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Isaiah – Chapter 51
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Isaiah tells the righteous to listen to him: Look at the rock from which you were cut and the hole from which you were dug – referring to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was a lone person when G-d called him and G-d blessed him to become multitudes. G-d will console Israel, turning wasteland into gardens. […]
Isaiah – Chapter 50
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G-d says that, despite their sins, He has not “divorced” the Jewish people. (This seems to contradict Jeremiah 3:8, which says that He did. However, Jeremiah was prophesying to the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom – the now “lost” Tribes – while Isaiah was speaking to the kingdom of Judah.) Why does G-d call […]
Judges 11:3
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Yiftach (Jephthah) was a great military strategist but he was one of the most flawed of our nation’s Judges. The Talmud (Baba Kama 92b) wishes to illustrate the point that “a tree bearing bad fruit travels among barren trees” (i.e., likeminded people gather together). One of its proofs is this verse, in which “empty” people […]
Psalms 78:61
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This verse is referenced by the long-form Tachanun of Mondays and Thursdays. Rashi explains that the strength and glory of this verse refer to the aron and the luchos (the ark and the tablets), which had been captured by the Philistines.
Daniel 9:5
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This verse is cited in the long Tachanun on Mondays and Thursdays. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 93a) explains that when Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah were saved from the fiery furnace (where they were thrown for refusing to bow to an idol), the Babylonians who witnessed the miracle accosted the Jews. “You have a G-d Who does […]
Exodus 32:12
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This verse is cited in the long form of Tachanun. Onkelos generally removes human characteristics attributed to G-d from his Aramaic translation in order to keep people from taking them too literally. “Repent” suggests that G-d is capable of regretting His decisions. Accordingly, Onkelos changes it to “Turn from Your fierce wrath and turn away […]
Numbers 19:2
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If the red heifer is flawless, don’t we know that it has no blemish? Rashi explains that “flawless” refers to the cow’s redness – even two black hairs would disqualify it. “Without blemish” refers to the usual defects that would disqualify a sanctified animal.
Isaiah – Chapter 49
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Isaiah calls to various nations to pay heed. This was the job G-d had for Isaiah since before he was born. G-d gave Isaiah a mouth “like a sword,” with which to rebuke the wicked. G-d covered Isaiah with the shadow of His hand, so that those he rebuked would not be able to harm […]
Isaiah – Chapter 48
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Isaiah speaks to the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who are fated to be exiled to Babylonia. They say they rely on G-d, but they are not truthful about it. They are called by the name of Jerusalem, the Holy City, and they express faith in G-d, but deep inside, they have doubts. G-d foretold […]
Isaiah – Chapter 47
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Isaiah says that the people of Babylonia should “sit on the ground” rather than on a throne. (This means that they are going from being conquerors to being the conquered.) They will no longer enjoy pleasures and delicacies. Instead, they will be engaged in hard labor, losing their dignity in the process. The whole world […]