Weekly Shabbat Timings, Parsha Commentary and Online Events


8/9 May 2020        14/15
 Iyar 5780

Shabbat commences 8:21pm Shabbat terminates  9:33pm  

We hope you find Rav Eyal Raymond's commentaries reproduced in the English translation a welcome innovation.
As well as his interesting insights into this week's parasha he tells over many lovely parables that you may wish to share with your loved one(s) at the shabbat table. 
Print before Shabbat  to read and enjoy!

7-13 May

Thursday 7th May: 

Rabbi Kada chats with Dayan Ofer Livnat (S&P Beth Din)
"The functions of a Beth Din in the Modern World"

Zoom Link:
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Friday 8th May: 
Mincha, Hashkabot, Mi Sheberachs and Kabbalat Shabbat:
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Monday 11th May:  
Rabbi Danny Kada in conversation with Sina Kahen
"What is the Torah's perspective on Technology & Innovation"

Zoom Link:
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Wednesday 13th May: 

Clandestine Kiddushin: The 18th century S&P clandestine marriage that went to the civil courts
Zoom Link:
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Mincha is always 15 minutes before (so 7:15pm)
Arbit and counting of the Omer following the lecture. 

People can also follow on Facebook all of the above:

:: Rav Eyal Raymond's Weekly Commentary ::



“Say to the priests, the sons of Aaron and you should say to them.” (21:1)

“‘Say’ and ‘and you should say’ – to warn the older people more than the minors.”  (Rashi)

This means to say that what was to be said was also directed towards the minors.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein asked the following question. What is the meaning of the sages’ explanation here, “to warn the older people more than the minors?” The words “and you should say” are not specifically [used in general] for minors or older people.

When a father educates his children, it is not enough for him to warn them about fulfilling the commandments of the Torah. If the son hears his father educating him about the fulfillment of the commandments and he tells him that he himself also fulfills them, even if he tells him about the difficult challenges that he went through and passed, this will still not influence and convince the son to go in the ways of his father. This is because the son will say that he is not strong and robust like his father and, therefore, he will not be capable of capturing his evil inclination and withstanding the tests as his father did. With this, he will exempt himself from the yoke of the commandments.

When should a son be educated about fulfilling the commandments? It should only be when the father is able to teach him to love them “because they are our life and the length of our days.” Then the love and the endearment of the commandments will penetrate the heart of the child and he will be able to fulfill them with ease.

We find that there is a need for both of these expressions of “saying.” One emphasizes the obligation and the second one emphasizes the love of the commandment. As a result of both of these, the children can be properly educated about the fulfillment of the commandments of the Torah. These two expressions of saying, “say” and “and you should say” should be said to the older people and a warning will result from this for the younger people.
(Tallelei Orot)


Parents give everything that they have to their children. This is even more so when parents have, G-d forbid, a child whose speech was taken away by a disease. They summon the most famous professors in order to find a cure for his speech. When they see that their son is growing up like everyone else, but without the ability to speak, each of the parents cry in his or her corner about the tragedy that befell them. There is no need to say that the parents are willing to spend large amounts of wealth if they would only find professors who are greater experts in order to save their son. Each of them would be willing to suffer tribulations if he or she would only be able to bring a remedy to the illness of the son.

Every person who has complete Jewish faith knows that a person’s occupation in the study hall of Heaven will only be the study of the Torah of Hashem. This matter is simple and self understood. What could the Heavenly entourage be busy with – matters of forests and agricultural produce? After all, there is no eating, drinking or bodily needs. For a person, there is only the Torah that he learned in this world. In Heaven, his knowledge will expand to higher and higher levels. He will contemplate it and enjoy endless novelties with amazing pleasure that are originated every day. However, a person who never learned Torah sits there like a mute person who can not open his mouth. What can he say after all?

This situation will not cease after a day or two. Rather, this embarrassment will continue for eternity. How can parents not give heed to this frightening description when they will see the pain of their sons in the upper world? They will be muted and terribly shamed, since they are not capable of opening their mouths.

Therefore, parents must make every effort not to prevent their children from the study of the holy Torah and they and their children after them will merit having the happiness that is hidden in the Torah.  
(Mishlei HaChafetz Chaim)


“He [priest] should not become impure… for his mother and for his father.” (21:1-2)

 Why did the verse precede the mother to the father?

The Ibn Ezra says that from here there is a proof that men have a longer lifespan than women. Therefore, the reality is that the priest will become impure first for [the death of] his mother and only afterwards, for his father. This is because his father will live longer than his mother.

However, in another verse, regarding the high priest, it says, “For his father and for his mother he should not become impure” (21:11). If so, we find that the proof of the Ibn Ezra was contradicted, since here the verse preceded the father to the mother.

The answer is simple. Generally, the high priest only receives the grand priesthood once his father is deceased in honor of his father. Therefore, the verse preceded his father to his mother. However, regarding a person who is only a priest it says, “For his mother and for his father he should not become impure,” since the life of the father is longer than the life of the mother.


We find another answer that is given by the Ro”sh for the contradiction between the verses that regarding the simple priest, the verse preceded the mother to the father, but regarding the high priest, the verse preceded the father to the mother. The answer is that about the simple priest, the purpose of the verse was to say that he could make himself impure for him. Therefore, his mother is written first and afterwards, his father. This means to say that not only can be become impure for his mother, who is certainly his mother, but he may also become impure even for his father, about whom there may be a doubt if he was really his father. This is because it is possible that his mother was immoral. However, regarding the high priest, the verse comes to say that he can not become impure for them. Therefore, it began with his father because, needless to say, for his father, about whom there may be a doubt, he should not become impure. But, even for his mother, who is certainly his mother, he may also not become impure.

“The daughter of a priest who begins to be immoral is desecrating her father.” (21:9)

There are some wicked people who inherit their wickedness from their parents and it becomes rooted inside of them. On the other hand, there are wicked people who turned away from the straight path of their own will, since they became corrupted as a result of their evil inclination.

As it is well know, the evil inclination does not seduce a person immediately to commit a great sin, since he certainly will not listen to it. Rather, at first, it seduces him to do small sins until it brings him to the hands of severe sins, as the sages said (Shabbat 105B), “So is the craft of the evil inclination: Today it tells him to do this and tomorrow it tells him to do that, until it tells him to serve idolatry and then he goes and serves it…”

However, one who has the wickedness rooted in him as an inheritance from his parents is capable of immediately transgressing the most severe sins, since the evil inclination does not have to approach him in a slow, strategic and roundabout manner.

Therefore, the Torah said, “The daughter of a priest who begins to be immoral.” If she is already doing such a severe sin from the beginning, it is a sign that it is not as a result of her own evil inclination. Rather, it originates from the evil powers that are rooted inside of her that she inherited from her parents and, as a result, she “is desecrating her father.”  (Imrei Shefer)


There are some Jews who consider themselves to be holy priests who can be traced as such with direct lineage, but they do not have time to pay attention to their daughter’s education since all of their attention is directed towards themselves. They busy themselves and are conscientious about the holy “Zohar,” at the same time that their daughters are being, as if to say, conscientious about books of immorality. In the end, the daughters become corrupted and they desecrate the holiness of their fathers.

The behavior of these girls clearly shows that when such “holiness” is only directed towards oneself, it does not have any place in the matter of educating young children and it is only a desecration of what is holy…(Avnei Ezel)


Some branches of these prohibitions include adherence to the boundaries of modest dress, as the sages said, “A tefach [unit of measurement] revealed on a woman is [inappropriate] nakedness” (Brachot 24A). There was also an incident with Rabbi Refael Ankava who was the chief rabbi of Morocco during the time period of King Hussein I. The king bestowed him with a crown of honor for all of his blessed endeavors that he was doing for the Jews of the kingdom.

Rabbi Refael was the rabbi of the city Sali and everyone turned to his guidance willingly with great reverence and appreciation for his superior greatness.

However, as always, there was an exception. One day, it became known to him that there was one Jewish girl from the city who would go out into the streets with her elbows revealed. The rabbi sent for her father and warned him about his daughter’s deeds. The father said, “What can I do? [What she does] is not my will, however, she is brazen towards me. This is a sign that the Messiah is approaching, since a daughter is rising up against her parents and audacity is becoming prevalent!” [It is written that these things will take place before the Messiah arrives]. 

The rabbi answered, “If she did not listen to her parents’ voice, then maybe she will listen to the voice of the teachers. Tell her that I called you to rebuke you about her deeds. Tell her that I demand of her not to go out in the streets with immodest clothing!”

The father departed and went home. The rabbi investigated and it was confirmed that the girl did not improve her ways. The rabbi instructed for the father to be called again, “Did you warn her?” he asked.

“Yes, indeed,” the father answered.

“What did she reply?” asked the rabbi.

“I am ashamed to say,” answered the miserable father. He was not brash enough to say how she mocked the words of the rabbi and how her tongue lashed out against him.

The rabbi sighed and said, “I did my part. There is only punishment if there is warning. I warned her…”

At that moment, bitter and ugly tribulations struck the girl. Her arms became filled with wounds and boils that hurt and caused pain. Against her will, she was forced to cover her arms by wrapping a bandage [around them]…

She understood that the wounds came as a punishment for rebelling against what the rabbi said regarding her immodest behavior. Immediately she asked her father to come with her to the rabbi. With sincere tears she promised that she would improve her ways and be modest if only her wounds would go away.

The rabbi saw that he she learned her lesson and had genuinely repented. He prayed for her and she was healed.  (Chachamei Moroko)


Rabbi Ezra Atya, who held the position of Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivat Porat Yosef, stayed in Egypt during the First World War. There, he met Rabbi Aharon ben Shimon, who was the Chief Rabbi of Egypt. About him he would say with trepidation, “Because of his great holiness, Rabbi Aharon could punish and kill. I saw with my own eyes how people became burned by his coals.”

The following is an incident that happened. Once the Chief Rabbi was invited to conduct a wedding ceremony in one of the synagogues in Egypt for [a couple that came from] the most prominent families of leaders and nobles in the country. When he was about to conduct the ceremony, he was informed that one of the women present arrived with immodest clothing prohibited by Jewish law. It certainly was not appropriate for the holiness of the place and the event.

He said, “She must leave the sanctuary of the synagogue!”

The people who were hosting the event explained to him that she was a relative and also the wife of one of the most prominent members of the community. It would not be nice to tell her to leave and it would be impossible to insult her.

“She is insulting all of those who are present, the place and the event,” answered the rabbi. “I will not begin to conduct the ceremony until she leaves.”

They tried to explain and persuade, but it was to no avail. The rabbi traced back his footsteps and sat in his seat. With no other choice, the people hosting the event turned to the prominent and honorable woman and gave over the demands of the rabbi. The woman, who was the source of the conflict, opened her mouth and let her opinion about the rabbi and his laws be heard. He was not going to ascribe his opinions on her. She was going to remain there, despite his disappointment. They came and informed the rabbi that she was adamant and this matter will never end.

“It will have an end,” the rabbi promised. “I will wait here until she leaves this holy place!”

The people who were hosting the event were bewildered. Until when will they be forced to wait?

However, they did not wait for too long. Suddenly, the woman collapsed on the floor and her soul left her!

They removed her from the synagogue and the rabbi came forward to conduct the wedding ceremony!  (Tuv Mitzrayim)


“These are My appointed festivals. For six days you shall do work and on the seventh day, it is Shabbat.” (23:2-3)

“Why is the topic of Shabbat next to the topic of the festivals? It is in order to teach that anyone who desecrates the festivals is considered as if he desecrated the Shabbat. Anyone who keeps the festivals is considered as if he kept the Shabbat.” (Rashi)

This seems to be hard to understand. What is Rashi adding with this comment? The question still remains. What is the connection between Shabbat and the festivals? The festivals are a separate matter than Shabbat, which is a gift in itself.

Rather, at the time of doing every commandment a person should have the intention that it is being done for the sake of fulfilling the will of the Creator and not for the reward that is involved. How can we measure something like this?

The Torah juxtaposed these two verses. A person works during the six working days and on the seventh day he rests from his work. However, his resting on Shabbat can not be because he worked and became tired. Rather, it should be because of Hashem’s command, “And on the seventh day, it is Shabbat for Hashem your G-d.” How do we know that, indeed, a person is resting on the seventh day because of Hashem’s command? We can see that the festivals during the year often fall on weekdays and not after working for six days. Even so, a person rests on them and his resting is certainly according to Hashem’s command. With this he is proving that he is sanctifying the holy days that Hashem gave us.

This is the foundation that the Torah is coming to teach us here. A person should do everything because that is what Hashem commanded him to do and not in order to receive reward. This is like the words of the sage in the Ethics of the Father (1:3), “You shall be like servants who serve the master in order not to receive reward.”

A wonderful example of this is our patriarch Abraham. Hashem commanded him to leave his land, etc. He also promised him tremendous reward for this, “And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you and I will make your name great and it will be a blessing, etc.” (Genesis 12:2). Indeed, Abraham received reward for his deeds, however, the Torah emphasizes, “And Abraham did as Hashem commanded him.” All of his deeds were done because of the Creator’s command and not in order to receive reward.

It is told about the Gr”a of Vilna that, once, during the festival of Sukkot, there was no citron available. They searched without success until they informed the rabbi that a simple Jew was able to find an excellent citron for himself. The Gr”a called him and asked if he would sell the citron to him. The Jew agreed on condition that that he, and not the Gr”a, would receive the reward for doing the commandment. The Gr”a was happy and said, “On the contrary, I am giving you the reward for the commandment with a full heart so that, finally, I will have the merit of fulfilling a commandment for the sake of Heaven without receiving reward for it.”

In Part 1 of the holy “Zohar” (Parashat Lech Lecha, 88:4), an amazing incident is brought about the matter of studying the Torah for its own sake.

Rabbi Abba would declare, “Whoever wants to become wealthy and have a long life should come to the study hall and engage in Torah study.” This is based on what it says, “Long life it at its [the Torah’s] right and at its left is wealth and honor.”

There was a young unmarried man who heard these words that were announced. He came before Rabbi Abba and said that he wanted to study Torah in order to become wealthy. Rabbi Abba asked him, “What is your name?”

He said to him, “Yossi.”

Rabbi Abba commanded his students to teach Torah to Yossi. They would call him “Yossi who has a desire for wealth.”

One day, Yossi came before Rabbi Abba and asked, “Rabbi, where is the promised wealth?” 

Rabbi Abba thought to himself that this young man deserves to be punished for not studying the Torah for its own sake. However, a divine voice came out and said to him, “Continue teaching him, since, ultimately, Torah will emerge from him.”

On one clear day, a wealthy man came to Rabbi Abba and removed a golden goblet that was inlaid with fine gold. The entire house lit up by the light of the goblet.

The wealthy man said to Rabbi Abba, “I wanted very much to study Torah, but, many worries surrounded me and I did not merit it. However, I would like one Torah scholar to put his efforts into the study of Torah in my merit. Since I am such a wealthy man, I am willing to give this goblet him.”

Rabbi Abba called Yossi and gave him the goblet according to the conditions that the wealthy man had set. From that day on, Yossi engaged in Torah study with tremendous diligence until he became a great and important scholar.

Once, Rabbi Abba came to him and found him crying. Rabbi Abba inquired about the motive for his crying and Rabbi Yossi said, “I am crying because I neglected the eternal life for the sake of gold and silver. Take the golden cup away from me and the merit of the Torah that I am studying will be enough for me.” Rabbi Abba saw that Yossi’s intent was all for the sake of Heaven and he returned the cup to its owner. From then on, he was called “Rabbi Yossi ben Pazi,” since, through the gold and finer gold [in Hebrew, “paz”] that he attained, he merited understanding that the study of Torah must be for the sake of Heaven and not with other conditions or in order to receive the reward of wealth.

It is also told about the Chafetz Chaim that, once, a young married man came to him complaining that he has been studying Torah for a few years, but he was not meriting to “produce fruits.” The Chafetz Chaim answered him, “Who said that you specifically need to produce fruits? It is enough that you are fulfilling the commandment of the Creator to contemplate the Torah by day and by night!”


“For six days you shall do work and the seventh day is a day of complete rest.” (23:3)

How should we spend the days of the week?

This question can be understood by way of a parable.

There was a king who had three daughters. He married off one of them to the son of a king, the second one to a wealthy merchant and the third one to a farmer. After a long time had passed, he called his three daughters to ask them what they had to say about their lives.

The oldest one, who was married to the king’s son, said, “I have pleasure every day. I live in a palace and I eat delicacies. Every day for me is like holidays and festivals.”

The second one, who was married to the merchant said, “My husband is busy with his business every day of the week. However, he spends one day a week with his family. This day is an appeasement for me for the whole hard week.”

Only the third one had tears rolling down her cheeks. She said, “The entire year my husband is busy with the field work, whether it is plowing, planting or harvesting. When the harvest time arrives and there is great happiness, he goes to have a good time with his friends. He gets drunk and dances until he has no more energy and he forgets me completely.”

The comparison is as follows. The holy Torah is like the king’s daughter and it is given to us by the King of all Kings. If it is given into the possession of a king’s son, then he engages in it all day and contemplates it day and night, [as it says,] “Who are royalty: the rabbis,. Merchants, who are busy making a living the whole week, at least set aside the day of rest to study Torah, go regularly to lessons of Torah and hear the [rabbi’s] speeches on Shabbat. This is also good behavior.

However, there are unlearned people, who do not open a religious book and do not lend their ears to a speech at any point during the whole year, besides for during the holiday of the harvest, which is Simchat Torah [the day of rejoicing with the Torah]. Then they act recklessly and dance, but they forget the “bride” [Torah] herself. Woe to them, pity to them!  (Chazon LaMoed)

“And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the day of rest.” (23:15) 

When a person accepts a sum of money from his friend, he will not only be careful about the quantity that was given, but also about the quality of every coin that was given to him. In order to examine these two things, he carefully counts the money that was given to him

One must act similarly during the counting of the seven weeks [of the Sefira period between Passover and Shavuot]. One must be careful not to do any deed without evaluating it intellectually to see if it is good or bad.

It is well known that during the days of the Sefira, the students of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter would work hard in order to master the forty eight characteristics, one for each day, through which the Torah can be acquired. On the last day, the eve of the holiday of Shavuot, they would review these forty eight matters.

There is a great difference between the knowledge and the acquirement of Torah. 

This idea is similar to a parable about someone who hired himself out to work for a wealthy man who owned many large homes.

The wealthy man said to him, “You are appointed to take care of anything that my houses may need.” Over time, the man became familiar with each of the houses and their rooms, details and shapes with great specificity. However, this great expertise does not give him any ownership of the houses as long as he does not buy them.

The matter of Torah is similar. About the verse, “Fortunate is the man who did not go … only that the Torah of Hashem is his desire and he contemplates his Torah day and night” (Psalms 1:1-2), the sages say that, at first, the Torah is called after Hashem and in the end it is called after the person. This means to say that, at first, when a person does not yet have an acquirement of Torah, it is the Torah of Hashem because all that he has is knowledge. However, after he acquires the Torah, he gains owenership and it is called his Torah.

How does a person acquire the Torah? We may say that it is with these forty eight characteristics mentioned above

Based on the behavior of the students of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, it is possible to explain clearly why the students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying on the thirty third day of the Sefira. It is well known that they died because they did not treat each other respectfully. It is understandable then that when this defect was repaired, there was no longer a need to punish them. In prayer books, it is written that the characteristic that should be acquired on the thirty second day is that of “One should love other people.” If we will say that the students of Rabbi Akiva also were accustomed to being busy with one of the forty eight characteristics each day, then on the thirty second day, they were busy with acquiring the characteristic that “One should love other people.” This brought brotherhood among them and, as a result, they also treated each other with respect. Therefore, the next day, which was the thirty third day of the Sefira, they stopped dying. (Lekach Tov)


“It is a day of atonement to atone for you before Hashem your G-d.” (23:28)

One of the three things that guarantees a person not to sin is the act of contemplating before Whom he will give a judgment and an accounting in the future (Ethics of the Fathers 3:1).

It is necessary to comprehend why there is a repetition in this phrase “judgment and accounting.” Also, usually, first, one arranges the accounting and only afterwards, there is a judgment ruled upon it. Why did the sages precede judgment to accounting?

The answer is as follows. A person acknowledges that he will ultimately be judged, however, this does not guarantee that he will not sin. Why? It is because he does not acknowledge the matter of an accounting. This means to say that he arranged the accounting himself and he does not know that the accounting there [in Heaven] is completely different.

This can be compared to a parable about a person who owed his friends fifty thousand shekels. The time to repay the loan arrived and he did not repay it. His friend brought him to court. The judge warned him that he must come to stand in judgment the next day.

With no other choice, he had to “recruit” the sum. He knocked on his friends’ doors and he borrowed ten thousand U.S. dollars. He returned home happy and content. “Were you successful?” his wife asked him.

“Hashem made me successful in what I did. I acquired the entire sum,” he replied happily. “I have ten thousand U.S. dollars!”

She was surprised, “The exchange rate today is only about three shekels per U.S. dollar. That means that you are missing about twenty thousand U.S. dollars!”

He stared at her and fumed, “Have you joined my group of enemies? Are you with me or with my oppressors? Why do you dampen my spirit after I ran around and worked so hard?”

“But - ,” she said.

“No ‘but’! Listen carefully and I will explain it to you. The shekel is a weak currency, but the U.S. dollar is a sturdy currency!” the man explained. “The exchange rate of the shekel should be at least six shekels per U.S. dollar, since it is already so low! The government’s treasury freezes it artificially! I am doing a favor to him when I calculate the dollars with the exchange rate of five shekels. The treasury should appreciate what I am doing! Essentially, I would be surprised if there is no question of fiscal interest here…”  

The woman was taken aback. [She thought that] she must really be unlearned regarding issues of finance…

The next day he came up to the court. They asked him if the contract was his and if it was signed with his signature. He did not deny and admitted that it was true and he was prepared to repay it in the best way, with cash. With a shining face, he brought forth the bundle of dollars. The one who gave him the loan counted it. An expression of surprise formed on his face. He counted again and the result was identical. He lifted questioning eyes and said, “There is only ten thousand here…”

“And how much did you want there to be?” the borrower called back. “I calculated this based on five shekels per U.S. dollar. You have the debt repaid in its entirety!”

Silence reigned. Everyone was staring at him with looks that ranged from surprise to mockery. “The truth is,” he admitted generously, “that I was supposed to receive change. This is because, according to my calculations, the true exchange rate of the dollar should already be six shekels…”

“According to your calculations?!” the lender called out. “You can calculate whatever you want. You can say that the shekel plummeted to be one tenth of a dollar, however, it is not your calculation that sets the rule. Rather, it is the listed rate, the official exchange rate! If you do not repay me immediately here in cash, I will demand that a foreclosure be placed on your possessions!”

The comparison is as follows. A person acknowledges that he owes a debt to Hashem. He is obligated to fulfill the Torah and the commandments and to repent for his sins. Despite this, he appears complacent. Why? It is because he thinks that the payment of the debt is in his hands.

In Heaven they will ask, “Did you pray?” He will present his prayers.

They will ask, “Did you observe Shabbat?” He will present all of his observances of Shabbat.

They will ask, “Did you repent?” He will present how he woke up early for the selichot prayers…

He does not know and can not imagine how things are measured there and what they demand there! He can not imagine that when he will present his prayers, they will analyze them and be surprised, “This is not a prayer at all. Is this how a creation stands before its Creator? Is this how he pleads for his life? In this manner he gives thanks for his life, health, good fortune and wealth? Only his lips are moving and his heart is not with him!”

“Is this Shabbat, the Shabbat queen, the most desired of the days, the holy day in which a person cleanses his soul like soap does? Is this the Shabbat in which a person merits having an extra soul which is like the World to Come?!”

“And can this be called repentance? It is true that ‘Each repentance will find forgiveness,’ as Rabbeinu Yonah wrote in the beginning of his book ‘Shaarei Teshuva.’ However, after that, he specified and listed twenty levels of repentance. How many of them did you reach?!”

The conclusion is the following. “You only deceived yourself and entertained yourself with false illusions. You invented an imaginary ‘exchange rate’ to purify the commandments [by fulfilling them properly] and to atone for sins. Can you be sure that this exchange rate will be accepted in Heaven?!”

“How can sin be erased while it is written in front of my Father. It is because His heart does not think like my heart.” His [Hashem’s] thought processes are different and His claims are penetrating. How can we withstand them? Can our claims be accepted and enable us to walk away from the justice being worthy? It is to our benefit to internalize the situation mentioned above and set aside more hours of Torah study in advance as well as another bundle of commandments that we can fulfill. This is so that when the true “exchange rate” will be revealed to us, we will have another nice sum of “dollars” in store to pay off our debt…

It is good for us not only to pay attention to what the “judgment” will be like, but also to the “accounting”…     (Measher L’Banav)

“And Moses told the festivals of Hashem to the Jewish people.” (23:44)

“To the Jewish people” and why not to the nations of the world?

The Dubna Maggid explained this with a parable, as it is his way. The Jewish nation is like an orphan whose wealth is in the hands of a trustworthy guardian appointed by the court who deals with his money and does business transactions with it. The orphan does not know what is happening with his money. He trusts the guardian. If he tells him that he earned money, then he is happy. If he tell him that he lost, then he is sad.

We are similar to this orphan. We do our part by fulfilling the commandments and we do not know what repercussions are in the World Above, as it says, “And we do not know what we are doing because our eyes are looking toward You” (Chronicles II 20:13). We do not know the secrets of the commandments and the passages of times. Rather, if You tell us that now is a time of happiness, then we will be happy. If You will say that now is a time of holiness, then we will sanctify ourselves during it. This is what it means when it says, “And you shall be happy before Hashem your G-d for seven days” (Deuteronomy 23:40). We are happy because Hashem tells us to be happy. However, the nations of the world do not have a special time of happiness. Rather, they are happy when they succeed and they are sad at their downfall. 

This is similar to a parable involving a caravan of merchants who were going to a city to do business in a [temporary] bazaar that was set up there. A well known and infamous thief came with them, but he promised not to touch their money. He intended “to do business” in the city. “You do your business during work hours and I will do my work after the work hours…” When they came near the city, they discussed amongst themselves about where they were going to stay. They all decided to stay at an inn that was well known for its good food. The thief said, “Your decision is my decision.”

After the days of the bazaar event were over, they returned to their city. The merchants were successful with their business dealings and the thief in his dealings. He said to them, “I want to ask you one thing. Please tell me what you thought about this inn. It is twice as expensive as the others and its food is just disgusting leftovers.”

They said to him, “When did you come there to eat?”

He answered, “What is the question? I came to eat when I finished my business. When did you all eat?”

They said, “Indeed, we also came to eat when we finished our work. However, we were doing business at the accepted times and in the afternoon, we returned to the inn. Then, the owner prepared tasty one-of-a-kind foods for us! However, you do not have a set time for your work. At night you pick locks and you sleep during the day. You go out to raid and then you return. You came to the inn when everyone already ate. Of course, the only thing that will be left for you are the meager leftovers…”

The way to interpret this is that we rely on Hashem in all that we do. He knows what our deeds cause and the secrets of the times. Therefore, He apportioned to us the festivals and other times for happiness and joy. This [time or this time] is the right time for joy and it is showered upon us from above with an abundance of goodness. However, the nations function disconnectedly from Hashem. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes they fail. Therefore, there is no time that is set aside for their happiness. (Kol Yeshorer)

“And the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man came out and they contended in the camp … And the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name [of Hashem] and he cursed.” (24:10-11)

It is necessary to understand the following. If the son of the Egyptian man was quarreling with his friends, then why did he start to curse Hashem? What is the connection between the name of Hashem and that fight between the two quarrelers?

This matter can be understood through the words of Rashi when he explained, “‘The son of an Egyptian man’ – This was Egyptian man that Moses killed by using the ineffable name of Hashem.” It is known that when two people fight, each one tells and lets out of his heart whatever he knows about his friend, whether it is a defect or a personal blemish, or a familial flaw from even ten generations prior. This is like what the sages said, “When men quarrel with each other, they insult each other’s lineage” (Kiddushin 76A).

Also, here, when the son of the Egyptian and the Jew were fighting, the Jew insulted him with a familial flaw and said that he is the son of the Egyptian that Moses killed by using the ineffable name of Hashem. Due to this, the son of the Egyptian wanted to “take revenge” on the ineffable name of Hashem that killed his father and, therefore, he pronounced it and cursed it.

According to this, it is understood why Moses did not kill him until Hashem commanded him to do so. It was so that he should not be suspected of having killed him because he killed his father. Rather, he was doing it only because of the command of Hashem.



“Speak to the entire congregation of Israel and you should tell them, ‘You should be holy.’” (19:2)

The way of our holy Torah is that, through its sanctity, every person can reach the level of holiness. This is the emphasis here when it says, “Speak to the entire congregation of Israel … ‘You should be holy.’” Each and every one of the congregation of the Jewish people without exception is capable of reaching the level of holiness by fulfilling the commandments. This is what we say in the blessings before doing the commandments, “that He sanctified us with His commandments.” Each and every commandment brings a person towards holiness.

Furthermore, we find, “‘And you shall make yourselves holy’ – these are the first waters [which are used for washing one’s hands before eating bread]. ‘And you will be holy’ – these are the last waters [which are used for washing one’s hands after eating bread]” (Brachot 53B). Through this, the sages revealed to us that not only do the commandments of the Torah bring us to holiness, but even the sanctions made by the sages, such as washing one’s hands before and after a meal [that consists of bread], have an influence of holiness on a person’s soul.

How much must we thank our Creator, may His name be blessed forever, for informing us about the laws of His will in order to benefit us forever and to apportion for us unimaginable and eternal reward [for fulfilling them]!

Rabbi Yosef Mashash explained to the public about the commandments and their rewards, about which it is said, “Hashem wanted to give the Jewish people merits. Therefore, He gave them the multitude of Torah and the commandments.” It has been asked and pondered that if one would want to give merits to his fellow, would he place more and more obligations upon him?

He explained this matter by way of a parable. There was a man who was one of the wealthiest men of a large city. He was a merchant whose products were distributed all over and there was no end to his wealth. He found himself in a faraway village during a trip. He looked around and saw the poverty of the village and its inhabitants and he wanted to act generously with them. He turned to the first person who he chanced upon and stretched out a golden coin to him and said, “I would like a place to have a meal and  sleep at night. I am willing to pay five dinars for every item of the meal!”

The man said to him, “Can you please wait for a moment? I will search for an appropriate place to host you.” He knocked on the doors of the houses and he was always answered in the negative. Whoever heard the offer though that he was being mocked. Who would pay a golden dinar for a meal, let alone, five dinars, and furthermore, for every item?!?

This is what was happening as he passed from one house to another until he reached a small shack at the end of the settlement. He knocked on the door and repeated the offer. The poor man listened and thought to himself, “Even if this is an exaggeration, he will at least pay a little bit and I can not lose anything.” 

He replied to the man, “My house is here at his disposal. I only hope that I will find favor in his eyes!”

The messenger returned and told this to the wealthy man. In the meantime, the poor man worked feverishly to prepare his shack, to air it out and clean it to the best of his ability. The wealthy man arrived and while he was already unpacking his belongings, the poor man hurried to borrow money and dishes. He bought plenty of food items and he returned to the shack. He set a table before the wealthy man, spread a borrowed white tablecloth on it, arranged the borrowed dishes and set out the many foods. He worked hard around the guest and made his bed. In the morning, he returned and set up the table for a meal. Then, the guest packed his belongings.

Before he parted from him, the guest said, “My stay here was very pleasant for me. Now, please bring me a list of all of the items in the meals.”

“That’s it!” thought the man in his heart. “If so, then the man spoke the truth when he asked me to host him. He is going to pay for every item. Even if he does not pay five golden dinars, it is still enough for me…”

He stood there and made a list, “Bread and butter, vegetables and omelet, fish and a quiche…”

“Not that way!” the guest stopped him. “Instead of writing ‘vegetables,’ you should write ‘tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.’ Instead of writing ‘quiche,’ you should write ‘potatoes, flour, pepper and salt.’ Do the others this way.”  

The poor man was surprised and did as he was told and the list doubled and then tripled. The guest looked at it closely and said, “I am surprised at you. You erred in your calculations and you left out many things!”

The poor man was taken aback and said, “What are they?”

He said to him, “They are the tablecloth, fork, knife, spoon, plate, pots, frying pan, cup, bowl, platter, towel, and napkin. This is in addition to the bed, mattress, linen, pillow case, pillow and blanket. Also, there is the house, oven, coals and lamp. For each and every one of these items, five golden dinars will be paid. How can you forget them?”

The poor man answered, “Forgive me, sir, but I did not mean to count these because they do not belong in the category of dining or sleeping.”

“You are mistaken,” said the wealthy man. “Each of these items would detract from dining and sleeping [if they were to be missing]. Therefore, it is an item in and of itself and it is necessary to pay for it.”

That is how it was. He paid five golden dinars for every object and the poor man became the wealthiest man of the village!

Similarly, “Hashem wanted to give the Jewish people merits. Therefore, He gave them the multitude of Torah and commandments.” This means to say that He multiplied each and every commandment in order to give reward for every detail, action and movement that it consists of. A person may think that he just receives reward for praying the morning prayers, but it is not so. Rather, we receive reward for each and every step that we take towards the synagogue and for every chapter of Psalms from the part of the prayers when we express praise. This is in addition to every verse and every word, for every “amen” and every blessing, for every bending over and bowing. Also, it is for every kiss that ones gives to the tfilin, tzitzit and Torah scroll and for every time he rises and shows respect for an elderly person or wise man. The reward is given for all of the details that can not be enumerated due to their infiniteness. It is unbelievable that there is something as sweet as this. Can there be any greater merit?!?
(Nachalat Avot)

“You shall be holy.” (19:2)

“You should be separated from immorality and from sin.”

In his book “Mesilat Yesharim,” the Ramch”al taught us that holiness is one level before divine inspiration. However, the following question is asked. Certainly, a person who merited reaching this level, which is right before divine inspiration, is a very righteous person. However, from Rashi’s words, it sounds like the commandment to be separated from immorality is said about all people, even those who are not on this level [of holiness]. Is this possible?!

From here, the sages learned a great ethical principle. A person should not be satisfied with mediocrity in Torah and fear of Heaven. He must always long to rise higher and higher and reach more elevated levels. The command to be separated from immorality is, indeed, a high level in the service of Hashem. However, every Jew needs to long to reach it. This is because if the Torah commands us to reach certain levels, then it is certain that we are capable of reaching them! One person may merit reaching them in a small amount of time, while it may take more time for his friend. Every person can achieve this according to his capabilities. However, certainly, if there is a commandment, it is possible!

Hannah prayed to Hashem and asked, “And You shall give Your maidservant male descendants.” The sages explained (Brachot 31B) that what she meant was, “He should not be tall or short, thin or fat, pale or red, [exceedingly] wise or foolish.” She wanted that the child should be moderate in all of his characteristics. Indeed, by nature, Samuel was mediocre, however, through tremendous toil, he reached the highest levels, “Moses and Aaron were among His priests and Samuel among those who invoke His name” (Psalms 99:6). Samuel was equal to Moses and Aaron [put together]!

On the other hand, the punishment of one who does not use his talents properly is very great. This can be learned from the episode that is brought down in the Talumd (Sanhedrin 68A), “It was taught that when Rabbi Eliezer became ill, Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues came to visit him, etc. He asked them, ‘Why did you come?’ 

They said to him, ‘We came to learn Torah.’ 

He said to them, ‘Why didn’t you come until now?’ 

They said to him, ‘We did not have any free time.’ 

He said to them, ‘I will be surprised if you will die a normal death.’ 

Rabbi Akiva said to him, ‘What will be mine?’ 

He said to him, ‘Yours will be harsher than theirs.’” 

Rashi explained, “‘Yours will be harsher than theirs’ – This is because your heart is as open as a grand hall [meaning, you have a great deal of potential]. If you would have served me [and been around me to absorb the Torah that I know], you would have learned a great deal of Torah.”

Rabbi Akiva was punished because, according to his high level, he did not serve his teacher adequately!

We see that every person is given tremendous strengths from Heaven in order to reach these high levels and he must take care to use them properly.


“Before a blind person you shall not place an obstacle.” (19:14)

“Before one who is blind [ignorant] about a certain matter you shall not give advice that is not fitting for him. Do not tell him, ‘Sell me your field and take a donkey in return’ and then trick him and take it from him.”

Rabbi Yitzchak Zev of Brisk pointed out specifically based on the words of the sages that this prohibition is about offering a person advice that is not fitting “for him.” This means to say that one must be careful that the advice should be fitting, specifically, for the one who is seeking it. It is not enough that is should be appropriate in and of itself. Therefore, even if the one who is being asked has intentions that are for the sake of Heaven, he should only advise the one who is asking with what is proper and correct for him. 

Once, the principal of a respected institution came before him [Rabbi Yitzchak Zev of Brisk] in order to seek his advice as to whether he should give a certain person a position in his institution. The rabbi answered him that, indeed, that person was fit for the position. However, when that person who was spoken about came to him to ask if he should accept the position, he answered him negatively. 

The matter became known to the principal of the institution and he came before the rabbi. He expressed his surprise about the rabbi’s change of mind.

The rabbi answered him, “I did not change my mind. Rather, you asked if it would be good for your institution to have this man work for you. I answered your question that, indeed, it would be good. However, when that person asked my advice, he did not ask what would be good for the institution. Rather, he asked what would be good for him. I was obligated to give him advice that is fitting for him, which was not to accept the position…”


“The payment for a hired worker should not stay with you until the morning [overnight].” (19:13)

The verse says, “To You, Hashem, is kindness because You repay man according to his deeds” (Psalms 62:13). Rabbi Ezra Atya was puzzled about this. Kindness is a behavior that is beyond what is justly required. However, paying a person according to his deeds is justly required. It does not occur to a person to cheat a hired worker of his payment!

He answered this with a parable.

There was an incident with a farmer who worked his field. He worked very hard and toiled until his fruits ripened. He was joyous and happy because of them and he decided to set them aside for his revered king. He shouldered his basket and he went up to the royal palace with it. He stood before his king, he bowed and prostrated himself and declared that he brought the fruits of his harvest for his honorable king. The king was happy about his loving giving and his gift. He instructed that his basket be filled up with golden coins.

The farmer returned to his home happy and rejoicing. He told his wife about his luck, his wealth and also about how he saw the king, offered his gift and merited his recognition. Ultimately, he also became rich with a great deal of wealth. The woman, as it was her way, discussed this with her neighbor. The neighbor came to her husband and told him, “Look, our neighbor brought the first fruits of his harvest to the king and he became crowned with golden coins! Why are you sleeping? Load a sack with the fruits of your harvest and hurry to the palace!”

The husband took a sack of fruits on his shoulders and went to the palace. At the entrance, they asked him what he wanted. He informed them that he brought a sack of fruits and they directed him towards the kitchen of the palace. The official came and estimated their caliber. He weighed them and paid for them based on the market price and not even one cent more…

This is what it means when it says, “To You, Hashem, is kindness.” It is a special kindness that Hashem does with us when He gives us our reward. What is this kindness? “Because you pay each person according to his deeds” – You, Yourself! When the King pays, He gives thousands upon ten thousands instead of one. However, if it is given over to the officials to pay our reward, we will receive it in accordance with our deeds and nothing more.

With this, Rabbi Yehuda Tzedakah explained the verse, “Hashem will repay you for your deeds. You earnings will be complete [given] by Hashem the G-d of Israel” (Ruth 2:12). If Hashem will pay us for our deeds, then our earnings will be complete and saturated!
(Kol Yehudah)

“And you shall surely rebuke your fellow.” (19:17)

“This means even one hundred times.”
(Bava Metzia 31A)

All those who fulfill the commandment of “And you shall surely rebuke” and try to prevent their friends from transgressing commandments of the Torah should not weaken their efforts. They should not become discouraged if they see that their success does not come easily and that people do not listen to them. 

Certainly, this task is not easy at all. However, it would never occur to a store owner to become angry with or refuse to sell to a picky or stubborn customer or one who bargains a lot. Have you ever seen a store owner who hangs a sign on the door of his store that says, “We only sell to good customers and not to difficult customers…”? Certainly, in reality, there is no such store owner. 

A seller needs to be patient by nature and be able to overlook his own characteristics. He needs to know how to speak to the heart of the buyer and to coax him with soft words. If not, he will not be able to earn his bread.

A person who wants to coax his friend into fulfilling a commandment is similar to a store owner who wants to sell his merchandise. He also receives a reward and this reward for helping others do the commandments is very great. It is good if there are people who will accept what they say right away, such as the customers who come into the store and buy without bargaining. However, there are those who do not accept what they say and they are like the customers who are annoying and stubborn and to whom the merchandise does not look pleasant. They also bargain on the price a great deal. Those who give rebuke to others should know that they must also try to sell to them. Their reward is also set aside for them because, ultimately, these people will also buy something from the store.

Of course, it will not be pleasant for a person to give rebuke and to lecture when he sees that all that he is doing is in vain and that his words have landed on stubborn ears. However, a person like this needs to learn from what an apple seller does in the market. All day she stands on her feet next to baskets of apples and she calls out in a loud voice, “Cheap apples! Buy cheap apples!” 

A person went by and saw her standing there in that manner and her mouth did not stop screaming out and announcing her merchandise. However, during all of the time that he was looking at her, he did not approach her and she did not even sell one apple. Even so, she continued to announce, “Apples! Cheap apples!”

That person turned to her and said, “Tell me, please, I am standing here for a long time and listening to how you fill the marketplace with the sound of your voice and how you announce your merchandise with all of your strength. However, I did not see one person turn to you until now or buy from you with even one prutah [a coin of very small monetary value]. What purpose do your screams have? Aren’t you wasting away your energy in vain?”

The woman laughed and said, “What do I support myself with, if not for these apples? Every evening I return home, count the money that bought them and I find that there are a few prutahs left for a piece of bread and some kind of food. Of the one hundred people who pass by my basket, there is one who will turn and buy. Sometimes, it has even happened that one of ten will turn and buy from me. However, if I stop announcing my merchandise, who will know about me and the apples in my basket?”

The matter of rebuke is similar to this. A person who gives rebuke and lectures to another is fulfilling a great commandment and great reward is promised to him for this. It is possible that ninety nine people will not pay attention to him and his rebuke, will not listen to him and they may even mock him. However, if he will be successful in making even one person return to his good ways, this will be his great reward.

However, if a person is embarrassed and lazy to announce his merchandise loudly, then, certainly, no one will know about him. Where will his spiritual sustenance come from?!?
(Mishlei HaChafetz Chaim)

“And you shall love your fellow as yourself. I am Hashem.” (19:18)

When those who commit sins are rendered deserving of death by a panel of judges, they are still in the category of “your fellows,” as it is explained in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 22B). It speaks there about a person who is rendered deserving of death by a panel of judges, “Choose a nice death for him, as it says, ‘You shall love your fellow as yourself.’” We find that he has not left the category of “your fellow,” even though he is deserving of death.

However, this is hard to understand, since David said in Psalms (139:21), “Don’t I hate the ones who hate You, Hashem.” If so, when and towards whom is hate permitted?

Maimonides taught us this matter in “Hilchot Deiot” (6:8), “It is permitted to hate him if he did not accept rebuke after he was rebuked appropriately.” The sages said (Arachin 16A) that nowadays there is no one who knows how to rebuke properly. This means to say that already in the time of the sages of the Talmud two thousand years ago, there was no one who knew how to rebuke properly. We find that every person today falls into the category of one who was not yet rebuked, since there is no one to rebuke him. Therefore, he has not left the category of “your fellow,” according to the explanation of Maimonides (See the explanations of the Chazon Ish on the writing of Maimonides).

There was an incident with two friends who were loyal and faithful to one another, heart and soul. Once, some corrupted people accused one of the friends falsely. As a result, he was brought to court and was sentenced to death. The faithful friend did not suspend any effort and did all that he could to save his friend. However, all of his efforts resulted in nothing. When the last moment arrived and the accused was about to be brought up to the gallows, his friend could no longer control his emotions. He quickly ran to the location of the gallows and screamed out with all of his remaining energy, “Stop! Do not kill a person who is free of sin! I confess that I am the guilty one! It is me and not him! Bring me up to the gallows instead of him!”

When the accused saw that his friend was willing to give up his life for him, he also could not control his emotions. Even though until now he had not stopped denying his guilt, he replied and cried out in a strong voice, “Don’t believe him! He is only saying that with the intention of saving me! I am the guilty one! It is me and not him!” Immediately, great confusion began to take place there and, understandably, the sentence did not take effect.

The report of this matter hastily arrived before the king. He commanded that these two friends be brought before him immediately. He requested of them that they tell him the whole truth. The two of them told him that they are friends connected by their hearts and souls and each one wanted to save the life of his friend, even though both of them were free of sin.

These words touched the king’s heart deeply and he called out with excitement, “With your permission, I will pardon both of you. However, you must bring me into the covenant of your friendship! I have a strong desire to be the third person in your friendship…”

This is what the verse is referring to when it says, “And you shall love your fellow as yourself.” If you will love your fellow as much as you love yourself, then “‘I am Hashem’ - It is as if I am joining in to your holy friendship.
(Mipi HaShmua)


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