סדר האזינו

האזינו השמים ואדברה ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth  Deuteronomy 32:1 Our master explained this verse in accord with the commentators on the piyut of the High Holy Days “לאדם מערכי לב ומה’ מענה לשון” (a man may prepare…

סדר וילך

וילך משה וידבר את הדברים האלה And Moses went and he spoke these words  Deuteronomy 31:1 Our Master explained that we find here a correct allusion to the custom that one who holds forth in public to offer words of moral instruction (מוסר) should preface his remarks with words of halakhah before speaking words of…

סדר נצבים

אתם נצבים היום כלכם You are standing this day all of you  Deuteronomy 29:10 An Aggadic explanation: Why is this section (beginning with: “אתם נצבים היום”) juxtaposed to the curses of the previous chapter? Because, upon hearing these ninety-eight curses besides the forty-nine that are contained in Leviticus 26, they grew pale asking in despair:…

סדר שפטים

שפטים ושטרים תתן לך בכל שעריך אשר יהוה אלהֶיך נתן לך לשבטיך ושפטו את העם משפט צדק Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your gates . . . and they shall judge the people with just judgment.  Deuteronomy 16:16 Rashi comments: appoint judges who are expert and righteous to render righteous judgment Rashi…

סדר ואתחנן

ואתחנן אל ה’ בעת ההוא And I besought the Lord at that time  Deuteronomy 3:23 Rashi comments: All forms of the word “חינון” (beseeching) signify a gratuitous gift. In the Midrash (Deuternonomy Rabbah 2:1): R. Johanan said, there are ten terms for prayer. . . . Of these terms, Moses made use only of תחנונים…

סדר בלק

וירא בלק בן צפור את כל אשר עשה ישראל לאמרי ויגר מואב מפני העם מאד כי רב הוא ויקץ מואב מפני בני ישראל And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Mo’ab was very afraid of the people, because they were many; and Mo’ab was overcome with…

לחג שבועות

In the Talmud (Kiddushin 31a) it is written: Ulla Rabbah lectured at the entrance to the Nasi’s house: What is meant by (Psalms 138:4), “יודוך ה’ כל מלכי ארץ כי שמעו אמרי פיך” (All the kings of the earth shall make admission unto Thee, O Lord, For they have heard the words of Thy mouth)? The Psalm does not…

סדר תזריע

If a woman conceives Leviticus 12:2 R. Simlai said (Leviticus Rabbah 14:1): Even as man was created after the creation of cattle, beasts and birds, so the laws concerning man come after those concerning cattle, beasts and birds. To explain this midrash, our master repeated the explanation given by the gaon R. Shlomo Kvetsch on…

לימי פורים

ויהי בימי אחשורוש And it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus Esther 1:1 Gemara (Megilah 10b): Rabbi Levi said, and some say that it was Rabbi Yonatan who said: This matter is a tradition that we received from the members of the Great Assembly. Anywhere that the word “ויהי” is stated, it is…

סדר כי תשא

כי תשא את ראש בני ישראל. . . זה יתנו כל העובר על הפקודים When you take the census of the people of Israel Exodus 30:12-13 The Midrash  (Shemot Rabbah): When the Holy One Blessed Be He taught Moses the section “כי תשא” Moses was perplexed. The Holy One Blessed Be He therefore showed him…