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Deuteronomy 3:24
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G-d’s four-letter Name (YHVH) is normally read as if it were written “Adonai,” but in this verse, the actual word “Adonai” is followed by G-d’s four-letter Name. We therefore pronounce YHVH in this instance as if it were written “Elohim.” Rashi explains this combination of Names to mean that G-d is merciful in judgment.
Isaiah 1:1
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The Talmud (Megillah 10b) tells us that Isaiah’s father, Amotz, was the brother of King Amatziah. This made Isaiah first cousins with Uziyahu, who was king when Isaiah became a prophet. The ibn Ezra explains that this is why Isaiah was not subject to the constant persecutions that Jeremiah suffered: he was protected as a […]
Psalms 145:14
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Ashrei is repeated at the end of the morning service. An alphabetic acrostic, the Psalm is missing a verse beginning with the Hebrew letter Nun. The Talmud in Brachos (4b) explains that it was omitted because it is the first letter of nfl, meaning to fall, as in Amos 5:2, “Fallen, never to arise is […]
Eicha 5:21
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This verse is recited as the ark is closed. It comes from the end of the book of Eicha (Lamentations), which is read on Tisha b’Av. The ibn Ezra explains exactly where we wish to be restored: to Jerusalem, so that we may once again serve G-d as we did before the Temple was destroyed.
Proverbs 3:18
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This verse is recited as the Torah is replaced in the ark. The Metzudas David understands the second part to mean “fortunate are the ones who safeguard the Torah,” i.e., by taking preventive measures in order to stay far from transgression.
Deuteronomy 1:1
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The book of Devarim is also known as “Mishneh Torah,” generally taken to mean “the repetition of the law” (from which the name “Deuteronomy” is derived). While many mitzvos are repeated throughout the book, many are not – and many mitzvos are introduced for the first time in this book! Rabbi Menachem Leibtag of the […]
Jeremiah 2:8
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This verse, describing how G-d was ignored by those who should know better, is pretty straightforward except for identifying some of the players. Specifically, who is meant by the “rulers” and “those who handle the law?” Rashi explains that the kings are the rulers and the Sanhedrin are those who handle the law.
Numbers 10:36
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This verse is recited as the Torah is replaced in the ark. The Talmud in Yevamos (64a) derives from this verse that it takes 22,000 Jews for G-d’s Presence to rest on Israel. “Revavos” (myriads) is 2 x 10,000, and “alfei” (thousands) is 2 x 1,000.
Psalms 24:7
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Psalm 24 is recited in its entirety when returning the Torah to the ark (except on Shabbos mornings). The Talmud (Shabbos 30a) Midrashically relates this verse and the next to a story involving King Solomon. At the inauguration of the Temple, the gates refused to open. Solomon cried out with this verse: open up so […]
Psalms 148:13
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This verse is recited by the shaliach tzibbur when he receives the Torah to return it to the ark. The Sforno explains that G-d is unique because He alone has no end. He is exalted because He remembers all of His creations.