Category Archives: TORAH TEACHINGS


This week in Torah reading (Parshas Eikev) there is a very interesting  portion in which the Creator( Hashem) promises to drive out the nations that lived in the land of Canaan as it is written: “Hashem, your G-d will thrust these nations from before you little by little; you will not be able to annihilate them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase against you”(Devarim 7:22). It is also written in Parshas Mishpatim (23:29-30) “I shall not drive them away from you in a single year, lest the land become desolate and the wildlife of the field multiply against you. Little by little shall I drive them away from you, until you become fruitful and make the land your heritage.”

We are aroused to ask a few interesting questions of how we can possibly understand the simple reading of this section (pasukim) which implies that the wild animals, as threatening as they can be, could be considered more of a danger to us than the well fortified, strongly armed calculating enemy Canaanite nations? After all don’t we find that throughout history enemy nations have always posed a much greater threat than any type of wild animals? What therefore are these “beasts of the field” that are so dangerous that the Torah announces that it is seemingly preferable to allow the potentially hostile Canninite nations to continue dwelling in the land temporarily until we “become fruitful and fill up the land?


Perhaps these Torah sections can be understood in the following way that will teach us a wondrous lesson:    Eretz Yisrael can be seen to correspond to the body for our nation and Jewish people are the soul within the body, as is alluded to within the name of Israel which is the name of both our nation and our land. How do we see the spiritual DNA of this connection?  The letters yud, shin, reish, alef and lamed which form the word “Yisrael” the name of us as a nation and the name of our land are amazingly the exact acronym for the names of the Avos and Imahos of the Jewish people: Yitzchak, Yaakov, Sara, Rivka, Rachel, Avraham and Leah (according to the Ari HaKadosh, Likutei Torah, Kisvei Ari, parashas Vayishlach, d’h, Vayikra es shemo Yisrael).

If this is so, then let us ask if we are the soul and Eretz Israel compares to the body then what do the Canaanite nations and the beast of the field symbolize?

Perhaps we can venture to say that the powerful “Canaanite nations” can be understood to correspond to that part of human intellect which views life only through a lens of intellectual understanding of ephemeral values, while the “beasts of the field” can be seen to represent those baser emotions which are concerned with corporal pleasure seeking.

The Torah is therefore perhaps giving us an awesome teaching that when a Jewish neshoma begins its entry into the realm of  fulfilling golden opportunities (mitzvos), as expressed in our nations entering the land of what will become Eretz Israel, there will be waiting for us two fierce adversaries which have to be subdued and controlled or expelled: One is the powerful, well fortified intellect which uses its powers of subjective reasoning and rationalization to ratify and justify its lifestyle choices, while the other even more potentially licentious adversary is here referred to as the “beasts of the field”.

Therefore the Torah is informing us, that because our self willed intellect and the unbridled emotions will not meekly yield to this yoke without a struggle, that only as quickly as we “increase” our levels of Torah and yerias Shamiem, will Hashem correspondingly help us to safely remove “little by little” the influence of those our ego motivated  powers within all of us that up until the time of the 12th year for girls and the 13th year for boys has total rein over us . [Of course when referring to those kinds of thoughts allowed to temporarily remain, we are only referring to only those kinds of thoughts that are in the permissible range.] From here we can derive awesome lesson in life that human mind, like the land, is never a vacuum and therefore if the intellect is not occupied with some kind of mindful thoughts it will easily become inundated with an onslaught of corporeal desires. It is only when the 12 or 13 years of age that we receive the power of our eternal soul and that is when the battle really starts.

May we, the Bnei Israel, all merit soon in our days to reach the ideal level of Eretz Israel, as our Avos and Emos did, where our minds and hearts will only yearn to be constantly filled with the Devar Hashem.



           Have you ever stopped to think about just how much in our lives depends upon (teivos) words?  Although in theory, we could manage the basic tasks of  survival without them, it doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate that without language we would probably function much as the animals do, but in a less accomplished fashion, since we lack the instincts and physical prowess that they were given.   Language is a repository for human traditions and culture. Each nation uses words that convey the collective cultural, historical and geographic experiences of its people and their unique worldview.  These words, however, are descriptive, but not creative.

(Lashon Hakodesh) Hebrew is a unique language in that it was the instrument with which the Creator fashioned the creation. Thus the DNA, the blueprint, of the created universe, exists within the letters and words of the (Torah) Five Books of Moses.   Consequently a word in Lashon Hakodesh not only describes the subject, it literally creates it and continues to do so.

When (Hashem) G-d brought the flood waters to inundate the world, He directed Noach to build a (teiva) Ark.  In Lashon Hakodesh, “ark” and “word” are cognates, that is, they are both composed of the same letters.  This is not mere coincidence.  There is a profound spiritual message in that equivalence.   Sheltered within that “word-Ark”- were all of the precious letters and words which were going to ensure the continued physical and most significantly the spiritual survival of its hand picked human passengers and their ecosystem, the necessary animals, birds and vegetation that made up their world.

This “word-Ark” was constructed of certain specific dimensions. The dimensions of the Ark were (shin) three hundred (amos) cubits long; (nun) fifty (amos) cubits wide and (lamed) thirty (amos) cubits high. The three letters, nun, shin and lamed, which are embedded within these dimensions, form an(rashei teivos) acronym for the three major motivators of human behavior – the (neshama) soul, the (seichel) mind, and the (lev) heart.

These qualities are expressed through the personalities of the three sons of Noach whose names were: Shem, Cham and Yafes.  Shem personifies the (neshama) soul in all of us which ideally is drawn to the spiritual and dedicated to learning and following the ways of Hashem.  Cham personifies our (lev) hearts through which the emotions are expressed.  Yafes personifies our (seichel )intellect whose cultural and esthetic pursuits should ideally be directed at refining and adorning a person’s good deeds and Torah study ( as it is written in the Zohar Chadash Part I  parashas Noach, 36a).

Like the Ark – words, too, are a vehicle.  They are the repository for our thoughts, ideas, dreams and hopes.  Just as the Ark had three dimensions, length, width and height, language has three dimensions.  These dimensions in our verbal expression provide the means for setting course and direction and maintaining balance and stability in our lives.   The quality in language which gives direction to our thoughts is our seichel, our unique intelligence that assists us in navigating through life’s challenges.  This attribute is expressed through the Ark’s shin amos length. The characteristic of language that provides stability and guidance is our neshama which endow us with the spiritual balance that keeps us at an even keel as we face adversity during our voyage through the seas of this physical world.  This attribute is expressed though the nun amos width of the Ark. The trait in language which provides the emotional coloration, the vitality and enthusiasm is the lev – our heart.  This attribute is expressed through the lamed amos height of the Ark.

We are all well aware of the power of speech which can either build or destroy worlds.   When Shem, our neshoma, takes the lead in our lives and focuses us upon the service of Hashem, and Yafes, our minds which supplies the intellectual support for that endeavor and in conjunction with Cham, our hearts providing the inspiration, we are able to produce spiritually empowered  (siach) speech spelled out in Loshen HaKodesh – the Sin of Sham, the Yud of Yafes and the Ches of Cham which becomes the vehicle for the Torah directed communication of ideas that shapes and sustains the world.

When Noach emerged from the Ark, he offered (korbano) sacrifices, to praise and thank Hashem.  Today, we accomplish this through our words of (tefilla) prayer.  Indeed, when we perform the (mitzvos) commandments and make them the primary focus of our lives, they become the guiding light over all aspects of our neshama, thereby transforming our siach, speech, into a sincere appeal for our long awaited (Moshiach) true redeemer.  Moshiach spelled in the order of mem, shin, yud, ches alludes to the perfection of all mankind through our Mitzvos guiding our neshamosShem – to its fulfillment, then directing our intellect – Yafes to its fullest potential and thereby guiding our heart – Cham – to its fullest potential. This will be one of the powers of healing and rectification that the Moshiach will bring to the world.



May we all fill our (teivos) Arks with (kedusha) holiness so that they can serve as a sanctuary for us in our voyage through this world thereby meriting to complete our passage through the storms of (galus) exile safely returning us to our home port of final (geula) redemption soon in our days.










ith deep meaning and profound impact in our lives, transmits to us elaborately (spanning over one hundred passukim in Parshas Bamidbar, Nasso,  Behaaloscha [and then further in Parshas Korach] (perek 1  passukim 47 – 54; perek 3 : 5-51; perek 4: 1-49, perek 8: 5-26 and 18-21-32) the designation, separation, elevation of  the tribe of Leviim. “The Levities according to their father’s tribe were not counted among them.” – that being the rest of the Jewish Nation.  “Hashem spoke to Moses saying, ‘but you should not count the tribe of Levi, and you shall not take a census of them among the Children of Israel. You shall appoint the Levities over the Mishkan of Ha’edus, over all its utensils and everything that belongs to it”

Rashi, our most illustrious commentator, tells us that the Leviim merited this elevated status because of their loyalty and courage in the incident of the Golden Calf (1:49). / The entire tribe of Levi refused to participate in that sin proving their unswerving dedication to The Creator of the Universe.

The Ramban further enlightens us – “The task of the Levities was not so much to protect the Mishkan [and Bais HaMigdash] as a militia, but rather to serve as an honor guard, as befits the royal palace” (1:53). / The Jewish people’s task is to be an instrument of recognition of Hashem and His will in this world. Chazal tell us that a true King only assumes status as a ruler if there exists a nation that acknowledges and follows His decrees. / Thus Leviim in all generations are those Jews who steadfastly keep their focus on proper, enthusiastic service of Hashem through His Torah.

The Leviim’s duty in the Mishkan/Bais HaMigdash was to assist the Kohanim – among other ways by singing and playing musical instruments as korbonos were brought. Today the sound of  our voices and music, if expressed sincerely, is an inner expression of our soul’s yearning to come close to the Creator. Song also expresses the fact that the total harmony of the universe is under the absolute control and guidance of Hashem.

The Divine service of Leviim represents the part of each of us that links us forever with our spiritual purpose in this world. Rashi, on the same passuk, tells us: that “from this time on, the Leviim were to be separated from the rest of the nation and elevated to a new status.” The Seforno, (also on this passuk) informs us that: “because the Leviim would be performing their service on behalf of the nation, the rest of the people would have the obligation to support them, by giving them tithes.”

An Art Scroll commentary explains it thus: “Those who serve the people by filling their responsibilities in the Tabernacle, by teaching the Torah, or by performing any other spiritual tasks are not to be regarded as supplicants. It is national responsibility to provide for those who carry out the spiritual obligations of the rest of the people.”

The Leviim were counted from one month and upward – with no limit to age indicating that their spiritual mission is not dependent on age or strength (3:15). The Rambam describes the mission of the Leviim in Hilchos Shemittah and Yovel  (13: 12-13) “They are the legion of Hashem, whose task is to serve Him and to teach His Torah and way of life to others.” He adds : “Any who follows the example of the Leviim becomes sanctified as kodesh kodashim, and Hashem will be his portion and heritage for all eternity. In this world, he will merit what befits him, as the Kohanim and Levities merited it.” This status of Levy is conferred for life on all those who totally dedicate their lives to the service of Hashem, independent of age or strength.

A wonderful concept derived from the Leviim’s designation is brought to light by the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 3:7). The infant Leviim  counted from one month old, surely did not participate in the guarding the Mishkan, so the Leviim should have been counted from when they began their service. However, Hashem wished to reward them greatly for their loyal service, so when they reached thirty years old and began to serve, He retroactively rewarded them  as if they had indeed served from the age of one month.

This concept should also apply to our own lives. Meaning, if we totally dedicate our time, energy and potential from now on to the service of Hashem, we may merit to have our entire lives credited as Divine service. How much hope and opportunity this teaching offers us. We can no longer say it’s too late, or I have already wasted so much of my life. If we start today with an absolute dedication, we can be credited with lifelong service.

Now let us look at a few classical commentaries on the names and purposes of the three sons of Levi, who each were given a unique role in the carrying of the Mishkan. In Bamidbar 3:17 it is stated – “These were the sons of Levi, by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.” However in 4:4 it is stated “This is the work of the sons of Kohath in the Ohel Moed: the most holy.” The commentators explain that Kohath was later listed first before Gershon because he was designated to carry the most holy parts of the Mishkon, meaning that he had become elevated because of his assignment.

What can we learn and apply to our own lives from this part of the Torah? Some of the great Cassidisher masters teach us that Gershon, Kehas and Merari represent three varying but proper approaches available to us depending on our spiritual level, when we are confronted by challenging circumstances. There is the level of the tzaddik, whose service is so unswerving that no temptation lures him away from his steadfast dedication to the Creator. This is symbolized by the sons of Kehas, who carried the Aron Hakodesh miraculously on their shoulder – like tzaddkim who don’t use the desires or objects of this world for their own personal pleasure, but only for Divine service.

The next level of avoda is practiced by those stay at a distance from the allurements of the yetzer hora, making ‘spiritual fences’, as alluded to in the name Gershon – separating or divorcing themselves from anything that could blemish their proper service.

Then there are those times when, for all of us,  the righteousness of  Kohath or the protective attributes of Gershon are not within our reach. At such times we must use the inner strengths represented by Merari. Literally the name means “bitter”, and it is at those times, when life seems bleak, when one feels helpless and besieged, that the proper avodah is to cry out sincerely to our Creator. Merari was assigned  to carry the heaviest parts of the Mishkan teaching us that the proper path of service during difficult times, as hinted to in his name, is to accept the yoke of Heaven with sincere repentance.

When the Jewish nation was asked: “Mi la-Hashem…?” the entire Shevet Levi stepped forward. May we all merit to “step forward” thereby bringing closer the Final Redemption, soon in our days.




The days from the Seventeenth of Tammuz through the Ninth of Av comprise a somewhat oppressive and stifling period.  Not because it falls during the summer months, but because it exists in what would appear to be a spiritual wasteland – a devastated landscape created  by the fall out from several  cataclysmic events the first of which, the breaking of the luchos,  was precipitated by the  worship of the golden calf , the cheit ha’egel.  The cheit ha’egel continues to  travel with us down the corridor of time, no less virulent  today than at its inception some thirty three hundred years ago.   Today, as in previous generations, we are compelled to insulate ourselves against its toxic effects, but to do that we must first recognize its virulent potential.

In these spiritually barren times, when science is preoccupied with things that can be measured and recorded, we assume that we  no longer need be  concerned with the attraction that avoda zara, literally, strange worship, may have.  That is, unfortunately not true.  There is a resurgence of interest among the non-religious – perhaps as a reaction to the very spiritual barrenness we alluded to – in the pseudo-mystical and magical.  It has also most recently insinuated itself into our lives by calamitously tainting the sheitels that are sold in our communities.  Understanding the spiritual underpinnings of this phenomenon can serve as our strongest defense against it.


Three Dimensional Sin

So, it is with this goal in mind that we turn our attention to the cheit ha’egel.   Of all the cases of idol worship, the sin of the golden calf was the most spiritually destructive.  It produced seeds that continue to sprout in every generation up to and including our own.  That is because this sin was the result of three grave spiritual errors which affected all three of the dimensions in which we live our lives and thus created spiritual blemishes which implicated every aspect of life.


Untimely Sin

The first mistake that prompted Klal Yisrael to make the egel was their miscalculation of the time of  Moshe Rabbeinu’s expected return to the camp after his sojourn on the mountain. The yetzer hara used the confusion engendered by this error to mislead us with the illusion of Moshe’s passing and Klal Yisrael believed that Moshe Rabbeinu, who faithfully served as an intermediary between Hashem and the nation, had died.  This miscalculation caused the mixed multitude to clamor for a substitute and accept the egel when it emerged from the flames.

The miscalculation which precipitated these events may well have been quite innocent and certainly could have been corrected.  However, prompted by the eirev rav, Klal Yisrael was willing to place too much reliance upon their own calculations rather then to await Moshe’s arrival with calm faith and sincere belief.  This was culpable.

Then as now, we had access to two separate systems for the measurement of time, which unfortunately are not always synchronized. The first is the Creator’s timetable that metes out the minutes, days and years of our lives in accordance with His plan for the world.  The second is our sense of time and of urgency, which causes us to set our clocks in accordance with our idiosyncratic desires. The difference between them is the measure of our impatience which in the case of the egel precipitated this most serious aveira.

This aspect of our worship of the golden calf, was not only a sin of action but of  time, of choosing a replacement for Moshe at a time when no replacement was necessary. By way of contrast, when a new intermediary, a successor to Moshe Rabbeinu was actually required, Hashem chose the time and guided the selection.  Under those circumstances, the yetzer hara was not able to gain any compass.


Choosing a Leader

Thinking their leader was dead, Klal Yisrael reasoned that if even a person as extraordinary as Moshe Rabbeinu could not survive such intense contact with the Creator, certainly, no other human being could successfully replace him.  They, therefore, were willing to consider a different, more durable, intermediary between themselves and Hashem.

Chazal tell us that in their search for a suitable replacement for Moshe, the people looked to the symbolic images Hashem had designated for the four legs of His throne (see Ramban Shemos 32:1).  They understood that those prototypes represented spiritual forces of extraordinary power: The (ari) lion, the (nesher) eagle, the (shor) ox and the face of a person – Yaakov Avinu.

It is not easy for us to conceive of an animal serving as a conduit for spiritual revelation, but we must keep in mind that we are referring to a metaphysical concept and not a physical reality. The four symbols the Creator has chosen to represent the four legs of His throne are metaphors with profound spiritual implications.  To deepen our understanding, we can think of these symbols as functioning, so to speak, like a computer.   The computer is actually an inanimate network of circuits and wires.  Nonetheless, when it is turned on, it seems to come alive with an intelligence all its own.  In truth, it is merely a highly sophisticated tool that channels the inventor’s talents into a software program that animates it so that it is able to serve the user’s purposes.  The Creator, whose control over reality is absolute, can certainly “program” anything He chooses in order to implement His will, be it human, animal, vegetable or mineral.

After Klal Yisrael excluded a human intermediary, they then eliminated  the conduit represented by the lion, recognizing  that its  positive attributes of strength and courage were apt to be bound with arrogance – a highly undesirable and dangerous  trait.   Similarly, they rejected the eagle although it represents the attributes of inspiration and renewal because of its very independent nature which is unsuitable for Heavenly service.   Ultimately, they concluded that the shor, ox, the domesticated beast of labor, which exhibits the attribute of powerful work channeled into developing Hashem’s world, and displays neither arrogance nor obstinacy was the safest and most enduring conduit between themselves and the Creator.

If this was their intention, what then was their error and what was their sin?

It is of course understood that the Torah itself prohibits the creation of a graven image.  However, Aharon’s involvement in creating the egel means that it obviously was not an outright idol.

An answer to this question perhaps lies in the fact that the Torah warns us not to do less than it commands or more then it requires. When Moshe Rabbeinu, the most humble of all men, served as the intermediary between Hashem and Klal Yisrael, his ego-less service neither increased nor decreased the permissible connection between Hashem and Klal Yisrael.  Moshe Rabbeinu, who possessed no egoistic traits that could interfere with his service of Hashem, was able to communicate with Hashem through a clear vision.   Accordingly, under Moshe’s direction, there was no hindrance in the communication of Hashem’s commands to us.  Nor was there any diminution of Klal Yisrael’s capacity to proclaim Hashem’s unity and Absolute sovereignty since Moshe Rabbeinu, representive of the human symbol on Hashem’s throne, was inclusive of all the other spiritual forces represented there.

When the golden calf was substituted in Moshe’s stead, its service impermissibly subtracted from our required service of Hashem because it represented only some, but not all of the positive traits reflected by the symbols on Hashem’s throne.  Thus it provided too narrow a conduit to accommodate our wholehearted devotion to Hashem.


Misplaced Focus

One of the holy names of the Creator is HaMakom, meaning “The Place.” “The Holy One Blessed be He, is the location of the world, but His world is not His location” (Bereishis Rabba 68:4) meaning that Hashem’s Infinite Reality cannot be comprehended or confined in any way by our finite minds in our finite world.   In creating the egel, an object that took up space, the eirev rav, in an act of presumptuous egoism, attempted to exchange the Infinite for the finite and limit Hashem’s presence to one fixed place.  That was great error.  This choice was Hashem’s to make, not theirs.

Here, as in the choice of a successor for Moshe Rabbeinu, when Hashem deemed the time and the circumstances to be right, Hashem created a place for His Shechina to rest by commanding us to build the Mishkan.   In creating the egel, the eirev rav attempted to usurp that prerogative and in so doing committed a grievous sin.


Rectifying the Cheit Ha’egel

The sin of avoda zara is one of the rare instances where thought alone, even without action, is punishable on High.  The sin is thus one of thought as much as of action and its rectification lies in our attitude.  The cheit ha’egel was committed because Klal Yisrael, through the instigation of the eirev rav had too much confidence in their own calculations and too little confidence in Hashem.  Confidence in Hashem translates into self esteem because those who have faith in Hashem and understand that they are tzelem Elokim feel secure and achieved.  Yet, since they realize that their achievements are a gift from Hashem, they have self esteem, but not arrogance.  Those who think that it is they who run the world and not Hashem, are at once frightened and insecure, even as they build idols of gold and silver in a desperate attempt to create order and control their destinies.

In order to insulate ourselves against all forms of  “idol worship,” we are best served by acquiring an attitude that is both self assured and secure yet humble.  This is not as difficult as it may appear. The distinguished professor and the wealthy entrepreneur do not worry about having to prove themselves.  They do not need to flaunt their wealth or their knowledge to increase their self esteem, because they feel achieved. Though we understand that egotistical self esteem is hollow and false, we can adopt their attitude by allowing ourselves to appreciate the fact that Hashem created us betzelem Elokim, in His Image and as a reflection of His will.

The tzelem Elokim within us allows us to renew our battle each day against our selfish and negative attitudes using the eagle’s qualities of inspiration and renewal, the lion’s strength and courage and the shor’s submissive work.  Using these spiritual tools we can learn to accept Hashem’s time frame and see His will in this world and thus fulfill our role in creation.

In order to realize the incredible potential that lies within ourselves, as tzelem Elokim, we can think of the word tzelem as an acronym:  The letter tzaddik of tzelem represents the tzaddik, a symbolic reminder of our pure and  righteousness souls. This is Person.  The tzaddik with his great and ego-less soul is in opposition to the narrowness of the egel.  The lamed of tzelem represents luach, the calendar of the Creator.  This is Time.  The clock and calendar of the Creator teach patience, instructing us to make our needs for gratification subservient to Hashem’s time frame. The mem of tzelem is makom, Place, and is there to help us dissolve the illusion of nature and see the presence of HaMakom in every aspect of this world.  If we are able to keep in mind at every turn that we are indeed, tzelem Elokim, we will have learned an approach that will help to heal the spiritual wound caused by the cheit ha’egel.

With the rectification of our consciousness in, person, time and place, we can truly be prepared for the advent of the final redemption, may it be soon in our days.



“He who recites the chapter of the (Manna) ‘Heavenly bread’, written in Parshas Beshalach  (16: 4-36) every day is assured that he will not lack food” (Gem. Yerushalmi). The Levush explains that this chapter teaches that G-d provides each day’s substance – just as He provided the manna each day in the wilderness.

Would that we could see with the pure eyes of a child for whom the world is filled by Hashem with wonder and delight. Imagine the reaction of the younger members of the generation of the Dor Hamidbar, who only received their nourishment from the “heavenly bread,” entered Eretz Yisrael and saw agricultural produce growing from the ground, they no doubt considered it a supernatural event.  We, on the other hand, see our food as common place taking it for granted, but consider the life support system that provided food, water, and protection to 3,000,000 men, women and children along with their herds and flocks in the desert for forty years that was truly an open miracle.  Yet, both systems are part of Hashem’s miraculous governance of the world –  a hashgacha that can be perceived by us as miraculous if we but choose to take the opportunity to do so.

The Mann was a wondrous source of nourishment. The sustenance provided to us in the midbar did not require the expenditure of physical effort, nor were needed any of the labor intensive tasks ordinarily associated with the growth and production of food and its preparation.  We might, therefore, be tempted to think that the generation of the midbar was not only freed from the obligation of earning a living but absolved of all of the challenges related to this endeavor.  However, such is not the case.

The unique challenge of the Dor Hamidbar lay in the fact that they had absolutely no physical control over their food, water or protection. Thus they were simultaneously confronted with the test of feeling vulnerable to the elements while at the same time experiencing complete dependence upon the benevolence of the Creator.

In fact every single necessity upon which their physical well being depended was not in their “hands”.  They had no fertile land, no rivers teaming with life, no reservoirs filled with water or towering forests to provide timber and game.  They had no homes and no sense of permanency. Although a tremendous surplus of manna fell each day, each person was allowed to collect only what he or she needed for that day alone. With the exception of the extra portion that was allotted for Shabbos, the manna was not permitted to remain for even one extra day for if additional manna was gathered, it would immediately spoil.  Thus they were never able to establish any “physical security” or feeling of independence.

Though it would seem that they were able to obtain  manna without effort or exertion, that is far from the truth. The efforts that the Dor Hamidbar had to make in order to “earn” their food, was a constant “exercise”  in emunah and bitachon at the highest level, as the Sages inform us: “Who is strong? One who surrenders his inclination to the will of Hashem.”

The reward for these efforts was a “spiritual food” that nourished the body by feeding the soul. Like all things spiritual it had no physical limitations or boundaries and was not the subject of the natural laws of cause and effect.  Each person received the same size portion regardless of size or weight and yet each person felt satiated .The message to be found within this phenomenon is very profound in that at the level of pure soul we are all equal and therefore each individual received the same sized portion.  However, there were certain differences that each person experienced dependant on their spiritual level. If the Mann was left close or far away, and the need of preparation and flavor were based on the level of one’s righteousness.

The more virtuous found their portions ready to eat at the entrance of their tent, while the less upright had to search further a field and then prepare it according to their needs. These distinctions served as a daily “bench mark” of one’s spiritual level and thereby served as an incentive to constantly improve.

The whole creation exists within a five dimensional continuum, consisting of the three dimensions of place together with time and soul.  Using these concepts of place, time and soul, we can analyze the distance, placement and preparation of the manna connecting them to specific objectives of spiritual achievement.


The three dimensions of place and their directions, North–South, East-West and above-below are measured in terms of distance or closeness to a given point.  The absolute and constant reference point for place is reflected through Hashem’s Holy Name, HaMakom which means The Place. This conveys the idea that Hashem is that  eternal and unchanging reference point. Distance or closeness to Hashem is reflected in our ability to see Him as everywhere. With this in mind, perhaps we can say that the placement of the portion of the manna at a specified distance from the recipient reflected that individual’s level of awareness of Hashem’s governance, the hashgacha pratis within that person’s life.          The degree of preparedness of the manna can be understood as reflecting the dimension of time.   Moving  along the place-time-soul continuum from the most concrete of concepts—place–  to the most ephemeral—soul– time lies somewhere in between.  Every effort we make can be measured in terms of the time needed for its completion.  Our progress from birth throughout life is measured by age, which is simply another way of  expressing the effect of time.  Though we may see time as a natural phenomena whose passage is measured by the ticks of a clock, time, like distance and soul has its G-dly basis, time is and can be experienced as a function of  and subject to Hashem’s governance. Thus, the amount of time allotted to a person on this earth can be measured in terms of the number of words he or she has spoken. Needless to say words of Torah and words said in connection with the doing of mitzvoth are not included in this countdown.

The amount of time spent in excessive preparation is time lost from its potential supernal enjoyment. Those people who measure time by the inexorable ticking of  the clock will find that  their preparations will take a  “natural” course; while the person who recognizes Hashem’s control  of time can merit “super natural” intervention being able to use this Divine gift to “capture” moments otherwise lost thereby revealing the eternality within each second. We are ready on time for Shabbos, whether the Friday is long or short. All our efforts in preparation for Shabbos, yomin  tovim and other mitzvoth are  synchronized with the Creator’s heavenly clock and thus enjoy an “inspired efficiency”.

Last but not least, the amount of spicing necessary for the mann may well reflect our varying needs for excitement, stimulation and pleasure in this world. For those who have accustomed  their “diet”
to appreciate nuanced “spiritual flavors” of the perfect blend of ahavah and yirah, all of ones activities directed toward the service of Hashem  will  produce supernal joy and pleasure, being able to favorably savor even challenging experiences; while those still far from becoming  “connoisseurs” in “spiritual delights” may find themselves still engaged in a sub-optimal search for “artificial flavors”.

Now perhaps we can understand why Chazal teach us  that those who recite the Perek of the Mann every day are  assured that they will not lack food, because recitation of this chapter is our acknowledgement,  in Divine hashgacha, that it is the Creator who is the true provider for everything in its right place and proper time.



It has become by many the norm to try protect themselves with all kinds of insurance policies ranging from life, medical, dental, home, auto and many others forms of insurance. It seems quite ironic that so much money and apprehension should be spent on trying to secure the corporeal side of life while so many of these same people don’t “insure” their spiritual side of their lives. Many would answer that they don’t invest in spiritual “insurance” because they don’t believe in anything that they don’t know for sure there will be a payback, however in fact they all are believers because any insurance and investment company that offers future payment is making promises based on the “belief” that up the road the company will not go bankrupt and they will fill their end of the contract. Some of the biggest “rock solid” Corporations that went bankrupt during the height of the recession caused many of their employees to lose part or all of their future promised retirement fund. So, yes we are all “believers” but the difference between people is what they choose to believe in!!!

Even though the need for everyone to have free will to choose, the true value of fulfilling spiritual matters (mitzvos) is not revealed to us at the present time, but doesn’t it at least make sense to “hedge” your investments in a way to “cover all bases”. After all if you discover that there really is a future world in the spiritual realms and you didn’t invest in it, you are going to feel left out and very disappointed to say the least.

The Jewish nation had been slaves in Egypt with harsh labor. When it came the time for redemption, Hashem sent Moshe and Aahron to talk and tell Pharaoh to set free the Jewish people, however with a hardened heart Pharaoh refused even under the threat that the Egyptians would be smitten with (macot) plagues. The Creator initiated Moshe and strengthened his belief by showing him that his staff could miraculously turn into a snake and then turn back into a staff. What is the significance of this wonder? Perhaps we can say that Hashem wanted to teach all of us that even the snake, which symbolizes the (yetzer hora) negative inclination is also totally under His control, therefore that Pharaoh also who represents evil in man also is totally under My dominion. This means that no person or event in life is independent and outside the control of the Creator.

Another possible lesson to be derived by the staff turning into a snake and then back to a staff is to teach us that even if at some point in life a person falls under the spell of the snake – ie- desires – of this world, with the help of Hashem a sincere person will be helped to do a full teshuva – ie. turn back into a staff – and now even be given even greater powers of holiness than ever before as was the case of Moshe’s staff that was used in performing some of the ten macot.

Then an additional substantiation that Hashem controls everything in life was shown to Moshe before the plagues began. Moshe’s hand turned instantly leprous (which is a sign of the withdrawal of the life force) and then in an instant the same hand was miraculously healed. What could be the meaning and significance of this bizarre event? Hashem also wants to assure Moshe and us that not only does He control everything in this world including the evil inclination (yetzer hora) but He also is the controller over all phases of life including our health.

Let us try to see parallels with the ten macot and relatable diseases that plague society today.

The first plague was that all the water in Egypt was turned to blood. What is the significance of this plague specifically taking place in this way? Water is a basic source of life. Science tells us that not only is eighty percent of the world filled with water but the human body also consists of about eighty percent of water and other fluids like blood. Let us explore this further by understanding the nature of man. A natural occurrence that happens to someone when they get upset is there blood pressure goes up. That means, so to speak, the aspect called blood which parallels – gavurot – strict judgment asserts itself over the attribute of – chesed – altruistic kindness which correlates to water. Medically it is well known the dangers of elevated blood pressure and any other blood related diseases.


The second plague to befall the Egyptians was that of  the crocking frogs. What application in our lives can we find in relationship to this plague? This perhaps can be seen as the next stage of persistent grumbling – ie. croaking – when the anger manifests itself as complaining.

The third plague was that of lice. This happens what when a person’s anger reaches the point where they feel that others are constantly bothering them. “under my skin”. This means they allow other people to irritate them rather than seeing them as being sent from H. to test their medios of patience, tolerance and respect.

The forth plague was that of the wild beasts. Once anger becomes excessive it can unfortunately lead to one lowering their dignity down to the level of, as the expression goes, acting like a wild animal.

The eight plague was that of the locusts which ate anything that was still left out in the fields. By the time a person reaches this degree of anger that will consume – ie. destroy – everything around them.

The ninth plague of darkness could be hinting to the well known expression that anger “blinds” a person from seeing the truth.

The tenth plague of the death of the firstborn. Being angry is likened to serving advoda zora which is a kind of “death” to the soul – ie. the firstborn

These ten levels can be  controlled through following the guidance of our Torah. We say before going to sleep the following words of the Torah: “If you diligently head the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to his commandments and observe His decrees – the entire malady that I inflicted upon Mitzraim, I will not inflict upon you, for I am Hashem your healer. We see from here that the ideal “healer” is one who “heals” through preventive “measures” . Therefore the best advice is to endeavor not to get angry in the first place which will lead to meriting the ability to go out from Mitzraim – the consciousness of  contraction and into the higher consciousness of expanded awareness seeing everything emanating from the Divine with purposeful design.



Upon awakening from sleep, we resume our life’s journey. From the moment that the holy Jewish soul is returned to the body, a fresh opportunity is presented to actualize our lifelong process of growth. How do we achieve this lofty goal?

The Rabbis (Chazal) explain that sleep is the period of time when our soul (the neshama) ascends to the supernal realms. The vacuum left behind causes a temporary influx of what we call – tum’ah – spiritual impurity. Upon awakening this tum’ah recedes to our hands with our sages giving us the knowledge of how to remove it by re-sanctifying our hands.

But even before we do that, t he first thing we do in the morning is say “modeh ani”, proclaiming our humble gratitude to our Creator for showing His confidence in us by restoring our soul to our body, giving us another day of life in which to fulfill Torah and mitzvoth. We surely appreciate that the renewal of our life each day is a gift — a fresh opportunity to actualize our lifelong process of spiritual growth.  How do we achieve this lofty goal in a practical way? We will look a bit more deeply into the spiritual connection between our voices (in which we start the day with “mode ani…” and our hands(that we wash in a uniaque fashion).

The Malbim explains that the hands represent the earthly power and might that lie within the domain of Yaakov Avinu’s brother Eisav; but the voice, which emanates from the realm of the soul lies within the domain of Yaakov.

When Yaakov approached Yitzchok for his brachos, Yitzchok touched him and felt the “hands of Eisav” but heard the “voice of Yaakov”, and thus made the immortal declaration:  “…hakol  kol Yaakov —- ve hayadayim yedai  Eisav.” (Toldos 27:  22)

Looking more deeply into these words, we come to learn that, according to the Malbim, Hashem desired that Yaakov be given both spiritual and material gifts and blessings, however, material blessings would come to Yaakov not by means of natural cause and effect, but only through hashgacha, through his voice – Torah and supplication (tefillah). If however, G-d forbid, Torah learning and tefillah were to be diminished then the flow of material blessings would also decrease.

Interestingly, the nusach of netillas yadayim, the first blessing of the day, provides a profound insight:  “Blessed ( or: The Source of all) are You, Hashem, our G-d King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us on the washing –“netillas yadayim” – of the hands. Notably, the Sages did not choose for this blessing the word “rechitza” meaning “washing” but “netilla” meaning “taking”, as  in the bracha of  the lulov  where we say “al netillas lulav,” on the taking of the lulov, Perhaps a deeper reason for the selection of this – nusach  is  that just as the mitzvah of lulov is accomplished through the  act of “taking hold” of  the lulov, so also do we achieve spiritual success with the use of our hands – our ma’aseh yadayim –  by  “taking hold of “ , i.e., controlling and directing  our actions toward the fulfillment of the will of  Hashem.  May we soon merit to raise our voices and hands together in a unison greeting the Moshiach and the final redemption soon in our days.


Over the past several decades the roles of both men and women in contemporary society have shifted dramatically leaving both genders in the midst of  an identity crisis that simply did not exist in earlier generations. So many people today unfortunately caught up in this generational “tug of war”, are finding it more and more difficult to understand and appreciate their purpose and position in this world.

The Torah provides for us in this weeks Parsha Chayei Sarah an invaluable insight within the story of the (shiduk) engagement  between Yitzchak Avinu and his wife to be, Rivka.  It came to pass that our forefather Avraham Aveinu sent his servant  Eliezer to Avraham’s relatives seeking a wife for Yitzchak.   Hashem  guided  Eliezer and  gave him the opportunity to observe Rivka’s extraordinary (midos) character and good deeds (ma’asim tovim) through her altruistic act of chesed. It was her very selfless act of kindness that allowed  Eliezer to understand that he had found that unique neshama who would be the appropriate bride for Yitzchak. In anticipation of this eventuality, Avraham had sent with him special gifts for the kallah and her family to consummate this stage of the(shiduk) marriage proposal.

The gifts given over to Rivka were a golden ring called a nezem, and two arm bracelets (Chayei  Sarah, 24:22.), therefore there is to endeavor to deepen our understanding of the profound symbolism that lies within these gifts.    Since our Torah is an eternal document for all times and all places, these pieces of jewelry are as much a gift for the Jewish woman of today, as they were for Rivka (Imainu) our matriarch in that they are capable of offering insights that can help to rejuvenate and revitalize each women’s connection with her proper role even in the midst of  our spiritually troubled and discordant times.

The words and actions of  righteous Jewish woman emanate from the neshama, the soul which is rooted in a very pristine place deep within.   Is it then any wonder that the gift for Rivka was a – nezem – a ring which was used in the place which is the gateway for the entry of the soul – the place where the Creator breathed the soul of  life into Adam  (Bereishes 2:7).

Our Holy Torah, through this parsha, takes this opportunity to realign material and spiritual values thereby closing the gap between them, teaching each women the secret of seamlessly blending within herself a life of holiness that incorporates softness and strength, kindness and discipline, generosity and restraint. It is authority that is most effectively expressed in the absence of overt power – by innuendo rather than by confrontation.  For all its subtlety don’t think for a moment that it lacks purpose, direction or strength.  It is the antibiotic camouflaged in the spoonful of ice cream.  It is pure empathetic compassion, objectified, tempered by practicality, seasoned by good judgment and used for the purpose of  nurturing and healing those  souls given over to her care.

This ring has within it a further message that connects the past with the present in that it had the weight of a (beka) a half –shekel– and that too is significant.   Each Jew was required to give a half shekel gift,  a one time gift for the building of the  Mishkan as well as a yearly donation of this amount to be used for the communal sacrifices. (Ki Sisa: 30:13; Shekalim, 1:1; Megillah 29b).

The gift of the half shekel was one that every Jew was required to contribute toward the building of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.  It  was dedicated to the adonim — the silver sockets that held the boards which formed the walls of the Mishkan.   These sockets are the foundation of the walls of Mishkan, where we made our home with Hashem, even as the woman  is the foundation of the home she establishes with her husband.

Eliezer also gave Rivka two arm bracelets weighing ten golden shekels.  The two arm bracelets represent the two tablets of the law; and their weight of ten shekels symbolizes the Ten Commandments. (Chaya Sara, 24:22, Rashi).  The ring and the golden bracelets are both, being circular, suggestive of  the fact each woman is able to complete the connection of the Torah with this world through becoming a conduit using her unique energy that is provided by her holy soul and binding it with the performance of good deeds and acts of  kindness. Through these works of (chesed) kindness every woman is able to greatly rectify this world as a emissary of Hashem through her home and hearth thereby allowing a holy dwelling place for the (Shekina) Divine presence.





We are all familiar with Hashem’s oath to Avraham Avinu after the Akeidas Yitzchak – or are we? “The angel of Hashem called to Avraham a second time from heaven. And he said, ‘By myself I swear – the word of Hashem – that because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only one, that I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your offering like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice.’” (Vayeria – 22:15-17), What is the nature of this promise? After all, if we are likened to the lofty, exalted multitude of stars, what is being added by the words that compare us to the minuscule sand on the seashore?

To add to this quandary, the Midrash Or HaAfelah informs us that this pasuk teaches us the inevitable consequence of our momentous choices:  When the Jewish nation complies with the Creator’s will, we will resemble the stars of the heavens, whom no nation can dominate, however when the Nation is defiant, then it will resemble the sand of the seashore that is trampled by every oppressive foot. The Medrash suggests that this promise to Avraham is not exclusively a blessing, for it also contains an admonition. Since we are told that this promise is Avraham’s reward for the Akeidah: – “. . .  because you have listened to My voice”, how can we properly understand this Midrash?

Perhaps we can find a solution to the implication of this Midrash, in the pasukim, by considering two well known but seemingly paradoxical paths in the service of Hashem that are actually complementary to each other.  One path is to serve Hashem, like the stars of the heavens, by seeing the gadlus haBorei — the majesty of the Infinite Creator, while the other path is achieved through seeing oneself, like the sand of the sea, through

the lens of shiflus atzmo – our relative minuteness. Through learning Torah we can come to see the gadlus haBorei in every facet within the creation, whereas our tefillos are designed to aid us in reaching a place of equanimity through humbly recognizing our total dependence on the benevolence of the Creator. Just as the waves of the sea wash over the sand constantly purifying it, so do the “waves” of our nusach in tefillah flow through us constantly purifying and realigning our “attitudinal coastlines” according to the will of Hashem.

Furthermore, perhaps we can surmise that even though being compared to the sand of the seashore contains an admonition, there is also imbedded within it a blessing for just like sand when trampled upon maintains its unique resilience and unity, so how much more so is the grandeur of our holy Jewish nation has demonstrated time and time again its resiliency in weathering throughout our shifting historical galus the political, theological and social “storms” that that, have tried to erode away our idealism and solidarity”. Fortunately the blessing given to Avraham Avinu and his descendants to be like the sand of the sea assures us that even though some of the nation has drifted away from the service of our benevolent Creator, soon refreshing “tides of holiness”, captained by Malcus David, will float everyone back to his or her place within the nation so as to be in position to usher in the final geula and rebuilding of our holy Temple. We see expressed in the Min Hameitzar of Hallel as it is said: – “You pushed me hard that I might fall but Hashem assisted me” and then the Hallel continues with the inspiring expression: “The stone despised by the builders has become the cornerstone.”

Another wondrous moshal that can be culled from our being compared to the sand of the seashore; just as grain of sand that becomes imbedded within a oyster can be miraculously become the catalyst for the formation of a precious pearl, how much more so can we, the Jewish nation, that has been swallowed up within the troughs of galus, use this challenging opportunity to reveal the “pearls” of our potential.

May we also soon merit the words at the conclusion of the blessing promised to Avraham Avinu: “And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice.”


Avraham and Noach are both called Tzadikim yet in some aspect Avraham’s perfection was considered on a much higher level. How can we understand in practical terms for us in this generation that there are different levels of righteousness that can be attained?Let us use an analogy that will shed light on this holy matter. Picture someone that is suffering from a headache, runny nose and cough all at the same time. One level of doctor will give him aspirin for the headache, an antihistamine for the runny nose and  cough syrup for the congestion. Within a short period of time the sick person will feel relief from all three discomforts, however tomorrow all these symptoms will probable reoccur. A more educated doctor will besides possibly these immediate remedies for temporary relief will also give him an antibiotic to take for a number of days in order to uproot the internal infection that is causing this uncomfortable symptoms. A even more educated doctor besides prescribing all of the above will also offer suggestions to help avoid the problem in the future such as increased regular intake of vitamin C and other nutritional supplements, improving the diet, working on personal stress management. There were some other tzadkim besides Avraham and Noach who were on the first level of advising other on how to relief their immediate “uncomfortable symptoms” by taking spiritual aspirin etc.. Then there was Noach who also advised others on how to temporarily uproot the “illness” by taking spiritual antibiotics. And then there was Avraham Avinu who would also give advice to the spiritually ill on how to permanently uproot any potential spiritual “illness” from overwhelming them. This then helps us understand and appreciate the great difference between Avraham’s level of perfection and Noach’s.