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2 Kings 19:15
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One might think that the reference the cherubim in King Chizkiyahu’s prayer means actual cherubim in Heaven; the Ralbag clarifies that the reference is to the golden cherubim that were part of the cover of the aron (ark) in the Temple. Chizkiyahu refers to Hashem as “G-d of Israel” – i.e., the One Who guides […]
Isaiah 44:6
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This verse is paraphrased in the prayer “You are Hashem, our G-d,” which follows the Shema in the preliminary morning service. The Metzudas David tells us that when G-d says “I am first,” He means to say that He existed before the world was created. By “I am last,” He is telling us that He […]
Genesis 29:35
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Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik points out that the names of Leah’s first three sons reflect her attempts to get Yaakov to love her as much as he did Rachel. After three sons, Leah finally got the message that she would never supplant Rachel as Yaakov’s most beloved. Therefore, with the birth of Judah, her names […]
Malachi 1:1
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What was G-d’s word doing in Malachi’s hand? To explain this, Rashi quotes a Midrash that the souls of all future prophets stood at Mount Sinai, where they were given their prophecies. They were not, however, permitted to reveal them until their proper time. Therefore, Malachi’s prophecy remained “in his hand” until it was time […]
Koheles 3:19
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This verse is recited in the prayer that begins “L’olam…,” that a person should always be G-d-fearing and acknowledge the truth. On this verse, the Metzudas David explains that some things in life only happen to people. Other things only happen to animals. Death, however, embraces every living thing alike. When it does, a person’s […]
Leviticus 26:42
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This verse is recited as part of the prayer that follows the morning recitation of the akeidah. Rashi points out that this is one of five places where the name “Yaakov” (Jacob) is written “malei,” i.e., with the letter vav. (It usually has just the dot needed to make the “O” sound but not the […]
Genesis 22:1
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The akeidah – the story of the binding of Isaac – is read as part of the preliminary morning service. What does it mean that G-d tested Abraham. If G-d is omniscient (which He is), wouldn’t He already know what Abraham would do under given circumstances? The Ramban explains that a test is not for […]
Genesis 25:22
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From this verse, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik explains a lesson about anti-Semitism. Some people claim that it’s based on economic or political motivations, or that it’s a reaction to Zionism. In truth, hatred of Jews is ingrained in some people from the womb, with no rational exterior factor needed to motivate such a sentiment. (From […]
I Kings 1:6
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David did not discipline his son Adoniyahu, with the result that he grew up rebellious. Adoniyahu died as a result of his trying to usurp the throne from King Solomon (in chapter 2). David’s son Avshalom, also mentioned in this verse, was equally rebellious and also met a grisly fate as a consequence of his […]
Isaiah 40:29
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This verse is the basis for the morning benediction that G-d gives strength to the weary. The Targum Yonasan understands this verse to refer to types of strength other than physical. Accordingly, he renders this verse, “He gives wisdom to the righteous who are exhausted from studying Torah, and financial security to those who have […]