land to another. (They are the ones that also exiled the ten tribes who now live as different nations somewhere else, see Melachim 2:17:6-41. Many attempts were made to locate the ten lost tribes and many suppositions were made, placing them in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, China, Japan and other countries, but apparently until Moshiach comes we won’t know the truth. The Assyrian kings also brought different nations in place of the ten tribes, their descendants – Kushim or Shomronim still exist and in general are not considered part of the Jewish nation, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 199:2.)


However, there is one other important principle regarding the descendants of seventy nations we would like to discuss. A verse in Parshas Haazinu (Devarim 32:8) states: “He (Hashem) set up the borders of nations to parallel the number of children of Israel”. Rashi explains that the seventy nations parallel the seventy sons of Yakov. There is however an interesting idea regarding the number seventy: whenever we find this number, there is also an extra two associated with it. (For example, the seventy elders with Moshe and Aharon on top of them, the seventy words of Friday night Kiddush, plus the two words “Yom Hashishi”; seventy years of Soviet regime plus two intermediate years until Communism finally fell etc, see the GR”A on Shir Hashirim 1:2.) In case of Yakov’s family of seventy, there are yet two others to be considered: Avraham and Yitzchak. Similarly, besides the seventy nations, there are two additional ones also called “nations” in the Torah – they are Ishmael (coming from Avraham) and Eisav (coming from Yitzchak) (see Bereishis 21:18 and 25:23). The GR”A writes that these two nations are in a way on top of all the others (see the GR”A on Tikuney Zohar 32nd Tikun, 79b, in the standard edition with Perush HaGR”A it’s on page 168; GR”A on Zohar Chadash in the end of Yahel Ohr 28a; Ramchal in the second part of Kinas Hashem Tzeva-os explains this in depth starting with Maamar: Inyan Eisav, in the standard edition of Ginzey Ramchal it’s on page 111). Potentially 35 of the nations can be dominated by Ishmael and the other thirty five – by Eisav. There is a very interesting hint to this. The Torah tells us to bring 13 bulls on the first day of Sukkos, 12 – on the second, etc, until 7 bulls are brought on the last day of the holiday. Then on the eight day (which is a different holiday, Shmini Atzeres) we are told to bring just one bull. Our sages teach us that the seventy bulls correspond to the seventy nations, and the one bull corresponds to the Jewish people. The GR”A mentions a peculiar detail – when the goat for a communal sin offering is described, it is called differently for the various days of Sukkos. On the first, second and fourth days it is called “Seir Izim” while on the other four days it is simply called “Seir”. The GR”A mentions that “Seir” hints to Eisav, while “Seir Izim” hints to Ishmael. We thus find that the number of bulls with which “Seir Izim” is brought is: 13+12+10=35. The remaining bulls: 11+9+8+7=35 are brought with “Seir”. This is hinting to the 35 nations in Eisav’s dominion and the other 35 – in Ishmael’s.


It is known that with passage of centuries, Eisav’s descendants accepted Christianity, while Ishmael’s – Islam. Both religions learned from ours and based themselves on the revelations our nation witnessed (after all they could not claim that their entire nations witnessed Divine revelation, for such a claim would be impossible and moreover the Torah predicts that nobody else will be able to make such a claim, see Devarim 4:33).  The two religions spread far and wide conquering multitudes of nations who threw away their old convictions and accepted the new beliefs. The Rambam writes (uncensored edition of the laws of kings 11:7) that in truth these religions were a step forward, a kind of preparation of the world to accept the ultimate truth when Moshiach comes. And this is what we are waiting for, when Hashem will turn all the nations to a purer language, that they may all call upon Him and serve him with one consent (Tzefania 3:9)!


Parshas Lech Lecha.




In this weekly portion we read about the “covenant between the pieces”. Avraham was told that his descendants will be suffering in an exile in a foreign land for 400 hundred years. The Torah also mentions that the fourth generation will come back. Later, the Torah will state (Shemos 12:40) that the Jewish people spent 430 years in exile. The Rashi in his commentary to this verse mentions the words of our sages that our nation was in Egyptian exile for only 210 years, while the 400 years are counted from the birth of Yitzchak. How are all these numbers reconciled? If indeed the Torah meant to count 400 years from an earlier date, why did it not say so and left the prediction so ambiguous? Why are there two predictions – regarding the number of years as well as the number of generations?




We have to understand that in general many prophesies are revealed in such a manner, that their fulfillment depends on the future actions of people. For example, Yona was told that the city of Nineveh will be “overturned”. This could mean literally, but it can also have a meaning of repentance and a change of actions. Since the inhabitants of the city ultimately did repent, the second meaning of the prophesy was fulfilled. Similarly, the prophesies about the “End of Days” can be fulfilled in various ways. The Talmud says (Sanhedrin 94a) that if King Hezekiah and his generation had merited it, he would have been the Moshiach, while the king of Assyria – the predicted arch enemy of Moshiach – Gog, the ruler of Magog. It is therefore often possible to know what was meant by a prophesy only after it was fulfilled, but initially it is left ambiguous in order not to interfere with our freedom of choice.


This principle is especially true in regards to prophesies regarding the length of our exile and the date of our redemption (see the GR”A to Pesach Hagadah, starting with words “Chishav Es Haketz”). Two statements were made to Avraham regarding our first exile: we will be subjugated for 400 years, and that the fourth generation will return to the Holy Land. These predictions could be fulfilled in various ways. Four hundred years can be counted from the time this prophesy was revealed, or from the time Avraham’s traveling started, or from the time the next generation was born (birth of Yitzchak), or from the time Yakov and his family actually entered Egypt. Similarly, the “four” generations can be counted from Yitzchak, or from Yakov, who entered Egypt, or from his children or grandchildren who came with him, or from the first generation that experienced the Egyptian discrimination (see also Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh, Bereishis 15:16). 


As we know now (Seder Olam, chapter 3), the actual exile to Egypt was 210 years (as is Gematria – numerical value of the word “Rdu” – go down), the other 190 years were years of wanderings of Yitzchak, Yakov and his family. The total of four hundred years is thus counted from the birth of Yitzchak. The 430 years mentioned in the Torah (Shemos 12:41) is either counted from the beginning of Avraham’s wanderings (GR”A to the 1st chapter of Seder Olam) or from the Bris Bein Habesarim (covenant of pieces).


The Pesach Hagadah mentions that Hashem “Chishav Es Haketz” calculated the end of exile. The Gematria of the word Ketz – end is 190, hinting to the 190 years skipped from the actual Egyptian bondage. (The book Avodas Hagershuni by the Vilna Gaon’s nephew – Rav Gershon, describes that the 190 “skipped” years are in fact hinted by the Gematria of the word “Pakod” in the phrase “Pakod Yifkod Elokim Es-chem” (Hashem will surely redeem you). This wording was a password given away by Yosef before dying, which was later used to identify the true redeemer Moshe Rabeynu, see Pirkey DeRabbi Eliezer, 47. The word “Yifkod” can mean reckoning and the phrase would then be translated “190 Hashem will calculate”. The word “Elokim” in the verse hints to the 86 years of the bitter part of exile as we will later discuss.)


Out of the 210 years of exile, only a part included prosecutions. Our sages mention (Talmud, Sotah 11a) that after Yosef died, Pharaoh, who was afraid of the rapid increase in Jewish numbers, invited his three wisest counselors: Bilaam, Iyov and Yisro. Bilaam suggested to oppress the Jewish people, Iyov kept quiet, while Yisro ran away[6]. Each one was paid accordingly. Yisro’s daughter ultimately married Moshe, and he himself later converted together with his family. Iyov who kept quiet[7] was punished by the suffering described in the book of Iyov (this book was written down prophetically by Moshe Rabeynu, see the Talmud, Bava Basra 14b). Bilaam was later killed by the Jewish people. According to this opinion, Iyov was born when our people entered Egypt, and his suffering lasted for 1 year and started when he was seventy. After that he lived twice as long for another 140 years (Iyov 42:16) and died the year after we came out of Egypt. Therefore, the counsel of Pharaoh must have happened after seventy years of the Jewish presence in Egypt, exactly when Yosef died[8]. Even so, Bilaam’s advice was not implemented until the last of Yakov’s sons (Levi) died (see Seder Olam, chapter 3). Levi was older than Yosef by 5 years[9], so he was 44 when entering Egypt. The Torah tells us that he lived till 137, so the discrimination of the Jewish people started when they were in Egypt for 137-44=93 years, and lasted for 210-93=117 years. 


Our sages teach us that the position of the Jewish people did not change instantly from honored citizens to slaves (see Shemos Raba 1:10-14, Ramban, Shemos 1:10-11). It took time until the exile turned from sweet to bitter. (For this reason, the preferred maror – bitter herb that we eat on Pesach is romaine lettuce, since it is first sweet, but as it stays longer in the earth, it turns bitter.) The first years of discrimination are described as “BEFE RACH” – with soft mouth. Than the true bitterness of exile started “BEFARECH” – with hard labor (see Talmud, Sotah 11b). Miriam was named after the same word “maror” – bitter, since when she was born, the exile became very bitter. Since Miriam was 86 during the time of the Exodus, we can thus know that final 86 years of exile were very bitter, while the previous 117-86=31 years were soft. The GR”A (on Zohar in likutim at the end of Yahel Ohr) mentions that the two periods of 31 years and 86 years correspond to two Divine names “Alef Lamed”[10] – Gematria 31, and “ELOKIM” – Gematria 86. It is known in the writings of Kabala that the first name corresponds to the attribute of kindness (Chesed), while the second – to judgment (Gevurah).


The Raavad (in his commentary to Mishan Ediyos, 2:9) and Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh on  Bereishis 15:16) write that the reason the redemption is promised according to the number of years as well as the number of generations is because the fourth generation is the one to actually enter the Holy Land. After all, a period of time passed between the redemption and the coming into the land. The Raavad continues that so too in the end of days there will pass a time between the end of exile and the full redemption.


Interestingly, regarding the other two exiles of our nation, a similar uncertainty existed regarding their ending. It is known (Ramban, Vayikra 26:16; Zohar Chadash, beginning of Parshas Ki Savo; GR”A on Tikuney Zohar Chadash 84c) that our exile to Babylon was predicted in the first “Tochecha” (chapter of rebuke) in the end of Vayikra. Our last exile, in which we are now, was predicted in the second “Tochecha” in the end of Devarim in Parshas Ki Savo and further in Nitzavim, where our repentance and redemption in the end of days is discussed, (see GR”A on Zohar in Yahel Ohr, 2:115a)[11]. As opposed to the last exile, which is supposed to be to distant lands until our nation is spread all over the world, the exile predicted in Vayikra was to be to a nearby land. The last exile is supposed to be for a very long time, until the end of days and our full repentance, but the exile predicted in Vayikra is for a sufficient time to let the land rest for the years we did not keep the Shmita (the seventh year, when the land is not to be worked on).


In the prophesies of Yermiyahu (25:11, 29:10), the exact duration of this exile is predicted to be seventy years. However, it does not clearly state how to count these years. In fact, Daniel (9:2-27) thought that the years already passed and was praying to understand why the redemption is not coming. According to the Talmud (Megillah 11b), two other people (non-Jewish kings) who were aware of the “Jewish” prophesy miscalculated the seventy years and thought that therefore the Jewish people will never be redeemed. In the end, it turned out that the two prophesies in Yermiyahu were predicting two different seventy year periods. One was the period between the Babylonian conquest of Judea and the beginning of the redemption during the reign of the Persian king Cyrus[12]. The second seventy year period starts 18 years later than the first, when our nation was exiled from the Holy Land. It ends also eighteen years after Cyrus, when king Darius allowed us to finish building the Second Temple.


Daniel was shown the time of the coming redemption (just a year later than his prophesy[13]), as well as the 420 years that the Second Temple will be standing and what will happen afterwards (see further Talmud, Nazir 32b, see Ramban, Sefer Hageula, Shaar Hashlishi. See also Malbim on Daniel 9:24 for an interesting explanation that the entire Second Temple period was continuation of the exile, but this time on our land. It lasted for a period 6 times seventy years, to atone for the other sins committed in the intermediate years between Shmitas.) In the last chapters of Daniel he was also shown the final redemption. As usual, a number of different periods of time are predicted, spanning thousands of years (see Daniel, 7:25, 8:14, 12:11-12). We will only know what is meant by these predictions when Moshiach comes. And we will wait for him every day even as he tarries (thirteenth principle of faith from daily Sidur, see also Chabakuk 3:2, see also the end of our article in appendix 1 for an explanation of some events that will precede the coming of Moshiach).


Parshas Vayerah.




Our sages (Talmud, Brochos 26b) learn from this Parsha, that Avraham established the Morning Prayer – Shacharis, as it says: (Bereishis 19:27) “And Avraham came in the early morning to the place where he [had] stood before Hashem”. According to the Talmud (ibid) the word “stood” here refers to prayer. There are similar statements in the Talmud (ibid) regarding the afternoon and evening prayers (Mincha and Aravis). Mincha was instituted by Yitzchak and is hinted to in the verse: (Bereishis 24:63) “And Yitzchak went out to walk[14] (Lasuach) in the field towards evening time”. The evening prayer was instituted by Yakov as it says: (Bereishis 28:11) “And [Yakov] came upon the place [of the future Holy Temple] and he lay down there as the sun had already set”. Our sages knew why these verses refer to prayers, but there is hardly any hint in the verses themselves, so how can we understand the significance of these teachings[15]?




It is known that there were three special people, who stood at the root of our nation: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov. They are the only ones, called “forefathers” (Talmud, Brochos 16b). Each of them had a special mission, and our nation had to come out of all of them. According to the Zohar (Tikuney Zohar, 69th Tikun, 105a, in GR”A’s edition 118b), their souls had to do with the soul of Adam and they actually rectified different parts of Adam’s sin. It took three generations, till the purification finished, and Yakov’s family fully belonged to the Jewish people[16]. We learn that the three forefathers instituted the three main prayers, and we will later discuss how each one corresponds to the prayer he founded, and what rectification this prayer accomplishes.


There is however another individual, whose soul was also collective and whose rectification was unique – King Dovid[17]. In fact the Talmud tells us (Sanhedrin 107a), that Dovid prayed that just as Hashem is called G-d of Avraham, G-d of Yitzchak, and G-d of Yakov, He should associate His name with Dovid as well. Dovid also instituted a prayer (Talmud, Brochos 3b), though it is not obligatory. It is called Tikun Chatzos (rectification of midnight) and can be pronounced after midnight till early dawn and it is recited while sitting.


We thus have a correspondence between four people, four prayers, four times and four actions, from which these prayers are learned (see the GR”A in Imrey Noam to the Talmud, Brochos, 8a and 26b, and in his commentary to Agada on the same pages, GR”A to Mishley 3:23 and 6:22, GR”A to the Zohar, Yahel Ohr 3:156b)[18]:








first half of the day




second half of the day




first half of the night

laying down


Tikun Chatzos

second half of the night



Let us first discuss the spiritual root of the forefathers and Dovid, so we can better understand these parallels. As we discussed on Parshas Bereishis, the Divine rule over the universe includes ten different channels. However, even more generally, the 10 Sefiros can be divided into just four groups. They are the so called “right” side of Hanhaga (Divine rule), consisting of three Sefiros; the “left” side, that also includes three Sefiros; the “middle” with another three Sefiros; and Malchus – Kingship. The last Sefira shows our readiness to receive the Good coming from Hashem. The collective combination of all Jewish souls is rooted in this Sefira. In general, the right side of Hanhaga has to do with kindness, the left – with judgment, and the middle – is a harmony between the two, a type of balance that includes both previous sides[19]. To summarize, even though there are ten particular types of Hanhaga, the four general ones include the entire spectrum (see our article in appendix 2 where we further discuss these concepts). 


Our forefathers and Dovid in fact represented these four types of Hanhaga. Avraham’s soul was rooted in Chesed (kindness). The Torah describes how he would try to help everyone, his house was always open to visitors and even the lowest travelers were served by Avraham himself. The only thing he asked in return was recognition of the rule of Hashem. In Avraham’s time, many people joined his household and accepted monotheism. Yitzchak’s soul was rooted in Gevurah (strength, judgment). He was ready to give up his own life during the Akeyda; he would spend long times meditating alone. Yakov included the qualities of his fathers and clung to Tiferes. At last, King Dovid was attached to Malchus (kingship). The four forefathers thus included a full rectification[20].


Now we can better understand what should be accomplished by the four prayers. The first half of the day is the time of kindness. The fact that the sunlight is increasing throughout this time is also an indication of the time of Chesed. When the Hanhaga is through Chesed, the people’s deeds are less important; during this Hanhaga, even the unworthy may receive the Divine Good. The longest of all prayers, Shacharis was instituted to rectify at this time, when many great rectifications are possible. Each day, we start serving Hashem anew, (sleeping is considered 1/60 of death, and we are recreated each morning, see Mishna Berura 4:3). Therefore the greatest rectification is need during this prayer (see Ramchal, Derech Hashem, 4:6; Kisvey Arizal in Shaar Hakavonos also discusses the great difference between the Tikun of Shacharis versus the other prayers). 


After midday the time of judgment is starting, while the world experiences diminishing of sun light. Two types of light are discussed in Kabala: Ohr Yashar (direct light) and Ohr Chozer (reflected light). The reflected light in this case is the readiness of people to receive the Divine Good. During the time of judgment, one can still receive from Above, but only if he is worthy. This is one of the reasons why the Talmud (Brochos 6b) tells us to be especially careful regarding Mincha prayer.


Aravis is instituted at night time. This prayer is less obligatory than the others (see Talmud, Brochos 27b; in fact, according to the Mishna Berura, 106:4, women are exempt from this prayer, see however Aruch Hashulchan 106:7). Since the main active Hanhaga is during the day, the Shacharis and Mincha make active rectifications, while Aravis is instituted during a more passive time of absorbing the day’s changes. At last, Tikun Chatzos is a totally nonobligatory prayer, but midnight is in general “Es Ratzon” (time of Divine favor, see Talmud, Evamos 72a), when the light of Chesed gets aroused before daybreak.  


Note, that the three main prayers instituted by the forefathers, are preferably recited in a synagogue, while Tikun Chatzos was instituted primarily for home. There are also four articles that were prepared for the prophet Elisha as it says (Melachim 2:4:9): “… let us put there a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp”. The GR”A (in his commentary Imrey Noam to the Talmud, Brochos, 8a) writes that these four articles also correspond to the four prayers. The lamp has to do with the right side, just as it stood in the Holy Temple; the table – to the left just as it stood in the Temple; the chair is in the middle (like the mizbeach in the Temple), and the bed has to do with Malchus. The first letters of the above four articles (Mita, Shulchan, Kise and Ner) for the word “M-SH-K-N” spelling Mishkan – sanctuary. The last three letters of this word (corresponding to the three prayers instituted by the forefathers) spell shochen – neighbor. This is how the GR”A explains the statement of the Talmud (Brochos, 8a) that the one who does not visit the synagogue in his city is called a bad neighbor. Since he does not come to pray the three main prayers in the Shul, he is missing the rectification of these three letters! May we soon merit that our prayers will be accepted in the “Miniature Temples” – our synagogues, and that we see the coming of Moshiach, when all Kosher Synagogues will be moved to the Holy Land (Talmud, Megila 29a).


Parshas Chayei Sara.




From the earliest times, it was customary that the bride was blessed before marriage, as we learn in this week’s Parsha (Bereishis 24:60) “… and they blesses Rivka …” In fact the Talmud (beginning of Maseches Kala) mentions that the blessings of the bride are hinted in this verse, (see Tosafos and other Rishonim to Kesuvos 7b, as to why the Talmud also learns these blessing from a different verse in the book of Rus). What is the significance of the seven blessings that we say on our weddings?




Our sages established seven special blessings for newlyweds. These blessings are said during the wedding (under the chuppah), and after benching (Birkas Hamazon) of each meal during the following seven days, if there is a minyan, and some of the present have not heard the blessing for this couple yet.


According to the Zohar and another Kabbalistic books, the general meaning of these blessings is that each woman, when she marries, is a projection of all the Jewish people and their spiritual root. This is another reason why the bride is referred to as a "kallah" – from a word “Kol” – all. Thus, she is blessed with the blessings that correspond to the seven Sefiros used by the Creator to rule the world. In general, Sefiros can be viewed as parts of Divine will or as ways of Hanhaga – Hashem’s rule over the universe, see our words on Parshas Bereishis for further explanation.


According to the Zohar, (Terumah, page 169) the Seven Brochos correspond to the following Seven Sefiros:


Who Creates the fruit of the Vine
Who Created everything for His glory
Who Created Adam
Who Created the first couple
Who makes Zion rejoice with Her children
Who makes the groom and bride happy
Who makes the groom happy with the bride 
Understanding (mother)


The bride herself is a projection of Malchus – Royalty. Thus, in the upper worlds, the Malchus  receives the spiritual flow from the Sefiros above, and in our world the bride is blessed with the seven blessings. In this small article we will try to explain a little bit the order of blessings and their correspondence to the Sefiros. Certainly, our comments should be regarded only as a drop in the sea, in comparison with the vast  depth of each word of these Brochos.


Some the general words about the order of blessings:


It is easy to notice, that seven blessings correspond to only seven Sefiros. Why were no blessings established corresponding to the other three Sefiros?


Regarding the last Sefirah – Malchus – it receives the blessings and consequently no Brocha is needed to correspond to it. This Sefirah is considered passive – it shows our readiness to accept Hashem’s rule and His blessings. Our nation is compared to the wife, and the Creator – to its husband. The giving of the Torah was the marriage union and when our people made the Golden Calf Moshe had to break the Tablets and this union was terminated. Later, the Creator accepted the entreaty of Moshe and restored our union through the second Tablets. In general, many elements of the Jewish wedding are similar to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai (see "Made in Heaven" by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan). Now, Malchus is compared to the moon. Its light is only reflected light of the sun just as our nation receives everything only from the Creator. Sometimes we see the moon’s shiny surface, and sometimes none of its light reaches us. So is the readiness of our nation to accept light of the Creator varies throughout time. Therefore say every month in the blessing on the new moon, that our people will be renewed similarly to it ...


The souls of people come from different spiritual roots and also correspond to various Sefiros. The main soul corresponding Malchus is the soul of Dovid Hamelech. Dovid managed to rule justly over our people and during his time we have properly acccepted the Divine Malchus. His descendant – Moshiach will cause all people to accept the yoke of the Creator. (It is interesting, that Dovid's dynasty is also compared to the period of the moon. Dovid was in the fourteenth generation after Avraham, as is the Gematria (numerical value) of the name Dovid, just as the visible part of the moon continues to increase for fourteen days. Then, for the fifteenth day the moon shines it’s brightest, but by the end of day it starts to decrease. So too during the rule of Shlomo, the son Dovid, the peak was reached.  However, by the end of his life he sinned, and the prophets began to criticize him. Later, after another fourteen generations, the Holy Temple was destroyed and our people exiled ...)


As why there are no blessings corresponding first two Sefiros, the matter is that Binah includes also the two Sefiros above it. We find similarly, that there are seven spiritual heavens, and the seventh "sky" – Aravos corresponds to Bina and includes also two Sefiros above it. There are also seven levels of the land, seven deserts which our people passed after Exodus from Egypt, seven days of the week, seven levels of a Gehinom (Hell), etc.


It is possible to ask one more general question: why does Gevurah precede Chesed in the order of these blessings?


The matter is that the union between the man and the woman begins with the left side (the side of power and judgment). This is hinted by a verse in the Song of Songs: “His left hand is under my head, and the right one embraces me”. Similarly in the Mishkan (a portable temple in desert) gold corresponding to Gevurah is mentioned before silver which corresponds to Chesed.


After these general comments, we have brief specific comments on the seven blessings.


1... G-d created the  fruit of the grapevine. Wine is used in many Jewish precepts, such as Kiddush on Shabbos and holidays, in Havdalah after their end, during circumcision etc. According to the simple meaning, our sages compare the position of the soul and the body with a lame man sitting on the shoulders of a deaf person. When the lame heared pleasant music, and he wanted to dance, he gave the deaf person some wine and he started to hop. Thus, a little drink gives enjoyment to the body and then it takes pleasure together with the soul. It is interesting to note that among people, Gevurah corresponds to Yitzchak. The Torah describes how before blessing his son, he asks to have a drink of wine. In general, wine, is connected with the left side of judgment, and can be used both positively and negatively. The Torah describes the negative effect of wine on the righteous Noach ... Only wine of all drinks demands extra care – if it was touched by a non-Jew, it is forbidden to use it.


2... Created all in the glory. This blessing is connected with Chesed – kindness of the Creator. He Himself does not require anything; the creation of the world was totally altruistic. Among people, Chesed corresponds to Avraham. He was the first who has openly declared, that only the Creator of the world rules over everything and began to spread the knowledge of Hashem everywhere.


3:...Formed Adam. This blessing corresponds to Tiferes – harmony. Both this and following blessings end in the same way, but there is a great difference – this brocha speaks about the general formation of Man, one – in two persons. The following blessing mentions the split of the first person into two – the formation of the man and the woman. According to Kaballah, if we start with Netzach, the remaining Sefiros are directly connected to the last Sefirah – Malchus. Therefore, the first three blessings are general, and starting with the fourth, the bride is mentioned openly. Among people, Tiferes corresponds to Yakov who rectified the failures of Adam– the first man. In fact, according to many Kabbalistic sources, Yakov actually was a gilgul (rebirth) of Adam.


4... Formed the first couple. This blessing corresponds to Netzach – eternity. It is interesting that "eternity" is mentioned openly in this blessing. According to many Kabbalistic sources Dovid became attached to this Sefirah. (Even though Dovid's dynasty is connected to Malchus as we have already mentioned, nevertheless it receives its main energy from Netzach, see Zohar 1:21, 3:243; GR”A to the first chapter of Sifra Detzniusa. It is also mentioned in Kabbalistic literature that Dovid also continued the rectification that was not completed by Adam, and that he too was a gilgul of Adam. It is interesting to note  that our sages tell us that after his sin, Adam should have lived for one thousand years, but he give 70 of them to Dovid.)


5. … making Zion happy thru her children. Rashi explains the reason for placing this blessing here is because during our joyful moments we should remember destruction of Jerusalem and our exile. Thus, we express hope for a speedy deliverance from Galus. This blessing corresponds to Hod – splendor. Basically, this Sefirah, like Gevurah, is on the left side. So is the subject of this blessing. It is interesting, that our main exile is in the fifth millennium, corresponding to this Sefirah. The letters of “Hod” are the same as in the word “Dava” from the verse «all day she is ill» and the Zohar says, that the exile throughout the fifth millennium is hinted here. Similarly in the sixth millennium, Hod corresponds to the years of the World War 2.(see our article "The last ten centuries"). Among the souls of people, Yehoshua is connected to this Sefirah. As is known, he brought our people into the Land of Israel. Yehoshua was from the tribe of Ephraim, and so too, another descendant of Ephraim, Moshiach ben Yosef, will start the redemption. His soul too is connected with Hod (see Zohar 1:21, 3:243).


6: … Making happy the groom and the bride. This blessing is connected with Yesod: foundation. Rashi explains that this blessing, unlike the following, is not on the union of the groom and the bride. Rather here they receive their blessings separately. Therefore, it also ends with words "Who makes happy the groom and the bride". In the following brocha they are blessed together, the blessing thus ends: "Who makes happy the groom with the bride!" In general, Yesod combines the light of Sefiros above and brings it down to Malchus. For example, among people Yoseph corresponds to Yesod, and he supported Egypt and its neighboring countries during the famine. (This may also be the reason, Rashi says, that in this blessing the newlyweds are promised a good livelihood.)


7: … Who makes happy the groom with the bride. This blessing is connected with Bina – understanding. In Kaballah, Bina is often referred to as mother – this Sefirah is considered to be giving birth to the Sefiros below it. There are 50 words in this blessing, just as there are 50 Shaarey Bina – gates of understanding (see the Talmud, Nedarim, 38). Often this Sefirah is associated with the soul of Moshe. It is thus mentioned in the Talmud that 49 of 50 gates of wisdom were opened to him. Only after the bride has received blessings from the lower six Sefiros, does the influence of Bina come down, for in fact this blessing includes the others. In this blessing 10 different words are used to describe happiness, peace, and friendship. These words are almost synonyms, for all of them lead to joy. These ten words correspond to all ten Sefiros, and also to the ten sayings with which the world was created and to the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai. We will try to explain here some of the differences between these ten words.


Sosson and Simcha – two kinds of happiness. The GR”A explains, that Sosson is gladness in the heart when the desired good has already been reached, while Simcha is the delight of aspiration to achieve the good. This joy is noticeable to the outsiders as well (GR”A to Megillas Ester, 8:17).


Gil – This is constant happiness, unlike Simcha – spontaneous joy (GR”A to Mishley 2:14, 23:24, and to Divrei Hayamim, 1:16:31).


Rina – literally – song. This word can have negative connotation (see for example Eichah 2:19, and Ibn Ezra there). We mention during the Mincha prayer on Shabbos "Avraham Yagel (from the word “Gil”), Yitzchak Yeranain (from the word “Rina”). The matter is that Gil it is connected with Chesed, and Rina – with Gevurah. Therefore the word Rina is used also in relation to happiness when evildoers are destroyed (Mishley 11:10).


Ditza – this word is mentioned in Tanach only once, in the book of Iyov 41:14. According to the commentators, this word is used when even frustration turns to fun and dancing.


Chedva – Spiritual pleasure (see the Malbim’s commentary to the book of Nechemia 8:9). Thus, for example, this word is used for the description of pleasure after the construction of the Second Temple (Ezra 6:16).


Ahava and Achva, Shalom and Reus – literally: love and a brotherhood, peace and friendship. These four words are synonyms, and all of them lead to pleasure.


Note that the voices of happiness are mentioned five times in this blessing, corresponding to the five voices heard by our nation at Mount Sinai. We hope to deserve that each Jewish wedding will bring true Torah pleasure, and that the new family will be worthy that the Shechinah will dwell in their midst. 


Parshas Toldos.




In this week’s Parsha we learn how Yitzchak wanted to give his blessings to the wicked Eisav. Rivka advises Yakov how to trick Yitzchak in order that he (Yakov) should receive the blessings. Yakov successfully pretends to be his brother and Yitzchak blesses him, but later discovers the trick. In the end Yitzchak gives a different blessing to Eisav as well. There are a few obvious questions usually asked regarding this entire episode. Why was it necessary for Yakov to pretend to be his brother? If Eisav was so wicked, why did Yitzchak want to bless him in the first place? Why was Yakov permitted to lie? How did the blessing take effect if it was given to the wrong person? Why did not Yitzchak curse the “usurper” as soon as he found out about the trick? Last but not least: what’s the difference between the two blessing anyway? Was not the beginning of Eisav’s blessing actually quite similar to Yakov’s[21]? So why then did he then hate his brother so much for tricking him?




To better understand this obscure passage in the Torah we have to go back and remember two important pieces of information: the prediction Rivka received when she was still pregnant with the two brothers, and the selling of the birthright, described in this week’s Parsha. Our sages tell us that in many ways our matriachs had a greater understanding and even deeper prophetic vision than their husbands (see Midrash Tanchuma, Shemos 1:1, Rashi on Bereishis 21:12). For instance, Sarah discerned the danger of leaving Yishmael in the household, while Avraham was biased and did not want to send away his son. In the case of our Parsha, Rivka understood the nature of Eisav better than Yitzchak did. Moreover, since she was already prophetically told, that her two children will be the different from one another, with the older serving the younger, she realized that Eisav is a wicked son[22]. Rivka received this prophesy when she went to the academy of Shem, son of Noach – the great sage of the time (see Rashi on Bereishis 25:22, Zohar 1:137b), whose prophetic vision was not to be doubted. Yitzchak however was not aware of this prophesy (see Ramban Bereishis 27:4), and therefore wanted to give over the blessing to his firstborn son.


It is known in the writings of Kabala (and we discussed this in our commentary to Parshas Noach and Parshas Vayera) that Yitzchak’s soul had to do with the Sefirah of “Gevurah” (strength and judgment). Eisav inherited this characteristic from his father, and this is one of the reasons why Yitzchak always felt a special closeness to his firstborn son. In general, from Yitzchak’s point of view, Eisav’s qualities could have been used for good, there would a division of responsibility: Yakov – learning the Torah, while Eisav (and his descendants) – protecting them from the nations as well as serving in the future Temple[23]. By giving Eisav the special brocha, he would be even further strengthened to fulfill his mission. However, Eisav used his talents for evil. He used his strength to rob people, while pretending to be a righteous son of his father (see Talmud Bava Basra 16b). Meanwhile he was serving Yitzchak with great awe and respect, and Yitzchak really thought his son to be a tzadik.


In general, Hashem tells His prophets about what He is planning to do (see Amos 3:7), but at times, when the need arises, some information is hidden from them. Normally, a person of Yitzchak’s caliber, deserving of having the Divine Presence constantly in his home, should have known that Eisav was wicked. However, for the time being even Yitzchak did not perceive the true nature of his firstborn son[24]. In this case the whole rectification was prepared in the manner that Yakov should get his blessings in a roundabout way[25]. One of the reasons for this was that Yakov was rectifying the sin of Adam (see or commentary to Parshas Vayera). Eisav, however, got attached to the spiritual root of the original serpent (and Satan himself – Eisav’s guardian angel). To reverse the effects of Adam’s sin, the tikun had to be that just as the serpent deceived Adam, now “Adam” had to deceive the “serpent”. Yakov had to act in this awkward manner, posing as Eisav[26]. Another reason for this is the famous concept “Maasey Avos Siman Lebonim[27]” – the deeds of the forefathers are a harbinger of what will happen to their descendants. (Ramban, in his Torah commentary brings many examples of the events that happened to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov and how they correspond to the future history of the Jewish people.) In the future our nation would frequently have to resort to all sorts of tricks in order to survive in the hostile environment among the nations of the world, the descendants of Eisav.


Even though we can now understand the underlying factors behind Yakov’s trickery, we still have to comprehend why it was permitted? For one thing, Rivka received a prophecy, that Yakov should get this blessing even using such tricky methods (see Targum Onkelus Bereishis 27:13); so the permission to lie was based on a general principle, that a prophet can temporarily permit any prohibition except idol worship (see Talmud, Yevamos 90b; Sanhedrin 89b).


We can understand Yakov’s behavior even better if we will remind ourselves of the second piece of information: Eisav had already sold the birthright to Yakov. According to Rashi, this birthright primarily consisted of the right to serve in the future Temple and in general, to be a spiritual leader of the Chosen People. Yakov knew the true nature of Eisav and tried to get this privilege away from him at the earliest possible time. As we know he was successful, in truth Eisav did not value his birthright even as much as a meal. Now, many years later, Yakov was coming in place of Eisav to receive the blessings that he had bought. It was not technically incorrect for him to say “I am Eisav”, meaning I am his representative, since he sold his privileges to me[28] (see Rashbam, Chizkuni, Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh and Haksvav Vehakabal on Bereishis  27:19).


Once Yitzchak blessed Yakov, he prophetically felt that the blessing took effect and was successful for the one for whom it was intended. This is why, even after Yitzchak’s beloved son came back, he did not curse Yakov “the usurper” but on the contrary said: “let him be blessed” (Ramban 27:33). Moreover, our sages teach us (Bereishis Raba 65:22) that Yitzchak felt the Gehinom open before him as soon as Eisav entered. From now on, there was no longer any reason for Hashem to continue hiding the true nature of Eisav from his father. The prophet could now tell the wickedness of his son right away. He did not even want to give him any blessings at all. In the end he did give him a brocha.


At fist glance, the blessings of Eisav seem to be so similar to Yakov’s brochos. However, there are major distinctions between them (see Zohar 1:143b, and the GR”A’s commentary there). The blessing of Yakov starts with the name of Hashem, while Eisav’s blessings plainly states what he will get without any Divine Name mentioned. The blessings of Yakov start with the dew of Heaven, and then the fatness of the earth is mentioned, for Yakov receives everything from Above. However, Eisav’s blessing first mentions the fatness of the earth and then the dew of HeavenHeavenHeaven. After all, Eisav is “attached” just below, and it is only through his guardian angel’s “accusations” (of our nation not keeping the commandments) that Eisav can rise higher and receive any dominion (see below).


The blessings of Yakov are ten in number, they correspond to ten Sefiros, and they rectify the ten curses of Adam (Zohar ibid). Eisav, however, got a total of three blessings. The GR”A (on the Zohar ibid) explains that they correspond to the three types of Satan: Yetzer Hara (evil inclination), angel of death and the Satan himself (see Talmud, Bava Basra 16a). These three correspond in our bodies to the liver, spleen and the gallbladder[29].


Eisav is supposed to be subordinate to Yakov. However, Eisav is promised that if the descendants of Yakov misbehave, he will have a possibility to break off Yakov’s yoke and have his own dominion. For the time our nation was righteous, Edom (Eisav’s descendants) were vassals to Judea. However, already during the times of the First Temple, under King Yehoram, Edom broke off the Jewish dominion (Melachim 2:8:20). Similarly, during the times of the Second Temple, Edomites were controlled by the Jewish kings (Chashmonaim). However, as the later kings allied themselves with the Sadducees and persecuted the Torah sages, an Edomite descendant Herod killed all the Chashmonaim and took over the power himself. Interestingly, the rule of Herod and his descendants lasted exactly as long as that of the Chashmonaim – 103 years (here also the principle of mida keneged mida[30] operated). Later on, as the Roman Empire accepted Catholicism, they became the biggest enemy of Judea[31]. Our sages knew, that the first to accept Christianity and spread it over the Roman Empire were the Edomites, hence the well known connection between Edom and the massive Christian world (see Ramban, Sefer Hageula, part 3). Even though most of Christians do not directly come from Eisav, their founders and their spiritual root are associated with Edom (see the end of our commentary to Parshas Noach).


And so we have been in the Roman exile for almost 2000 years, and because of our sins Edom still has power over us. The Torah (Devarim, chapter 30) predicts that in the end of days, we will repent and return fully to Mitzvah observance, (see our article in appendix 1). This Teshuvah movement has already started and we are waiting every day for the promised redemption.


Parshas Vayeitze.




In this Parsha we read a detailed account of how Yakov worked for Lavan in return for a payment of certain kinds of sheep and goats. The exact types of animals are described (31:10) as Akudim, Nekudim and Berudim (ringed, spotted and flecked)[32], as well as the ways Yakov used to prepare some of the flocks for himself. It even mentions Yakov’s vision of an angel (31:11) in which the separation of the flocks is seen. What is the need for the Torah to spend so much time on these descriptions, while many important laws are often only hinted to with just one extra letter?




It is known in the Zohar and other Kabalistic writings that often the most unassuming passages of Torah actually contain the deepest hints. In fact, the more simple and uninformative the passage seems to be, the more likely it is to contain profound Sodos - secrets of Kabala[33]. The Zohar states (3:149b) “Woe is to the one who thinks that the Torah is just telling us stories … Even for an earthly king it’s not honorable to tell meaningless stories, how much more so to write them down. Certainly even more so, when the King of kings, Hashem would just collect various tales like the account of Hagar, of Lavan with Yakov, of the Bilaam’s donkey, of Bilaam and Balak and of Zimri. If this is what Torah is why is it called the Torah of Truth, whose words are more desirable than precious gold?  Rather the Holy Torah is infinitely deep, all of its stories contain hints, allusions, and profound inner meaning …[34]


One of the most known examples is the description (in the next Parsha) of the “eight kings of Edom” that had ruled before there was a king to the Jewish people. The Zohar (3:128) expounds on this in one of its’ central places called Idra Raba, where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai assembled his students and taught them deep mysteries of creation. The Zohar starts there by saying: “This seems to be a difficult passage that the Torah should not have written. There were many different kings before the Jewish people, and there were more kings before there was the first king of the Jewish people. What is this description doing here?” The Zohar goes on to expound on the primeval creation of spiritual worlds, and in particular eight original Sefiros seven of which could not contain the light given to them and they “broke” (i.e. died). The names of kings and that of their fathers as well as their places of birth all of a sudden gain tremendous significance. They are hints to the early creations which later led to the creation of the lower worlds and to our world today. In the case of the first, the fourth, and the last kings, the city where they ruled is mentioned. The Torah also mentions the wife of the last king, but it does not mention his death. Each of these pieces of information is extremely important, once one knows what they hint to, while it carries no significance to the one who is not involved.


Similarly, in this Parsha, the details of Yakov’s pasturing of Lavan’s sheep form the nucleus of many Kabalistic writings. For example, in the main work based on Arizal – “Etz Chaim”, one of 50 Shaarim (gates) is devoted to the world of “Akudim” (ringed)[35]. Describing the details of what is involved in this episode goes far beyond the scope of this work. However, we will give a brief explanation of one of the aspects of Yakov’s pasturing and separating certain animals from Lavan’s flock (for further details, see Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Pischei Shaarim, Netiv Partzufei Leah VeRachel, 6; Beis Olamim commentary to Idra Raba to pages 129 and 134-136)[36].


It is known in Kabalistic writings[37] that Adam’s soul in a way included all the souls of people, and after his sin, many different souls descended into Klipos (unclean spiritual worlds). For the time being[38] Hashem made a system of spiritual equilibrium between the “Good” and the “Evil”[39]. This is generally compared to a strong warrior fighting against a weak one, while using only a part of his strength, in order for the battle to be fair. The key element in this war is the human being. This is the creature that can tip the scales in either direction[40]. Meanwhile, the “Evil” is allowed to act as a prosecutor, to “demand” retribution[41], or to claim “lack of fairness”. In particular, each time a great soul is released from the worlds of “Sitra Achara”, the Satan is given permission to “speak up” and make demands.


Obviously, the greatest rectification in history started when the soul of Avraham[42] was sent to this world. Indeed, the Satan claimed that such a person will throw the scales off balance. As such, he demanded that this soul will only be released to a family of idol manufacturer – Terach. Moreover, only when Terach was having relations with his wife (Amtelai Bas Karnevo) during her menstrual period, did the Satan agree to let go the soul of Avraham. He was hoping that being born under such conditions and in such a family, Avraham will fail his task, and indeed his soul will descend even lower, thus giving the spiritual energy to Klipos. However, the Satan was wrong. Avraham not only rose above his predisposition, but even rectified his father[43]. Terach’s third gilgul was Iyov, who was now suffering for his sins from before[44] (all of this is taken from Kisvei Arizal, Shaar Hapsukim, beginning of Sefer Iyov).  


Once Avraham started changing the world, his unique family had to select the other souls trapped in the Klipos. This was the Sod of pasturing the flocks. Lavan represented the unclean worlds and Yakov was trying to choose out the good souls trapped there. First Yakov took out Leah and Rachel and then he started working on the future Jewish souls. All the details described in our Parsha are hinting both to the rectifications of the Olamos (worlds) and that of Neshamos (souls), (see Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Pischai Shaarim, Netiv Partzufei Leah VeRachel, 6; Beis Olamim to pages 129 and 134-136). This also explains the reasons why Yakov had to act slyly again, (see our commentary to Parshas Toldos). The only way to be successful against the Sitra Achara is to use its’ own methods of cunning (see Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Beis Olamim, page 129), as it says (Shmuel 2:22:27): “… with the perverse, you should be cunning”.


As we mentioned above, it would be far too complicated to describe the details of these hints; we just tried to give the reader an idea of what is involved. We will just finish by quoting the end of the words of Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Beis Olamim, page 129): “You now see the depth of our Holy Torah and the wonderful things hinted here regarding the sheep and the rods. At first glance they look as unimportant things but in truth they hint the depth of the war between the Kedusha and the Sitra Achara.” May we soon merit that all the needed rectifications will be finished, all the souls that need to come down[45] will finish their work, and we will then merit the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days!


Parshas Vayishlach.




This weekly parsha begins with Yakov's meeting with Eisav. Yakov, on his way back to eretz Yisroel (the Holy Land), informs Eisav of what has happened to him during the last 20 years. Later he learns, that Eisav is on the way to meet him, and with him 400 men. Yakov gets very much frightened, starts to pray to Hashem, and sends Eisav a set of messengers with gifts. As a result, Eisav is so flattered that during their meeting he kisses Yakov, and even suggests accompanying him. Yakov refuses, saying: "A large family is with me, we are not moving so quickly. You can go at your speed, while we will gradually reach our destination."


It is necessary to ask a few questions. First, why was Yakov so frightened? In fact he was an extremely strong man, as we saw in the previous chapter. He was able to move alone a stone which was heavy enough to require the combined efforts of all the shepherds together to push it. His sons also possessed enormous power. Later in this parsha we learn that just two of them alone (Shimon and Levi) were successful in fighting against the entire city of Shechem. Since Yakov had huge herds, he must have had many strong shepherds with him. They surely could overcome the small army of Eisav if they made a united effort. Moreover if Yakov decided to flatter Eisav why did he send such a small gift? In total he sent less than 500 small animals, and a little more than a hundred large ones. Considering his means, he could have sent tens or hundreds of times as much. Besides that, what was Yakov trying to achieve in the first place when sending his messages to Eisav? Why should he mention his riches? This would only increase Eisav’s hatred. 




It is known that "Maasei Avos – Siman Lebanim" – what occurred to the patriarchs is a sign to their descendents. There are many parallels between the lives of our forefathers and the events that later happened to our people. (Ramban in the commentary on Bereishis brings many examples of this, see for example Ramban on Bereishis 12:6; the GR”A on Tikuney Zohar Chadash, 80c). One of the reasons for this is that our forefathers were like roots of a tree, while we are like branches of this same tree[46]. Another reason is so that the future events will become firmly fixed. Even though some prophesies are conditional, those prophesies that had a sign given will definitely be fulfilled[47]. Similarly, the lives of our fathers were a sign for their children, and they firmly established what will happen to the later generations[48]. Similarly the beginning of this week’s parsha serves as a guide for the behavior of a Jew in Golus (exile)[49]. Our sages used to study this Parsha before they went to meet with representatives of the Roman government (see Ramban 33:15, Bereishis Raba 78:15).


At first glance, Yakov's reaction to Eisav’s threat seems exaggerated. The Maggid of Dubno explains what had occurred by means of the following parable. A king had a close friend in a remote city. In this city there was no doctor but if the king’s friend fell ill, the king would send to him the court doctor. Once, many people became very ill in that city. Though the close friend only sneezed a little, but did not really feel bad, he began to groan, as though he had strong pain. His family who knew, that he is not sick were surprised. He told them: "Do you think that I suffer strongly? I suffer for others, so that a doctor is sent who will cure the other patients."


Similarly, writes the Maggid of Dubno, Yakov knew that his meeting with Eisav will set a precedent in history for the meetings of our people with the descendants Eisav. He knew that in the subsequent history, our people will not always deserve help from Hashem. Therefore he prepared the salvation back then, through his prayers and his merits. Moreover, during our journey thru history we will not always deserve open miracles, but there is a reliable way to be rescued from the anger of the nations - bribes. As we see, Yakov did not even send Eisav so much[50]. However, he made a big pomp, with many envoys, one after another, at a distance from each other. This is a part of human nature - many small actions have a greater effect than one big one[51].


In reality, Yakov did not wish to give the wicked Eisav too much. Righteous people value their property, which they earn honestly. All their possessions are sanctified and very dear to them[52]. For this reason, Yakov sent Eisav only the minimum gift needed to flatter him.


Initially, when Yakov sent his message, he hoped that Eisav would leave him alone, when he saw how Hashem had blessed him. The Maggid of Dubno explains this by the following parable. A poor man once went to other country to earn some money. His business was not going too well, and he already decided to go back home with empty hands. Then, all of the sudden a huge opportunity suddenly turned up, and he earned a million dollars! When he returned everybody thought that he is an ingenious businessman. But when he told them how he made this money, they all recognized that the Creator has made a miracle for him! Similarly Yakov did not earn even a penny during the first 14 years of work. Only in the last years he suddenly grew fabulously rich. According to the Maggid, Yakov was telling Eisav: "Do not be angry at me. I have earned nothing. Only in the end, the Creator has suddenly sent me his blessing."


Rashi (32:5) writes another very interesting explanation regarding the message that Yakov sent to Eisav. He said: “Even though I lived (garti) with the wicked Lavan, I kept 613 commandments[53]. I did not learn from Lavan’s evil ways.” Rav Elchonan Wasserman quotes the Chofetz Chaim that Yakov was actually admitting his lack of accomplishment: “I did not learn how to serve Hashem with the same diligence as Lavan commits his sins!” We should learn from the sinners! We should imitate their tremendous industriousness when they conduct dishonest businesses. Look at how much energy they put into seeking entertainment; in pursuing the forbidden? They often give up on their sleep for the sake of night pleasures! How far could we progress if we would only try to imitate them in their energetic ways, if we put as much vigor and strength into serving Hashem? We would then certainly deserve a speedy redemption and the coming of Moshiach!


Parshas Vayeshev.




In this Parsha we read the account of Yehuda and Tamar. At first glance, this story is quite peculiar and begs some questions. Why did Yehuda tell his second son to marry Tamar? When his second son died, what were Yehuda’s plans now? Why did Yehuda have relations with Tamar if she appeared to be a prostitute? What was the reason Tamar was judged to be killed? What is the significance of the two children born to her?




As we already mentioned in parshas Vayetze, the most obscure passages of Torah usually contain the most fundamental information. This is especially true in regards to the development of the Jewish souls, and in particular the primary souls, whose rectification comprises a Tikun for the entire nation. One of the main souls, that is a composite of  all of our people, is that of King Dovid. The Moshiach, his descendant will finish the rectification started by him. Special care had to be taken to prepare the appearance of King Dovid in this world[54], starting many generations before his birth. 


As we discussed in parshas Vayetze, the great souls are not released so easily. The more unobtrusive their appearance will be, the greater is their chance of succeeding. Back in the times of Yehuda[55], the events, guided by the Divine hand, were already taking place to make way for Dovid. The continuation of King Dovid’s ancestral chain is further described in the book of Rus[56]. During the years of famine, in the era of the Shoftim, a family from Yehuda goes to sojourn in the land of Moav. All the male members of the household die, and the mother (Naomi) comes back to Yehuda with her widowed daughter in law – Rus the Moabite. Rus later exhibits tremendous loyalty for Naomi.  She works hard gathering the parts of the crops left for the poor, trying to support her mother in law. She also becomes known for her exceptionally modest behavior[57], attracting the attention of a rich and noble judge, Boaz, a cousin of her late husband. Since Boaz’s wife recently died he is offered Rus (who is a lot younger than him) for a shidduch. The custom of ancient Israel was that the closest relative of the deceased is supposed to marry his widow. In this case, there is one other relative who is even closer than Boaz but he refuses to take Rus. Boaz then marries her with all the town’s sages attending the wedding. Rus gets pregnant and gives birth to Oved who becomes King Dovid’s grandfather. Our sages also mention that Dovid himself was considered an illegitimate child (mamzer) as we will later discuss. 


It would seem that the stories of Tamar, Rus, and Dovid’s mother are just shameful episodes in our history. Indeed they were an object of laughter among many jesters[58] who would say: “Look at the founders of the Jewish royalty! Their forefather (Yehuda) impregnated their foremother thinking she is a prostitute. What good can come out from such a union? Another one of their foremothers (Rus) came from the despised nation of Moav, who are specifically forbidden to mix in with our people. At last, Dovid’s own father Yishai claims that this is not his son!” In truth, only through such an unattractive family tree[59] could the great soul of Dovid originate. We can now get into the depth of what is hinted here.


It is known that when a man dies without children, his wife is subject to the law of Yibum, i.e. she gets married to a brother of the deceased. If none of the brothers want to marry her, the procedure of Chalitza is performed. The main reason behind this is that in most cases, a person who did not have children needs to come back to this world. Since a married man leaves some of his spirit in his wife, she has the potential to bring him back, especially if her new husband is a close relative of the deceased[60]. In the case of a Yibum, the new couple can restore the entire structure of the soul (Neshama, Ruach and Nefesh) of the departed brother exactly the way it was in this world. The Torah hints this by saying that the child born will be named after the dead. This passage is not taken literally[61], but rather is a hint that the child born will have the souls of the deceased. If however none of the brothers want to do Yibum, the Chalitza severs any remaining connection between the deceased and the widow, and the soul of the departed will need other rectifications. That is why the main part of Chalitza is the removal of the shoe from the foot of the brother, symbolizing the release of the spiritual from the physical[62]. The widow also spits out to symbolize her release of any spiritual connection to her late husband. In the ancient times, our people practiced a procedure similar to Yibum and Chalitza even with other relatives, not just the brother. This is exactly what happened in the cases of Yehuda with Tamar, as well as Boaz with Rus.


When the first husband of Tamar died, Yehuda told his second son to do Yibum. Even though the Torah was not given yet, we see from here that our ancestors understood the great tikunim that can be done by fulfilling the commandments and practiced them voluntarily. The second son did not try to fulfill the command of Yibum, but rather did everything to prevent Tamar from getting pregnant. He also died in his young age. This event was quite unusual for Yakov’s family that generally enjoyed special blessings of longevity. Yehuda was afraid to give Tamar to his third son[63] and meanwhile Tamar was quite eager to have a child from this special family. Since her intentions were pure[64], Hashem made “special arrangements” that she should be successful. She sat on the road pretending to be a prostitute. Obviously, Yehuda was not a man to go to these kinds of women[65] but in this case Tamar’s prayers were answered and a special miracle was performed. Yehuda all of a sudden had tremendous sexual desire[66] (Bereishis Raba 85:8). He approached the woman, verified that she is not married and that she practices monotheism[67] and then had relations with her[68]. Another miracle occurred and she got pregnant right away. In her womb, she was carrying the gilgulim of her two late husbands. The tremendous tikun that was waiting to be produced by these people caused a very strong reaction from the forces of evil (see our commentary to parshas Vayetze). Everything on the unclean side (Sitra Achara) was aroused to stop this pregnancy[69] but the end result ultimately depended on Yehuda’s freedom of choice. Indeed, he passed the test and admitted to what happened. The next generations of King Dovid’s ancestors came to this world!


A few hundred years later, a new ingredient in the lineage of King Dovid was being prepared. Moav – the nation of exceptional cruelty[70] and moral degradation possessed certain sparks of holiness carried all the way from Lot and his firstborn daughter[71]. The Torah had forbidden any Moabite convert to intermix with our nation, but this prohibition was limited to men. Since for generations there were no Moabite converts, the details of this law were forgotten and when Rus came with Naomi, many thought that she is also forbidden to marry a regular Jew[72]. Boaz however, knew the truth and issued his halachic ruling: Rus is permissible to the Jewish Congregation. Since at the time of this statement there was a closer relative who could choose to marry Rus, Boaz was not considered “biased” in his ruling. Later, that relative refused[73], as he did not accept the ruling, and then Boaz followed his own opinion and married Rus. She became pregnant on the wedding night, but Boaz died right after. Some thought that his death was Divine retribution for marrying a Moabite convert, but in truth it was exactly the opposite – Hashem let Boaz live till this time only in order that the next generation of Dovid’s ancestors will be born.


Boaz’s grandson Yishai was one of the leaders of the generation. At the end of his life he started doubting the halachic decision of his grandfather. What if Boaz was wrong? Then the entire family would be considered “Psulei Kahal” – those unfit to marry regular Jewish people. There is one way to purify such families (Talmud, Kidushin 69a). The man can take a servant woman and her children are halachically like herself. If they are freed, they can marry anyone! But what if Boaz was right? Then Yishai is regular Jew and can’t have relations with a servant woman. So Yishai came up with an ingenious solution[74]. He separated from his wife, and freed his servant woman on condition that he is a kosher Jew. This way, if Yishai is kosher, his relations with the servant woman are permitted since she was freed, and has become Jewish. But if Yishai is not kosher, then he is having relations with a servant woman, whose children will not bear a stigma of “Psulei Kahal”. This way Yishai could purify his seed and have kosher descendants no matter what.


When Yishai’s wife found out about this, she did not accept such a decision. She was confident that Boaz, the leader of his generation, could not be mistaken. Her husband was a kosher Jew. She therefore pretended to be the servant woman, and went to her husband in the dark[75]. When his wife was noticeably pregnant, Yishai, of course, assumed that this is an illegitimate child[76]. Later, when Shmuel came to anoint one of Yishai’s children, it did not even occur to Yishai to bring Dovid. It was only when Shmuel received a message from Hashem that neither of the men standing before him is the chosen one, was Dovid called in. And here the TRUTH came out at last[77]. The man that was most despised is the true anointed of Hashem. It’s the broken heart that Hashem desires (Tehilim 51:19).


Dovid was the in fourteenth generation after Avraham, so is the Gematria of the word Dovid. His kingdom is compared to the moon[78]. The moon shines its’ brightest on the fifteenth day of the lunar month, but by the end of the day its’ light to us begins to wane. So too Shlomo, Dovid’s son, reached the highest point of the dynasty, but at the end of his life things started to deteriorate (see Melachim 1:11:4). In another fifteen generations the Temple was destroyed and our nation went into exile. Every month, when we sanctify the new moon we say that our nation will be renewed just like the new moon! And as we wait for Moshiach to speedily arrive, we continue: “Dovid, the King of Israel lives forever!”


Parshas Miketz.




In this parsha we read about the encounter of Yosef and his brothers. A few questions are asked about it. First of all, why did Yosef not reveal who he is right away? Even if he wanted to punish his brothers for selling him, why did his father have to suffer? In truth there seems to be no reason why Yosef did not send a message to his father right after he became second to the king, and spare Yakov the anguish of nine extra years. Why did Yosef accuse his brothers of being spies? He had to at least have some pretext for this. Why did Yosef demand that the brothers bring Binyamin? Why did Yosef choose Shimon to be taken as a hostage while the brothers are absent? Why did not Yosef’s brothers recognize him, especially during the second visit, when he turned out to know so much about them?




Before we start answering the questions, let’s discuss a very important principle regarding prophesy[79]. The prophetic message was usually given not just as a prediction for the future. In truth, it was a kind of “road map” for what is recipients are supposed to do. It gave us guidelines regarding the future history of our people, and it was certainly expected that the prophet himself would follow these guiding principles.  An example could be brought from the coronation of Shlomo, son of Dovid. The prophet Noson foretold that Shlomo will be the next king of Israel. At the end of Dovid’s life, his other son, Adoniyahu, used the opportunity when his father was weak and bedridden to try to get himself recognized as Dovid’s successor. Noson did not waste any time. He immediately sent Shlomo’s mother to Dovid and went himself to bring the king into action. When he recognized the danger, Dovid acted immediately and ordered Shlomo to be anointed during he own lifetime!


One could think that all of this was unnecessary. After all, if Hashem wants Shlomo to be the next king, He will certainly find ways to bring this about. However, as we mentioned, Noson knew that this prophesy was revealed to him for a reason, not just to foretell the future. He therefore did everything in his power to bring about the fulfillment of his own prophesy[80].


Regarding our parsha, the Ramban (42:9) and the GR”A (in Aderes Eliyahu 42:9) explain that Yosef also behaved according to his own prophesy[81]. He certainly knew that Yakov’s family is supposed to be in exile in a foreign land[82]. When he was sold to Egypt and ended up becoming second to the king, it became clear that this is the country where the exile will take place. He knew from Pharaoh’s dream, that there will soon be a terrible famine, which will affect also the nearby land of Canaan. So it seemed most likely that during this time his father will descend to Egypt together with the rest of the family.


According to Yosef’s own prophetic dreams, the sequence of events was supposed to be: that first the eleven brothers come and bow down before him, and then the entire family of Yakov will come. When Yosef recognized his brothers he realized that even the first prophesy was not yet fulfilled,[83] since Benyamin was not with them. Yosef started looking for an excuse in order to get the brothers to bring Benyamin. Our sages (Bereishis Raba, 91:6) teach us that the ten brothers had entered Egypt through different gates in order not to arise suspicion. After all, they were all tall and strong and if they came together they may have been suspect – why would so many strong people come together, if not for attacking? Moreover, they wanted to see where Yosef might be, if he is still alive. Since Yosef expected their coming, he had given the gatekeepers a description of his brothers and asked them to warn him as soon as they arrive[84]. As soon as they came, he closed all other food distribution centers except his own, so that they will be forced to all come to him. When they showed up, he started accusing them: why did you all enter through different gates? Why are such a large group of strong men coming here? What were you searching for in the city? They answered that they are all brothers and their might is genetic. They always travel together except for the youngest son, who stayed with their elderly father.


Yosef, acting according to his prophetic dreams, now had an excuse to demand the bringing of Benyamin. This way their words could be verified. To make sure this happens quickly, he kept Shimon with him. He had other reasons for detaining Shimon. According to our sages (Bereishis Raba 84, 16) Shimon was the one who pushed him into the pit before he was sold. Moreover, Shimon and Levi were the two brothers who were very strong and cunning when acting in concert, and Yosef was afraid to let them stay together[85]. Throughout all this time and even after the brothers came back, it did not occur to them that the viceroy they spoke to is Yosef. The reason was that they he changed over time, and he also grew a beard[86]. The brothers also changed but some of them had beards before they parted from Yosef. Besides, Yosef expected them to come, and so he had no problems recognizing them, while they did not even think that their brother, sold into slavery,  could become the second to the king[87].


Once the brothers brought Binyamin, Yosef had just one last test in store for them[88]. Do they hate Binyamin the same way they hated Yosef, or are they going to protect him? The dialogue between Yosef and Yehuda, described in the beginning of the next parsha, proved that the brothers loved Binyamin and were ready to protect him. Yehuda was willing to become a slave to enable Binyamin to return to Yakov! Now that the time has come to reveal himself, Yosef could not hold on any longer, and told them who he is[89].


Ultimately, the whole story of Yosef and his brothers was also a sign to the later generations[90]. The separation of Yosef, the verbal fight between Yosef and Yehuda, and the unification that followed were a prelude to the future split between the kingdoms of Yehuda and Yosef and their reuniting in the end of days. In the future the Jewish people will again be united with their lost brother Yosef – the ten tribes. Two Moshiachs will come to redeem our nation, Moshiach ben Ephraim from Yosef and Moshiach ben Dovid from Yehuda. The two nations will combine into one and “Ephraim will not envy Yehuda and Yehuda will not fight Ephraim” (Yeshiyahu 11:13). “And I will make them into one nation and one king will rule over them” (Yehezkel 37:22)!


Parshas Vayigash.




In the beginning of this parsha, the Torah describes a long monologue where Yehuda is persuading the viceroy (Yosef) to accept himself as a slave instead of Binyamin. The Ramban (44:19) questions the purpose of all this long speech[91]; what Yehuda said was already known to Yosef. Moreover, if Binyamin’s deserves the punishment what’s Yehuda’s whole appeal? Yosef had treated them very kindly until Binyamin stole his goblet, and even now Yosef extended his kindness as far as not punishing the entire group and not sentencing Binyamin to death. 




This meeting of Yehuda and Yosef is a continuation of events described at the end of the last parsha. When pursued, the brothers declared themselves to be innocent and said that if the goblet is found in their possession, they will all be slaves and the one in whose bag it is found will die. The answer they received was that it will be like they said, only the one in whose bag the goblet is found will be a slave. The Ramban (44:10) explains their conversation. In general, when many people are found stealing, they are either all guilty, or just one of them committed the crime without the others knowing. According to their words, the only one who stole is the one in whose possession the goblet is found. This means that they claimed they did not know of the stealing, otherwise the judgment they passed on themselves should be the same, either they all should die or all become slaves. This is why they were told: “it will be like you said”. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that only one of you is at fault. However I will soften the judgment as compared to what you yourselves offered. The thief will be a slave while you will not be punished.


Later, when the goblet was found and the brothers came to Yosef, they said they will all be slaves. Yosef again stated that only Binyamin will be his slave and they should all go home in peace. After Yosef soften the judgment considerably, Yehuda prepared to beseech for even further mitigation of the verdict.


The Malbim (44:18) writes that in general, there are two types of judgments. A regular judge has to follow the rules and laws that were set up. There is however a second way of judging, where the judge may act with extra compassion or take into account the factors that are usually not considered[92]. For example, if the one being judged is a father of a poor family and they have no other means of support, locking him in prison will affect those who are not at fault. A kind judge may take this factor into account and replace the imprisonment by a lighter punishment[93]. This second kind of judgment can not be used by just anybody. Only a king or a very important official is granted special powers to use his own discretion and include various considerations and feelings in his judgment.


Yehuda realized that he won’t be able to win the argument if he asked to be judged according to the letter of the law. Since such circumstantial evidence as finding the goblet in Binyamin’s sack was considered overwhelming, the judges assembled with Yosef would only consider it proper to punish Binyamin. Yehuda therefore approached Yosef alone, trying to persuade him to use the second type of judgment. He started by saying that he is speaking only to Yosef (not to the other judges) for Yosef is like Pharaoh himself, i.e. he has the authority to judge not according to the letter of the law. He asked Yosef not to get angry, for his request is not to twist judgment but rather to exercise the unique privilege of judging according to principles of kindness.


The Malbim now quotes sefer Akeidas Yitzchak (30:23) that Yehuda was asking Yosef to pass a lenient sentence for three reasons. First of all, according to the principles of kindness, a weaker person should not be judged the same way as a strong one. For example, if the penalty for a certain violation is 20 lashes, a weak person might simply die if the punishment is administered. Secondly, if the punishment of the transgressor can cause somebody else’s death, the principles of kindness dictate that the sentence should be altered. At last, if the one who was affected by the crime is the judge himself, it’s in his power to partially forgive and change the punishment.


Thus Yehuda started by saying that Binyamin is a weak child, the youngest one, who is accustomed to special love and care. He is the only living child of his mother, for his maternal brother died, and his father loves him more than anybody else. He is not a kind of child that can bear the yoke of slavery and can easily die under such conditions! Yehuda mentioned that Binyamin’s father will die if he finds out what happened to his favorite son. According to the principles of mercy, their father does not deserve such a cruel punishment for he did not do anything wrong.


Now Yehuda was explaining how Binyamin was only brought to Egypt at Yosef’s request. Since Yosef decreed that they can not see his face without bringing the younger brother, they had absolutely no choice but to bring him. Had Yosef declared that they should never see his face at all, they would still have a hope of coming before him and beseeching him for mercy. But since Yosef said that they can only come to him together with Binyamin, they had no other possible course of action: if they come without Binyamin, he would simply send them back until Binyamin is brought.


Since it is through Yosef that Binyamin was brought to Egypt in the first place, it is only proper that he should do his outmost protecting him. The reason for this is that it is not good for one to be the cause of harm to other people even indirectly[94]. If not for Yosef, Binyamin would never be brought to Egypt and these terrible events would not be happening.


At last, Yehuda asked Yosef to change the verdict since the crime committed only affected himself. Moreover, he would not even loose anything. Since Yehuda is stronger and better equipped to handle slavery, he will be a better replacement for Binyamin. And if Yosef asks why he is volunteering for this, Yehuda explained that he is the guarantor for Binyamin’s safety. Had the guarantee been given to Binyamin himself, Yosef could claim that he had forfeited his rights when he committed theft. However the guarantee was to their father and therefore it still holds true. Rather than being a sinner before his father forever, Yehuda would prefer to be Yosef’s slave.


At this point time came for Yosef to reveal himself. After explaining who he is, he immediately jumped into action. He instantly sent his brothers to bring his father and the rest of the family to Egypt. He was also given Pharaoh’s permission to send carriages (agalos) for transportation. According to our sages (Bereyshis Raba 94:3 brought in Rashi 45:27) the carriages would serve as a testimony to Yakov that Yosef remained righteous even while living in immoral Egyptian society. The reason was that the last mitzvah Yakov was teaching Yosef before they were separated was the mitzvah of “eglah[95] arufa”. Thus Yosef would hint to his father that he still remembers his teachings. This mitzvah is performed when an assassinated body is found outside a city and the identity of the murder can not be discovered. Most likely Yakov was thinking about it many times after he was told that Yosef was killed: “How could I let him go alone? This was a sign from Heaven, I should have realized this. The last halacha I taught him is the law of the one murdered outside the city!” Now that the “agalos” were brought to Yakov, his spirit was renewed. The agalos may have been a sign that Yosef will be considered dead for a long time, but he is still alive.


Yakov knew that a difficult exile lies ahead of his children. He realized that by coming to Egypt he will be preparing a path for successive exiles, (this is why he sent Yehuda ahead to prepare the first Yeshiva, see Rashi 46:28 in the name of Midrash Tanchuma, Vayigash, 11). The Ramban and Rabeinu Bachye (47:28) write that Yakov’s exile to Egypt was a prelude to our exile to Rome[96]. The exile to Egypt happened because of the feud between brothers, and Romans gained control over Israel because of the fighting between two brothers who both wanted to be kings and brought Rome as an arbiter[97]. Moreover, the war that ended in the destruction of the Temple also was started through the last king seeking Roman help to put down other Jews[98]. Our sages (Talmud, Yoma 9b) thus teach that the second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. We have been in exile for almost two thousand years, but even during the darkest times we knew that just as the Torah predicted our punishments, so too it predicts our return and restoration[99]. And every day we will continue to hope for Moshiach’s quick coming!


Parshas Vayechi.




In this parsha, the blessings of Yakov to his children are described. Judging from the long commentaries to these verses, these prophetic blessings were quite obscure, but still a lot of information can be drawn from them. In the blessing to Dan, Yakov said: “Dan will judge his people[100] like one of the tribes of Israel[101]. Let Dan be a snake on the road, a viper on the path biting the horse’s heel, so the rider fall backwards. I am hoping for Hashem’s salvation.” What is hinted in the brocha and why is Hashem’s deliverance mentioned here?



According to our sages[102], the prophesy of Yakov applied to Shimshon, a judge of Israel who came from Dan. In fact, Shimshon from his early youth based his strategy on the words of Yakov’s blessing. The mother of Shimshon gave birth to him after being told by an angel that she will have a special child who will “start” saving the Jewish people from the Plishtim (Shoftim 13:5). The Plishtim had been probably the worst of our neighbors, oppressing us more than once throughout history. After all they were the closest neighbor, living right in the Land of Israel[103]. Shimshon knew that his deliverance from the Plishtim will only be partial. Examining the words of Yakov he realized that they hint to guerrilla warfare. Since his generation was not worthy of great miracles and wondrous deliverances from the hands of the enemy, Shimshon had to look for natural ways to fight the foe[104].


The most important condition in Shimshon’s struggle had to be that the Plishtim will not think that he is fighting for the Jewish people. After all, they could kill ten Jews for every one of their men killed. Had they suspected that Shimshon loves the Jewish people and cares for them, they could tie his hands by keeping some Jews hostage as “collateral”[105]. The only solution to the problem was to severe all ties with the Jewish people and to become a close friend of the Plishtim themselves. Shimshon had to show in the most obvious way that he had broken any connection to the Jewish nation. Then any fighting that he will do will become a personal matter rather than the Jewish revenge.


The clearest way for Shimshon to show that he has nothing to do with the Jews was to marry one of the Plishti women! According to our sages[106] Shimshon actually got his first wife converted. However, under normal circumstances a conversion for the sake of marriage is forbidden. Shimshon was following a very dangerous path: a sin Leshem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven). Under certain circumstances, as such a sin is deemed by our sages to be even greater than a mitzvah[107]. However, one of the conditions is that the person acting is not trying to derive any enjoyment from this act. This way, his act is considered to be under duress[108]. 


In general, our sages (Talmud, Sotah 9b) criticize Shimshon for going after his eyes. The reason[109] is that Shimshon’s acts were not just dedicated for the sake of delivering the Jewish people but had an element of personal pleasure[110]. In the end he got so accustomed to forming relationships with non-Jewish women that he even gave himself away to one of them[111]. He told her the secret of his strength: that his hair is never cut. As soon as she shaved of his hair, Shimshon’s tremendous strength vanished and he became an ordinary individual.


The Plishtim captured Shimshon, put out his eyes and brought him into their Temple. By that time his hair started growing again and he prayed to Hashem to be able to take revenge this one last time. His strength returned and he pulled down the beams of the Temple, killing himself and thousands of Plishtim.


Rabeynu Bachye (49:17) and Bereishis Raba (98:14) explain some of the hints of Yakov’s prophesy that were fulfilled by Shimshon. Shimshon waged guerilla warfare alone against the Plishtim, just as a snake coming quietly and unexpectedly and fighting against larger enemies. Just as a snake can be pacified using a charm, so too Shimshon was pacified by a charming woman. Just as a snake’s poisonous bite burns inside, so too Shimshon burned the fields of the Plishtim. Just as a snake has its whole strength in its head, so too Shimshon’s strength came from the hair of his head. Just as a snake’s poison can continue killing even after its death, so to Shimshon killed thousands as he died. Just as a snake bites at the very bottom but affects the entire body, so too Shimshon pulled the beams holding the Temple and the whole structure collapsed. Just as a snake kills without a sword, so, too, Shimshon killed without a sword[112]. Just as a snake is taking revenge, so did Shimshon.


The last point to discuss regarding this story is that of freedom of choice. This is a very old question asked by many thinkers: if everything is predicted, where is our freedom of choice? Moreover, since Hashem knows the future, how could he punish the sinners and reward the righteous? This ancient question is discussed in the Mishna in Pirkey Avos 3:15[113] (see Tosafos Yom Tov there); in Tikuney Zohar Chadash 89c, in the GR”A’s edition it’s on page 49, see GR”A’s commentary there; in Rambam (Laws of Repentance 5:5, see also Raavad and Ohr Sameach there)[114]; Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana 7b; Teshuvos HaRivash, 118; Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh, Bereishis 6:5; Bereishis Raba 2:5 and Yafes Toar there. We will only slightly begin to understand this, if we consider that Hashem’s knowledge is not similar to the knowledge of a human being. Hashem is outside of, or above time. He created time, and for Him the future already happened. Even though the future to a large extent depends on our actions based on free choices, Hashem can look at the end of history and then predict the historical events to those at the beginning of history[115].  The prophecies are stated in such a manner that they can be fulfilled in different ways[116]. In general, the opposite of freedom of choice is not “knowledge” but “coercion”[117]. Hashem’s own knowledge does not force the future; the sinner is not forced to sin, nor is the righteous to do the commandments[118].


In the case of Shimshon, he was supposed to lead partisan warfare, but he did not have to sin. If he needed to marry a Plishti woman, he could have found one that was interested in Judaism and willing to convert “Leshem Shamayim”. Even if this was impossible, and he was forced to do a sin “Leshem Shamayim”, he had to work very hard not to be tempted and to realize all his life that this type of living is a “horaas shaa” – a special permission given for the time being[119]. The danger of sins “Leshem Shamayim” is that one gets accustomed to living not according to the law, which can usually lead to sins for their own sake[120]. As we mentioned, the first wife of Shimshon converted to Judaism. Later however he took non-Jewish women without even converting them[121]. In the end, he got so attached to his non-Jewish wife that he gave over his most treasured secret, she betrayed him and he lost his life. Our sages teach[122] that when Yakov foresaw Shimshon, he thought that he is the Moshiach. However when he realized his mistake, he prayed for Divine salvation: “For your deliverance I hoped, O Hashem”, just as we are still waiting for the true Moshiach!


Parshas Shemos.




In this Parsha we read about the encounter of Moshe and two Jews striving together. While Moshe tries to stop their fight he only gets himself endangered and has to run away from Egypt. During the encounter Moshe says: “So the matter is now known”. Besides the simple meaning of his words, our sages (Shemos Raba 1:30; Tanchuma, Shemos 30 brought by Rashi 2:14) tell us a fascinating insight: “Now it in known why the Jewish people have to suffer in exile without being redeemed. Because there is enmity among them and they speak badly of each other, they deserved this punishment”. Our sages reiterate this concept numerous times. Why is it that these particular sins cause punishments to befall our people?




It is well known that the various mitzvos of Torah are generally divided into two categories: those that are between us and Hashem and those that apply to other people. In some ways, the second group of commandments is even more important than the first. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, even the commandments that guard our relationship with others are commandments between us and Hashem as well. The one who broke one of the prohibitions against a fellow is not only guilty before him and needs to make amends and seek forgiveness, but also has to repent for sinning before the Creator. On the other hand, if he only repents before Hashem this is not sufficient and he does not get forgiven until he makes restoration and asks for forgiveness from the one he had hurt (see Talmud, Yoma 85b).


Moreover, the one who commits transgressions against other people often profanes the Divine Name. The more careful he is with regards to the mitzvos that apply only to Hashem, the greater is the damage he causes when not treating others according to the Torah’s principles. The reason for such a tremendous damage is that the more “religious” a person is, the more is he expected to be a decent human being[123]. His unjust behavior causes others to think that Hashem’s Torah can tolerate mistreating others. In fact at times we do hear that such and such “religious Jew” did this and that. The immediate reaction of listeners is: “They are all like this …” The damage caused by people who look religious and behave improperly towards others can not be overestimated.


Besides what we mentioned above there is yet another fundamental reason why certain sins between people cause enormous damage to all of us. This is based on a type of spiritual Hanhaga (Divine Rule) that we can not notice but which we know about by tradition. The way the world was set up is through fair judgment. In fact, there exists a Divine Court with real prosecution and defense. The advocates and the accusers are special angels given these tasks. The Zohar (3:99b) asks why all of this is needed? After all, Hashem can judge Alone? It answers that this way the judgment is seen as fair by all the angels and souls of people who are present (an of course by the person himself when he dies).


Now the prosecution is headed by the Satan and consists of many angels that are at his disposal. Some angles were actually created by the sin itself. Just like each mitzvah creates a holy angel, so too each transgression brings into being an extra prosecutor!


However, there is one other condition for the prosecuting angels to be able to open their mouths. It is known that the world is judged “measure for measure[124]”. Generally, accusations in the Heavenly Court are aroused through accusation in this world down below. When the Jewish people hate each other and speak Loshon Hara and other words of gossip, the angels are given permission to accuse the Jewish nation[125]. These could be collective accusations against our entire people. Their result can be collective punishments. Rather then suffering being decreed on a certain individual, the suffering may be decreed on a whole city or country. Then even the righteous can suffer together with the wicked[126]. About these types of punishments, our sages give advice to run away from that city or country[127].


At other times, the accusations may be specific against the gossiper. All his previous transgressions are “remembered” and he is judged for all of them. Now, obviously nothing gets “forgotten” even in case of a person who is careful with his mouth. However, since Hashem is merciful, the punishment for other sins may be delayed. Meanwhile this person may atone for his transgressions through Teshuvah (repentance) and good deeds. However, if the person speaks badly, the punishment swiftly comes to this world. The GR”A thus writes in his commentary to Mishley 26:20 “When there is no wood the fire stops, [and so too] when there is no talebearer, strife comes to an end”, that the Gehinom burns through transgressions of wicked in this world. And similarly, when there are not talebearers, there are no accusations on high[128].


Similarly the Chofetz Chaim in the very beginning of Sefer Shmiras Haloshon (starting with the second chapter of Shaar Hazechira) describes in great detail this special Divine Hanhaga. He quotes the Zohar (2:264b) where various levels (spiritual chambers) of Gehinom are described. When the third chamber is described, the Zohar mentions a special ruach (spirit) that gets aroused only when Loshon Hara is spoken in this world. He then immediately starts bringing accusations and demands the worst retributions including catastrophes and deaths[129].


Now we can better understand the various statements of our sages regarding the damage of Loshon Hara. Even during the best times the Jewish people were loosing war because of this sin. On the other hand, the generation of idol worshippers was successful in war since they were united and loved each other[130]. Since there was no “accusation” against them, their sins were “overlooked” for the time being.


All of what we mentioned above regarding the effects of gossip is besides the fact that Loshon Hara is in general a terrible transgression. The reason is that Loshon Hara is exactly the opposite of learning Torah. Just as Torah is equivalent to all other mitzvos[131], so too Loshon Hara includes the worst sins[132]. There are two organs in human body where the word covenant is used: the organ which gets sanctified in a male on the eighth day and the mouth[133]. The first organ is used to produce physical children, while the second – for teaching the students, spiritual children. Hence the great number of mitzvos and prohibitions applicable to these two organs. The first is used to fulfill one of the greatest commands: to be fruitful and multiply. One the other hand, half of the prohibitions punishable by Kares (spiritual incision – cutoff of the soul from its’ spiritual root) are for various forbidden relations[134].


Similarly, the mouth is used for the mitzvah of learning and teaching Torah, prayer, consoling, giving good advice or rebuke etc. It can also be used for gossiping, false and vain oaths, lying, cursing, jesting, hypocrisy and breaking many other sever prohibitions. If we can sanctify the two key organs in our body, we can saves ourselves and the entire world from punishments and disasters. We will then deserve a full redemption, when even the nations of the world will serve Hashem with (Tzfania 3:9) “Safa Verura” (with rectified lips)!


Parshas Vaera.




In this week’s Parsha as well as in the previous one we read a lot about the Divine Names. In the previous Parsha Hashem revealed to Moshe His names Alef-Hei-Yud-Hei and the Main Name Yud-Hei with Vav-Hei (which we usually call Hashem – “the name”). This week’s Parsha, starts with another mysterious statement regarding Hashem’s Names. Hashem says that He showed Himself to the forefathers by His Name Shin-Dalet-Yud, but not through the Main Name “Hashem”. What is the significance of all these Names? Moreover, why are there many Names of Hashem in general?




We should first mention that the general subject of the Divine Names is deeply rooted in the most mystical parts of Kabala. The Names have to do with Hanhagah – the Divine Rule over the physical and spiritual worlds. In fact the Midrash (Shemos Raba 3:6) says that when Moshe asked Hashem: “What is Your Name?” he was told: “I have many Names, and I am called according to My actions”.


There are altogether seven inerasable Names[135] that form 10 main combinations corresponding to the ten Sefiros and forming the following arrangement[136] (please note that it’s forbidden to pronounce any of these names except during prayer and Torah study, and the Main Name is not pronounced at all):


Divine Name









Yud-Hei with Vav-Hei with vowels of E-lohim









Yud-Hei with Vav-Hei (Hashem)



(Hashem) Tzeva-ot



(E-lohim) Tzeva-ot











The reasons for these arrangements are discussed in the books of Kabala. Besides these Names there are also many mystical Names[137], for example, the 12-letter Name, the 22-letter Name, the 42-letter Name, the 72 three-letter Names, etc[138]. A detailed discussion of the meaning of these names is far beyond the scope of our commentary[139]. However we will mention some general points.


The study of Kabala today is generally theoretical. The Zohar and other holy books can discuss various Sefiros and the ways of Divine Hanhagah. On the other hand, the prophets were actually able to see[140] through the Sefiros and this is where the levels of prophets differed from each other. Even the forefathers – Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov turned to Hashem either through His other Names or through the Main Name together with a different Name[141]. There visions thus were passing through various worlds and are considered to be through unclear lenses[142]. Moshe’s prophesy was from the highest level attainable during lifetime of a human being[143]. We thus don’t find the expression: “Vayidaber Hashem El” (and Hashem spoke to) except with regards to Moshe[144]. The Torah (Devarim 34:10) thus predicts that there will never be any prophet like Moshe. The Rambam[145] thus tells us that even Moshiach will not reach the prophetic level of Moshe, though he will be greater than all other prophets. Our sages promise[146] that Moshe will come back after coming of Moshiach and we will continue to wait for them every day!


Parshas Bo.




In this Parsha the Torah mentions Tefillin[147] for the first time. In fact it is mentioned twice in two consecutive passages. Tefillin is also mentioned in Parshiyos Vaeschanan and Ekev in the book of Devarim. Our sages thus teach that these four passages are put into Tefillin. What is the general purpose of Tefillin and why does the head Tefillin have four separate compartments while the hand one only has one?




We should first realize that any of our discussion regarding Tefillin are like a drop in the sea compared to the whole meaning of this mitzvah. Besides the fact that all mitzvos of Hashem are infinitely deep and have many layers of meaning, the positive commandments that apply every day are usually discussed in Kabalistic sources more than any other mitzvos. For instance, the Zohar does not say a lot about the laws of forbidden foods but the commandments like reading Shma, putting on Tefillin and Tzitzis and praying take very central part in Zoharic and other Kabalistic literature[148]. We will be discussing only some general ideas about Tefillin and answering the questions we posed.


There are many kinds of commandments in our Torah. There are some mitzvos that maintain law and order in the society. Many of them have to do with our dealings with others. Some in particular deal with resolving financial disputes. Others make sure we deal with one another in the most beneficial manner, helping each other, avoiding quarrels, taking care of those who need special help. Then there are various prohibitions in the Torah. Some of them are for purely spiritual reasons: the particular actions may have a negative effect on our pure souls. Others have some physical base as well. In particular, dietary laws bring many benefits to our bodies. The circumcision is the only justified surgical procedure on a healthy body[149]. The prohibitions of intimate relations for seven days after the woman’s period bring many health and psychological benefits to herself and her husband. Then there are commandments that help us achieve our intellectual potential, to be able to better serve our Creator. These include such mitzvos as learning Torah, writing the Torah scrolls, respecting scholars and clinging to them. The mitzvah of going thrice a year to the Temple when it was standing also had the benefit of meeting the greatest Torah giants and learning more. There is similarly a mitzvah for the king to read from the Torah in front of the Jewish people once in seven years.


There is one particular group of commandments that serves us as a reminder of Hashem! Such commandments as tzitzis, Tefillin and reading Shma reiterates our faith on daily basis. In particular, three types of commandments in the Torah are called signs[150]. They are Shabbos and Holidays, Tefillin and circumcision[151]. The Ramban (Shemos 13:16) writes that without this group of commandments, there is a danger of forgetting the Exodus from Egypt and ultimately forgetting Hashem himself. The Almighty will not make wonders of similar caliber ever in the Jewish history. As time will pass, the future generations will certainly begin to doubt if the events described in the Torah ever took place. The only way to guarantee the passage of tradition is to make sure the nation as a whole will remind itself daily of what happened.


Imagine for instance that a group of Holocaust survivors decided to make sure the memory of what happened needs to be preserved[152]. The only way to guarantee this would be to accept on themselves and their descendants a way of life full of constant reminders of what they went through. They would write down an accepted version of their experience and make sure many exact copies are made and exist in their possessions, wherever they live. They would institute a public reading of this book on certain occasions. They could take the main passages of this book, affix it to their doors and put them on their arms and heads pronouncing: “We will not forget!” They might want to make sure their descendants will have a similar tattoo mark on their arm, like the one the Nazis made on theirs. They may also dedicate one day a week for remembrance of what happened, and some days a year as holidays: commemorating the day the allies released them, the day they traveled on ships to the Western countries and the day their special book was written and sealed[153]. 


It is easy to guess that the above ideas underline the simple reason for many of our commandments. We have the special book – our Torah that is copied letter by letter and any inconsistency will make the entire scroll invalid. We have the crucial parts of our Torah written on small parchments and affixed to our door posts as mezuzahs. We also wear the Tefillin with four Torah passages testifying that Hashem is One and He took us out of Egypt. We say Shma every day while wearing Tefillin. We have one day a week dedicated to Hashem and the three Regalim: Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos – the holidays commemorating our deliverance, the giving of the Torah and the traveling through the desert. 


Now one should not make a mistake thinking that the entire purpose of these commandments is to remember Hashem. We already mentioned that every mitzvah is infinitely deep and brings untold benefits. However, the simple reason for these mitzvos becomes clear. This is our way of showing that our religion is true. There could not be a generation when all these mitzvos were simply invented by a group of Jewish leaders. The people would never accept on themselves to wear Tefillin every day had they not known that their fathers also did this[154]. They would have asked: “Why are you telling us that our entire nation experienced all these miracles? We have never heard anything like this except from you. Did the Exodus from Egypt take place in a secret?”


In fact this is the reason that the other religions start from a person who supposedly experienced a revelation. There is no religion in the world that claims a national experience similar to ours, as the Torah says (Devarim 4:33): “Did a nation ever hear the voice of G-d speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard …” In particular the two large religions that spread over the world: Christianity and Islam both claim that the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai! Why wouldn’t these religions also claim that they began with a Divine Revelation witnessed by millions? The reason is simple: nobody can invent such a thing, and no nation would accept such belief system and its’ commandments had they not experienced these events personally.


Now the simple purpose of Tefillin is to subjugate our thoughts and actions to Hashem’s service. The head Tefillin is placed above our brain to dominate our thought. The hand Tefillin is positioned next to our heart – the central organ that controls proper body functions – distributes the vital blood everywhere and collects it back[155]. The GR”A explains[156] why head Tefillin have four separate compartments while the hand one only has one. The head has four different senses: seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting. The body has just one sense of touching, but four types of organs can be used to touch: hands, body, legs and the fundamental[157] organ that is sanctified on the eight day. Thus the Tefillin that’s put on the body has the four parchments, but they are all placed in the same box. When we will deserve to sanctify our minds and our bodies, the following verse will be fulfilled (Devarim 28:10): “And all people of the earth will see that the name of Hashem is upon you[158] and they will fear you”, and we will deserve the final redemption.


Parshas Beshalach.




In this Parsha we learn about the first war that the Jewish nation had to fight. The entire episode is very enigmatic and mysterious. The Torah describes how suddenly some people called Amalek “came” and started a war against the Jewish people. No prior episode is described that gives us any hints as to how this war started and what this nation tried to accomplish. The Jewish strategy also seems very strange. Moshe tells his student Yehoshua to choose some people and fight against Amalek, while Moshe himself stands on top of a hill with hands raised in prayer. In the end the Jewish people “weaken” Amalek. Hashem then tells Moshe write the episode down and tell Yehoshua: Amalek will eventually be destroyed. In the book of Devarim special unique commandments are given to destroy Amalek, to keep remembering what Amalek did to us, and to never forget it. How can we explain the encounter with Amalekites, and what is the significance of this nation and our continuous battle against it?




In general the topic of Amalek is very deep[159] and would require an entire book to just scratch the surface. However we will try to cover some of the major points and give a general answer to the questions raised.


We should first realize that Amalek is the main spiritual opponent our nation has had throughout history[160]. Its’ ideology is deemed the exact opposite of Torah and the constant battle against it represents the general battle between the holy and the impure. The Torah does not give us any prelude to the appearance of Amalek on the scene. However the juxtaposition of events written in the Torah can always give us an idea of what happened[161]. Right before the sudden coming of Amalek, the Torah tells about the Jewish complaint due to the lack of water: “Is Hashem in our midst or not?” When the Jewish people doubted the Divine Hashgacha, a nation came whose very purpose is to put a doubt of Hashem in people’s minds. Our sages[162] add that the lack of “water” also symbolizes the lack of Torah learning. Amalek appeared when the Jewish people were not learning Torah.


In general the war with Amalek was different from all other wars our nations had to fight. Amalek did not come to fight us for political or economic reasons that normally cause wars to break out. They actually came out of their way to the desert with the specific reason to fight against the Jewish people. What was their purpose? Our sages are very clear about it. Amalek is representative of world view that everything is due to chance and there is no Divine Rule over the universe[163]. The very fact that there existed a nation that claimed the opposite angered Amalek. They needed to prove that the Jewish people are also vulnerable just as everyone else. The nations that heard about the Exodus from Egypt generally reacted with fear of the Jewish people and were to some degree convinced that the Jewish claims about the Creator may be true. Amalek came out to “prove” the opposite[164].


The war against Amalek was fought on both physical and spiritual fronts. Yehoshua did not draft the entire nation but rather chose the righteous people whose merits will protect them in this war[165]. At the same time Moshe was leading the battle on the spiritual plane. The power of Amalek was not meant to be destroyed just then. Its’ full obliteration will only come at the end of days with the total rectification of the universe. While the other nations can be rectified at least partially and the righteous among them will have a share in the eternity, Amalek will have no rectification. Only Hashem can know this, no human being would be able to make such a statement. The entire spiritual root of Amalek is so bad, that it can only be used for in this world for enticement and punishment but will never have anything positive coming out of it[166].


The power of Amalek is not limited to the biological descendants of that nation. The spiritual root of Amalek can exist even in the Jewish people. The Zohar (1:25) describes five kinds of erev rav (mixed multitude) that exist in our nation. The worst of them is the Amalekites. Those are the ones that hate the Torah sages and promote anti-Torah views and attitudes. The Chofetz Chaim in his time mentioned that “Jewish Section[167]” is with certainty a group of Amalekites[168]. The battle against Amalek can thus include the spiritual battles between those who support the Torah and those who stand against it[169].


The most significant weapon in this battle is the study of Torah. Just as in any war, the side that knows where the power of the opponent is puts the greatest effort to destroy it. The spiritual power behind Amalek (which is the Satan himself) realizes that our greatest strength is the Torah. It therefore does its’ outmost to stop the Torah learning, its’ teaching and its’ financial support[170]. On the other hand, each Jew that is learning Torah is in some way contributing in the war effort against Amalek.


Even though the general war against Amalek is continuous throughout history, there are certain times when we encounter this nation for the decisive battles. This happens every time our nation is on the rise, ready for great rectifications. Of course this is the general rule of every battle: when one opponent prepares to make significant progress the other gathers the entire remaining strength to stop him.


The first time we met Amalek was after the Exodus from Egypt and right before giving of the Torah. The second time was after Shaul[171], the first Jewish king was anointed and before the building of the first Temple. The next time we met Amalek was in the end of Babylonian exile, before the building of the Second Temple. At that time Haman the Agagi, a royal descendant of Amalekite kings wanted to destroy our entire nation[172].


The Talmud (Sanhedrin 97b) tells us that in the end of days, if we don’t return to the Creator voluntarily, a ruler like Haman will again try to destroy all of us. This will remind the Jewish people who they are and cause us to come back to the Creator. As it is known, Hitler demonstrated all the qualities of Amalek. Even though Hitler was not an extremely wise or educated man, somehow he did understand a number of significant points. It is known from his writings and from his conversations with his subordinates, that he considered the Jewish people his archenemy. The rest of WWII was “just a show” while the main battle was between him and the Jews. Hitler considered his main goal to destroy what the Jewish people brought to the world[173].


The Baaley Teshuvah movement to return to Torah observance started after WWII. Each year hundreds of Jews throughout the world join the ranks of the Torah observant Jewry. According to the statisticians and demographers in another 20 years the vast majority of the Jews throughout the world will be Orthodox. It is our hope that we will soon deserve to greet the righteous Moshiach and to see the final destruction of Amalek and its’ philosophy.


Parshas Yisro.




In this week’s Parsha we learn about the “Ten Commandments[174]”. Certainly a detailed discussion about them will require many volumes of books, but can we at least know the general significance of these particular commands of the Torah and their overall structure?




Obviously every letter of the Torah is holy and infinitely deep[175]. There are lessons to be learned on various levels of interpretation from any sentence in our Torah. Even on the simplest level of understanding (Pshat) we can learn lessons in life from seemingly unimportant passages[176]. We can thus find tens of thousands of commandments in our Torah most of which have applications to every day life[177]. Our sages had a tradition that all the mitzvos of our Torah are grouped into 613 general commandments[178], and that the Ten Commandments have a central significance[179]. As far as any practical law is concerned there is no real difference which of the thousands of Torah’s commands are considered part of the 613[180], and so too there is no real practical difference between the Ten Commandments and the remaining 603[181].


The structure of Torah’s commands can be compared to a tree with trunk, big branches and smaller branches. All commandments of the Torah are of crucial importance, but some are in a way inclusive compared to others. Some commandments of the Torah are like the trunk itself, others are like the main branches, yet others are the thinner branches that spread out. In this analogy, the most fundamental commandment is the belief in Hashem - the trunk of the whole tree. The main branches are the rest of the Ten Commandments. The remaining 603 of the commandments spread out from these branches. In truth there is even further spreading since each of the 613 commandments can be divided into the various details and applications. Thus the Torah actually contains thousands of various directives as we mentioned. Which 613 of them are the main ones is actually subject to dispute, and there is no practical application to this dispute.


In general the Ten Commandments are divided into two groups of five. When Moshe later came down from Mount Sinai he was holding two Tablets of stone. The one in his right hand contained the first five commandments pertaining to our relationship with Hashem[182]. The one in his left hand had the remaining five that deal with our obligations to other people[183]. The five commandments on the right Tablet correspond to the five on the left Tablet[184].


Now, the first two commandments on the right Tablet are the mitzvah to believe in Hashem and the prohibition of idol worship. The first two commandments on the left Tablet are the prohibitions of murder and adultery. Thus the first two commandments on each Tablet are in a way the most fundamental[185]. They include the mitzvah to believe in Hashem and the prohibitions of three cardinal sins for which one is supposed to give up his life in order not to transgress.


Now we will mention briefly the overall structure of these Ten Commandments. According to the Zohar (2:276b; 3:12a; Zohar Chadash, Ki Sisa), the Ten Commandments correspond to the ten statements made during the creation of the world and to the ten[186] Sefiros[187]:


I am Hashem you G-d

Creation of light


You shell not worship idols

Creation of the sky


Don’t swear falsely

Gathering of the waters


Remember Shabbos

Creation of trees and plants


Respect your parents

Creation of luminaries


Don’t kill

Creation of fish


Do not commit adultery

Creation of animals


Don’t steal

Giving food to the people


Don’t witness falsely

Creation of Adam


Don’t covet

Creation of Chava



It is certainly beyond the scope of this article to discuss the reasons for this correspondence. We will mention however one interesting point. The commandment not to covet corresponds to Keser which is the highest Sefirah that includes the ones below it. The commandment not to commit adultery corresponds to Malchus – the lowest Sefirah which also in a way includes and combines the Sefiras above it. The interesting point here is the fact that indeed our sages teach that these two commandments include all others[188].


The one who covets can end up breaking the other commandments and similarly the one who commits adultery can end up breaking the remaining nine commandments[189]. Indeed, the desire for opposite gender is far greater than other types of Yetzer Hara[190]. Once we can work on our qualities, so that we don’t have desires for what does not belong to us, we will learn to be satisfied with what we have. By subduing our desires and carefully observing these two commandments it will be easier to keep all the mitzvos of the Torah. We will then serve our Creator in righteousness, and deserve the long awaited redemption.


Parshas Mishpatim.




In this Parsha we learn about many different commandments. Most of the laws are not explained in detail and in fact the plain understanding of the verses seems to contradict the actual laws as they are described in the Talmud. How are we to understand what the written Torah is telling us in the light of the teachings of our sages?







It is well known that the Written Torah is given in the manner that virtually nothing can be understood without the Oral Tradition, which was later recorded in the Talmud and other works of our sages. There is actually a very deep and mystical relationship between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah[191]. The two are not just connected, but the Oral Law is actually a kind of projection and a reflection of the Written Torah. The Written Torah is compared to the sky, while the Oral Torah is like the earth[192]. Just as the rain and sunrays come from the sky and give the land the power to make its’ produce, so too the Written Torah gives the needed energy to let the Oral Torah bring out its’ fruits. Just as the sky is unchanging, while the land is worked on to make the plants grow, so too the Written Torah is copied letter by letter, while the Oral Law includes further and further discussions, elaborations and rabbinical ordinances. The Written Torah influenced all of mankind, while the Oral Torah is linked specifically to the Jewish people like, the main land – the Land of Israel is given to us.


In truth everything in the Oral Law is hinted to in the Written Torah but the hints are not at all obvious and may at first sight seem to contradict the plain meaning of the verses. The GR”A[193] writes that in fact most of the laws of this Parsha as well as in the rest of the Torah are not according to the simple meaning of the verses. There are various reasons for this, and this system is deeply rooted in the spiritual connection between the Written and the Oral Torahs[194]. However there is at least one simple reason for this, brought in Talmud Yerushalmi (Chagiga 7b), based on a verse in Hoshea (8:12). If the Written Torah contained the entire Oral Torah in an unambiguous form, then any nation or religion could claim that they are “the true Jews”. In practice the main Christian denominations did try to claim that they are the new Israel, but since they did not have access to the Oral Torah, they had to get rid of the Torah’s laws, whose keeping is impossible without the knowledge of the Talmud.


As we mentioned most of the commandments can be misunderstood without the knowledge of the Talmud, yet careful reading of the verses and their analysis shows that the understanding we received in our Oral Tradition is indeed hinted in the Written Torah. In our commentary we will show two famous examples of this. One is the verse (21:24) “An eye for and eye” and the other is the verse (23:19) “Don’t cook a kid in its’ mother’s milk”. As we all know the two verses are not taken literally and we will discuss where this is hinted.


The Torah tells us about the prohibition of “cooking” a baby goat in the milk of its’ mother. We all know that the Jewish Tradition states that any domestic kosher animal can not be cooked in the milk of another kosher domestic animal. In this case we are dealing with the Torah’s way of phrasing the laws using just a common example[195]. We similarly find in this Parsha (21:33) the law regarding a person who dug a hole and “a bull or a donkey” fell inside. Obviously this law applies not only to the bull or donkey but to any animal. Similarly, the prohibition of plowing on a bull and a donkey together (Devarim 22:10) applies to other pairs of animals as well. In the case of cooking a kid in its’ mother milk, there are good reasons for this particular example to be chosen. The goats often give birth to twins[196]. It is therefore quite common to slaughter one of children and cook it in the milk of the mother goat. Moreover, since the meat of a newborn kid is very soft, it comes out very tasty when cooked in milk. The meat of older animal is hard and needs a lot of cooking while milk gets cooked a lot faster, so the two are almost never combined.


The prohibition of “cooking a kid in its’ mother’s milk” is stated here after the mitzvah of coming of bringing the first fruits to the Temple. Indeed, when brining the first fruits, it was common to also bring the firstborn animals. Since young animals could not survive without milk, their mothers had to be taken along. Thus, if not for the prohibition, it would be a common occurrence that after the kid is slaughtered, it would be cooked in the milk of its’ mother. In the book of Devarim (14:21) the same prohibition is mentioned again together with the other dietary laws[197].


There is an additional explanation of this verse in the Torah. We often find that the Torah takes the most extreme example and other cases are learned from it. For instance the Torah says (Vayikra 19:14): “Don’t curse the death”. Meaning it’s forbidden to curse even someone who is death and does not hear the cursing. Similarly, the prohibition of cooking milk and meat together applies even if the milk is from the same source as the meat. We might have thought that it’s only forbidden to cook milk and meat if they are from different animals, just as many other mixtures are forbidden by the Torah: clothing of linen and wool, crossbreeding animals, planting different seeds together etc (Vayikra 19:19). So too we might have said that mixing the milk of one animal and the meat of another is forbidden. However when we cook the kid in its’ mother’s milk, since both the milk and the meat come from the same source, we could have thought that this is permitted. The Torah therefore says: “Don’t cook a kid [even] in its’ mother’s milk”.


Another famous verse in this Parsha is the requirement for the one who inflicts damage on someone else has to pay measure for measure. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot. Now, logically speaking the Torah can not possibly imply that if a person puts out an eye of his fellow, his eye should be put out. This would simply be impractical[198]. How can we possibly put out an eye exactly the same way he did to his victim? How can we make sure his pain is similar, not greater or smaller? How can we guarantee that the damage is appropriate? Maybe the victim was a blind man or someone who can barely see, while the attacker has good vision. Sometimes the attacker is blind and his loss of an eye will not be a fair compensation.


Indeed both Talmuds[199] and all the Jewish commentators explain that this verse is not to be taken literally. Rather it implies a payment of the exact damage done. In addition to paying for the damage, the assaulter has to pay the medical bills and also for the pain, for the embarrassment and for the time the victim could not work. This law is hinted in the Written Torah in two places. One is the nineteenth verse in this chapter. There the Torah clearly says that for any physical damage the assaulter only has to pay. The other place is in Bemidbar 35:31, where the Torah tells us that a murderer can not pay in order to escape the death penalty. The emphasis of the verse is that this law applies to the murderer only; any other assaulter pays to compensate the damage[200].


The obvious remaining question is why then does the Torah say: “An eye for an eye”? One of the answers to this is that indeed if the assaulter does not repent of his sin and gets forgiveness from his victim, Hashem will ultimately bring him in another gilgul and this time he will lose his eye[201]. No crime ever goes unpunished, and everything is accounted for in the infinitely deep system of Divine Hanhaga. As we know it is really for our benefit that the various punishments in our many lives rectify the misdeeds and purify us. And when all damages will be repaired and we will deserve the final redemption!


Parshas Trumah.




In this Parsha we read a detailed description of the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). What is the general structure and purpose of it?




We should first realize that the structure of the Tabernacle includes deepest secrets and allusions. Covering this topic even partially would require multiple volumes of books. The Zohar alone takes almost a hundred pages to describe some of the secrets of the Mishkan and the Priestly Clothing. The very fact that the Torah spends four Parshios[202] on these issues can give us an understanding that the details described are of great importance. In our commentary we will only scratch the surface[203].


One of the primary goals of the Tabernacle was to administer the Temple service and to bring various korbonos (offerings). We will discuss the purpose of korbonos in Parshas Vayikra but for now we must realize that this word “korban” implies “closeness[204]”. The Miniature Temple our nation had built in the desert was designed to bring the Divine Presence into this world and ultimately to bring us closer to Hashem. It was made from materials donated by the entire nation and in a way united our people[205].


The Tabernacle was a miniature projection of the entire world just as each person is a small world. A careful study of the articles in the Tabernacle can show that indeed they corresponded to human organs and to the ten Sefiros[206]. Our body is generally divided into three parts: the top part (the head), the middle part (up to the diaphragm) and the lower part. The head is the most sensitive part of our body. The right hemisphere and the left hemisphere are two types of brain in our head corresponding to wisdom and understanding[207]. The middle part contains the heart and the breathing organs. The heart is the main organ of our body and corresponds to Tiferes – the main Sefirah of the lower seven. Two pipes come through the neck: windpipe and food pipe (esophagus). The wind pipe is on the right and brings the air into the lungs thus corresponding to Chesed. The food pipe is on the left and corresponds to Gevurah.


The lower part of the body contains the digestive system and the system for disposal of unused substances. The central organ there is the liver. Thus the three central organs of our bodies on the three levels are: the brain (moach), the heart (lev) and the liver (kaved)[208]. The general rule is: the higher parts of our bodies are more spiritually elevated, and the lower parts are more physical.  


Similarly the Mishkan had three levels of holiness[209]: The Holy of Holies, where the High Priest entered once a year on Yom Kippur; the Heichal (sanctuary), where only kohanim could enter for special services and the outside part, where the korbonos were slaughtered and burned. The Holy of Holies corresponded to the brain. It also had three main parts: the Aron (Arc), Kapores (its’ cover) and Keruvim (angels). The Heichal had a small altar, on which only beautifully smelling incense was burned. The Torah specifically forbids burning anything else on it. This corresponded to the middle part of the body, where the oxygen is processed. The Heichal also had a golden Menorah on the right and a table with twelve breads on the left. At last, the outside part had the big altar on which blood was sprinkled and fats were burned. This corresponded to the digestive tract. There was also a special washstand (Kiyor) and its’ base (Kano) used by kohanim to wash their hands.


Thus each of these three parts of Tabernacle contained three main items. The GR”A explains[210] that the nine items correspond to nine Sefiros, while the whole Tabernacle corresponds to the last Sefirah – Malchus. We thus have the following arrangement:


Keruvim (golden angels)



The scalp

Ark’s cover



Right brain




Left brain








Food pipe

Small Altar







Right kidney

Washstand’s base



Left kidney

Big Altar




The entire Tabernacle

with its’ enclosure



The entire body


An elaborate discussion of the Temple’s articles is beyond the scope of our commentary. However, those who have some knowledge of Kabala will be able to see much more in the above correspondences. When we deserve to see the coming of righteous Moshiach, and Temple service will be restored, we will again be receiving the Great Divine Flow coming from Hashem and His Blessing will rest on everything!


Parshas Tetzaveh.




In this Parsha we learn about the special clothing made for a regular kohen the Kohen Gadol (the High Priest). Altogether eight articles of clothing are described. What is the significance of these types of clothes and why are these details important.





As we mentioned in the previous Parsha, the details described in these weekly portions are extremely important. The exact clothing of Kohanim was designed very carefully according to the Divine command and if any smallest detail was not kept it could not be used to perform the great rectifications in the Temple[211]. We will only describe briefly some of the general ideas.


A regular Kohen had four articles of clothing: a head covering (turban), a belt, a body covering (tunic) and pants[212]. These are referred to as four white clothes[213]. The High Priest wore four additional articles of clothes, referred to a four golden clothes. They were a golden plate on his head (Tzitz), a robe, a breast plate (Choshen Mishpat) with precious stones and letters of tribes engraved on them[214] and a long garment warn from the back like an apron primarily covering the legs (Ephod). As you can see, in a way, there is a correspondence between each article of golden clothing and white clothes.


White Clothes

Golden Clothes

Part of the body the garment was covering








Choshen Mishpat






Indeed the Zohar (3:227a) explains the correspondence further. It states that the four white clothes correspond to the four letters of the Main Divine Name – Y-H-V-H[215] while the four golden clothes correspond to the four letters of A-D-N-Y – the name we pronounce in our prayers instead of the Main Name. It is known that the four letters of each name correspond to each other and to the four Partzufim (collections of Sefiros that are used in joint Hanhaga[216]).


The Talmud (Arachim 16a) says that these eight articles of clothing were used as atonement. Each one was atoning for a particular sin. The tunic atoned for bloodshed[217]. The pants atoned for the sin of forbidden relations[218]. The turban brought atonement for the sin of pride. The belt atoned for indecent and evil thoughts. The “Breastplate of Judgment” (Choshen Mishpat) atoned for judgment that was passed incorrectly. The Ephod atoned for idol worship. The robe atoned for speaking badly about others[219]. The forehead plate (Tzitz) was atoning for insolence and impudence.


The Shl”a Hakodesh[220] based on this Gemorah explains the correspondence of the eight clothes as follows:


Four white clothes and the Sefiros of Hanhagah:


Article of clothing

Letter in Divine Name

Corresponding Parztuf

Atoned for:



Chochma – Wisdom




Binah – Understanding

bad thoughts



Z”A – Sefiros from Chesed to Yesod







Four golden clothes and the Sefiros in receiving the Hanhagah[221]:




 Chochma – Wisdom




 Binah – Understanding


Choshen Mishpat


 Z”A – Sefiros from Chesed to Yesod

 wrong judgment






For those who have some background in Kabala understanding some of these correspondences will be easier. We will not dwell on many details in our commentary, but in Parshas Pekudey we will discuss the relationship of Choshen Mishpat and the Ephod in detail. We are waiting for the day when the Temple service will be renewed and our nation will again be receiving the Great Good from Hashem!


Parshas Ki Sisa.




In this week’s Parsha we learn how our nation built the Golden Calf. This sin was considered very great; we lost the high level we had achieved. That generation received a great punishment and our nation paid for this sin it throughout all our history[222]. About 500 years later the Jewish people split into two countries: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Yehudah. The first king of Israel – Yeroveam son of Nevat forbade the Jews in his kingdom to go to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and constructed two Temples for worshipping each containing a Golden Calf. What was his purpose and how did the Jewish people permit this after knowing what Divine anger the first Gold Calf caused?




Before we even start discussing this topic, it’s important to realize that no matter what reasons we come up with to explain Yeroveam’s actions, these explanations will be just a small portion of all the arguments that he offered to defend his position. We don’t have in our hands “Questions and Answers of HaRav[223] Yeroveam”. If we would see such a book nobody in our generation would be able to reject the arguments. The mistake of Yeroveam was quite subtle while the reasons for his Halachic decisions were rather compelling. This is why he was able to convince all the sages of his kingdom, the elders of Sanhedrins of each tribe and even the great prophet Achia Hashiloni. We can really have no grasp today of all the deep Halachik and Kabalistic reasons that Yeroveam must have used. We will only try to offer some of his possible arguments to the best of our limited understanding.


In the end of his life King Shlomo was severely criticized by prophets for not stopping his numerous wives[224] from worshipping idols. As Shlomo grew older and weaker many of his wives who were themselves daughters of gentile kings returned back to idol worship. This does not mean that they fully renounced their conversion to Judaism. Most likely these women carefully observed most mitzvos. However the desire for idol worship was very strong at the time especially for people who were brought up with it. Many worshiped the idols out of superstition or simply for good luck. At times they did not feel that they are rejecting Hashem by doing so.


Because of Shlomo’s failure to stop his wives’ idolatry, he was foretold that after his death ten of the Jewish tribes will break of from his kingdom and form a country of their own. One of the greatest sages of the time, Yeroveam ben Nevat was anointed by Achia Hashiloni to become the king of Israel after Shlomo’s death. Yeroveam had to run away in a similar way Dovid became fugitive when he was anointed during lifetime of king Shaul. Once Shlomo passed away, Yeroveam came back knowing that he will succeed in becoming a king.


Everything went as predicted by the prophet. The ten tribes rejected the rule of Shlomo’s son Rechaveam because they felt they were paying exuberant taxes to Shlomo’s house. Yeroveam became the king over the Northern tribes. The prophet (Melachim 2:12:26-33) now describes that Yeroveam was afraid that if the people of kingdom will continue  coming to Jerusalem three times a year, he will loose his power. His very first action was therefore to build two new temples in his kingdom and institute apparent idol worship! A number of other sins of Yeroveam are mentioned by the prophet. Besides introducing the new temples with golden calves, he forbade the people to go to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. He also instituted a new holiday instead of Sukkos, exactly one month later. At last he allowed the non-cohanim to serve in his temples. Certainly without trying to understand what really happened, the whole story makes no sense. How could a leading sage of Israel fall so low? Even if he did, why didn’t the nation rebel against him?


Most commentators[225] agree that the golden calves made by Yeroveam were not meant to actually be worshiped. They were rather symbolic just as we find two lions in many synagogues today[226]. The reason the lions are chosen is because most of us come from Yehudah who is likened to a lion. Similarly Yeroveam chose the image of bull that symbolizes his tribe - Yosef. Since Yosef actually consists of two different tribes - Menashe and Ephraim, two temples were built. There is actually a much deeper significance in this. In the vision of the Merkava (the "Chariot" of Hashem) certain types of angels are described as having four faces. The face on the right is that of a lion, and the one on the left is that of the bull. Indeed, the North is associated with the left side of Hanhaga and therefore it was appropriate image[227] for the Northern tribes. Yehudah was in the South and this is why the image of a lion is appropriate to it.


Now all the sages and elders of the Northern Kingdom knew that Hashem has turned His face away from "sinful" kingdom of Yehudah. They therefore concluded that the special chosen Temple in Jerusalem does not have its' Holiness any longer, since the Divine Presence left it. If so, the Temple is considered to be destroyed, and it may be permitted to bring offerings anywhere. Indeed there is such a view in the Talmud (Megillah 10a): when the Temple is destroyed the Holy place where it stood has no greater holiness than any other place and it's permitted to bring korbanos outside of it. Most Rishonim don't follow this view, but this was the opinion of the sages of the Northern Kingdom.


Now, when bring offerings outside the Temple is permitted, there is no need for a cohen. Yeroveam thus chose some of the Jews from his kingdom and designated them for service in his temples. He himself also brought korbonos during the holiday season.


Once the issue of bringing offerings outside the Temple was resolved, Yeroveam promoted a special Rabinical ordinance to forbid the citizens of his country to come to Yehudah during the holidays in order not to learn from Yehudah's sinful ways. Moreover even one of the holidays was moved by a month. We find in the Torah that Pesach Sheni - Second Passover was the only holiday instituted according to people's demand. Those who could not bring the Pesach offering asked Hashem for a compensation. They were then given a special day - one month after Pesach to bring the korban. Since Yeroveam explained that Israel needed to separate from Yehudah as much as possible, the sages felt that they needed at least one holiday to be observed on a different day. Thus, by popular demand there appeared a "Sukkos Sheni", a compensation of real Sukkos[228].


The reason Sukkos in particular was chosen maybe has to do with the very nature of the Northern tribes. The summer months come from Chesed (kindness) and are associated with South, while the winter months come from Gevurah (the Sefirah of Judgment), associated with the cold of the North[229]. Therefore the Northern tribes may have felt special connection to the Sukkos Holiday which is celebrated in the first of the winter months. Indeed choosing the second of the winter for celebration they were emphasizing their connection to Gevurah[230]. Another reason why Cheshvan was chosen for this new holiday may be because this was the month when Yeroveam built the golden calves[231].


Now that we seem to have partially justified Yeroveam’s “innovations” one question still remains. The Jewish people knew that the first Gold Calf caused a great Divine anger. Why then did they not realize that Yeroveam is plainly wrong? The answer is that indeed the opposite was true. The very fact that the holy man Aharon had allowed to build the calf in the desert was the biggest proof that there is a permitted way to make the golden calves. Yeroveam may have claimed that the reasons for Divine wrath were the fact that some people actually worshipped the calf as an idol[232]. Even though Aharon only wanted to make a (Shemos 32:5) “Holiday for Hashem”, some people descended to actual idolatry[233]. Yeroveam convinced the elders that just as the two golden Keruvim (angels) stand in the Holiest place in the Temple and through them Hashem projects His influence, so too the golden calves will be used by the Northern Kingdom to bring down Divine blessings[234].


The opinion of Yeroveam and the sages of his generation was so established that throughout most of the history of the Northern Kingdom nobody dared to contradict it. Indeed generations later a righteous king Yihu uprooted all idolatry from the kingdom of Israel but he left the golden calves. The Talmud[235] tells us that he saw the seal of Achia Hashiloni affixed to Yeroveam’s Psak and therefore kept the golden calves[236].


Now the prophet testifies that the intentions of Yeroveam were not pure. Had he not been biased, he would have realized that with his “Rabbinical decrees” whose goal was to separate from “wicked” Yehudah, he actually uprooted the most basic laws of Torah. Using the power of Rabbinical laws he came out with almost a new religion with different temple service and new holidays. However Yeroveam was biased, whether he realized it or not. So his decrees seemed logical to him and he remained a leading sage in the eyes of people for many generations[237].


Yeroveam was a very great man who had a potential to be one of the two redeemers of our nation – Moshiach ben Yosef[238]. A great man is judged by the Creator according to his level. Yeroveam is considered a prime example of a sinner who caused Israel to sin[239]. The Northern Kingdom never recovered from the transgressions of Yeroveam. In the end the ten tribes were exiled by Assyria and we still don’t know where their descendants are[240]. According to many opinions we will again be reunited with the ten tribes in the end of days[241]. There again will be two leaders, two Moshiachs: one from Yehudah and one from Ephraim. But this time Moshiach ben Yosef will accept the Moshiach rule of Moshiach ben Yehuda[242]. And there will be only one king who will rule over our nation (Yehezkel 37:22)!

Parshas Vayakhel.




This Parsha starts with Moshe teaching the Jewish people about Shabbos. Among all the forbidden types of work he mentioned one: “Don’t burn fire”. Why was this first mitzvah that Moshe explained to our nation when he came down from Mount Sinai and why is kindling fire mentioned specifically?




In general most of the types of work forbidden on Shabbos are not mentioned directly by the Torah. They are however hinted by the juxtaposition of the mitzvah to build the Sanctuary and the prohibition of doing work on Shabbos[243]. Any of the types of labor that were involved in building of the Tabernacle had to be stopped during Shabbos. There were altogether 39 types of such work and we thus learn from this Parsha the 39 prohibited actions on Shabbos[244].


Now the one work our Parsha mentions explicitly is the prohibition to kindle the fire. The Ramban[245] writes, that indeed until now we would not know if the laws of Shabbos are the same as of Yom Tov (holidays) or more strict. On holidays we are permitted to kindle fire from already existing fire and use it for cooking. This Parsha starts by explaining that on Shabbos even that is forbidden[246].


Another interesting explanation may be as follows. It is known that in our day the main cause of Shabbos violation is “kindling fire”. Driving a car, lighting the lights[247] and using most electric devices falls into this category one way or another[248]. Most Shabbos violators find it hardest to avoid this particular prohibited work[249]. This may be the reason why the Torah emphasizes here this particular category of labor.


There is actually a halachik application in this. The Shulchan Aruch[250] says that if we are certain we can’t stop someone’s accidental violation of a mitzvah, we should not rebuke this person. It is better that he will be doing his transgressions by mistake. Exclusion is the law that is mentioned directly in the Written Torah. In our case, since the Torah mentions the prohibition of burning fire on Shabbos, we are supposed to rebuke even a person who will not listen[251].


Our sages teach us that when our nation will keep two consecutive Shabbosim properly, we will be redeemed[252]. May we all deserve to see this fulfilled.


Parshas Pekudey.




In this Parsha learn about the making of the priestly clothing. The two most perplexing articles of clothes are called Choshen Mishpat (breastplate of judgment) and Ephod. Besides the great detail used in the description of these two clothes, there is a special mitzvah mentioned, that they should be attached together through certain belts with special stones. Indeed this is counted as one of 613 commandments of our Torah: not to detach Choshen and Ephod[253]. The Torah describes twelve precious stones used for Choshen Mishpat. The stones had engravings of the names of the twelve tribes and certain other words. At last, the Torah mentions inserting obscure “Urim” and “Tumim” into the breast plate. What is the significance of these two articles of clothing, why do they have to be attached and what are Urim and Tumim?




As we mentioned in the previous Parsha, the details described in the priestly clothing are extremely important. We will now discuss two of the articles of clothes of High Priest: the Choshen and the Ephod. The Choshen was a small (9 inch) square cloth made from wool and linen[254]. It contained 12 different precious stones in three columns, four gems in each column. The stones had the names of twelve tribes engraved on them[255] as well as the names of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov and the words “Shivtey Yeshurun[256]” (Tribes of Yeshurun[257]). There were altogether 72 letters on these stones, corresponding to the seventy souls that came to Egypt and Avraham with Yitzchak[258].


Ephod was a long garment also made from multicolored wool and white linen. It was like an apron but warn from the back. It had two shoulder straps with a precious stone in each. These stones also had the names of the twelve tribes, six names on one stone and six on the other[259]. The Choshen was worn on the breast and connected from the top to the Ephod through the shoulder straps. The bottom of the Choshen also connected with straps going below elbows to the Ephod in the back.


As we mentioned in Parshas Tetzaveh, the Choshen corresponded to Zer Anpin[260] and the Ephod – to Malchus. This explains the unique relationship between these two articles of clothes[261] and the mitzvah to keep them connected.


Now one of the purposes of the Choshen with Ephod is to gain a certain prophetic inspiration[262]. There were specific rules, according to which the stones could be used to ask Hashem[263]. The Urim and Tumim were special Divine Names inserted into the Choshen[264]. The GR”A[265] says that Urim were the 42-letter Name and Tumim – the 72-letter Name[266].


When a question was asked, the Kohen Gadol was concentrating on the first Divine Name and some letters on the stones shown with spiritual light. This was still not enough to understand the message, since the same letters could compose different words. The kohen now concentrated on the second Name and was able to put the letters together to form words and sentences. The word Urim thus comes from the word “light” and Tumim from “perfection” – composition of the words. In general the usage of Urim and Tumim required time and great concentration[267] and not every time the Kohen Gadol deserved to get an answer[268]. Since the mystery of Urim and Tumim was known to the head of the generation, they sometimes used a similar technique to receive Divine answers to their questions. This explains why there were many Ephods in ancient time in Israel[269].


Even though during the Second Temple period the Kohen Gadol still had all eight clothes, we did not deserve to be able to use the Urim and Tumim[270]. When we deserve the final redemption the Urim and Tumim will be used again, as it says (Ezra 2:63): “… until there will be a kohen with Urim and Tumim[271]”.


Parshas Vayikra.




In this Parsha we learn about various types of Korbonos (Temple offerings[272]). What was the general purpose of Korbonos and why so many of their details are described?




The topic of Korbonos just as the topic of the Tabernacle is extremely deep and contains some of the most important fundamentals of the Divine Hanhaga and the rectifications we have to perform[273]. However this topic seems very strange for us living in the sixth millennia, almost two thousand years after the last Korbonos were brought by our nation. Indeed the concept of Korbonos is very lofty and pure but we are just too removed from it to even partially appreciate it[274]. The first “real” contact with Korbonos can be felt by reading the books for Neviim (Shoftim, Shmuel, Melachim and the late prophets). One can easily feel that bringing Korbonos for our ancestors was almost like praying for us[275]. This was especially true during the intermediate periods when there was no Mishkan in Shilo and private altars were permitted.


So the Korbonos were used like prayer and together with prayer. (Every Korban was accompanied by prayers as well.) The sin offerings were preceded by a confession; other Korbonos were preceded by praises and thanks to Hashem[276]. Korbonos were also used to attain prophetic inspiration[277]. This is why our forefathers built numerous altars and each time we find that Hashem revealed Himslef to them. In the books of Neviim we also find prophets coming and going to the Bama. In certain cases Korbonos were used to achieve atonement for certain sins, primarily for the ones committed by mistake. Besides the Korbonos brought by individuals there were many Korbonos brought on behalf of our entire nation. We will now discuss some of the foundations behind the Korbonos.


It is very important to first establish the meaning of the word Korban. As we mentioned in our commentary to Parshas Truma, the root of the word Korban is the same as of the word “closeness”. This gives us immediate help in understanding this concept and saves us from making the mistake that the other nations made regarding their “sacrifices”. The whole concept of Korban is the opposite of what the idolaters understood their sacrifices to be. They “sacrificed”, meaning they gave away something in order to “please” their idols and get something back in return. We (lehavdil) brought a Korbon to achieve closeness to Hashem. In this, Korbonos are not any different from the other mitzvos. All commandments are given for this purpose.


The Torah calls Korbonos literarily “the bread of Hashem”. To understand this, we must first ask what the bread is for a human being. Obviously without food we would die. But what is death? It’s separation between the soul and the body. The soul continues to live while the body is buried in the ground. So the food makes sure the soul stays connected to the body and does not leave it. This is exactly what the Korbonos were. In many ways the relationship between Hashem and the world is similar to the relationship between the soul and the body[278]. When mitzvos are not performed, Hashem’s Presence abandons the world. The one difference is that in His kindness He makes sure that the world is sustained on some low level of Divine Hashgacha even when the people are totally sinful. The world does not get totally destroyed when Korobonos or other mitzvos are not performed. Yet the world does fall to a much lower level and in a way this is also a partial death[279].


When the Temple was standing and Korbonos were brought regularly, the Divine Providence was revealed to a far greater extent. The wonderful flow of Good constantly came to this world. With the Temple’s destruction we lost it. However our sages tell us[280] that learning about the Korbonos partially compensates not bringing them, so we will discuss the particular Korbonos. All Korbonos could be brought from only three types of animals (bull, sheep and goat), two types of birds (pigeons or doves) or flour (from wheat or barley). The Korbonos mentioned in this Parsha are Olah, Shlamim, Chatas and Asham, as well as various Minachos (flour offerings). We will describe each one in a few words.


Olah was a wholly burned offering. It was brought voluntarily but our sages had a tradition that it was commonly brought to achieve atonement for the sin of evil or indecent thoughts[281]. Just as the thought is only known to Hashem, so too this Korban was fully burned. There were also types of obligatory Olah brought by individuals on holidays and they are described in Parshas Mishpatim. There was also community Olah brought twice daily and on Shabboses, holidays and other occasions (most of them are described in Parshas Pinchas).


Shlamim was the “Peaceful offering”. It was brought voluntarily and most of it was eaten by the owner, his family and friends and whoever else was invited. Bringing Shlamim was an opportunity to get together with the family near in the Holy City and fulfill a mitzvah. The meat had to be eaten within the city before the end of the next day. A small portion of the animal was given to Kohanim who could eat it with their families.


Chatas and Asham were Korbonos for various sins. These Korbonos were eaten only by Kohanim. Chatas was generally brought when a person accidentally broke a commandment, which has a penalty of Kares (spiritual incision) when broken on purpose. For example, the one that accidentally turned the light switch on Shabbos would bring have to bring a Chatas. Asham was brought only for six types of violations some of which are described in this Parsha and others later on.


The simple reason behind these Korbonos was to “slaughter” the “animal” within the man[282]. After all, it’s our animal nature that makes us do sins, even accidental ones. A sin can include thought[283], speech and action. The sinner thus has compensate by action, speech and thought. He had to press his hands on the head of the animal, confess his sin and think that he deserves to be punished. However Hashem in his mercy required that instead of his organs and blood, the internal organs of the animal is burned and the animal’s blood is sprinkled on the altar. The Kohanim who were generally the Torah scholars of the generation would then eat their portions and pray for the sinner to achieve forgiveness[284].


The Minachos were brought as voluntary offerings in their own right as well as obligatory offering in certain cases. There are also a few particular sins for which if the sinner is poor he would bring a Mincha, but if he is richer he would bring birds or animal Korbonos. In addition many animal Korbonos also required a Mincha to be brought together with it. May we deserve to soon greet the righteous Moshiach and see the Temple service restored, rather than just learning about it!


Parshas Tzav.




In this Parsha we learn about the Korban Toda – a thanksgiving offering. This Korban is a type of Shlamim which is brought together with 40 breads – four types of bread, ten loafs each. Three of the kinds of breads are different types of matzos, and the last kind is chametz. Yet the amount of dough taken for chametz is the same as for all of matzo breads since each loaf of chametz is three times as big as a matzo. What is the significance of this unusual Korban and when was it brought?




As we mentioned more than once[285] the number “four” that appears in various laws of mitzvos is very significant. It corresponds to four general types of Divine Hanhagah and ultimately to the four letters of the Main Name of Hashem. This topic is very deep and we will just scratch the surface when describing the thanksgiving offering. The Talmud (Brochos 54b) tells us that four types of please have to thank Hashem: the ones that traveled in the sea, the ones that crossed deserts, the ones that were sick and got better and the ones that were imprisoned and released. These four are all described in the 107th Psalm and in the Temple times they brought Korban Todah[286], while in our day they pronounce a special blessing: “Blessed … Who grants good even upon guilty, and Who bestowed good upon me[287]”.


The GR”A[288] comments on the four people who were released from these four dangerous situations. The sea and the desert correspond to Eisav and Yishmoel[289]. Thus the first two kinds of people hint to the danger of the main two nations that include the others[290]. The remaining two people were imprisoned or sick. They did not travel far, one may have remained in the same city but was imprisoned, while the other was “imprisoned” in his own house – sick in bed. These two correspond to the two remaining bad influences: the erev rav (the mixed multitude among us who sway us away from Hashem) and the personal yetzer hara (evil inclination).


Throughout our history we were influenced by these four types of temptations. Three our external and one is internal[291]. Most of the Jews are exiled in two types of nations: the Christians and the Muslims. The Christians represent Eisav while the Muslims represent Yishmoel[292]. Also throughout history we had “bad converts” – the ones that did not accept Judaism for the right reasons and ultimately influenced our nation by their corrupt ways[293]. This started when Moshe accepted the erev rav hoping they were sincere after witnessing all the miracles Hashem did in Egypt[294]. Ultimately these people built the Golden Calf[295].


At last there are some Jews themselves that become imprisoned by their own desires and yetzer hara rules over them. They also have influence on the rest of our people. The Talmud[296] thus describes a prayer of one of the sages: “Master of the universe! It is well known before You that our wish is to do Your will! What stops us then? The leaven in the dough and the subjugations by hands of other nations”.  The two types of yetzer hara are described here in this concise and exact manner: the external rule of the nations and the internal leaven that makes our dough chametz. And this is also the four types of bread in Korban Todah – three that are matzah and one that is chametz[297]. And may it be the Will of Hashem that we break our internal yetzer hara to serve Him in purity and then we will deserve the final redemption from the subjugation by hands of the nations!


Parshas Shmini.




This Parsha teaches us about the species that are permitted or forbidden for consumption. As usually, we are not going to ask for a lengthy commentary but rather we would like to know some general rules and reasons why particular animals are forbidden?




In this Parsha, the Torah describes to us the forbidden mammals, birds, fish and other species. It’s impossible to dwell on all of these in our short commentary but we will concentrate only on the mammals. Obviously we can discuss the dietary laws on various levels of interpretation. We could mention the health benefits, the zoological analysis, the spiritual reasons, or how these laws hint to other ideas. Since it’s impossible to cover all these topics we will primarily stop at the last two. We will discuss the general nature of the forbidden species as well as some of the hints related to the topic.


Regarding the mammals, the Torah gives us two signs to distinguish the kosher ones from the ones that are forbidden. The mammal has to have hooves that are split and it has to chew its’ cud. The explanation of these two signs is as follows. A hoof is a kind of hard surface covering the bottom of the foot. Most of the mammals don’t have any hoof at all. Some have a hoof but it is not split. The Torah requires that a mammal have a hoof and that it is split. Chewing the cud means chewing the food more than once. Such animals are generally called “ruminating”. After eating some grass they pass it to one of their stomachs and let it stay there for a while. Then they bring it up again in a form of a lump, chew it a second time and then swallow it again[298].


In Parshas Ree (Devarim 14:5), the Torah mentions ten species of kosher mammals[299]. Four of the non-kosher mammals are mentioned explicitly in this Parsha because they have one kosher signs each[300]. Three of these animals (camel[301], rabbit and hyrax[302]) have the “external” sign of kashrus. They chew their cud but don’t have a fully split hoof. One animal – the pig has a split hoof and does not chew its’ cud. The GR”A[303] explains that two signs of kashrus hint to the control over two main bad qualities: anger and desire[304]. The opposite of these two qualities is calmness and satisfaction[305].


The ruminating animals are an example of being satisfied with one’s lot. Always busy chewing what they already swallowed they are thus happy with what they have[306]. Split hoof shows the lack of anger[307]. With these two main qualities one can overcome the rest of temptations.


Our sages teach that there is a great significance in regards to these four animals. They correspond to the four nations that ruled over the civilized world throughout the history: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome[308]. The first three nations that ruled over us are linked to the animals that have the external kosher sign. The fourth animal – the Roman Empire is compared to the pig, who is showing its’ split hooves but whose internal sign is not kosher. The GR”A explains[309] in the name of the Talmud (Yoma 9b) that during the First Temple times the Jewish people had three cardinal external sins[310] but were good inside. During the Second Temple times the situation was the opposite: no clear sins of our nation were revealed, but we were bad internally, full of baseless hatred and gossip. The punishments were thus measure for measure: the first three nations that ruled over us are compared to the animals with the internal kosher sign, while the fourth one looks “kosher” only outside. For this reason the exile to Babylon was for a set number of years, while our last exile is for an unclear period of time[311]. As opposed to the previous exiles, this one depends only on our full repentance in the end of days[312]. When we rectify our sins we will deserve to be restored, as predicted by the Torah (Devarim 30).


Parshas Sazria.




In this Parsha we learn about various types of tzaraas (leprosy[313]). What is the significance and purpose of this disease?




It is easy to notice that tzaraas is the only specific disease described by the Chumash[314]. This illness plays a significant role and a large portion of the Written Torah and the Oral Law is dedicated to it. As usual, the laws of tzaraas have many levels of understanding: the simple meaning, the practical application, the hints and the Kabbalistic secrets. We will only describe briefly some of the subjects involved. Some of the ideas will be described in our commentary to this Parsha and some – to the next one.


It is well known that physical sicknesses ruin our bodies and can often be contagious. In such a case, people try to stay away from the sick individual in order not to catch his disease. However, spiritual illnesses are not readily distinguishable and even though they can also be contagious, people often don’t take the necessary precautions to stay away from those who are spiritually sick. Hashem, in His infinite mercy wanted to purify His people of spiritual diseases and to quarantine those individuals whose spiritual sickness is infectious.


The general idea of tzaraas was a unique physical projection of a spiritual deficiency. In most cases this sickness was sent for sins towards other people and for bad qualities[315]. In particular, gossipers, stingy and proud people were affected by it. When the Jewish people were on a higher level, their spiritual faults would be visible on their very skin. In reality this showed that they were greater than us. In our day, we are too thick-skinned and even though our sins do cause our souls to get tzaraas, this does not get projected onto our skins. However, when a person dies, the tzaraas that affects his soul is visible to all and he is quarantined from everyone else[316]!


Our sages describe[317] that usually Hashem does not want to immediately punish the person’s body. He first sends a reminder to the sinner through sending tzaraas to his house. As part of the procedure, the stingy man now has to take out all his utensils from his house into the street. Now everybody can see his possessions that he had pretended not to have in order to refuse lending anything to his neighbors[318]. If he does not repent, then Hashem sends tzaraas to his clothes. If this does not help, only then does Hashem punish the sinner by sending leprosy to his skin. He has to stay outside the city until he learns his lesson and leprosy disappears. After purifications[319] he is able to come back to live with the rest of society.


May we deserve to rectify our bad qualities, our speech and even our thoughts and then our people will live in unity and friendship and merit a great blessing from Above. The Second Temple was destroyed through baseless hatred and gossip[320] and when these sins are rectified we will be worthy of the Final Redemtion!


Parshas Metzorah.




In this Parsha we learn about the discolorations that can appear on the walls of houses and render them unclean. At times the house would have to be completely demolished. What is the significance of these laws and what do they hint to?




The Torah states that when we would enter the Land of Israel, Hashem would send the tzaraas on some of the houses there. The way this is described in the Torah seems to be positive, as if we are being told good news[321]. One of the reasons was due to the fact that when the Jewish people would demolish their houses they would find the treasures that Canaanites had hidden in the walls. There is however a much deeper reason for the plague of tzaraas[322]. The Canaanites often practiced various types of witchcraft, demon worship and idol worship which polluted the spiritual environment around them. At times they even built the buildings for the sake of their idols. When the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel, and inherited the houses of the Canaanites, some of these houses were so polluted they were completely inappropriate for serving Hashem. Indeed, a person living in such a house would be prone to sinning since even the wood and stone had absorbed the negative energy that was generated there. Hashem would then send tzaraas on such a house so that it would get totally demolished.


The Talmud[323] describes how Rabbi Chiya wanted to teach Torah to children. He made nets, caught deer, slaughtered them and gave meat to the poor. He then made parchments out the skins and wrote the five books of the Torah on them and taught them to five children. The question is asked: why did not Rabbi Chiya simply buy the Torah scrolls or at least the parchments? The answer[324] is that he wanted these scrolls to be as holy as possible and for that he needed the intent (kavonah) to be pure from the very beginning. Even the parchments themselves had to be made Leshem Shamayim and through the mitzvah of feeding the poor. Then the effects of the scrolls would be immense[325]!


As we mentioned in our commentary to the previous Parsha, besides the simple meaning the laws of tzaraas also have hints and secrets. We will only mention one important allusion regarding these laws. In general, when tzaraas appears on the walls of a house, its’ situation remains uncertain for up to three weeks. The house is given “another chance” for three weeks in a row until it has to be completely demolished[326]. The Tikuney Zohar[327] states that the “house” hints to a person. The stones, the wood and the earth hint to the three levels of souls (Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama). The three seven day periods hint to three additional gilgulim of an individual, since our lives are about seventy years (Tehillim 90:10). Thus even the worst sinner is given at least three more chances. This is hinted to in a verse in Iyov (33:29) “This is what Hashem does twice and three times with a person[328]”. Each next time extra changes are being made to his structure of souls. The first time additional Neshama is used to help him do Tshuvah. Since the Neshama of an individual is above his body the change is relative minor, like the change of the house after one week[329]. In the second and third gilgulim the changes affect the Ruach and Nefesh which are the very core structure of the person, just like the laws of the house in the last two weeks. If the person starts rectifying his sins, he will be sent back again numerous times, but if he does not, he won’t be given any further chances[330]. If it is still possible to rectify his soul through suffering, then he spend the needed time in Gehinom and other places intended for atonement and purification. Whatever remains of his soul afterwards may merit the Eternity. If this soul can not get rectified, it will eventually be destroyed, this however happens rarely to a Jewish person[331].


May we deserve that our dwellings be sanctified so that Hashem’s Presence will be in our houses. May we all deserve to purify our intents and actions so that our mitzvos will have a great effect and our religious articles will possess a great holiness. May we speedily rectify all our misdeeds from other gilgulim and finally merit the redemption!


Parshas Achare Mos.




In this Parsha as well as in the next one we learn about the prohibitions of forbidden relations[332]. While some of them seem to quite intuitive, many are difficult to understand. What are the known reasons behind these laws?




In the most general sense we can divide all the prohibited relations described in this Parsha into two categories. One includes all relations forbidden between relatives[333] and the other includes all other prohibited relations. The second group of prohibitions is a lot easier to understand. The prohibition to have relations with another man’s wife is natural to every normal individual. Besides the terrible consequences of breaking this prohibition, the children are born without knowing who their father is. As we mentioned in Parshas Yisro, the one doing adultery ultimately breaks all the Ten Commandments. The prohibitions of such abominations as relations with animals and homosexual relations are also understandable by most unbiased people.  


The prohibition to have relations with a Nidah[334] is also not too hard to explain. It is known in contemporary medical research that such relations can bring various deceases including cancer to the couple. The children conceived through such relations can also have various child diseases[335]. Besides this, the spiritual makeup of these children suffers greatly. Another benefit of keeping the laws of family purity is that the couple waits for the next time the wife goes to the mikva, like the engaged await their marriage and honeymoon. Thus the rates of divorces and dissatisfaction among those who observe these laws are much lower than among those that don’t.


However the prohibition of relations between relatives is much more difficult to understand. These laws are called Chukim – statues of Torah that are not intuitive and have only deep mystical explanations[336]. In particular, the Mishna (Chagiga 2:1) puts the secrets of these laws together with the deepest secrets of Maase Merkava and Maase Bereyshis. It is therefore beyond the scope of our commentary to dwell on these ideas, we will only mention a few short words on this subject.


One must realize that certain actions prohibited by the Torah are not because they are totally unclean. In a way, the situation is the opposite. Certain actions are able to release a very powerful flow of spiritual energy, which can be rectified under specific circumstances. However, if the rectification can not be performed, they will lead to tremendous destruction. One example of this is the prohibition of wearing clothes made of wool and linen together. This can actually serve a great rectification and this is why it’s permitted in the case of wearing woolen blue tzitzis on linen garment[337]. Also most of the clothes of the High Priest was made from wool and linen[338]. However, the rectification of wool and linen is only performed under these specific circumstances, otherwise a spiritual destruction is achieved.


Now, one of the reasons behind the prohibition of relations with close relatives is that this could in theory bring a tremendous light from Above into this world. Indeed, Avraham kept calling his wife “my sister” and so too in Shir Hashirim, our nation is called by Hashem “Achosi Kala” – my sister, my bride. However, in this world now it’s impossible to hold such great light and instead it mixes with unclean forces[339]. This may also be a reason why children born from relations of close relatives are often not normal. Their situation can be described as a great soul caught in the unclean[340]. Indeed, the Mekubalim write that if not for the sin of Adam, the close relatives would not be prohibited[341]. 


The one case where the Torah does permit forbidden relations is to perform the mitzvah of Yibum[342]. Interesting, even regarding this mitzvah, the Talmud[343] says that in our day that it’s not done for the right reasons, doing Yibum is considered like having forbidden relations and it’s better to perform Chalitzah[344]. Using this idea another interesting paradox can be explained. According to the Talmud[345], marrying one’s niece is a praiseworthy act. However, Rabbi Yehudah Hachasid[346] wrote in his will not to do it. The reason[347] is the same as the reason Yibum was advised against in the later generations. Indeed this is clear from the words of Rabbi Yehudah Hachasid himself[348], for he writes that for a very righteous person it’s a mitzvah to marry a daughter of his sister, so that his children will be righteous like himself. Indeed, in the families of great Rabbis, marrying those close relatives that are not forbidden by the Torah is practiced even today. However, for the general public who are not doing it Lishma (for the sake of Heaven), this is considered dangerous, and often sick children are born, as indeed fortold by the doctors[349].


Just as the way of doing sins “Leshem Shamayim” is very dangerous[350], so too certain rectifications are quite risky and can not be performed just by anybody. Intimate relations can bring new souls into the world and can therefore perform the greatest rectifications. Therefore the yetzer hara holds strongly to them and so many Torah’s prohibitions safeguard them. In the future, when Moshiach will come, there will be no yetzer hara in relations between husband and wife. They will be as natural as a relationship between two friends or a teacher and a student[351]. Very great souls will be then brought into this world without being afraid that the “unclean side” will have any connection to them.


Parshas Kedoshim.




This Parsha starts with an obscure command: to be holy. In the middle of the Parsha (20:7) it states that if we will try to be holy we will be holy. The Parsha ends again by saying that we should be holy because Hashem is Holy. What does this commandment require from us and what is the meaning of the last statements?




In general, Parshas Kedoshim follows the prohibitions of forbidden relations in the previous Parsha. Hence our sages[352] teach us that sanctifying oneself in regards to these prohibition leads to holiness. This is so since the desires of forbidden relations are some of the most powerful drives that can lead a person to many different transgressions[353].


The Ramban (19:2) discusses the question of what exactly is meant by being “kedoshim” (holy). Apparently there is not particular commandment added by these words. He answers that the Torah is telling us here that not everything permitted by the letter of the law should actually be practiced. There are many ways through halachik “loopholes” to create a situation where no particular law is being transgressed, yet a person is leading a very immoral and corrupt lifestyle.


Take for example the above prohibitions of forbidden relations[354]. There would be possibilities for an immoral person to find ways to gratify his pleasures without breaking any specific laws. Thus, for example, he could keep marrying various women for just one night on condition that he would divorce them the following morning, paying them their Kesubah each time for “services[355]”. This would be equivalent of prostitution, yet no “letter” of the law is broken[356].


Similar examples can be given regarding any other indulgence. In today’s pleasure-seeking society this can be understood better than ever. There is no shortage of “Glatt-Kosher” entertainments that give an opportunity to follow a way of life opposing the spirit of the Torah. Certainly the author is not trying to propose that everyone should live a life of poverty and deprivation. It is hard to know where to draw a line between “reasonable” amount of comfort and excess pleasures[357]. Our sages indeed teach us that the world is given to us[358] and Hashem wants us to enjoy the beautiful world He created[359]. However, the enjoyment has to be limited so that it doesn’t hinder our striving for spiritual[360]. Our sages[361] thus teach: “If one did not deserve to learn much Torah, let him pray that too much food does not enter his stomach”.


Our Parsha states that if we will try to be holy we will be holy and ends commanding us to be holy because Hashem is Holy. Our sages teach us[362] that if we only put some effort to be sanctified, we will become very pure. If we strive to be holy “from below”, Hashem will sanctify us “from Above”. May we deserve to fulfill this verse and speedily greet the righteous Moshiach!


Parshas Emor.




In this Parsha we learn about all holidays of the Torah: Pesach, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres[363]. Even though it’s impossible to discuss these holidays in detail, what is their general structure?




In general the six holidays mentioned above can be divided in two groups. Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos with Shmini Atzeres are called “regalim”. On these holidays, the Jewish people had to come to the Temple and bring certain Korbonos. Rosh Hashanah with Yom Kippur form a separate group of the “Yomim Noraim” (Days of Owe and Judgment). We will first discuss the regalim, and then the general rectifications achieved by all the holidays.


The GR”A writes[364], that the four holidays in the first group, just like the other “fours” correspond to the four letters if the Main Divine Name[365] in the opposite order.


Letter of the Name:



Shmini Atzeres








In general, the Name of Hashem consists of two halves that are somewhat symmetric. So too, these holidays are split into two groups: Pesach with Shavuos and Sukkos with Shmini Atzeres. Each group has two holidays – the first of seven days and the second of just one day. Thus Pesach has seven days, followed by Shavuos that is one day[366]. Similarly Sukkos is a seven day holiday, while Shmini Atzeres is one day. Thus the holidays that correspond to the letter “hei” are both seven days. Note another similarity: the two seven day holidays have additional mitzvos. On Pesach, we are eating matzah and on Sukkos we are sitting in the Sukkah and picking up the four plants[367]. Shavous and Shmini Atzeres don’t have any additional mitzvos.


Now, Pesach and Shavous are related in a sense that Shavous is always fifty days after Pesach. Indeed, there is a special mitzvah to count the days between the two holidays. Thus Shavuos does not fall on a particular day of the month of Sivan, but only depends on when Pesach was. It is known that the days between Pesach and Shavuos are a period of preparation. On Pesach our nation left Egypt and it took us 50 days to prepare to receive the Torah on Shavous. We are compared to a woman who is counting the “clean” days after her period, before she is ready to immerse in the mikva and stand under the chuppah. Shmini Atzeres on the other hand follows Sukkos immediately[368].


Now we can try to draw the general picture of all holidays. Note that half of the year starting with spring and ending with fall is the time of activity and can be compared to the daytime, when most mitzvos are performed[369]. This is why all the Biblical[370] holidays are during this period. Just as the day can have two natural beginnings – the sundown and the sunrise, so too the months of Nisan and Tishrey are two beginnings (both are called Rosh Hashanah[371] – literally “the head of the year”).


Pesach starts the “big day” and is equivalent to sunrise. Shavuos follows not long afterwards. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos finish the “big day”. Just as at the end of the daytime we must summarize our activity[372], so too at the end of the year we account for what we did throughout the year. However, Hashem did not want to end the year with judgment days and gave us the holiday of Sukkos with Shmini Atzeres – time of greatest happiness that ends with the Simchas Torah[373].


May we deserve to serve Hashem in righteousness during the holidays that He gave us and be worthy of the final redemption speedily in our days.


Parshas Behar.




In this Parsha we learn primarily about the Shmita laws. The Land of Israel has to rest on every seventh year and also on every 50th year. What is the meaning behind these commandments?




In general the Shmita cycle is similar to the weekly cycle and hints to the seven days of creation. The seven days of the week correspond to seven lower Sefiros and to the seven thousand years the world was created to exist in its’ current state[374].





Events of the millennium




life of Adam




the Great Flood and Tower of Bavel


land and trees


giving of the Torah and building of the first Temple




two Temples stood


sea animals


long exile


animals and then Adam


continuation of exile, then coming of Moshiach




eternal rest


On the first day the light was created. The corresponding millennium is full of light, for Adam was still alive and people did not practice idolatry yet. On the second day of creation it does not say “ki tov” (it was good). This day corresponds to Gevurah (judgment). During the corresponding one thousand years the people deserved their annihilation by the Great Flood. The later generations did not learn their lesson and they built the Tower of Bavel.


On the third day of creation, the Torah says “ki tov” twice. During the third millennium corresponding to Tiferes, Avraham and his family started changing the world. During this millennium our nation received the Torah, entered the land of Israel and built the First Temple. This Temple stood for 410 years primarily during the time of next millennium, corresponding to Netzach. The two luminaries created on the fourth day – the big one and the small one correspond to the two Temples.


On the fifth day the fish were created and the people in the corresponding millennium became like the fish eating each other[375]. Historically this period is generally called “The Dark Ages”. This millennium is the time of our exile. The corresponding Sefirah “Hod” is also from the left side and has the same letters as “Dava[376]” (sick). The exile continues into the beginning of the sixth millennium, like the roaring animals created then. The creation of Adam corresponds to coming of Moshiach[377].


Notice the parallel of the first three days of creation to the next three.









sea animals


trees on earth


animals and people on earth


On the first and the fourth days corresponding to Sefiros of the right side of Hanhagah, light was created. On the second and fifth days – the left side of Hanhagah and water and its’ contents were created. The third and the sixth days correspond to the middle and on these days land was worked upon.


According to Ramban (25:2), Rabeynu Bachye (25:8) and other early Mekubalim, the fifty year cycle of Yovelos (jubilee year) also hints to 50 thousand years. These sages had a tradition that the seven thousand year periods of history of the world are also repeated seven times[378]. Obviously we have very limited understanding as to how exactly the rectifications of these seven thousand year cycles affect each other and what will happen in the future. We will wait for Moshiach and Eliyahu who will explain this question together with elucidating all other uncertainties.


Parshas Bechukosai.




In this Parsha we learn about the punishments and the predicted exile of our nation. When and how exactly did these predictions come true and what were the events that caused them?




In our commentary to Parshas Lech Lecha we started discussing the two exiles of our nation predicted by the rebukes: the one in this Parsha and the one in Parshas Ki Savo. We will now discuss this topic in greater detail. As we mentioned, our sages[379] teach us that the exile to Babylonia and the redemption from it was predicted in this Parsha, while the last exile by the Romans is predicted in the Parsha of the second rebuke[380].


The Ramban (26:16) discusses the specific prophesies fulfilled during the two exiles. The characteristics of the two exiles are different in every aspect. The sins of the generations that lead two these exiles are also different[381]. The main cause of the first exile was idol worship[382]. Indeed our Parsha describes this transgression numerous times. It also foretells the destruction of both the Holy Temple and (lehavdil) the various idolatrous altars and pagan places of worship.


The exile described here is a total exile with the Land of Israel remaining desolate for as many years as we did not let it rest during Shmita and Yovel[383]. The foretold redemption from this exile is not full. The Torah does not say that Hashem will forgive all our sins or gather our entire nation back, but only mentions that we will confess our sins and He will remember the covenant He made with our forefathers[384].


On the other hand regarding the generation of the second exile there is no specific sin mentioned and certainly idolatry is totally missing in the entire Parshas Ki Savo. Indeed the Jewish people were not guilty of idolatry at that time[385]. At the same time the destruction of the Second Temple is also not mentioned explicitly. The reason is that the Second Temple was missing the high level of the revelation Divine Presence just as the entire time period was just a continuation of exile[386].


The people who would conquer our nation during the Second Temple period are described as a merciless nation coming from afar, whose language we would not know. This applied to the Romans for indeed Italy is distant from the Holy Land and the Jewish people did not know Latin (while they were somewhat familiar with Arameic – the language of Babylonians). The nation of the second exile is compared to an eagle (Devarim 28:49) and indeed eagle was the symbol of the Roman armies.


The exile described in Parshas Ki Savo is not a one time event affecting the entire nation, but rather the slow process of the “foreigner among us rising higher and higher while we would be getting lower and lower”. This is indeed what happened when Herod was appointed by the Romans to be the king over our nation. Being an Edomite, he and most of his descendants practiced the policy of sucking the blood of our nation and using the money to build Greek cities. The Parsha predicts a gradual process of our nation being robbed of everything and even our children sold to slavery. In the end we are foretold that our people will be taken to Egypt by ships and sold as slaves, but there will be no buyers[387]. Indeed this is exactly what happened when Titus filled whole ships with the Jews and the market price for a Jew in Egypt fell below the price of food for a horse.


The second exile is not predicted to last for a particular time period. The redemption from it will come after a long period of time[388] after we are dispersed from one end of the world to the other (Devarim 28:64; 30:4). We will only be redeemed after full repentance, but this time the restoration will be complete and final. Hashem will fully renew His covenant with us and His Presense will dwell among us. As we all know the process of Teshuvah movement has already started. Every day more and more Jews become observant and we will be waiting every day for the promised redemption!


Parshas Bemidbar:




In this week’s parsha the Torah discusses the order of an establishment of camps of the twelve tribes. What is the purpose of the details described here?




As is known, the Jewish people are called "Tzivos Hashem". All Jews together deserve that presence of the Creator lives among them[389]. Thus, the unity of Jews connects their souls under the general spiritual root and Shechinah lives among us[390]. The revelation of Hashem was the greatest if the exact order of an arrangement of twelve tribes was kept. This order is discussed in many books[391]. It is impossible to describe everything in details, we will just mention a few general words.


As a whole, twelve tribes were divided into four groups and situated in four directions of the world[392]. As we mentioned before[393], the number four has a great significance, and is related to the four letters of the Name of the Creator and four kinds of Hanhagah of the world. In his vision, prophet Yechezkel[394] saw angels with four faces: of a lion, a bull, an eagle and a person. As you will see in the table below, symbols of the main tribes located in each direction (Yehudah, Reuben, Yoseph and Dan) correspond to these four faces. It’s also brought in Midrash[395] that the four main angels (Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael) correspond to these four directions of the Jewish camps[396].


In general, the twelve tribes[397] correspond to 12 months of the year, 12 signs on the zodiac, 12 kinds of key actions; each tribe had a flag of a specific color with a picture. Detailed discussion this is beyond the limits of our commentary, we will only describe in brief, being based on the GR”A to Sefer Yetzirah (The book of creation, 5:3-9) and Rabeynu Bachye (Bemidbar 2:2).




The Sign of zodiac


Color of the flag

Picture on the flag:




To speak






To think


The sun and the moon




To look


A person[398]




To go






To listen


City of Shechem




To do by hands

Black with white





To have relations

Brightly black





To smell

White, black and red

Urim and Tumim




To sleep

The mixture of all colors





To be angry

Black as ink





To eat

Light yellow

olive tree




To laugh




For those who read our comments to the previous parshios, much in this table will be quite clear. You can also try to explain the correspondence between spiritual roots of each tribe, actions corresponding to them, their flags and months, when you read carefully Yakov's blessings to the children and Moshe’s blessing to the 12 tribes, but the detailed explanation is beyond our comments.


Parshas Naso.




In this Parsha we learn about the Birkas Kohanim – the Priestly blessing. Even though it has only 60 letters, numerous commentaries on various levels of interpretation were written to it. Can we understand at least the general structure of this brocha?




As usual we will be brief just touching upon the most fundamental concepts. We will first discuss the general pattern of the blessings and then some of the concepts hinted by the letters themselves. There are three verses in the Birkas Kohanim and each one contains two blessings. Thus there are six general blessings: Yevarechecho – may Hashem bless you; Viyishmirecho – and safeguard you; Yaer – May He shine His countenance on you; Vichuneko – and be gracious to you; Yiso – may Hashem turn to you; Shalom – and give you piece. They correspond to the Sefiros[401] from Chesed to Yesod. The Birkas Kohanim finishes with: “They shell put My Name on the children of Israel and I shell bless them”. This statement corresponds to Malchus.


Thus, the six blessings of Kohanim together with the last statement correspond to the seven lower Sefiros, and appear in our many prayers in various ways. For example, we mention the same blessings in the last Brocha of Shmone Esre. We ask for Shalom, Tova, Brocha[402], Chen, Chesed and Rachamim. We also ask for the same brochos in the prayer Yale Vayavo recited on Rosh Chodesh and all holidays: Zachreinu Letova (Tova), Ufakdenu Livrocha (Brocha), Vehoshieinu Lechaim (Chaim), Chus (Chesed), Chanenu (Chen), Rachem Aleynu (Rachamim).


These blessings are also mentioned in a different way in the fourth chapter of Sefer Yetzurah (The book of Creation) and they are: Chochma (Wisdom); Chaim (Life); Osher (Richness); Memshala (Authority, Power); Zera (Seed, Children) and Shalom (Piece). They correspond to those letters of our alphabet that accept a “weak dagesh”[403]. We thus have the following arrangement[404]:


Birkas Kohanim:

Last Brocha of Shmone Esre:


Blessing in Sefer Yetzirah:


Brocha (blessing)


Chochma (Wisdom)


Chesed (kindness)


Chaim (Life)


Tova (goodness)


Osher (Richness)


Chen (graciousness)


Memshala (Authority)


Rachamim (compation)


Zera (Children)


Shalom (piece)


Shalom (Piece)


Thus the first verse of Birkas Kohanim corresponds to the “right” side of Hanhaga (Sefiros Chesed and Netzach), the second – corresponds to the left (Gevurah and Hod), and the third – to the middle (Tiferes and Yesod). Indeed, Zohar Chadash (to this parsha) mentions that the Cohen should turn to the right when pronouncing the end of the first verse, and to the left when pronouncing the second verse. When the chazzan gets to Birkas Kohanim during the repetition of the Shmone Esre many people have a custom to answer: “for the merits of Avraham our forefather” on the first blessing, “for the merits of Yitzchak our forefather” – on the second anf “for the merits of Yakov our forefather” on the third[405]. This is also consistent with what we wrote above, for Avraham is indeed from the “right” side of Hanhaga, Yitzchak – from the “left” and Yakov – from the “middle”[406].


Now, the total number of letters in Birkas Kohanim is 60[407]. The Mekubalim[408] write that these letters corresponds to the “expansions[409]” of the letters of our alphabet. The 22 letter alphabet “expands” to a sequence of 60 letters. There are three Divine Names in the blessing of Kohanim, one in each verse. Together with the three names containing 12 letters, there are 72[410] letters. This corresponds to the remaining 5 letters of the alphabet that are written differently in the end of a word (“Mem”, “Nun”, Tzadi”, “Pei” and “Chaf”). They expand to 12 letters. In general, from these three Divine Names comes out a 12 letter mystical Divine Name[411]. It was kept a secret and only certain Cohanim knew it and pronounced it quietly only in the Holy Temple[412]. Another mystical Name that comes out from Birkas Kohanim is called the 22 letter Name[413].


In our longtime exile, the prevalent custom of Ashkenazic Jews to only recite the Birkas Kohanim on holidays. Various reasons were offered to explain this custom, but none of them are fully satisfactory. Many great Rabbis wanted to change this custom and to institute in their synagogues the recitation of this blessing every day. However, they were not successful[414]. It seems that for some reason Hashem did not want to give us His full blessing every day in our prolonged exile[415]. However, in the land of Israel this blessing is recited every day, like the law of the Talmud[416]. And we will wait for the speedy redemption when we will come back to our land and receive the Divine blessings in abundance every day.



Parshas Behaaloscha.




In this week’s Parsha we find a unique case when passage of Torah is separated from the rest of it by unusual signs: two inverted letters "Nun". What do these signs mean?




In a sense, by means of two overturned “Nuns”, the Torah divides the book Bemidbar into three parts - up to this passage, the passage itself[417], and what’s after it. Thus, all books of a Torah become not five but seven[418]! This concept is hinted to in the book of Mishley (9:1). To make sense of such a division we have to understand the general structure of the entire Torah.


The Vilna Gaon[419] explains that the books of the Torah in general correspond seven lower Sefiros:


The book:


Translation of Sefira:






Strength, judgment




3 parts Bemidbar

Netzach - Hod- Yesod

Perseverance – Splendor – Foundation





In truth, Bereyshis is a book of kindness of the Creator. The entire creation of the world was an altruistic act. This book describes the lives of ours ancestors who enjoyed the Olam Haba (Future World) while being in this world[420].


Shemos - the book of our exile, sufferings, sins and punishments. In this book, the torment of Egyptian slavery, the war with Amalek, the sin of the golden calf and the punishment for it are described. Thus, this book corresponds to the Sefira of judgment.


Vayikra - the book mainly dealing with the precepts of Torah - it corresponds to Tiferes[421].


Bemidbar includes the Sefiros Netzach, Hod and Yesod. These Sefiros function together. We discussed more than once that in a human body, Sefiros Netzach and Hod correspond to the two legs, and Yesod - the Foundation – corresponds to the organ circumcised on the eighth day. The middle sentences (Vayehi Binsoa Haaron Vayomer Moshe …) - has 85 letters, the Gematria (numerical value) of the word "Mila" (circumcision).  


At last, Devarim is a projection of the entire Torah. Moshe summarizes our history till his time, repeats the commandments of the Torah, predicts the history of our people till the end of days, and at last blesses us. This book had begun at Moshe’s own initiative but later Hashem commanded to include it in the Torah as a separate book of Devarim[422].


Interestingly, the book "Eicha" (Lamentations) has the same structure. It too consists of five chapters, but the third chapter can be divided into three parts[423].


The chapter of the book:


Translation of the Sefira:






Strength, judgment




3 parts of the third chapter[424]

Netzach - Hod- Yesod

Perseverance – Splendor – Foundation





The first chapter corresponds to the destruction of the First Temple. This Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the nation related to the Sefira of Chesed. In truth, the unclean side (Sitra Achra) also has Sefiros. Hashem made the unclean worlds in a similar structure like the pure worlds[425]. Later, this country got influenced by the descendants of Yishmoel and in truth Yishmoel has his spiritual root in Chesed of Sitra Achra[426].


The second chapter of Eicha corresponds to the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. These people are spiritually connected with Edom coming from Gevura of the Sitra Achra[427].


Three parts of the third chapter correspond to the loss of three parts of Torah (written, oral and secrets of the Torah - the Kabala). The fourth chapter corresponds to the end of days and the war of Gog and Magog. At last, the fifth chapter corresponds to the exile of Shechina (the Divine Presence). The Creator is also with us in our exile. This last chapter, like Devarim – is a projection of the entire book.


Our sages teach, that the passage "Vayehi Binsoa Haaron Vayomer Moshe …" is written here to separate one punishment from another. Indeed, Sefiros Netzach and Hod are related to punishment[428]. May we deserve to return to Hashem voluntarily and not through punishments, and to soon see the long-awaited redemption!


Parshas Shelach.




In this sad Parsha we learn about the sin of the spies. The whole episode seems to be very unclear. Why did the ten spies bring a bad report? What exactly was the lack of belief that caused most of the nation to not want to enter the Land of Israel? Can it really be that the people who witnessed the splitting of the sea would think that Hashem is incapable of saving them from the nations of Canaan dwelling in the Holy Land?




The sin of the spies might be one of the saddest episodes in our history[429]. This sin was never fully forgiven. The day after which the nation accepted the bad report, crying the entire night, became the saddest day in our calendar: the Ninth of Av. It is very important to understand the exact nature of the sin of the spies in order not to repeat it. It is certainly hard to imagine that their sin was simple lack of trust and belief. As usual in regards to the sins of the ancients[430], there had to be some element of “Leshem Shamaim” – “for the sake of heaven”[431] in them.


To gain a better understanding of what happened, we need to realize that Hashem’s Hanhaga (rule over the universe) also operates according to certain principles. In a way, there is a structure even for the way miracles are performed. Just like there physical laws, though not binding at all to the Creator Himself, but rather these are the rules that He Himself choose to operate through, so too there are spiritual laws. Even though Hashem could have ruled in a manner of no pattern, He willed instead to regulate the world according to a set of laws that He Himself created. One of the reasons for this decision is for us to be able to have at least some grasp to the spiritual Hanhaga. If this would not be done, then Hashem’s Will would be totally beyond our understanding. In truth, the Infinite Will of the Creator is indeed beyond our grasp, but He allows us to talk about finite parts of His Will which makes the connection possible between us, finite creatures and Himself – the Infinite Being[432]. Indeed the entire discussion in Kabala regarding Sefiros, Partzufim and Olamos has to do with learning about parts of Hashem’s Will[433]. The famous concept of “Tzimztum” – (constriction) has to do with Hashem “limiting” his infinite abilities and using only finite Will Power to create the universe in the way it was created.


Using these principles we can begin to understand the mistake of the ten spies as well. Certainly the spies had no doubt about what Hashem can do. However the question was not what Hashem is able to do, but rather what He will actually do according to the spiritual laws of Hanhaga. Is our nation on the correct spiritual level to be able to wage battle on the spiritual front with the Canaanite nations rooted very deeply in spiritual worlds[434]? Are there righteous enough people to protect the inhabitants of Canaan through their merits[435]? Do we have enough spiritual power to deserve the so needed Divine protection[436]? Is the spiritual root of the generation of the wilderness appropriate to live in the Land of Israel altogether or is the wilderness itself a far more fitting place for them according to their own spiritual makeup[437]? In the wilderness they were able to learn the Torah undisturbed, but in the Land of Israel they would have to work the land[438]. These were just some of the questions the spies asked themselves as they were going on their journey.


What these highly spiritually sensitive people saw in the Holy Land strengthened their resolve that under normal circumstances our nation will not be successful. The nations of the land appeared very strong not only physically but also spiritually. Rooted very high in the spiritual worlds they seemed to be even more powerful than the Egyptians. On the other hand, our nation had become much weaker after the episode of the golden calf. It seemed that the rectification needed to be able to overpower the 31 Canaanite kings is beyond the ability of the Jewish people.


Indeed the spies were making a horrible mistake. Had we only entered the Land of Israel, the spiritual root of Hashem’s Hanhaga for our nation would have changed and we would be successful. In this case, we needed to just rely on Hashem, the entire rectification would be happening not through arousal from below, but through Hashem’s acting from Above. The spies however were biased and did not see the truth. The reason for their bias was the fact that realized that their leadership and ability to be at the head of our nation stemmed from their spiritual root that had to do with the Hanhaga in the wilderness. As soon as we would enter the Holy Land and the Hanhaga would change, there would be more appropriate leaders of our people[439]. In this respect the mistake of the spies was very similar to the mistake of Yeroveam[440]. Though they seemed to be acting Leshem Shamaim[441] in truth they were deceiving themselves. Their decision was not for the benefit of the people, but rather to keep themselves in positions of power[442].


As we all know the ten spies were punished with the attribute of strict justice. As we mentioned in Parshas Ki Sisa, Hashem’s judgment of great people is stricter, according to their level[443]. As for our nation, it suffered catastrophic consequences. Even Moshe was not able to secure for us a full forgiveness, but only softened the Divine decree. However our people accepted their punishment righteously. For the next 39 years they would voluntarily dig their own graves every Ninth of Av and went to sleep in them. The next morning some would not wake up.


Did our nation learn its’ lesson? To answer this question we have to realize that for everything good there is an opposite force as well. This force, the yetzer hara often uses the most logical arguments and even presents a sin as a mitzvah. At times, even the episode of this Parsha is used by it. When we study what our sages have to say about the mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel, we certainly get quite impressed. This is the Holiest of lands; all the mitzvos performed there are on a higher level than everywhere else[444]. On the other hand, living there requires being extra careful to lead a righteous life[445]. After all, the sins done in Eretz Yisroel are also punished much more since this is the Divine Palace[446].


Our sages teach us that there is a time when it’s a mitzvah for the Jewish people as a whole to reside in the Land of Israel. On the other hand, there is a time of Golus, when we are dispersed all over the world, until we return to Torah observance with all our heart and soul[447]. Until this happens, we will not be able and we are not supposed to try to gather collectively in the Holy Land. The Talmud mentions[448] that Rabbi Yehudah especially loved the Land of Israel yet he himself did not allow anybody to immigrate there since after the destruction of the Temple those who are outside the Holy Land must remain there[449]. However the Halacha does not follow his opinion[450]. An individual even in our day is not only permitted but also encouraged to immigrate to the Land of Israel if he is righteous and is planning to lead a lifestyle full of Torah and mitzvos[451]. This only applies if he can find living accommodations in a religious neighborhood where his children will be surrounded by righteousness and will not be lead astray[452]. All of this applies only to an individual, but the majority of the Jewish people will remain in exile until our nation fully returns to Hashem.


In the past century, the Zionist movement tried to get all the Jewish people to immigrate to Israel. Besides the danger involved in such an endeavor[453] it ultimately caused a decline in Torah observance both in the Land of Israel and outside of it. Many descendants of the people who fell for the Zionist persuasions are not religious today[454]. The Zionists used to compare our sages who opposed their movement to the ten spies. In truth however, the Zionists themselves should be compared to those people of the First Temple who did not listen to the prophets to give in to the king of Babel and go to exile and to the people of the Second Temple who rebelled against the Romans and brought destruction to our nation. As for our sages, they knew how to distinguish between the time when it’s a mitzvah to fight for independence and the time when it’s a mitzvah to give in and pursue peace[455]. And we will wait every day for the final redemption, and the greatest battle we can wage to achieve it is the battle to win more and more of our brethren to the cause of Torah!


Parshas Korach.




In this parsha we learn about the Korach's rebellion. Until this parsha Korach was only mentioned when genealogies of Leviim were described. In this parsha the Torah starts with: "And Korach took ...", and does not tell us a lot about Korach except for describing his ancestry. The Torah says very little about the causes of his rebellion and the claims Korach made. Who was Korach, what did he take, what were his motives and what was he trying to accomplish?




As we described in the previous parsha and in other places in our commentary, when we read the Torah's descriptions of the sins of the people in those generations, we should assume that the sin was much milder, than it seems at first sight, and that the people involved thought they were acting for the sake of Heaven. The subject of Korach is particularly very complicated, and even with all our attempts we will only gain a slight understanding into the deep reasons for the actions of this great man.


Before we try to understand the background of Korach's dispute, we need to try to understand who Korach was. It is known that generally the people, whose descendants are very great, have themselves a very high potential, though it does not always get materialized. Regarding Korach, his children were some of the coauthors of the book of Psalms[456]. A later descendant of Korach was prophet Shmuel, who in some ways was compared to Moshe and Aharon! Knowing who the descendants of Korach are, we can start forming a picture of who he was. He was a very righteous[457] and learned man, respected by the leader of the people[458] and standing on a very high spiritual level, knowledgeable in Torah and in the secret wisdom of Kabala. He was a highly sensitive individual who had seen all the suffering that was decreed on the Jewish people after the episode of the spies. As it often happens, when our nation is being punished, the true cause of punishment can get misinterpreted[459]. Often the righteous leaders are blamed for not leading the nation properly and being responsible for the failures of the people[460].


It is quite logical that many people including Korach thought that one of the causes of our punishment was due to Moshe's unsuccessful leadership[461]. Maybe he should not have sent the spies[462], or possibly he chose the wrong people to be the spies[463]. So the ability of Moshe's choice of leaders must be lacking. We see that at least in the case of the spies he failed. How can we then know that the Nasiim (princes) were chosen by Moshe according to the Divine command? Just before the episode of the spies, the Nasi of sons of Kehat was chosen to be Elitzafan ben Uziel a cousin of Korach (Bemidbar 3:30). At that time Korach was very much surprised. How could Moshe choose Elitzafan, the son of the fourth son of Kehat rather than himself, the son of the second son? Korach knew that he was very talented and knowledgeable and just could not come in peace with himself that he would not be a Nasi[464]. But he kept his thoughts to himself[465]. Now however, after it seemed Moshe made a clear mistake in choosing the spies, Korach came back to his thoughts.


According to Midrash[466], Korach actually foresaw his great potential but made a mistake thinking it will be used by himself, while in truth it only came out in his descendant Shmuel. Korach’s spiritual root was from Gevurah, the left side of Hanhagah[467] and his soul was connected to Cain, son of Adam. In certain cases the “left” has an advantage over the “right” and indeed in the end of days Hashem’s Rule over the universe will be through the left side of Hahagah. At that time the Leviim coming from Gevurah will have advantage over the Cohanim that come from Chesed (kindness). Leviim would then switch roles with Cohanim and they will serve Hashem[468]. The full potential of Cain’s soul would then be revealed. However at the time Korach started his dispute Cohanim this was a tremendous destruction. This world can not withstand Hashem’s Hanhagah through judgment and the Gevurah has to be subservient to Chesed[469]. Now Korach “acquired” for himself the bad sparks of Cain’s soul and this is why the parsha starts with the words: “And Korach took[470]”. 


As it often happens, once a person starts falling, he can fall very low. Our sages state (Shabbos 104a): “The one that wants to become unclean, a path is opened for him”. Once Korach started proposing that some of Moshe’s actions are not done according to Hashem’s command, a possibility opened to doubt everything Moshe does. This could lead the people into accepting only those of the commandments that they heard directory at Mount Sinai. Everything else could be considered Moshe’s own inventions[471]. Korach thus started an “election campaign” with the platform of “equality for all” and “no more exploitation of the poor”. “The entire congregation is holy” – said Korach, “why do you try to rule over it?” He brought a widowed woman who used to own a field and started explaining how this poor woman lost all her possessions due to unfair tithes instituted by Moshe[472].


We often hear arguments similar to Korach’s today as well. However as opposed to today, during Hashem’s Hanhagah in the wilderness the punishment was swift in coming. Korach was swallowed by the Earth. The story of Korach teaches us how much we have to trust our righteous leaders, “the eyes of the congregation[473]”. There is a dispute in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 109b) regarding whether Korach will have a share in the World to Come. According to the majority opinion[474] he will. He is eagerly waiting for Moshiach’s coming more that almost anybody else, since this will end his suffering. And we will also hope and wait for the final redemption to come speedily in our day.


Parshas Chukas.




In this parsha we learn about Moshe’s mistake and the tragic evens that followed. Moshe was told he would have to die in the wilderness and would not be able to enter the Land of Israel. What exactly was Moshe’s error, what events led to it, why was he punished so harshly and what was accomplished by him dying in the desert?




As we discussed before, in general we can never understand to a full extent the mistakes and sins of the early generations. This is especially true regarding the error Moshe and Aharon made. As usual, the Torah uses a simple language to discuss very lofty concepts, while the exact nature of Moshe’s mistake remains purposefully hidden by the Torah. However, since Hashem did give us the Torah we are permitted to talk about what happened at least on the simplest level of understanding.


Many interpretations exist regarding the exact nature of the mistake Moshe made[475], but it is certainly true that he was punished so harshly only because of the Divine Rule of being very strict with the righteous. We can only begin to grasp what happened when we view the episode of this parsha in the context of what happened until now. The GR”A writes[476] that throughout his life Moshe made four mistakes. The first one that in a way led to all others was Moshe’s acceptance of the erev rav[477]. These people, numbering millions[478] and coming from the best of Egyptians, who witnessed together with the Jewish people Hashem’s great miracles, seemed to be ready to convert and join our nation. Moshe did not want to reject them, and since then Hashem held him responsible for everything they did.


As we previously mentioned the Golden Calf was primarily an initiative of the erev rav.  However, as it usually happens some of the Jewish people got influenced as well[479]. Even though our nation achieved forgiveness after the episode of the Golden Calf, we never regained our previous lofty spiritual level. The second mistake Moshe made was in sending the spies to the Land of Israel. We already discussed that the mistake the spies made was not at all obvious, and that the sin of the spies was partially caused by the weakening of our nation after the episode of the Golden Calf[480]. The true purpose of the spies was to bring the Divine Presence into the Holy Land and they did not accomplish this goal[481].


The mistake Moshe made was by not telling the spies the words he would later say to the next generation about to enter the Land of Israel. The various verses in the book of Devarim should have been told before sending the spies, but Moshe thought that saying all this would make the spies biased in the eyes of people. Moshe kept quiet before sending the spies, hoping the people would be more likely to believe their report, but since the spies failed, the damage was even greater.


According to the GR"A, by the time the fate of the generation was sealed to die in the wilderness, Moshe would also not be able to enter the Holy Land[482]. Moshe had to stay with the generation of his people, the people that were from his spiritual root[483]. However, there was still a possibility to bring a great rectification when speaking to the rock[484]. As usual, the actions of Moshe were supposed to make both physical and spiritual changes. The physical water was supposed to come out and so too the spiritual "water" – the hidden aspects of Torah would come freely. The Kabalistic secrets would then be as open as the open Torah, and there would be no need to hide them. When Moshe failed[485] in accomplishing the needed rectification, the secrets of Torah had to be hidden[486].


Most of the Agados in the Talmud are hinting to Kabalistic ideas, but are written in this childish manner and become objects of scorn in the mouths of jesters in every generation. This brings tremendous suffering to Moshe and to Moshiach. About this Yeshiyahu was saying (53:5) "He is profaned because of our sins". The Chochmas Haemes, the true Torah of Moshe, is being hidden and despised while the Torah sages are detested and made fun of by the “leaders” coming from the erev rav[487]. We are promised that in the future the secrets of Torah will be revealed, but this will happen only in the end of days. And we will wait every day to see the fulfillment of the verse (Yeshiyahu 11:9): "The Earth will be full of knowledge of Hashem, as water covers the sea bed".


Parshas Balak.




In this parsha we learn about one of the wisest non-Jews of antiquity - Bilam, son of Beor. One the one hand this man seems to be described as one possessing prophetic talents, on the other hand he seems to be acting without any common sense, trying to "deceive" the Almighty! What was Bilam’s world view and how did it fit into his actions?




Understanding the views of Bilam can actually help us in understanding the views of Lavan, Pharaoh, Sanheriv, Nebuchadnezzar and many other leaders and wise men of the nations of the world. Even though there were some differences between the beliefs of all these people, there was one common detail which all of them believed in. The axiom most of the ancients agreed upon[488] is that the Creator Himself is unapproachable and removed too far from this world[489]. This is why Pharaoh could not agree when Moshe said that Hashem Himself spoke to him. It was a very basic and accepted concept that it is only possible to communicate or worship lower powers like angels in charge of various forces of nature, or angels in charge of various nations. The Jewish people claimed that Hashem Himself is the only One to be worshiped, and the nations rejected this claim.


It is for this reason, that the concept of “Elokey Israel” - the G-d of Israel was totally acceptable to the non-Jews. They understood it to mean not Hashem Himself, but rather some powerful spiritual force on top of our nation[490]. The nations even had some traditions regarding some of the "properties" of the spiritual power of our people. For example they knew that “G-d of Israel” hates immorality[491], and therefore we are strong only when we are a moral nation.


In this respect it seems that Bilam was not different than the rest of the sages of antiquity[492]. Bilam's words can only be understood assuming he did not think that he had contact or that it is possible to have contact with the Creator of the universe. Even though he keeps mentioning Hashem’s Name, something that Pharaoh did not do, still had Bilam believed his prophesies[493] actually come from Hashem, there would be no way to explain his behavior.


When the first messengers were sent he told them to wait. This was not in order to get permission from Hashem to curse the Jewish people, but in order to see if G-d considers these messengers important enough to accompany Bilam[494]. This explains why Bilam kept asking Hashem a second time after new messengers were sent for him. Had Bilam known he is dealing with the Creator of the universe Himself there would be no point of asking a second time after getting a clear answer. As it usually happens, “the one that wants to become unclean, a path is opened for him[495]”. Hashem acted with Bilam in a manner that only strengthened his beliefs that He does not know everything and may actually change His mind[496]. Bilam did not think he is having a vision from the Creator Himself, and moreover he could not possibly imagine that the Hashem Himself can have a "chosen nation" that He loves and does not want to be cursed[497]. This explains why Bilam insisted on trying to curse the Jewish people and never gave up hoping until the very end.


Bilam realized the force guarding the Jewish nation is very powerful, but he thought that at certain times or under certain circumstances he may still be successful in bringing a curse on them[498]. He kept trying to find the faults of the Jewish people, “remind” Hashem of their sins, hoping this would arouse His wrath[499]. Even when leaving he gave an advise to Balak to try enticing the Jewish people into immorality, so that they will lose their special protection.


Many great visions were revealed through Bilam[500]. Bilam saw the Jewish nation conquering its’ enemies, the Jewish kings rising to power and as far into history as the coming of Moshiach in the end of days. Indeed our sages say that visions of Bilam are compared to only Moshe's[501]. Despite the fact that Bilam was given such a great prophetic spirit, and temporarily rose to such a high spiritual level, he did not use the opportunity. His hatred to the Jewish people did not diminish[502] and his fate was sealed. He was killed later by Pinchas and our sages teach us that he has no share in the World to Come[503]. More than three thousand years passed since that time, many of Bilam’s prophesies were fulfilled, and we will still wait every day for his last words to come true and for righteous Moshiach to appear[504]!


Parshas Pinchas.




In this parsha we learn about the reward of Pinchas. Hashem promises him a special covenant of piece. It is also known in many sources[505] that Pinchas is the same person as Eliyahu, a prophet mentioned in the book of Melachim. What was the covenant Pinchas earned and what does the statement “Pinchas is Eliyahu” mean?




In the end of the last week's parsha we learned about the last advice of Bilam of how to entice the Jewish people[506]. One of the wisest men of antiquity gave an advice that was unheard of, in order to corrupt the Jewish people. Possibly for the first time in history, women were deliberately (and forcefully[507]) used in order to "fight" the enemy[508]. Unfortunately many Jewish men fell into their trap. At a later time, our sages would make many Rabbinical decrees to avoid closeness between Jews and non-Jews that may lead to assimilation[509]. At this time however, even the wine of non-Jews was still permitted, and therefore the Jewish people were easily caught.


The Jewish men would come to the market place in order to purchase materials at discounted prices, and when entering the tents of the women they had nothing but commerce in mind. However, after offering strong Moabite wine the lady showed closeness and started behaving indecently, and they would not be able to control themselves any longer[510]. Besides the sin of forbidden relations, the women were able to get the Jewish men to actually worship their idol - the Baal Peor. Its’ worship consisted of going to the bathroom in front of it, which most people did not consider it forbidden and thus ended up transgressing the prohibition of idolatry without fully realizing the impact of it[511].


Now, as it usually happens when the Jewish people sin, there are some misguided leaders who think of ways to "explain" their transgressions and even find a halachik base for it. Even though at times it may be justified, many times it causes even greater damage: now people think they are not doing anything forbidden and are will not try to repent. In the generation of the wilderness, Zimri, a leader from the tribe of Shimon decided to be the one to find an excuse for the people of his tribe who were more that anyone else affected by the Moabite trap. In a way his actions were "Leshem Shamaim[512]", and he even argued with Moshe publicly regarding the possible permission of formerly converting and marrying the Moabite and Midianite women. In order to show the validity of his halachik decision, he himself publicly took a Midianite princess into a tent.


At a time like this it was very difficult to know how to act. We were dealing with a unique situation when it’s a mitzvah to stop the transgression even at the cost of life of the sinner, but it is "Halacha, but we don't teach it[513]". The meaning of this statement is that a person who is jealous for Hashem's honor is allowed to kill the one who is publicly having relations with a non-Jewish woman, but if this person would come to the Rabbis and ask if he should do it, they do not suggest it. Indeed it's a very dangerous task, since in this case he is considered an attacker and the sinner can kill him to save his own life!


Even Moshe himself did not try to kill Zimri[514]. Pinchas was the one to take this task. Many miracles happened to him until he was able to complete the task successfully[515]. Even though his act seemed destructive[516], it actually saved the Jewish people. Pinchas became a very special person in our history. He is the example of a "kanai" the one who is jealous for the Divine Honor. As a reward Hashem established an eternal covenant with him. 


One of the changes that happened to Pinchas himself was the change in his soul structure. It is known[517] that the soul of a person is not one entity, but rather is a composition of different parts. Throughout lifetime, the soul composition can actually change depending on a person's mitzvos or sins. At certain times a person may have "extra" souls attached only temporarily, while at other times they may permanently join him. According to Kabala, after his act Pinchas acquired the souls of Nadav and Avihu[518] (Aharon's sons that died when bringing Ketores, see Vayikra, 10) He also acquired two other souls[519] called Eliyahu. At a later time in his life, one of these souls became dominant and that's why he was referred to as Eliyahu from then on.


Eliyahu appears in the book of Melachim (1:17:1) without any warning. Nothing is described regarding who this man was, he is viewed as a semi-mystical figure living in a distant place and only at times appearing among people. In that generation Eliyahu did almost the same rectification as in the time of Moshe. This time the people of the Northern Kingdom were worshiping idols and were committing other transgressions[520]. Hoping to stop this once and for all, Eliyahu gathered the people on Mount Carmel and publicly demonstrated Hashem's power. The people were tremendously impressed and at Eliyahu's command they killed the idolatrous priests of Baal. However their repentance was short-lived and Eliyahu himself had to run away from the Northern Kingdom where queen Izevel[521] threatened to kill him.


As we know Eliyahu never died but ascended to heaven alive[522]. What he does now is similar to what he was doing when he was still in this world. He appears in various situations and helps rectify the Jewish people. We are promised (Malachi 3:23) that he will announce the coming of Moshiach[523]. And we will wait for his announcement every day.


Parshas Matos.




In the beginning[524] of this week's parsha two types of oaths are discussed: Shvuos and Nedarim. Nedarim are actually types of special prohibitions or commitments based on the idea of making something similar to a korban or Temple property. What is the difference between Nadarim and regular swearing (Shvuos) and what is the reason for this difference?




Even though swearing existed in all time periods in various cultures, Nedarim is a uniquely Jewish concept[525]. The concept of making a Neder is directly related to the laws of Temple service in general. Objects that are dedicated for Temple usage are not permitted to be used for anything else. In fact, the one misusing the Temple objects commits a major transgression called Meila.


Hashem gave us a way to make other objects similar to Temple property. The concept of making a Neder is based on this. A person can forbid any object to himself, making it like a korban[526]. Similarly he can forbid other people to himself; he may make a Neder not to eat someone’s food, or not to derive any benefit from what somebody else does etc. Using Nedarim he can also make an object that belongs to him forbidden to others. He can also make a Neder by offering his objects or money to charity.


One of the main differences between regular swearing called Shvuah and a Neder is that Shvuos can not apply to something already permitted or forbidden by the Torah. For example, if one says: “I swear that during the coming Pesach Seder I will not eat matzah”, or “I swear that on the first day of Sukkos I will not pick up the four species (Lulav, Esrog, etc)” this is considered a vain oath and he still has fulfill those mitzvos he swore not to perform. Similarly, of he swears to eat a piece of pork, his oath is in vain, and he is still forbidden to eat it. Even if he does eat it, he did not rectify his vain oath, for he swore in vain immediately and it can not be rectified[527]. However, a Neder does apply to mitzvos as well. If he had made a Neder, by saying for instance: “Let matzah be for me like a korban”, the Neder applies and unless there will be a way to cancel it, he is not allowed to eat matzah on Pesach[528].


The books of Kabala discuss the spiritual reason behind this difference[529]. The word Shvuah in the Holy Tongue comes from the word “Seven” because it has to do with the seven lower Sefiros, and in particular with Malchus that receives the Spiritual Flow from the other Six. All our mitzvos in this world generally have to do with Tikunim (rectifications) in these Sefiros. However Neder[530] comes from Binah – the Sefirah above the lower Seven. This Sefirah (also called Teshuvah – repentance by early Mekubalim) can override the lower Seven. Indeed, this is the reason for the possibility of repenting and rectifying the already brought damage[531].


This explains the difference between the Neder and the Shvuah. Since the Shvuah is in the lower Seven Sefiros it can not override the mitzvos that are also there. The Neder however comes from higher worlds. This is why it can override the mitzvos in the same way the Teshuvah can override violation of mitzvos. May we deserve to return to Hashem in full repentance and speedily see the coming of Moshiach.


Parshas Massey.




In this parsha we learn about an incredible mitzvah: a Jew who accidentally killed another Jew has to run away to one of the cities of refuge and stay there until the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) dies. What is the significance of this commandment and what does it have to do with the Kohen Gadol?




In this parsha we learn about the command of separating six special "arei miklat" (cities of refuge) to which an unintentional murderer must run away. The law of the inadvertent murderer who has to go into exile was already mentioned very briefly in parshas Mishpatim, but nothing was then said about the place to which he has to flee. Later on, in parshas Vaeschanan, the Torah tells us that Moshe separated three of the cities on the east side of the Jordan River, and Sefer Yehoshua describes how the remaining three cities were separated. The Torah also tells us in parshas Shoftim that when we listen to Hashem and deserve that our land will be expanded, three more cities will need to be separated.


Many questions are asked about the details of this commandment and it's difficult to discuss all of them. One of the points that this mitzvah touches on is the question of life and death in general as well as the question of freedom of choice and Divine Providence. It is certainly hard to imagine that one person would die because of somebody's negligence. On the other hand, if the person killed was supposed to die anyway, why does his murderer have to run away? In general was it is his fault, and did he have his freedom of choice or not when the accident happened?


Before we start our discussion let's ask one more question posed by Arizal. Why is the Torah telling us that if we listen to Hashem and our land will be larger, we will need to separate additional cities of refuge? It would seem that if we listen to Hashem we should deserve that there would be fewer murders, even unintentional ones! This question is especially appropriate given that these words of the Torah are talking about the end of days, during the times of Moshiach, for there was never before in our history a period when we had nine refuge cities. Why would we expect there to be many accidental deaths in the time of Moshiach?


To start answering these questions we need to first try to understand what is murder and what is death? Even though the commandment not to kill seems to be the most obvious of all commandments and it was accepted by all societies, still once we start probing it in depth things become not quite as obvious as they seemed at first sight. Let's ask ourselves a simple question: if we had ten people in front of us, and we knew that nine of them are the worst murderers who deserve to die but one is innocent, would we be allowed to kill all ten? The answer is: obviously not[532]. Well, how about a situation where 90% of the citizens of a country pose a terrible threat to society.  Let's say we can prove that 90% of the people of that country are terrorists who don't hide their goal of worldwide destruction. Would we then be permitted to drop a bomb that would destroy the entire country? Most people would still say: no. How about if we start a war with this country? Every war causes "casualties". That meant when we are starting a war we know we will have to kill innocent civilians. There is no way to avoid this. We can try to minimize the numbers but there will be “accidental” deaths. In many cases the number of "good" people killed during the war may be far greater than the number of actual "war criminals" we are trying to catch and bring to trial!


Now if we keep approaching the war as any other "mass murder" then no war would be permitted to be waged. In general, this is not a Jewish approach[533]. There are times when war can be justified. This is true about the wars the Jewish people waged in the ancient times and true about some of the wars the non-Jewish nations wage today. Until the end of days war will remain a necessary "evil" to save ourselves from problems that are even worse[534]. One of the differences between war and murder is that during the war many people get killed but nobody is singled out to be killed. 


In general, even during times of danger the Divine Providence operates. One may need more merits but whoever needs to be saved, will be saved[535]. However there are people that need to die and they die during various types of calamities brought to this world. War is only one of them and it's the one that may seem to have the most to do with freedom of choice of individual leaders choosing to wage the war. There exist many other catastrophes[536] like the recent tsunami. They do not depend on anybody’s free will and can take many people out of this world in a short time period.


The paradox of free will and Divine Providence is hinted by the Torah. When teaching the mitzvah of making a fence around one's roof, the Torah says (Devarim 22:8): "So that the one falling will not fall from there". Our sages[537] point out that the language of the Torah seems to imply that the person is supposed to fall anyway. Indeed this person is supposed to die, but we need to make protective measures so that his death will not be caused by our negligence! Similarly the one who is neglectful[538] and ends up killing somebody else deserves to be punished and has to flee.


For thousands of years the Jewish people were using another parable[539] about two people, one that committed a murder and the other that killed accidentally.  There were no witnesses to either death, so the two seemed to remain unpunished. Hashem then brought the two together in the same hotel, and the second accidentally killed the first. Now the first got the punishment he deserved, and the second got the punishment he deserved, since this time there were witnesses and he had to flee[540].


Now death in itself is not always as bad as it seems[541]. There are people whose rectification is to die in a certain way. In particular, Arizal[542] writes that people from the spiritual root of Hevel (Abel, son of Adam) need to die. Indeed even though Cain was worse than Hevel, Hevel also had a sin for which he had to die[543] and so too the souls coming from his spiritual root. Throughout our long exile many of the Jewish people died in various ways at the hands of the nations. The choice of who will live and who will die was determined by Hashem's Providence. The Arizal writes that indeed if we deserve and Moshiach comes early[544], not all of the people who need to be fully rectified through death will finish their rectification. For this reason there would be a lot of accidental deaths and there would be a need for more refuge cities. However if we don't deserve his early coming, then everybody who needs to be rectified through death will already die during our long exile.


Even though death can serve as a rectification, it is still tragedy to everybody involved. Moreover, when our nation is on a high level and especially when our leaders are very righteous, they are often able to prevent the accidental deaths and achieve the needed rectification through other means. In particular, the leader of the Jewish people - the High Priest who serves in the Holy Temple, may be able to prevent accidental deaths thru his service and prayers. If he was not successful, he is punished indirectly as the unintentional murderer will consciously or subconsciously desire his death, since after the death of Kohen Gadon, he can come out of his exile[545]. May we deserve to come out of our exile soon and see only righteous High Priests serving in the Third Temple.  Then, there won't be a need for any more deaths and Hashem will erase all tears from our faces (Yeshiyahu 25:8).


Parshas Devarim.




A careful reader can notice that the book of Devarim is somewhat different from the first four books of the Chumash. What are these differences and what is the general structure of this book?




In general, the book of Devarim is a projection of the entire Torah[546]. It covers the last month and seven days of Moshe’s life. During this time, he chastised our people, reviewed the Torah’s commandments with them, predicted their future and, at the end he blessed them. Thus, the book[547] can naturally be divided into four[548] parts. The first three weekly readings have to do with the past. Moshe was reprimanding our nation for its sins. The next three Parshiyos are completely dedicated to mitzvos. The following three weekly portions deal with predictions of the future. The last Parsha is Moshe’s blessing of the twelve tribes, each according to its spiritual root. This general division corresponds perfectly to the general division of the Sefiros. The first nine Sefiros are also divided into three groups of three[549].


The Vilna Gaon wrote that these ten Parshiyos hint to what would happen throughout the last one thousand years of history[550]. This way, the last book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) predicts the history of the sixth millennia and every century is hinted to by one parsha. The Vilna Gaon[551] also explains that the spiritual root of the ten Torah portions of Devarim is in ten Sefiros[552] of the world of Asya. This is the lowest of the spiritual worlds and it is a projection of the worlds above it, just as the fifth book of Torah is a projection of the books before. Thus, to better understand the history of the ten centuries, we will be studying its’ spiritual root as well.


After this introduction, the general order of the book of Devarim becomes clear. The first three chapters have to do with the first three Sefiros, and they are mostly dedicated to our past history. Even though there are some mitzvos in VaEschanan and Ekev, these mitzvos mostly have to do with strengthening our Emuna – faith. The next three portions are completely dedicated to describing the detailed commandments of the Torah and correspond to the Sefiros that have to do with the present. We will later see that a tremendous rise of Torah learning happened in the period of time corresponding to these chapters. The following three Parshiyos describe the predictions of the future and correspond to the Sefiros that have to do with the future. In these chapters, our deviation from Torah is predicted, as well as our punishment and the return to Judaism – the Baaley Tshuva movement. At last, the blessings of the tribes correspond to Malchus – for this Sefira shows our readiness to receive the Divine blessing, and it is also the source of the Jewish souls. Let us now delve a bit further into each Parsha and its’ corresponding century. According to the Gaon’s arrangement we have the following correspondence:





Jewish years

 Secular years     





















Ki Setze




Ki Savo












VeZos HaBracha





Parshas Devarim. This chapter is an introduction to the whole book. Just as Kabala teaches us, Keser is the Sefira that connects each world with the world above it. It is thus taught that the Malchus of the higher world becomes the Keser of the world below. Thus, this Parsha summarizes everything that happened until now and introduces us to what will be discussed in the book.


From a historical point of view, two fundamental books saw light in this century – the Tur and the Zohar. The author of the Tur, Rabbi Yakov ben Asher, summarized all the works of the Rishonim before him, producing a unique compendium which describes all the laws that apply to us. Centuries later, Rabbi Yosef Karo used this work as the basis for his Shulchan Aruch. Therefore, most of the halachic works  we  have  today  are  completely  based on the Shulchan Aruch and the Tur. Certainly, the Tur can be considered the root of all other works of halacha, corresponding perfectly to Sefiras Keser.


The Zohar was also rediscovered during this century. After being hidden for generations, it became the root of all subsequent writings of Kabala. Interestingly, the other principal Kabalistic writings of Ramban and his students were also composed in this century.


Parshas VaEschanan. In general, the sages of the past one thousand years are divided into Rishonim (early ones) and Acharonim (the last ones). Usually, the exile of Spanish Jewry is considered the splitting point. According to this, the Rishonim continued their activity in the time corresponding to the first three Sefiros. In general, all of the first three Sefiros are hidden and so is the activity of most sages of the time. Some of the known writings of this Parsha’s period include the Maharil’s compilation of our customs and his answers to halachic inquiries.


Parshas Ekev. This is the last of the Torah portions in the first group of three. In many ways, it is similar to the previous one just as Chochma is similar to Bina. It is known, that in every group of three Sefiros there is right, left and middle. The right side is that of kindness, while the left is of judgment. Thus, in this group, Bina is from the left side. Even so, the judgment that comes from this Sefira is not as severe as from Gevura and Hod, because this Sefira is included the first three, where in general there is much mercy.


This Parsha warns us that when we build nice houses and multiply our possessions we should not forget Hashem. If we forget about the Creator, we will be destroyed.


The most important historic event in this Parsha is the exile of Spanish Jews. The rabbis of the time wrote that this punishment came about due to the comfort in which our people lived. As opposed to German and French Jews who were accustomed to anti-Semitism, the Spanish Jews lived in a golden country. Their beautiful houses and their wealth caused the envy of their gentile neighbors, which encouraged their hostility. Interestingly, once faced with the choice of exile or conversion, the majority of Spanish Jews chose the latter. With the Spanish exile a whole chapter in Jewish history as well as the Divine rule through the first three Sefiros ended.


Parshas Ree. This is the first chapter dealing with practical commandments. It corresponds to Sefiras Chesed – the kindness of Hashem. In this period of time, both the teaching of open Torah as well as the teaching of Kabala flourished. During this century, Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote the main code of Jewish law and Rabbi Moshe Isserles added a gloss to it. Also, at this time lived the greatest Kabalist – the Arizal. All later writings of Kabala and Chassidus are based on his teachings. It is worth noting that this weekly portion also deals with the laws applicable to the land of Israel and its produce. This was indeed the time, when Jewish communities in the Holy Land started to flourish, Rabbi Yosef Karo and the Arizal themselves lived in Tzefas (Safed). Thus, many of the halachic questions regarding the crops of the land of Israel were discussed by the rabbis of the time.


Another interesting observation is that this weekly portion warns us not to listen to an idolatrous false prophet. Other laws of false prophets are discussed in the next Parsha as well. The false prophet mentioned here may be Nostradamus. This man, a descendent of Jewish converts to Christianity, still fascinates many Non-Jews by his “predictions”.


Parshas Shoftim. Here, the Torah continues discussing many commandments. This portion corresponds to Gevurah – the Sefira of Divine judgment. Thus, the name of this Parsha is Shoftim – judges. Regarding the study of the Torah, many major commentators on the Shulchan Aruch  lived  in this century.  Concerning  the books on Kabala, the most famous ones written in this period are from Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. His own life however was quite sad; he spent a long time in exile and died at young age. The tribulations of his life fully correspond to the attribute of this century.


Regarding the general history of our people, terrible tragedies happened in this time period, for whole Jewish communities were destroyed during the Chmelnitzky massacres.


Our weekly portion also discusses the false prophets. Indeed, one of the most famous false Messiahs in our history, Shabbatai Tzvi, lived during this time. The damage this man brought was certainly enormous. Most of our nation was fooled by him, and when he converted to Islam, many followed suit. Some of his followers continued to believe he is Moshiach even after his conversion. These people plagued our nation for a long time afterwards.


Another infamous person who lived during this century was Baruch Spinoza. At first glance, one might find it too far fetched to call this man a false prophet, however after some analysis this becomes quite plausible. It is known, that for centuries most of our people were religiously observant. Those who did not want to keep the commandments usually converted to other faiths, but the people who called themselves Jews always followed the Torah. Baruch Spinoza became a representative of a new phenomenon – that of the irreligious Jew. On the one hand, he did not formally convert to another faith. On the other hand, he abandoned the ancient traditions our nation faithfully preserved and invented his own “principles of faith”. Later, there would be many such people, but he was the first and therefore his blame is greater.


Parshas Ki Setze. More commandments are described in this Parsha than in any other, for this is the main portion of the Torah, corresponding to the Sefira of Tiferes. It is impossible to overestimate the development of Torah learning in this century. We will describe only a few of the leading sages.


The Vilna Gaon lived in this period. Interestingly, he found a hint to his name in this Parsha, in the words “Even Shleima”. He and his students wrote hundreds of books on all topics of open and hidden aspects of Torah. Afterwards, many more books were based on the Gaon’s writings. Thus, for example, the Chofetz Chaim based his main halachic decisions in Sefer Mishna Berura on the opinion of the Vilna Gaon.


Chassidus developed in this century. Most of the main leaders that put down the foundations of this movement lived in the one hundred years corresponding to this Parsha. Thus, the founder of Chassidus, the Baal  Shem Tov, died 40 years into this century. Some of the major Rebbis that lived at this time include Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyadi (the founder of Chabad), Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (founder of Satmar and other dynasties) and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.


Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (the Node BeYehuda), Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rabbi Moshe Sofer (the Chasam Sofer) also lived in this century. The Chasam Sofer was able to establish a world famous yeshivah, where most of the prominent Hungarian rabbis learned.


Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, the greatest student of the Vilna Gaon established the world famous Volozhin Yeshiva. This yeshivah served as a model for all subsequent Lithuanian yeshivas.


Regarding the great Sefardi rabbis, two of the most famous ones lived during this century – the Chida and the Rashash. The Chida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai) wrote many encyclopedic works that are studied and quoted by the Jewish people until the present. The Rashash (Rabbi Shalom Sharabi) composed a Kabalistic sidur of crucial importance. Most people that pray with kavonos (Kabalistic meditations) uses this sidur.


Parshas Ki Savo. It is important to mention here, that in the realm of Divine rule, the two Sefiros, Netzach and Hod, work together. Thus, for example, in the human body they correspond to the two legs. As opposed to the hands, each of which can function independently, the legs of a person are used jointly. Thus, the two weekly readings: Ki Savo and Nitzavim with Vayelech are joined into one complete whole, for Nitzavim is simply a continuation of Ki Savo, as we will see later.


Interestingly, the book of Zohar predicts tremendous scientific progress starting with the beginning of Ki Savo (year 5600, 1840 by the secular calendar). The Zohar claims this progress will prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach. Note, that according to Kabala, the Sefiros starting with Netzach are all connected directly to Malchus, thus, from the century of Netzach starts the preparation for Melech Hamoshiach – the kingship of Messiah. Interestingly, according to the writings of Arizal, the top of Malchus actually reaches up to the previous Sefira – Tiferes. This agrees with the traditions of the GR”A[553] and of Chasam Sofer[554], that the preparations for the coming of Moshiach already began in year 5500.

Even though Netzach is related to the right side, while Hod – to the left, the influence of the two Sefiros is mixed as we mentioned. Thus, it is taught that the end of Netzach is connected to Hod and judgment flows from it. While the beginning of Ki Savo is quite happy, it ends with curses and punishments. Nitzavim continues with more curses and then speaks about our coming back to the observance of the commandments.


Now, the beginning of Ki Savo discusses the new fruits that we will gather from the land given to us as eternal inheritance. Interestingly, at this time period some settlements were founded in the Holy Land, for the purpose of observing the mitzvos applicable to the land. These mitzvos can only be kept in the land of Israel and the early settlers wanted to renew the observance of these commandments. (Unfortunately, our nation did not withstand the test, and pretty soon, new kibbutzim were organized by completely irreligious Jews who did not keep any commandments, and later founded the secular State of Israel.)


Towards the middle of the Parsha, the Torah describes eleven curses for those who do not keep various commandments. The curses are concluded by the words: “Cursed is the man that will not uphold the words of this Torah”. The entire second half of the Parsha is devoted to the terrible curses that will befall our nation if we don’t observe the commandments. This portion of the Torah is read quietly – for these are the sad words of rebuke.


Speaking from historic perspective, it is well known that the majority of the Jewish people abandoned the observance of the commandments during this century. By the time of World War II, most of our nation did not keep the mitzvahs. The fast momentum at which the Jewish people were going astray was astonishing. Together with the going away, the punishments started befalling us. On the saddest day of our year – the Ninth of Av, World War I started. The Russian revolution, pogroms in Ukraine, an unstable economy in Europe and the Great Depression in US were just a prelude to the worst punishments still to come – with the outbreak of World War II at the end of the century, a terrible punishment befell the Jewish nation.

Parshas Nitzavim and Vayelech. Terrible curses continue being described in the beginning of this Parsha. Such expressions as “Sulfur and salt burned all the soil … like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah …” may well be hinting also to the devastation caused by the continuation of World War II.


After the terrible curses are described, the Torah predicts our return to Hashem and renewal of the observance of the commandments. This passage is speaking to our generation. In the previous generations some people left traditional Judaism, and their descendants continued the downhill slide and assimilated even further. The concept of return to Torah observance was virtually unknown. In our day this is quite common. People who were born into families with completely irreligious backgrounds have come back to Orthodox Judaism and they often succeed in bringing their parents along with them.


Parshas Haazinu. This Parsha is called a small Torah, so as Yesod is the projection of the other Sefiros. Indeed the very commandment to write the Sefer Torah is learned from this Parsha. Based on the verses in this short Parsha, we can judge that the events will greatly speed up once we reach the next century. This weekly portion also contains a severe warning should we not listen to Hashem.

Parshas VeZos HaBracha. The blessings of the twelve Jewish tribes contained in the Parsha correspond to Malchus, for this Sefira shows our readiness to receive Divine blessing. It is this Sefira from which the Jewish souls descend. It certainly seems that this weekly portion hints to the times of Moshiach, corresponding perfectly to the kingship that this Sefira represents. However, it is our belief that Moshiach could come in any generation if we deserve. According to the Vilna Gaon[555], Moshiach ben Yosef will come earlier if we are worthy. Just as Shaul ruled over our people before David, so too Moshiach ben Yosef can come before Moshiach ben David. Our sages say that during this time period life will not change significantly. The only difference will be is that after his coming we will reside in the Holy Land and will be able to keep all the commandments without the yoke of the nations upon us. However, Moshiach ben David will only come at the appointed time. Many miracles will happen after his arrival. May it be Hashem’s will that we deserve to see both Moshiachs, Moshe Rabeynu, Eliyahu, Aharon Hakohen and all other righteous people speedily, in our time!






Parshas Vaeschanan.




In this parsha we read the well known passage of Shma, which we are commanded to recite twice daily. Many questions can be asked about this passage, but we will only ask to explain the second verse (Devarim 6:5): “You shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”. What is the meaning of these three terms and what is the difference between them?




Obviously even a cursory discussion of Shma would require a whole book. We decided to concentrate on just one verse since it seems to be the most difficult one to understand even on the level of Peshat (simple meaning). Three terms are mentioned in this verse: Levavcha (your heart), Nafshecha (your soul) and Meodecha (usually translated as your might). We will first discuss the basic meaning of these expressions of love that is required from us. This can also help us every time we recite Shma, so we can concentrate on what we are saying.


The Talmud[556] tells us that loving Hashem with one’s whole heart means serving Him with both[557] our yetzer hatov (good inclination) and yetzer hara (evil inclination). Right before this, the Talmud mentions that the righteous people are ruled by their yetzer hatov, the wicked – by their yetzer hara, while average people are ruled by both. The GR”A[558] explains that the righteous use even their physical desires only to serve Hashem. Thus even their partake of food, family relations and other ordinary activity is sanctified[559]. On the other hand the wicked people do everything through their yetzer hara. Even when they learn Torah, their main desire is to become famous or to show off or to find mistakes in other people’s teachings. When they give tzedakah, they do it only to become known as righteous and generous people[560]. At last, average people are “ruled” by both their yetzer hatov and their yetzer hara. Indeed we are required to strive to love and serve Hashem with all our hearts and with all our desires.


The second expression is: “with all your soul”. Our soul shell desire Hashem’s closeness more than anything else in the world. Our soul should be our main component that only uses the body to serve it. Then our thoughts and decisions will come from the soul[561] with which we are commanded to love Hashem[562]. 

The third expression used is Meodecha. This word is very hard to translate. Its’ closest grammatical root is the word “Meod” – which means “very”. We are required to love Hashem very very much, as much as possible with our whole being, might and with all our possessions[563]. Moreover, in this world Hashem may not always give us the things we wanted, He may punish us even though at times we may not understand why. Still we are required to love Him regardless which “Mida[564]” (quality) He uses in His Rule over us.


The Zohar (2:27a) teaches us that the three types of love described here are related to the qualities of our forefathers[565]. The love with one’s whole heart including the “right” and the “left” quality of the “heart” corresponds to Avraham and Yitzchak – the forefathers that represented “kindness” and “judgment”. Loving with one’s soul corresponds to Dovid, the author of Psalms. Indeed, the soul of Dovid and of his descendant, Melech Hamoshiach is a collective soul that includes our entire nation[566]. Loving with one’s might and possessions corresponds to Yakov[567], who gave us all his property for Hashem[568]. According to this, the correspondence of the qualities with which we are commanded to serve Hashem is as follows[569]:




Quality of love

Avraham and Yitzchak[570]

Chesed and Gevurah

With both “sides” of one’s heart



With all of one’s might and possessions



With one’s soul, even if one has to die


May we deserve to truly love Hashem, becoming close to Him so that our souls will only desire to cling to the Living G-d and may we deserve to live till the times when Moshiach will come and this will become the aspiration of every living being!


Parshas Ekev.




In this parsha we read many verses that imply Hashem’s total control over our history and lives. We are told over and over that we will get Hashem’s blessing if we keep the commandments, and will be punished if we don’t. We should not think that it’s our power that brings us success, but realize that our achievements are due to Hashem (Devarim 8:17). There is however one verse in the book of Koheles (Ecclesiast 3:19) that seems to imply the opposite: “The same thing happens to man and to an animal, this one dies like that one dies … and there is no advantage of a man over an animal”. This puzzling verse seems to imply that Hashem’s Rule over the universe does not take individuals into account and the lives and deaths of people are governed by natural causes without any merits or sins being taken into account. How could this verse be explained?




In parshas Ekev, a great emphasis is made on describing how Hashem rules over our nation. Among the many verses describing it, is also the second paragraph of Shma that we read twice daily. The Torah starts with a preface (Devarim 11:12): “… Hashem is watching the Land of Israel from the beginning of the year till the end of it”, and continues (Devarim 11:13-17) telling us that if we listen to Hashem we will be rewarded and if we don’t, we will be punished. These ideas comprise the most fundamental elements of our faith[571], yet they need further explanation.


It may seem that King Shlomo, the wisest of men in his book of Koheles contradicts the above belief. Indeed this question is so bewildering that even the sages of the Zohar (3:157a) were puzzled by it. The statement in Koheles seems to be the most common claim of heretics[572]: “There is no Judge and no judgment[573]!” Throughout history similar statements were often made by even quite righteous people when they had personally witnessed suffering that seemed to be not justified in their eyes. Iov in his conversations with his friends claimed that the Divine Rule over people may be similar to that over animals, when Hashem is interested in preserving the specie, not in rewarding or punishing an individual member[574].


Before we discuss the meaning of the obscure verse in Koheles, we need to try understanding how Hashem’s  Hashgacha (Rule over the universe) works in general. It is well known that Hashem has no limitations. His Hashgacha includes even the finest details. Indeed not a single grass can grow without the spiritual force on top of it[575]. On the other hand this Hashgacha is not primary[576]. Hashem is not “interested” in the inanimate nature, flora and animals, yet He needs to personally supervise each and every object He created and even a single atom in the universe needs to constantly be recreated[577] and supplied with energy to exist. Yet the only creature which is the center of Hashem’s attention is the Human Being. The animals live and die without merits or sins. It’s not sinful for the wolf to eat a lamb nor is the lamb being caught because of his sins. While the exact decision of which animals get caught every day by the predators is decided “on High[578]” this decision is only made by Hashem in order to preserve the general balance of animals or in some cases because a particular animal will come in direct contact with people, and therefore the Hashgacha on it stems from the Hashgacha on the people[579].


Now regarding the strange verse in Koheles, the Zohar tells us that Rabbi Chizkiya and Rabbi Yossa also did not know how to explain it. Once as they were walking in the wilderness[580] they met a man who solved their difficulty. He told them that the reason this question posed such a problem for them is because they spend all of their time away from general populace and they don’t even have an idea of how the simple people view the world. A sage of Torah is accustomed to look for Hashem’s Hashgacha in every step he takes. All the major and minor events of his life are messages from Hashem that need to be understood and interpreted. On the other hand the majority of people are like fish in the aquarium who get their food on time and think it’s through their efforts they were able to find it. They don’t see the Hand that throws them their provisions. They pay no attention to their Master. When one of the fish is removed from the aquarium, they think their “comrade” died. They don’t have any clue that everything is supervised from just outside of their fish tank. The verse of Koheles is just a quote of what these people are saying, as he in fact states (Koheles 3:18): “I said about the words of men who are being separated[581] by G-d, and they themselves are indeed like animals”. The people who Koheles is quoting here think like animals that have no understanding.


Our exile was due to our lack of recognizing Hashem’s guiding Hand, and we will come out of exile when we begin to admit that it’s only Hashem is in charge[582]. May we deserve that it happens soon.


Parshas Ree.




In this and the next parshios we read about the false prophets. This parsha mentions a “prophet” who incites us to worship the idols. Various incidents with false prophets are mentioned in the Tanach and many questions can be asked about prophesy in general and the possibility of false “prophesy” in particular. Does the “prophet” himself always know that his message in not from G-d? Why would Hashem allow the phenomenon of false “prophesy”. If the possibility of false prophesy exists then how can we distinguish the true prophet from the false one? At last, how do we know then that our whole Torah is true? If miracles and predictions can be made by people other then true prophets of Hashem, how can we trust anyone then?




The discussion about the phenomenon of prophesy can certainly be very elaborate but we will try to be concise as usual. First and foremost, we need to realize that the possibility of sometimes predicting the nearby future certainly does not imply a true connection to Hashem Himself. Indeed, “people of spirit[583]” have always existed and still exist today. At certain times in history[584] when spirituality literally flows in the air[585], many people see visions and think they have reached prophetic state. This is not surprising at all since our souls are indeed found in spiritual realm and they may sense at times what is being projected and “announced” there. Moreover, even certain deviations from “nature[586]” that we call miracles can sometimes be achieved through various ways by people other then true prophets of Hashem.


Indeed, the Torah’s credibility does not depend on being able to foretell the near future[587] or perform certain miracles. However certain types of predictions and miracles in the Torah are such that no nation ever experienced or will ever experience. These are the global miracles and the global historical predictions having to do with the distant future. In the beginning of our history our nation numbering millions saw the miracles of Egyptian plagues, splitting of the sea, revelation at Sinai, getting food from the sky and water from a rock. No nation ever claimed or will ever claim that these types of miracles had happened to their ancestors[588]. Indeed, it’s these miracles that our nation had experienced that form the basis of our faith[589], and that is why the Torah reiterates the Exodus from Egypt, when answering the claims of a false prophet.


Regarding the prophecies of Torah, they are also global in nature spanning throughout the entire history, different from the predictions of various sorcerers and false prophets[590]. Our nation has a history so vastly different from any other people, that even the non-Jews have noticed it. Indeed, the Jewish survival alone in the conditions of our exile is a tremendous miracle that makes many non-Jewish historians recognize the Hand of G-d. This would be impressive enough even without being predicted but in addition the details of our worldwide dispersion had been foretold by the Torah.


Even though the miracles during the Exodus from Egypt were unique and so are the prophesies of the Chumash, the Jewish prophets who lived for the next one thousand years after the Torah was given, did not have to perform global miracles. Their main function was the same as that of Rabbis and Rebbes today. They needed to bring the people close to Hashem and make sure the mitzvos are observed properly. Sometimes they were given the power to perform miracles, generally at the time this was needed. People get impressed when public miracles are performed, and the prophet may have used miracles to bring the people closer to Hashem. Sometimes some laws of Torah needed to be temporarily suspended, and therefore the prophet was given this general permission[591]. However he could not change any law of Torah forever, and he could not suspend the prohibition of idolatry even temporarily. Another function of the prophet was helping individuals achieve their potential. Many times a particular soul needs a specific rectification; a person may need to be extra careful about a precise mitzvah. The prophet could thus guide an individual in his way. A prophet could answer various questions from important ones, like telling people what to do during the time of war, to such minor questions as to where one’s lost object is[592].


Now regarding the phenomenon of false prophets, in many of cases these people were simple charlatans. However sometimes these were sincere people, looking for spirituality, especially at times when it seemed to be easy to achieve. When many true prophets walked on earth, many more people wanted to also “hear voices from above”. At times these people did not realize that their vision was not from Hashem[593] but fooled themselves to believe they saw a true vision. On top of that, even a formerly true prophet could go astray one day and become a false prophet or even a prophet of idolatry. After all, the freedom of choice exists till one’s last day on earth[594], and nobody is immune from the yetzer hara[595].


Now what the Torah expects from the Jewish people, who can not always distinguish between the true and the false prophet, is to listen to those people who have a reputation of being righteous and accurately predicted the future a few times. Once an individual has earned a reputation of the true prophet, we are not allowed to keep testing him but have to listen to him even when he temporarily suspends any laws except idolatry. The reason we listen to him is not because we are sure he is a true prophet, but because this is the mitzvah of the Torah. Similarly, we rely on two witnesses in most laws, even though we can’t know for sure that their testimony is true. However, if the prophet tries to permanently change any law of the Torah we can know for sure this is not a true prophet. Similarly, the “prophet” that incites us to worship idols even if he insists this is the Divine Will, can not be a true prophet. This is the “prophet” this parsha[596] is talking about and his punishment is death penalty. Even though the Torah tells us that Hashem is “testing” us, by allowing the false prophet to correctly predict the future or perform certain miracles, still the “prophet” himself is fully responsible for his actions. Indeed, he is supposed to know just as anybody else that Hashem could not possibly want us to worship idols and therefore he should have ignored any vision he had. Even to be able to temporarily suspend other laws one had to better be sure that his visions are truly prophetic. To become a true prophet usually took a lot of training[597] and effort and in most cases involved guidance from the previous generations of prophets[598]. Claiming to be a prophet is a tremendous responsibility[599] and when it is purposefully[600] done by the one who had not reached this lofty level, he incurs death penalty[601]. Regular dreams should generally be ignored and certainly no forbidden actions can be permitted or even monitory laws decided based on one’s visions[602].


May we deserve to speedily see prophesy restored when Moshiach comes and the whole Earth will be filled with knowledge of Hashem as water covers the seabed (Yeshiyahu 11:9).


Parshas Shoftim.




In this parsha we read about the Jewish king. In our day and age when most nations accepted democratic systems of government and even the few countries that still have monarchies generally do not give their kings much power the question of why the Torah seems to choose kingship to be the “ideal” government system is especially topical. Why does the Torah tell us to appoint the king and what was his purpose?




Before we even start the discussion about the Jewish kings we need to realize that even the assumption that it is a mitzvah to appoint one is not necessarily agreed upon. In truth, there is an argument in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 20b) regarding the verses of the Torah that discuss the Jewish king. The Torah plainly says (Devarim 17:14): “When you come to the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you, you will inherit it and settle in it and you will say: I shell appoint a king over myself ... Then indeed you should appoint a king over yourself ...” The language of the Torah seems obscure. Is it trying to tell us that the monarchy is not the ideal system of government, but Hashem allows it if the people will demand it? Or is it trying to say that indeed there is a mitzvah to appoint a Jewish king at some point in our history? In fact both interpretations exist in the Talmud[603].


Some 400 years after we entered the land of Israel the Jewish people asked Shmuel, the greatest prophet of the time, that a king should be appointed (see Shmuel 1:8:5). We read that Shmuel was very upset at their request and kept warning them that the kingship they are asking will one day turn against them. Even when the first king Shaul was appointed, Shmuel made a startling ceremony that frightened the people. Many explanations are given regarding why Shmuel was so unhappy[604]. In any case, even if appointing the king is generally a mitzvah, the exact way they asked for it in that generation was inappropriate. Discarding the elderly righteous prophet who was leading them for all these years in favor of a king who “would judge them” was totally improper. Moreover, the people did not ask for a king to fulfill the mitzvah but rather for their own reasons to get the benefits of monarchy[605].


In general, a righteous king empowered to rule over the nation can get the people to accomplish great heights. In a democratic system of government, the leaders are generally afraid of the people, for if they don’t follow the crowd, they may not get reelected[606]. Indeed in our day the presidents and prime ministers can hardly do anything to improve the nation. On the other hand the righteous kings of Israel were able to force the people to improve their observance and Torah learning, and often completely changed the whole nation[607]. On the other hand when the king is wicked he can use his powers to bring a tremendous destruction[608]. Indeed Shmuel’s warning came true; the history of our people is full of examples of bad kings who brought our nation to near destruction. 


In the end of days we are promised restoration of Jewish monarchy. King Moshiach will be able to use his powers to bring our nation to full observance. There is a tradition that before the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid, there will be another leader, Moshiach ben Yosef[609], who will start the process of bringing our nation back. The GR”A[610] writes that just as Shaul’s dynasty preceded Dovid’s, so too the rule of Moshiach ben Yosef (also coming from Rachel, like King Shaul) will precede the rule of the descendant of Dovid. And we will wait for the fulfillment of this promise every day!



Parshas Ki Setze.




In this parsha we read about the Jewish army camp. The Torah tells us that the Jewish solders need to be especially careful to avoid any transgressions including the indecent thoughts and evil speech[611]. The camp itself has to be kept in a totally clean and neat condition. The Talmud[612] learns many laws from these verses and they apply to us today as well. If these commandments are applicable at all times, why are they mentioned in regards to an army camp in particular?




It is known that often the Torah uses a more common example, not meant at all to exclude the general case[613]. The general situation in the army camp is often such that the soldiers are not very careful about the mitzvah observance[614]. Some of the reasons for this may be the fact that they are afraid they may die and therefore try to meanwhile enjoy this world as much as they can. Another possibility is that the enemy’s territory often seems like a place of easy gain (robbing, killing, raping etc). Even a righteous solder placed in such an environment can often be influenced by peer pressure and go astray. A group of solders busy in their free time discussing women and their personal experiences cause the one listening to be influenced for bad[615].


It is therefore crucial for the Torah to establish a Jewish army camp different from all other camps. It is given a special status of great holiness with Divine Presence being there[616]. The Torah emphasizes the importance of keeping the commandments there and some extra prohibitions and rules are set up that apply exclusively to it. The Torah tells us:


When you go out to encamp against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. If there is among you any man, who is not clean because of a nocturnal emission, then he should go out of the camp and remain outside. Towards the evening, he should immerse in water and when the sun is down, he can come into the camp again. You should also have a place outside the camp, where you go out to [the bathroom]. And you should have a spike among your weapons[617], and when you will ease yourself outside, you should dig with it and cover your excrement. For Hashem your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to save you, and to give your enemies before you, therefore your camp should be holy that He should not see any nakedness in you, and turn away from you. (Devarim 23:10-15)


Many commandments are learned from these verses. Some apply only to the most holy places like the Temple area and the army camp. For instance, a man who had emission is not allowed to enter the Temple are or the army camp. Even after he immerses in a mikva or a lake, he has to wait till the day is over and only then is he permitted to enter these holy areas. Other commandments apply to all of us daily. For example, the fact that a naked person or a person in front of whom there is somebody else who is undressed is not allowed to pronounce any words of Torah, blessings or prayers[618]; the fact that it’s forbidden to even think about Torah in the bathroom or in front of excrements; the prohibition for man to have indecent thoughts about women[619]. 


It is known that in order to keep the balance of freedom of choice, the Creator decreed that the power of evil inclination should be directly proportional to the power of good. In the end of days even before the coming of Moshiach we are told that the generation will have access to comfort and enjoyment with abundance of physical pleasure[620]. In our day we benefit from the conveniences that can even be compared to what was promised when Moshiach comes[621]. Under such conditions it should be quite easy to keep the mitzvos. All the main reasons to drop observance seem to be gone. Throughout the ages, many Jews were forcefully converted or did so under presser and life threat. At times people did not keep the mitzvos properly because of financial reasons. In early American history, some Jews started working on Shabbos when they could not find a job that would allow them to take this day off. They saw their families on the verge of starvation and thought they had no choice.


These difficult times are gone. Today, an orthodox Jew can now work in almost any field. The discrimination in many countries is minimal or nonexistent. Even those who have no jobs are hardly living in poverty. Many of the American, Canadian, British and German Jews who are unemployed are receiving sufficient aid from the government that they can even afford cell phones and vacations. If there would not be enough power given to the “unclean side”, almost everybody would be already keeping the mitzvos. In order to keep the balance Hashem also gave a terrible power of persuasion to the strongest of all desires. With the invention of internet many righteous people got trapped and addicted to the worst filth that this world has to offer. Failed careers, broken families, sick people are just some of the results of only ten years of the internet penetrating our homes. Can we do anything to save ourselves from this leprosy? Obviously Hashem never sends a test that can not be overcome. There are methods that can help us and some of them are described in the appendix of this article[622]. The very fact that the power of persuasion for bad is so strong is the biggest indication that the times of Moshiach are drawing near[623]. And may we all withstand the test and deserve to live till the yetzer hara is removed and internet will become the tool for only spreading righteousness and true knowledge.




In general the main danger of unlimited access to internet lies in the fact that even a good person who absolutely didn’t plan to use his computer for anything forbidden by the Torah, can become a new person in a very short time. It usually starts with a mistake[624], but in the end he may begin to often break strict prohibitions or even become addicted[625] to unclean material[626], becoming “mumar lidvar echad” – a person who habitually breaks a particular prohibition[627].


Obviously the person who is not trying to do Tshuvah, nothing can help. In this case even disconnecting internet will not solve the problem, since there is plenty of similar materials in the neighborhood newspaper stand selling magazines. Our words of practical advice are directed to those who did not fall into the trap, but want to give themselves some extra protections, or those who have fallen before and specifically want to make extra fences around the prohibition in order not to fall again. What can be done is making internet no more dangerous than the existence of kiosks, bars, clubs, cinemas etc. These places generally do not affect 95% of orthodox Jews and most of us would even be ashamed to enter such places. Internet access can also be made relatively safe so that it would be almost impossible for a person to access forbidden sites.


The simplest and most accepted advice is to try not to use the computer unless somebody else is watching. Even if that person is not constantly looking over one's shoulders, but comes in and out without giving enough time to hide the screen, this is sufficient[628]. It is therefore preferable to install the computer in a room where there is more activity, with the screen facing the entrance. Another possibility is to install one of the programs that will track all the sites one visits, and have someone else choose the password to the log and check it regularly. Several such programs exist and some are free, including K9 web protection which can be downloaded from: Those who only need to access only a select list of sites, and are using Microsoft browser only, can simply use tools / internet options / content to have someone set up a password they don't know, and permit only the needed sites to be accesses without it. At last, some filters also exist, including free ones. None are 100% reliable but they are quite useful for most people who are hopefully not putting too much effort to fool themselves and the program they installed. One of the free programs is called Naomi and can be downloaded from It runs in the background, and if one tries to access a site it considers inappropriate, it kills the session right away. However, as we already mentioned, it’s not full proof and one cannot rely on it alone.


Obviously, as the programs and systems are getting more sophisticated, so are the filtering programs. We always need to stay on top of things in order to keep ourselves and our children away from the bottomless pit into which we may Chas Veshalom fall. And may Hashem help us in our work!


Parshas Kisavo.




In this parsha (27:12-26) we read about the blessings and curses to be pronounced when our nation enters the Land of Israel. On each blessing[629] and curse we were supposed to answer “Amen”. As we know, since then Amen became the standard response to any blessing[630]. What is the meaning of the word Amen and what is its’ deeper significance?




The word “Amen” might be one of the most popular words today, and indeed it is of Biblical origin. It appears only in two passages of the Torah[631], the first time regarding the command of Sotah – a woman suspected of adultery[632], and in this parsha, where the word Amen is mentioned after each of the twelve[633] curses. The Jewish people would be standing on two mountains, and the Levites standing below would be reading twelve blessings and curses. On each blessing and curse, our nation had to answer “Amen”. It is thus clear that the word “Amen” signifies acceptance and agreement. We pronounce this word, often without thinking[634] dozens[635] of times every day. Let us now study this word’s deeper meaning[636]. 


The word “Amen” comes from the word “Emunah” – faith. The Talmud (Shabbos 119b) additionally tells us that “Amen” is the first letters of “Kel[637] Melech Neeman” – G-d is Trustworthy King. “Amen” can thus be related to both trust and hope. Indeed some commentators[638] conclude that different concentrations are required when answering “Amen”, depending on whether this is a blessing of thankfulness or also an appeal for something. However the GR”A[639] writes that when answering “Amen” on any blessing, we should always have the same concentration: “Let the Name of Hashem indeed be blessed[640]”!


According to Kabbalistic writings, the word “Amen” signifies the unification of the two main Divine Names, both having four letters[641]: “Yud”-“Hei” with “Vav”-“Hei” and “Alef”-“Dalet”-“Nun”-“Yud”. The first one is not to be pronounced outside of the Temple but the second one is substituted for it everywhere else in our prayers. The first Name has Gematria (numerical value) of 26 and the second – of 65, combining to a total of 91 – the Gematria of the word “Amen[642]”. The first Name has to do with the Creator Himself, Who is outside of time and make everything exist. The second Name has to do with our accepting of the Divine yoke, and its’ root is from the word “Adon” – Master[643]. The word Amen thus signifies the connection between Hashem Himself and His recognition in the world, the belief in Him and the knowledge of His Name. Indeed, the Talmud (Brochos 7b) teaches us that Avraham was the first to call Hashem by the Name Adon[644]!


As it often happens, the greater is a mitzvah, the more it is ignored. Every day people miss the opportunity to answer “Amen” correctly, answering instead an orphaned “Amen” in wrong places, swallowing letters of “Amen” and not thinking at all about the brocha on which they answer[645]. Our sages teach us that when we answer Amen correctly the gates of Gan Eden will open before us[646]. The child gets his share in the world to come once he starts answering Amen[647]. May we deserve to answer Amen correctly and merit the long awaited redemption!


Parshas Nitzavim.




In this parsha we read about an additional covenant with Hashem, which the Jewish people were brought into, and a curse that would come upon those who would stray away from the Torah. Moshe cautioned about the grave consequences for an individual who may think there is nothing to be scared of. There is one obscure phrase in his warning: “And it should come to pass, when he hears the words of this curse, and he blesses himself in his heart, saying, I will have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, resulting in ravah (satisfaction) being added to tzmeah (thirst)”. What is the meaning of the expression: adding satisfaction to thirst?




It is known that not all commandments of the Torah are equally easy or difficult to keep[648] and not all prohibitions are equally attractive[649]. The greatest temptation that has been in existence after desire for idolatry was removed[650] is undoubtedly forbidden relations. However even among the forbidden relations some are far more desirable than others, while a few even seem repugnant to a normal person[651].


The Ramban[652] writes that the word “ravah” should be translated as the opposite of the word “tzmeah” (thirst). The Torah is thus saying that “ravah” (lack of desire) would be added to those things one is naturally thirsty for, meaning the undesirable prohibitions will be added to the desirable ones. A person who starts out by breaking those commandments for which he is “thirsty”, i.e. where the forbidden fruit seems very desirable, in the end will not be satisfied[653]. In his constant pursuit of pleasure he will ultimately end up doing even the most disgusting things that seemed completely unpleasant before. He would thus add those prohibitions for which he used to be “satisfied”, or had no desires for, to those prohibitions for which he was thirsty.


The true way to have a balanced life of enjoyment is to curb one’s desires and use this world’s pleasures carefully and with restraint. Overindulgence on the other hand, leads only to never-ending pursuit of pleasures and lack of any satisfaction[654]. May we all deserve to control our desires and use our energy in serving Hashem[655] so that we merit a speedy coming of Moshiach.


Parshas Vayelech.




This short parsha briefly predicts what would happen to our nation after Moshe’s death and hints to our history until the end of days. Hashem issues a number of warnings that because of our sins a great suffering would come upon us while He would hide His face from our nation. What is the meaning and purpose of suffering?




It is known that even the bad predictions and punishments of the Torah are meant for our good. When Hashem sends us suffering it is done for our benefit[656]. Throughout our history the Jewish people often did not reach the great level expected from them. During such times, Hashem in His mercy hid His face[657] and many troubles would come upon our nation. Invariably we would then repent and return. Our sages thus state that suffering was the true good (tov meod) referred to in the beginning of creation[658]. This applies both to suffering on individual level and on national level during prosecutions. Suffering in this world can also purify us and prepare us for the existence in the afterlife[659]. The Talmud (Menachos 53b) compares our nation to olives. Just as olives give their oil when being crushed, so too the Jewish people show their true greatness during affliction and oppression.


One of the reasons behind the power of suffering is due to the fact that deep inside the Jewish people possess a very holy soul whose light only gets diminished because of physical temptations. Once the material gets weaker during periods of suffering, the spirituality begins to shine forth with greater light[660]. There is also a deeper spiritual reason for the power of the Jewish people to improve through suffering. The Talmud states (Yevamos 63a): “Punishment only comes to the world for the sake of the Jewish people[661]”. Our sages teach[662] that the idolatrous nations generally do not accept suffering. Their worship of deities they chose for themselves depends on hoping to receive benefits. During suffering they start cursing their “gods”. On the other hand the Jewish people accept suffering and thank Hashem for it[663]. The reason for this has to do with the structure in the spiritual worlds. As we discussed many times, our nation is compared to the wife of Hashem[664]. The root of all Jewish souls is connected to the Holiness of the Creator, for the arrangement of Sefiros used to bring Divine Flow (the masculine aspect) is united with the Sefira of Malchus showing our nation’s readiness to receive. The collective Jewish soul constantly chastises us in order to bring our improvement, but it only brings our merits before Hashem[665]. When the Jewish people suffer, they start repenting of their misdeeds and their love for the Creator grows.


On the other hand, there is no unification between the masculine and feminine aspects in the unclean worlds. The feminine part[666] (nukva desitra achra) entices people to sin, while the masculine part (Satan) acts as an accuser. Since the two are not united[667], the accusation and “love[668]” don’t coexist. The nations coming from this spiritual root thus only get angrier and curse during times of punishment.


Throughout history our nation fell and rose many times. In this century we experienced a fall that could hardly be compared to anything before, yet we are rising from it as well. The terrible unprecedented suffering of the Jewish people during the World War 2 caused the movement of Teshuvah to start. Indeed the Torah predicts (Devarim, 30) that after the terrible suffering we will start coming back. Hashem will then renew His covenant with us and will be with us. May we deserve to do perfect Teshuvah without the need for further suffering and see the fulfillment of these predictions.


Parshas Haazinu.




In this short parsha Moshe presents a prophetic song to the Jewish people. This song briefly predicts our entire history[669] and we are commanded to write it down[670] and teach it to our children. In his introduction, Moshe mentions (Devarim 32:3): “When I proclaim Hashem’s Teaching[671], give praise to our G-d.” The Talmud (Brochos 21a) learns from this statement that we are supposed to thank Hashem for giving us the Torah[672]! Thus, special blessings were instituted to be recited before learning[673]. What is the meaning of these blessings?




In general two types[674] of blessings were instituted to be recited before learning Torah. The first one mentions mainly the mitzvah of learning, while in the second one we thank Hashem for giving us the Torah. Indeed, our holy sages wanted to include in the blessings of Torah both ideas[675] since the learning of Torah is both a mitzvah and a pleasure[676].


Delving deeper into this subject we can note that our sages commanded us to recite only the second of the blessings when Torah is being read in a congregation. It thus seems[677] that the second brocha primarily corresponds to the Written Torah. On the other hand, the first brocha that implies busying[678] ourselves with Torah fits the learning of the Talmud and other parts of Oral Law. It is the Oral Law that occupies a person with pilpul[679] – trying to resolve the difficulties and contradictions[680].


As we mentioned before[681] the Oral Law and the Written Torah enjoy a very deep relationship which is compared to the Earth and the Heavens, and to the Wife and the Husband[682]. In some ways the husband has a better position than his wife and in some ways the wife has an advantage for everything depends on a woman[683]. In truth they work together as a unit each one having a special role[684]. Similarly, the written Torah in many ways is the most wondrous possession we have with every words and letter containing myriads of hints and secrets[685]. Still it is the Talmud through which our covenant with Hashem is sealed, and the words of our Rabbis that are most precious[686]. The Oral depends on our nation while the written Torah is unchanging, and being copied letter by letter. The relationship between the two Torahs is thus similar to the relationship between us and Hashem, ultimately characterized by a statement in Shir Hashirim (5:2): “You are my twin” meaning: “You are not greater than me and I am not greater than you[687]”. May we deserve to study and understand the Holy Torah and live till the coming of Moshiach, when the true greatness of our Torah will begin to get revealed[688].


Parshas Vezos Habracha.




In this parsha we read about the blessings of the twelve tribes. In the blessing of Reuben Moshe says: “Let Reuben live and not die …” This statement is quite puzzling but even more surprising is the Targum[689]: “Let Reuben live and not die a second death”. What is the meaning of the second death?




Obviously many levels of interpretation are possible but we will only concentrate on the words of Mekubalim regarding the “second” death mentioned here. One of the deepest mysteries is hinted in this statement for this is one of few places where Chazal hint to the concept of gilgul[690]. Today this concept had become quite well known and even in our sidurim we find references to it, like a statement that we forgive everyone who did anything bad to us whether it happened in this gilgul or in another one. However throughout ages the concept of gilgulim was carefully hidden and not discussed except through hints[691].


Before we start the discussion regarding ten of the sons of Yakov let’s describe some general principles. The basis of the extremely complicated system of Divine reward and punishment is the fact that a person can come to this world more than once[692]. Everything is clearly measured, carefully considered based on the previous lives of an individual. Besides the possibility for a soul to be born again in this world, it can also join an existing person temporarily. This may happen when someone does a rare mitzvah and a particular soul that never had a chance to fulfill it needs to join. It may also happen when a certain soul needs to participate in suffering according to the decree of Devine Justice.


To understand the rectification of the ten sons of Yakov, we need to understand the well known Midrashim[693] dealing with the “Aseres Harugei Malchus” (ten sages killed by Roman government). We are told that after the sale of Yosef, the Accusation always remained before Hashem’s Heavenly Court[694]. The general assumption is that the souls of ten sons of Yakov were these ten martyrs in their next gilgul. The Zohar[695] however states that the souls of Yakov’s sons only temporarily joined the ten sages in order to experience their suffering and atone for their sin. The sages themselves however were coming from ten drops of zera (sperm) that came out of Yosef when he was enticed by Potifar’s wife[696]. Yosef could have had twelve children just like Yakov, but he lost ten of them when struggling with temptation[697]. 


We can now discuss the hint of Moshe’s blessing to Reuben. “Let Reuben live and not die a second death”, meaning the soul of Reuben will not need a similar atonement like the rest of the brothers. Reuben’s soul joined Rabbi Eliezer Hagadol[698], one of the greatest students of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai. The Talmud (Avoda Zara 16b) tells us during the Roman persecutions Rabbi Eliezer was caught and thrown in a pit. However on his trial the judge misunderstood his response to accusations and let him go[699]. The soul of Reuben thus received a fair punishment. He was thrown into a pit just as he suggested to throw Yosef into a pit[700].


The judgment of Hashem is very precise and fair. People come and go but the accounts are not settled and they have to come back[701]. In the end everything has to be compensated. May we deserve to rectify all our previous transgressions and clear all our balances and live till the coming of Moshiach.




A short commentary to the beginning of Shulchan Aruch.


It’s known that the first paragraph of every book is generally an introduction and a summary of the whole book. At times even the first sentence or just the first word summarizes the entire book, as for example the first sentence of Torah is the Klal (general summary) of the entire Torah and the first word “Bereishis” is Klal of Klalim (GR”A on the fifth chapter of Sifra Detzniuta, see appendix.)


Apparently our sages also followed this rule. They usually tried to make the first Mishna of a tractate to be the fundamental principal of the entire tractate. This tradition continued so that even the books written by Acharonim (the latest sages) usually start with the summary of the entire book. The most fundamental book of Jewish law is, without doubt, the Shulchan Aruch. Thus, by understanding the first law of the Shulchan Aruch, we can in a way understand the entire foundation of keeping the commandments.


The two authors of the Shulchan Aruch describe to us in the very beginning the most desired character traits needed in order to serve the Creator! Interestingly enough, they start with character traits rather than the practical Halachos. The reason is known in the writings of other sages, (GR”A on Mishley 22:5, R. Chaim Vital, see appendix) that the qualities are even more important than the rest of the mitzvos. Without good character traits, one is not able to keep the mitzvos.


The two qualities that are stated as essential by the authors of the Shulchan Aruch are taken from the four qualities declared fundamental by the Tur, based on a mishna in Pirkey Avos (Ethics from Fathers) [5:24]: Yehudah Ben Teyma said: "Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer and strong as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven."  The Shulchan Aruch mentions the importance of starting the day with zerizus: “One has to get up from bed with the strength of a lion”. The REM”A adds the importance of being bold when it comes to serving the Creator in front of those who make fun of us. Let us first discuss the general order of the four qualities in Tur and then we will say a few words about two of these four qualities that the Shulchan Aruch mentioned.


The GR”A writes in his commentary to Mishley 18:10 that these four qualities are hinted in this verse:  מִגְדַּל עׂז שֵׁם יי בּוֹ יָרוּץ צַדִּיק וְנִשְּׂגָּב – “migdal oz shem Hashem bo yarutz tzadik venisgav” – Tower of might of the name of Hashem, in it will run the righteous and be strengthened. Migdal (high tower) corresponds to being as light as an eagle, Oz – to be bold as a leopard (the word  עז bold comes from the same root), Yarutz (will run) corresponds to being as swift as a deer and Nisgav (strong) corresponds to being as strong as a lion. All four qualities are actually hinted by the four letters of Divine Name, that is why the verse states that “shem Hashem”, the name of Hashem, hints to these four qualities. The first letter of the Divine name corresponds to the positive commandments – the actions the Torah commands as to do, the second letter corresponds to the negative commands – what the Torah tells us to abstain from doing. This is called the left side – the side of judgment. The third letter corresponds to learning Torah, and the fourth to Tefillah – prayer. There is also another amazing correspondence: The four books of the Tur and of the Shulchan Aruch seem to also correspond to these four character traits. We thus have the following correlation[702]:



Word in the posuk:

Letter of the Name:



Positive Commands



swift as a deer

Orach Chaim

Negative Commands



strong as a lion

Choshen Mishpat




bold as a leopard

Yore Deah




light as an eagle

Even Haezer


Note how perfect this correspondence is: Orach Chaim (the way of life) is the first part of the Shulchan Aruch. It contains the laws that are most applicable to our every day actions. Most of it is full of positive commands! Choshen Mishpat is the portion that deals with financial laws and avoiding damages. This has to do with the left side, hence the word Mishpat – judgment.) Yore Deah includes most diverse laws; this is the part studied by those who want to receive Smicha and become rabbis, hence the word Deah – understanding. This part certainly corresponds to Torah learning. At last, Even Haezer – the laws relating to marriage. It is known that the last letter of the Divine name corresponds to the Sefirah of Malchus which relates to the feminine aspect. Note also, that the woman has always been a symbol of spontaneous prayer.


We would like to end now by noting why (in our opinion) the authors of the Shulchan Aruch chose the second and the third qualities as the main ones to be mentioned in the first law. It is known our actions at the start of the day determine how well the day goes. The yetzer hara (evil inclination) in the morning tempts us to stay in bed just a little longer. Often, the one who does not get up on time misses the proper time to read the morning Shema, thus losing an opportunity to fulfill a fundamental Torah commandment. He may also miss the opportunity to pray all of the morning prayers with the congregation. A day with such a start usually has little accomplishment. Thus, the one who will be strong as a lion to get up in the morning has a good chance of serving the Creator for the rest of the day in the best possible manner.


The REM”A mentions the third quality since this is the quality needed to overcome peer pressure. One always gets influenced by his surroundings (RAMBA”M: Deos 6:1). In many instances the people that surround us make fun of our wish to serve the Creator. To overcome this, we need the quality of boldness. In general, boldness is considered to not be a positive quality and it is not to be desired, as the same mishna in Pirkey Avos continues: a bold person will be sent to Gehinom. However, when standing up against the multitudes and overcoming peer pressure, we do need to use the quality of boldness, like a leopard – a small animal with enormous audacity.


[1] To be more exact, the highest of the skies corresponds to Bina (which includes all lower seven Sefiros) while Netzach and Hod are counted together, (just as two legs to which they correspond) can’t work one without the other, see also Afikey Yam - the commentary on Agada from Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver, Chagiga 12b). See further our words on parshas Chaye Sara and Devarim .

[2] This is the translation of Tosafos, but Rashi translates the opposite way.


[3] The exact nature of this phenomenon has been studied until recently and the scientists changed their mind a few times regarding the precise cause why the sky looks blue.


[4] See also Arizal in Etz Chaim, 42:1.


[5] GR”A on Yaale Veyavo, printed in the beginning of the third volume of Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim. See also GR”A on Sefer Yetzirah 4:15; GR”A on Chumash Bereishis; GR”A on Zohar (Yahel Ohr) – likut printed after the book of Shemos; GR”A on Agados Brochos 57a, GR”A on Sifra Detzniousa – Perek 1.

[6] Some say Yisro first tried to dissuade Pharaoh from harming the Jews. When he saw that this may cost him his life he ran away (Etz Yosef on Sanhedrin 106a). Others explain that Yisro avoided giving any advice since he did not think he will be heeded to but ran away in order not to take part in the evil that’s being perpetrated (see Daas Zkenim Mibaaley Tosafos, Shemos 1:10, see also Iun Yakov on Sotah 11a). See also Etz Hadaas Tov, parshas Yisro and Yafes Toar on Shemos Raba, Yisro 27:3 for a third explanation.


[7] According to the Zohar (2:33a), Iyov actually advised Pharaoh not to kill the Jews but to take away their property and subjugate them. His punishment therefore was measure for measure.


[8] The entire calculation is brought from Seder Olam, second chapter. The Torah states that Yosef was thirty when becoming second to the king. After seven years of plenty and two years of hunger, Yakov descended to Egypt, when Yosef was 39. The Torah tells us that Yosef lived till 110, i.e. for another 71 years. If he died exactly when reaching 110 (as righteous often do, see the Talmud, Rosh Hashana 11a), by then the stay of the Jewish people in Egypt was not a full 71 years, but rather 70 years and some months.


[9] The first 11 children of Yakov were born one after another during a period of 7 years. Yosef was born in the end of the period, while Levi, the third son, was therefore born after two years, and was thus 5 years older than Yosef.

[10] Usually pronounced “KEL” in conversations, since we don’t pronounce any of the Divine names as written, except during prayer or Torah reading, while the main Divine name (YHVH) is not pronounced as written even during prayer.


[11]  We are hoping to still discuss this in detail when we get to the chapters of the Tochecha.


[12]  Cyrus actually made an official statement that the God of Heaven gave the entire [civilized] world to him and he therefore lets the Jewish people go back to their land. (see Ezra 1:1-3, Divrey Hayamim 2:36:22-23). In fact, Cyrus was predicted more than a century ago by prophet Isaiah (45:1) and this prophesy was so well known in our nation that it was even familiar to non-Jews, and so when  Cyrus came to power, he had no doubt that this prediction was about him, and that he has to let the Jewish people go (see also Malbim, Ezra 1:1-2).


[13] The reason for the mistake was that Daniel counted the seventy years from the beginning of Babylonian rule, while it should have been counted from the time of their conquest of Judea a year later. However, the Babylonian rule itself also did last for 70 years from king Nebuchadnezzar till king Belshazzar, who was killed in the end of the seventy year period by Darius the Median (not to be confused with a later king Darius who allowed to finish building the Temple). This first Darius was 62 years old when he conquered Babylon (Daniel 6:1) and died one year later. It can thus be calculated, that he was born exactly the year when Nebuchadnezzar started exiling the Jewish people (there were two exiles, one on the seventh year of Judean conquest, and one on the 18th, when the Temple was destroyed, see Talmud, Megila 11b). The first of Babylonian exiles was therefore on the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rain, or 70-8=62 years before the downfall of Babylon, i.e. exactly the year Darius was born. We thus learn that the punishment of Babylon was prepared when they started exiling Judea (see Seder Olam, 28).

[14] According to Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Haksav Vehakabala the word “Lasuach” means walking between trees (Sichim), or even plating trees. Our sages say that the word hints to prayer, and so it comes from the word “Sicha” – conversation. At any rate, the word “prayer” is not openly mentioned in this verse.


[15] In general, our sages had a tradition that these specific words of these verses refer to prayer, based on a method called “Gezeira Shava” i.e. the meaning of these words is learned from other verses that use the same expression. However, as usual, these teachings have a much greater significance, as we will discuss.


[16] Interestingly, this had to do with the mistake of Yakov’s children in selling Yosef. They thought that Yosef wants to be the only true descendant of Yakov. Just as Avraham had Yishmoel and other children who were not included in the Jewish people; just as Yitzchak had Eisav who was rejected from the covenant; so too, they thought, Yosef was planning to take over, and reject them from the chosen family. The dreams of Yosef only supported this hypothesis, so they judged him as a usurper who was after their very existence, and as such they thought they had a right to act first and get rid of him.


[17] The soul of Moshe is even more exceptional and his prophesy was greater and clearer than of any other prophet, as the Torah testifies (Devarim, 34:10, see also Yevamos 49b, GR”A on Zohar, Yahel Ohr 2:248a). However, since he was on a different level, his rectification is not discussed here.


[18] There are other “fours” that parallel this correspondence: four Shabbos meals (as printed in the Siddurim) – three Shabbos meals associated with the three forefathers, and one after Shabbos, corresponding to Dovid; four cups of wine on Pesach Seder (Zohar Chadash, Ki Sisa), etc. However, we will only be discussing the above correlations for now, (for further discussion, see GR”A on Shir Hashirim, Derech Sod 1:1 , GR”A to Agados Brochos, 54b, GR”A in Aderes Eliyahu, Bemidbar, 23:24, 5th version).


[19] This is one of the reasons that the Torah was given on the “third” month, whose sign is “twins” – it includes the month of Nisan (kindness) and Iyar (judgment). Similarly, the words “Ki Tov” – it was good, are repeated twice on the “third” day of creation.

[20] Note also, that the four organs of senses in our heads (eyes, ears, nose and mouth) are rooted in these four types of Hanhaga. For this reason, after Shabbos is over, we need to rectify all four of them, to keep some of the holiness for the coming week. We make 4 brochos during Havdalah – on tasting, on smelling, on seeing, and the Havdala itself (on hearing) since this is the main brocha to hear. Whoever did not hear this brocha did not fulfill the obligation. Note, also that the first four sons of Yakov also included this general rectification. The name Reuben comes from seeing; Shimon – from hearing; Levi would in the future bring Temple offering of “appeasing fragrance” – smelling; Yehudah – thanking with the mouth. As the other 8 sons were born later, a more detail Tikun was accomplished.

[21] Both were promised the fatness of the land and the dew of Heaven.


[22] A famous question is then asked regarding the freedom of choice of Eisav. As we mentioned in Parshas Lech Lecha, in many cases the prophecies are revealed in an obscure way, so as not to interfere with the freedom of choice. Here too, if Eisav would choose to be good, he could actually “serve” Yakov by helping him learn the Torah, providing for him and protecting him. In fact, Eisav would then stay as part of the chosen nation (Ramchal in the second part of Kinas Hashem Tzeva-os explains this in depth starting with Maamar: Inyan Eisav, in the standard edition of Ginzey Ramchal it’s on page 111). Eisav would marry Leah, Yakov would marry Rochel, and each one would do his rectification. The prophecy of Rivka would be fulfilled with “the sons going in different directions” – i.e. one working on the material world, protecting the other, who learns Torah (like the later partnership of Yissachar and Zevulun, see Talmud Sotah 21a; Bereishis Raba 99:8). However, once Eisav did not fulfill  his potential, Yakov had to work on both fronts, he married both Leah and Rochel and also got an additional name – Yisroel.

[23] The service in the Temple also had to do with the left side of Hanhaga,; this is why the holiest offerings were brought on the northern (left) side of the Mizbeach.


[24] We similarly find that Yakov did not know that his sons sold Yosef, as we will discuss when we get to Parshas Vayeishev.


[25] See Zohar 1:139a.


[26] At a later time Yakov will get more experience in deceit when he will have to deal with Lavan the swindler, (see also Talmud, Megillah 13b).


[27] We will discuss this concept at length in the next parsha.


[28]  Shlucho Shel Adam Kamoso – a messenger of a person is like himself (Talmud Chagiga 10b and in many other places). According to Rashi (27:36), as soon as Yitzchak found out that Yakov bought the birthright from Eisav, he was no longer worried and understood that the blessing came to the one that was supposed to receive it.


[29] In the body of a tzadik, even these organs are holy and purified, for the righteous serve Hashem even with their Yetzer Hara. However, by average people, some internal organs are projections from the worlds of holiness, while these three are projections of the Sitra Achara – the impure worlds given to Satan’s domain and there is a constant “battle” between the different organs of the body (see for instance Midrash Haneelam in Zohar 1:138b).


[30] Measure for Measure – the Divine standard of reward and retribution.


[31] Rome under paganism was not a great “friend” of ours either. However, after turning Christian, the prosecutions increased manifold. 

[32] In a different verse (30:39) they are described as Akudim, Nekudim and Teluim (ringed, spotted and streaked). 


[33] Like in the famous parable of the Chida: the king wanted to bring precious diamonds from one place to another and hid them under mud and dirt, so as not to attract robbers. So too, the Creator hid the deep secrets under the most uninteresting stories, this way hiding the secrets from the undeserving, (see the GR”A on Zohar 254b)


[34] With the recent discovery of Torah codes, based on the findings of Rabbeinu Weissmandel, we can see at least one way in which the Torah predicts and accounts for all lives for all generations, (see GR”A on fifth chapter of Sifra Detzniusa).

[35] see also Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Pischai Shaarim, Netiv Shbiras Hakeilim, 7.


[36] See also Harav Menachem Mendel of Shklov, Biurim to Mishnas Chasidim, page 108; Aravey Nachal, Parshas Nitzavim; Agra Dekola, pages 138a and 141a; Meor Einaim, Parshas Vaetze; Kol Mevaser on this Parsha; Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh 28:5.


[37] See for instance Arizal, Shaar Hagilgulim, the third introduction and Shaar Hapesukim, Bereishis, based on Midrash (Shemos Raba 40:3 and Tanchuma Ki Sisa 12).


[38] i.e. for six thousand years prepared for our choices and rectifications.


[39] This is hinted in a verse in Ecclesiastes (7:14). 


[40] See Talmud, Kidushin 40b; Ramabam, Laws of Repentance (3:4)


[41] See the book of Iyov, chapter 1.


[42] Our sages (Bereishis Raba 12:9) teach (Bereishis 2:4) “Behibaram” (when created) is the same letters as “Beavraham” – for the sake of Avraham, the world was created.

[43] See Rashi on Bereishis 15:15 quoting Midrashim of our sages.


[44] See also Ramban on Iyov 33:19. Note, that in Parshas Lech Lecha we described the cause of Iyov’s suffering for he kept quite when Bilaam suggested oppressing the Jewish people. However, for that alone he would not have gotten such a terrible punishment. This is one of the ways of Divine Hanhaga – for minor sins in this gilgul, one brings a punishment which then includes the retribution for the major sins in the previous gilgulim. This is hinted in the verse (Daniel 9:16) “For [we are suffering] because of our chataeinu (minor sins) and the avonos (major sins) of our fathers (meaning ourselves in the previous gilgulim”.


[45] See Talmud, Yevamos  63b.

[46] This is why the Torah often seems to be describing so many details about the exact lives of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov.


[47] Using this principle, many obscure passages in Tanach can be explained.


[48] We will bring just a few examples. Avraham's first stop as he entered the Land of Israel was Shechem. This was the first piece of land bought by his descendants. When Yakov returned from Lavan's house, he bought a piece of land there. This place (also called Elon More or Eloney More, not to be confused with Aloney Mamre), was designated for the Jewish people to pronounce the blessings and the curses as soon as they entered the land of Israel, (see Devarim 11:29-30; 27:1-26; Talmud, Sota 32a). Avraham's next stop was between the cities of Beth El and Ai - the first place conquered by the Jewish people under Yehoshua.


In general, the three forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov all went into exile. Their three exiles hinted to our three exiles: to Egypt, to Babel and to Rome. Avraham descended to Egypt because there was famine in the land. Later, his descendants also came to Egypt because of hunger. Avraham was first oppressed when his wife was taken away, but Pharaoh was punished with plagues and he sent away Avraham with gifts. Similarly, our people were oppressed in Egypt and later the Egyptians were plagued and they let our people go with presents, in the merit of the Jewish women.


During Yakov’s sojourn with Lavan, many other hints regarding the Egyptian exile were revealed. Yakov came with nothing but left very rich, while Lavan became impoverished. Yakov’s wealth was due to working with sticks to influence the birth patterns of the flock (regarding the hints of the sticks look in our commentary to the previous parsha). Similarly, the Jewish people descended during the famine, and came out rich, taking away all Egyptian wealth, as mandated by Hashem. The wealth the Jewish people acquired was due to the stick used by Moshe to punish the Egyptians. Lavan only found out about Yakov’s leaving three days later, and he reached him on the seventh day, but was prevented by Hashem from harming Yakov. So too, Pharaoh decided to pursue the Jewish people on the third day, reached them on the seventh day, but his army was drowned in the sea after Moshe used his staff. 


Yitzchak descended to a nearby land of Plishtim and even though he was scared at first, in the end he was treated well and protected by the king. So too, the Babylonian exile was to the nearby land where our ancestors came from. It was initially scary but ended up good. The Jewish people prospered in Babel and they were given the highest positions in the king’s house. Yakov’s going down to Egypt is a prelude to the Roman exile as will mention in Parshas Miketz.


The four kingdoms that Avraham had to fight against (see Bereishis, chapter 14) are also a hint to the four kingdoms that would oppress Jewish people: Babylon, Media (with Persia), Greece and the “kingdom of nations” – Rome, which includes many nations.





[49] See also letters of Rabbeinu Weismandel printed in “Toras Chemed”, 65th letter.



[50] Similarly, during World War II, the only successful way of dealing with the Nazis was through bribery. Thousands of people were saved by Rabbeinu Weismandel in this manner. The bribes were not even that large, only tens of thousands of dollars. If the Jewish people in free countries had supplied him with more money, he would have been able to save many more Jewish lives (see Sefer Min Hametzar).


[51] This principle can be used in developing one’s good qualities. For example, giving a dollar 100 times to tzedaka is better than giving $100 once. Constant giving accustoms the person to generosity (see Rambam’s commentary to Avos 3:15).


[52] Our sages learn this principle from this week’s parsha. It is described that Yakov remained alone at night. The Talmud (Chulin 91a) teaches, that he returned to pick up some utensils, which were forgotten during the crossing of a small river.  Losing even inexpensive things would be a loss to him.



[53] The word “garti” has the same letters as “Tar’yag” – 613.


[54] See also Rashi on Divrei Hayomim, 1:1.


[55] Who was the leader among the brothers. Note also, that the name Yehuda also includes in it the main Divine name.


[56] We read this nook on the Shavuos holiday, and various reasons were offered for this custom (see Mishna Berura 490:17; Eliyahu Raba 494:10). According to our words there may be one other reason: since the main purpose of this book is to explain the ancestry of King Dovid, it’s read on Dovid’s yahrzeit. Dovid died (and was born) on Shavuos, (see also Ben Ish Chai, 1st year, parshas Bemidbar, 6). After writing this I found that this idea is already written in Sefer Agra Dekala, page 141b.


[57] See Talmud, Shabbos 113b.

[58] See also Megila 25b: “the story of Tamar is read and translated (we ar