Psalms 37:23

October 23, 2013, by

There are a number of words in Hebrew that mean “man.” “Ish” is one; “adam” is another. Our verse uses the term “gever,” which is related to the word “gevurah,” meaning strength. Rashi tells us that its use here refers to one who is strong in that he has proper fear (i.e., awe) of G-d. […]

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Psalms 136:6

October 22, 2013, by

This verse is the basis of the bracha praising G-d that He spreads the dry land over the water. Why is that noteworthy? The Metzudas David explains that it is because this action defies “nature.” The nature of water is to overflow and envelop the earth. The fact that we have dry land to walk […]

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Genesis 24:17

October 22, 2013, by

Instead of having Rivka handing him a drink, Eliezer apparently wanted her to hold the pitcher while he drank from it. That would be considered odd and kind of rude today and it was no less so in Abraham’s day. We all know that Eliezer was testing Rivka’s attribute of kindness but Rabbi Joseph B. […]

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2 Kings 4:1

October 18, 2013, by

Who was this woman’s husband? Rashi quotes the Midrash that he was the prophet Ovadya (Obadiah). Ovadya first came to our attention as the servant of King Ahab in I Kings chapter 18. He hid 100 prophets from the king’s wrath and supported them at his own expense. His prophecy is recorded in the book […]

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Psalms 146:8

October 17, 2013, by

This verse is the basis of two of the morning blessings: that Hashem gives sight to the blind and that He straightens those who are bent. The Radak understands these things not only in a physical sense, but also in a spiritual sense: exile is dark and oppressive. G-d brings us the light and He […]

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Job 38:36

October 16, 2013, by

This verse is the basis of the bracha that G-d gave the rooster the understanding to distinguish between day and night. Rashi quotes another opinion, that the Hebrew word “sechvi” does not mean rooster here. Rather, it refers to the heart, which looks at things and considers them. (The word “socheh,” to look, shares the […]

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Numbers 24:5

October 15, 2013, by

This verse, “Mah Tovu,” is recited at the start of the preliminary morning service. Onkelos understands the referent of “tents” and “dwelling places” to be the land of Israel. Accordingly, he translates the verse, “How good is your land, Jacob; your dwelling place, Israel!” with “land” in place of “tents” and “dwelling place” in the […]

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Genesis 18:9

October 14, 2013, by

The three travelers who appeared to Abraham were angels in the guise of humans. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik says that by “where is Sarah, your wife?” they angels were pointing out that Sarah was Abraham’s equal partner in his great work, without whom nothing he did would be possible. His reply, that she was in […]

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Isaiah 40:28

October 11, 2013, by

This is part of the Haftarah for parshas Lech L’cha. The Radak explains this verse as follows: G-d created the whole world, so He certainly supervises what goes on in it. One might think that He doesn’t immediately punish evildoers because being G-d is a big job and one simply can’t do everything. Not so! […]

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Deuteronomy 6:8

October 10, 2013, by

This verse is recited as part of the order of putting on the tefillin in the morning. The word “totafos,” commonly translated as “frontlets,” appears nowhere else in Scripture. So what does it mean? Rashi quotes the Talmud (Sanhedrin 4b) that the word is a mnemonic. The words “tot” and “fos” each mean “two” in […]

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