Esnoga Bet Emunah

4544 Highline Dr. SE

Olympia, WA 98501

United States of America

© 2015


Menorah 5

Esnoga Bet El

102 Broken Arrow Dr.

Paris TN 38242

United States of America

© 2015



Triennial Cycle (Triennial Torah Cycle) / Septennial Cycle (Septennial Torah Cycle)


Three and 1/2 year Lectionary Readings

First Year of the Triennial Reading Cycle

Kislev 16, 5776 – Nov 27/28, 2015

First Year of the Shmita Cycle


Candle Lighting and Habdalah Times:


Amarillo, TX, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:18 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 6:17 PM

Austin & Conroe, TX, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:13 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 6:09 PM

Brisbane, Australia

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 6:08 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 7:05 PM

Chattanooga, & Cleveland, TN, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:12 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 6:11 PM

Manila & Cebu, Philippines

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:06 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 5:58 PM

Miami, FL, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:11 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 6:06 PM

Murray, KY, & Paris, TN. U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 4:21 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 5:20 PM

Olympia, WA, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 4:09 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 5:16 PM

Port Orange, FL, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:08 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 6:04 PM

San Antonio, TX, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 5:17 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 6:13 PM

Sheboygan  & Manitowoc, WI, US

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 3:59 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 5:03 PM

Singapore, Singapore

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 6:36 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 7:27 PM

St. Louis, MO, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 4:24 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 5:24 PM

Tacoma, WA, U.S.

Fri. Nov 27 2015 – Candles at 4:06 PM

Sat. Nov 28 2015 – Habdalah 5:14 PM





For other places see:



Roll of Honor:


His Eminence Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David and beloved wife HH Giberet Batsheva bat Sarah

His Eminence Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu ben Abraham and beloved wife HH Giberet Dr. Elisheba bat Sarah

His Honor Paqid Adon David ben Abraham

His Honor Paqid Adon Ezra ben Abraham and beloved wife HH Giberet Karmela bat Sarah,

His Honor Paqid  Adon Yoel ben Abraham and beloved wife HH Giberet Rivka bat Dorit

His Honor Paqid Adon Tsuriel ben Abraham and beloved wife HH Giberet Gibora bat Sarah

Her Excellency Giberet Sarai bat Sarah & beloved family

His Excellency Adon Barth Lindemann & beloved family

His Excellency Adon John Batchelor & beloved wife

Her Excellency Giberet Laurie Taylor

Her Excellency Giberet Gloria Sutton & beloved family

His Excellency Adon Gabriel ben Abraham and beloved wife HE Giberet Elisheba bat Sarah

His Excellency Adon Yehoshua ben Abraham and beloved wife HE Giberet Rut bat Sarah

Her Excellency Giberet Prof. Dr. Emunah bat Sarah & beloved family

His Excellency Adon Robert Dick & beloved wife HE Giberet Cobena Dick

Her Excellency Giberet Jacquelyn Bennett

His Excellency Adon Eliseo Peña and beloved wife HE Giberet Eva Peña

His Excellency Adon Gary Smith and beloved wife HE Giberet Brenda Smith

His Excellency Adon Cory and beloved wife HE Giberet Mariam Felty

His Excellency Adon Jarod Barak Barnum and beloved wife HE Giberet Crystal Barnum


For their regular and sacrificial giving, providing the best oil for the lamps, we pray that G-d’s richest blessings be upon their lives and those of their loved ones, together with all Yisrael and her Torah Scholars, amen ve amen!

Also a great thank you and great blessings be upon all who send comments to the list about the contents and commentary of the weekly Torah Seder and allied topics.


If you want to subscribe to our list and ensure that you never loose any of our commentaries, or would like your friends also to receive this commentary, please do send me an E-Mail to with your E-Mail or the E-Mail addresses of your friends. Toda Rabba!



Shabbat: “BaMahazeh, Lemor” - “In a vision saying”



Torah Reading:

Weekday Torah Reading:




“BaMahazeh, Lemor”

Reader 1 – B’resheet 15:1-6

Reader 1 – B’resheet 17:1-3

“In a vision saying”

Reader 2 – B’resheet 15:7-17

Reader 2 – B’resheet 17:4-6

“en visión, diciendo:”

Reader 3 – B’resheet 15;18-21

Reader 3 – B’resheet 17:7-9

B’resheet (Gen.) Gen. 15:1 - 16:16

Reader 4 – B’resheet 16;1-3


Ashlamatah: Isaiah 1:1-8 + 2:2-3

Reader 5 – B’resheet 16:4-6


Reader 6 – B’resheet 16:7-12

Reader 1 – B’resheet 17:1-3

Psalms 11:1-7

Reader 7 – B’resheet 16:13-16

Reader 2 – B’resheet 17:4-6


    Maftir – B’Midbar 28:9-15

Reader 3 – B’resheet 17:7-9

N.C.: Mark 1:32-34

Luke 4:40-41 & Acts 4:1-4

               Isaiah 41:2-5 + 8-13



Blessings Before Torah Study


Blessed are You, Ha-Shem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us through Your commandments, and commanded us to actively study Torah. Amen!


Please Ha-Shem, our G-d, sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouths and in the mouths of all Your people Israel. May we and our offspring, and our offspring's offspring, and all the offspring of Your people, the House of Israel, may we all, together, know Your Name and study Your Torah for the sake of fulfilling Your delight. Blessed are You, Ha-Shem, Who teaches Torah to His people Israel. Amen!


Blessed are You, Ha-Shem our G-d, King of the universe, Who chose us from all the nations, and gave us the Torah. Blessed are You, Ha-Shem, Giver of the Torah. Amen!


Ha-Shem spoke to Moses, explaining a Commandment. "Speak to Aaron and his sons, and teach them the following Commandment: This is how you should bless the Children of Israel. Say to the Children of Israel:


May Ha-Shem bless you and keep watch over you; - Amen!

May Ha-Shem make His Presence enlighten you, and may He be kind to you; - Amen!

May Ha-Shem bestow favor on you, and grant you peace. – Amen!


This way, the priests will link My Name with the Israelites, and I will bless them."


These are the Laws for which the Torah did not mandate specific amounts: How much growing produce must be left in the corner of the field for the poor; how much of the first fruits must be offered at the Holy Temple; how much one must bring as an offering when one visits the Holy Temple three times a year; how much one must do when performing acts of kindness; and there is no maximum amount of Torah that a person must study.


These are the Laws whose benefits a person can often enjoy even in this world, even though the primary reward is in the Next World: They are: Honoring one's father and mother; doing acts of kindness; early attendance at the place of Torah study -- morning and night; showing hospitality to guests; visiting the sick; providing for the financial needs of a bride; escorting the dead; being very engrossed in prayer; bringing peace between two people, and between husband and wife; but the study of Torah is as great as all of them together. Amen!



Contents of the Torah Seder


·        G-d’s Revelation of Himself as Shield and Reward – Genesis 15:1-5

·        Abraham’s Faithful Obedience and Trust in Ha-Shem – Genesis 15:6

·        The Covenant Between the Pieces- Genesis 15:7-21

·        Hagar and Ishmael – Genesis 16:1-16



Rashi & Targum Pseudo Jonathan

for: B’resheet 15:1 – 16:16


Rashi’s Translation

Targum Pseudo Jonathan

1. After these incidents, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram; I am your Shield; your reward is exceedingly great."

1. After these words, when the kings had gathered together, and had fallen before Abram; and four kings had been slain, and nine hosts brought back, Abram reasoned in his heart, and said, Woe to me, because I have received the reward of my appointments in this world, and have no portion in the world to come. Or peradventure the brethren and friends of those who have been slain will combine in legions and come against me; or that at that time there was found with me the reward of a little righteousness/generosity, so that they fell before me; but the second time reward may not be found with me, and by me the name of the Heavens may be profaned. Thereupon was the word (pithgama) of the LORD with Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not; for if these men should gather together in legions and come against you, My Word (Memra) will be your shield: and also if these fall before you in this world, the reward of your good works will be kept, and be prepared before Me in the world to come, great and exceedingly.

JERUSALEM: After these words, when all the kings of the lands, and the sultans of the provinces, had gathered together, and had made war against Abram the Just, and had fallen before him, and he had slain of them four kings, and had brought back nine hosts, did Abram the Just reason in his heart, and say, Woe, now, to me, because I have received the reward ordained in the present world, and have no portion in the world to come. Or peradventure the brethren and kindred of the slain who have fallen before me, who are in their cities and provinces, will combine in great legions, and come against me; or peradventure there were in my hand a few commandments in the former times, so that they fell before me when they had risen up against me; or it may be that righteousness/generosity was found in me at the former times, that they fell before me, but at the second time it may not be found, and the Heavenly Name will be profaned in me. Then was the word of prophecy from the Lord unto Abram the Righteous/Generous, saying, Fear not, Abram, though they should gather together and come against you with many legions, My Word will be your reward and your shield in this world, and a protector over you all the days of the world to come. And though I deliver up your adversaries before you in this world, the reward of your good works is prepared for you also before Me in the world to come.

2. And Abram said, "0 Lord God, what will You give me, since I am going childless, and the steward of my household is Eliezer of Damascus?"

2. And Abram said, LORD God, great blessings have You given me, and great (are they which it is) before You to give me: nevertheless, what profit is to me, when I pass from the world without children, and Eliezer the manager(bar parnasath, the son of sustenance) of my house, by whose hands signs were wrought for (or to) me in Darmasek, expects to be my heir?

JERUSALEM: And Abram said, Before You I supplicate mercy, O LORD God. Manifold blessings You have given me, and many have You before Yourself still to give: nevertheless, what profit have I who go from the world childless, and Eliezer, the son of my house, by whose hands signs were wrought for me in Damasek, expects himself to be my heir?

3. And Abram said, "Behold, You have given me no seed, and behold, one of my household will inherit me."

3. And Abram said, Behold, to me You have not given a son; and, behold, the manager (bar parnasath, the son of sustenance) of my house will be my heir.

4. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "This one will not inherit you, but the one who will spring from your innards-he will inherit you."

4. And, behold, a word from before the LORD was to him, saying, He will not be your heir; but a son whom you will beget will be your heir.

5. And He took him outside, and He said, "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So will be your seed."

5. And He brought him forth without, and said, Look up now to the heavens, and number the stars, if you are able to number them: and he said, So will be your sons.

6. And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him as righteousness.

6. And he believed in the LORD, and had faithful obedience in the (Memra) Word of the LORD, and He reckoned it to him for righteousness/generosity (lizeku), because he spoke not before Him with words.

7. And He said to him, "I am the Lord, Who brought you forth from Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it."

7. And He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of the fiery furnace of the Kasdai, to give you this land to inherit.

JERUSALEM: And He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of the fiery furnace from Ur of the Kasdai.

8. And he said, "O Lord God, how will I know that I will inherit it?"

8. And he said, LORD God, by what may I know that I will be the heir of it?

9. And He said to him, "Take for Me three heifers and three goats and three rams, and a turtle dove and a young bird."

9. And He said, Bring Me oblations, and offer before Me an heifer of three years, and a goat of three years, a ram of three years, and a dove, and the young of a pigeon.

10. And he took for Him all these, and he divided them in the middle, and he placed each part opposite its mate, but he did not divide the birds.

10. And he brought all these before Him, and divided them in the midst, and set in order every division over against its fellow; but the fowl he divided not.

JERUSALEM: And He brought before him all these, and divided them into divisions, and set one part over against its fellow; but the fowl He divided not.

11. And the birds of prey descended upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

11. And there came down idolatrous peoples which are like to unclean birds, to steal away the sacrifices of Israel; but the righteousness/generosity of Abram was a shield over them.

JERUSALEM: And when the birds descended, they came not near the divisions: those birds are unclean fowl, and those unclean fowl are the kingdoms of the earth which are worshippers of idols, and which counsel evil counsels against the sons of Israel; but the integrity of the righteous/generous Abram hindered them.

12. Now the sun was ready to set, and a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold, a fright, a great darkness was falling upon him.

12. And when the sun was nearing to set, a deep sleep was thrown upon Abram: and, behold, four kingdoms arose to enslave his children: Terror, which is Babel; Darkness, which is Madai; Greatness, which is Javan; Decline, which is Pheras, which is to fall, and to have no uplifting, and from whence it is to be that the children of Israel will come up.

JERUSALEM: And when the sun was going to set, a sleep profound and sweet fell upon Abram. And, behold, Abram saw four kingdoms which should arise to bring his sons into subjection (and) Terror; the Greatness of Darkness Fell upon him: Terror, that is Babel; Darkness, that is Media; Greatness, that is Greece; Fell, that is Edom, (Rome) that fourth kingdom which is to Fall, and never to rise again forever and ever.

13. And He said to Abram, "You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and oppress them, for four hundred years.

13. And he said to Abram, Knowing, you must know, that your sons will dwell in a land not their own, because you have not believed, and they will subjugate and afflict them four hundred years;

14. And also the nation that they will serve will I judge, and afterwards they will go forth with great possessions.

14. and also that the people whom they will serve I will judge with two hundred and fifty plagues, and afterwards they will go forth into liberty with great riches.

15. But you will come to your forefathers in peace; you will be buried in a good old age.

15. And you will be gathered to your fathers, your soul will rest in peace, and you will be buried in a good old age.

16. And the fourth generation will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites will not be complete until then."

16. And in the fourth generation of your sons they will return here to inherit; because the guilt of the Amoraah is not yet complete.

17. Now it came to pass that the sun had set, and it was dark, and behold, a smoking furnace and a fire brand, which passed between these parts.

17. And when the sun had set there was darkness. And, behold, Abram saw Gehinnam ascending, smoke with flaming coals and burning flakes of fire, wherewith the wicked are to be judged. And, behold, He passed between those pieces.

JERUSALEM: And, behold, the sun went to set, and there was darkness, and Abram beheld till the seats were arrayed and the thrones set forth. And lo, Gehinam, which was prepared for the wicked in the world to come, enveloped in burning flakes and flames of fire, into which the wicked had fallen when in their lives they rebelled against the Law, while the just who had kept it had been delivered from affliction. And all were seen by Abram while He passed between those divisions.

18. On that day, the Lord formed a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt until the great river, the Euphrates river.

18. In that day the LORD ordained a covenant with Abram, that He would not judge therein his sons, but would deliver them from the kingdom, saying, To your sons will I give this land, from Nilos of Mizraim unto the great river, the river Pherath,

19. The Kenites, the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,

19. the Shalmia, and the Kenizah, and Kadmonaah, and the

20. And the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Rephaim,

20. Hittaee, and the Pherizaee, and Gibaraee, and the

21. And the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Girgashites and the Jebusites."

21. Emoraee, and the Kinaanaee, and the Girgeshaee, and the Jebusaee.



1. Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had not borne to him, and she had an Egyptian handmaid named Hagar.

1. But Sara, the wife of Abram, had not borne to him. But he had a handmaid, a Mizreitha, and her name was Hagar, a daughter of Pharoh, whom he gave to him as a handmaid at the time that he received her, being struck by the Word from before the LORD.

2. And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing; please come to my handmaid; perhaps I will be built up from her." And Abram hearkened to Sarai's voice.

2. And Sara said to Abram, Behold, now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing, go to my handmaid and set her free; perhaps I may be built by her. And Abram hearkened to the word of Sara.

3. So Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, at the end of ten years of Abram's dwelling in the land of Canaan, and she gave her to Abram her husband for a wife.

3. And Sara the wife of Abram took Hagar the Mizreitha handmaid, when Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Kenaan, and set her free, and gave her to Abram her husband to wife.

4. And he came to Hagar, and she conceived, and she saw that she was pregnant, and her mistress became unimportant in her eyes.

4. And he went unto Hagar, and she conceived; and she saw that she had conceived, and the honour of her mistress was despised in her eyes.

5. And Sarai said to Abram, "May my injustice be upon you! I gave my handmaid into your bosom, and she saw that she had become pregnant, and I became unimportant in her eyes. May the Lord judge between me and you!"

5. And Sara said to Abram, All my affliction is from you. Being secure that you would do me justice, I left the land and house of my father, and came up with you to a foreign land; and forasmuch as I was not able to become a mother, I set free my handmaid, and gave her to lie in your bosom; and she sees that she had conceived, and my honour is despised before her. But now is my affliction manifest before the LORD, who will spread peace between me and you, and the land will be replenished from us, nor will we need the help of the progeny of Hagar the daughter of Pharoh bar Nimrod, who threw you into the furnace of fire.

JERUSALEM: And Sara said, My judgment and my affliction are delivered into your hand. I left the house of my birth, and the house of my father, and came with you in the faith of the Heavens. I have gone in with you before kings; before Pharoh King of Mizraim, and before Avimelek king of the Philistaee; and I have said of you, he is my brother, so that they might not kill you. And when I saw that I was not made fruitful, I took Hagar the Mizreitha, my handmaid, and gave her to you to wife, and said, She will bring forth, and I will bring up whom she may bear, that I may be built, be it only from her. But now seeing that she has conceived, my honour is contemned and despised in her sight. Now may the LORD appear, and judge between me and you, and fulfil mercies upon me and you, and spread His peace between me and you, and replenish the world from me and from you, that we may not heed the son of Hagar the Mizreitha handmaid, who is of the children of the people who cast you into the burning furnace of the Kasdin.

6. And Abram said to Sarai, "Here is your handmaid in your hand; do to her that which is proper in your eyes." And Sarai afflicted her, and she fled from before her.

6. And Abram said to Sara, Behold, your handmaid is under your authority: do to her what is right in your eyes. And Sara afflicted her, and she escaped from before her.

7. And an angel of the Lord found her by a water fountain in the desert, by the fountain on the road to Shur.

7. And the Angel of the LORD found her at the fountain of waters in the desert; at the fountain of waters which is in the way to Chagra.

JERUSALEM: Chalitza.

8. And he said, "Hagar, Sarai's servant, where are you coming from, and where are you going to?" And she said, "From before Sarai my mistress, I am fleeing."

8. And He said, Hagar, handmaid of Sara, From where do you come, and to where are you going? And she said, From before Sara my mistress I have escaped.

9. And the angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and allow yourself to be afflicted under her hands."

9. And the Angel of the LORD said to her, Return to your mistress, and be subject under her hand.

10. And the angel of the Lord said to her, "I will greatly multiply your seed, and it will not be counted for abundance."

10. And the Angel of the LORD said to her, Multiplying I will multiply your sons, and they will not be numbered for multitude.

11. And the angel of the Lord said to her, "Behold, you will conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your affliction.

11. And the Angel of the LORD said to her, Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son, and you will call his name Ishmael, because your affliction is revealed before the LORD.

12. And he will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be upon all, and everyone's hand upon him, and before all his brothers he will dwell."

12. And he will be like the wild ass among men: his hands will take vengeance of his adversaries, and the hands of his adversaries will be put forth to do him evil; and in the presence of all his brethren will he be commingled, (yitharbeb, Arabized,) and shall dwell.

13. And she called the name of the Lord, Who had spoken to her, "You are the God of seeing," because she said, "Have I seen[him]here also after I have seen?"

13. And she gave thanks before the LORD whose Word spoke to her, and thus said, You are He who lives and are eternal; who sees, but are not seen! for she said, For, behold, here is revealed the glory of the Shekina of the LORD after a vision.

JERUSALEM: And Hagar gave thanks, and prayed in the Name of the Word of the LORD, who had been manifested to her, saying, Blessed be You, Elohim, the Living One of all Ages, who has looked upon my affliction. For she said,Behold, You are manifested also unto me, even as You were manifested to Sara my mistress.

14. Therefore the well was called Be'er Lachai Ro'i; behold it is between Kadesh and between Bered.

14. Wherefore she called the well, The Well at which the Living and Eternal One was revealed; and, behold, it is situated between Rekam and Chalutsa.

15. And Hagar bore a son to Abram, and Abram named his son, whom Hagar had borne, Ishmael.

15. And Hagar bare Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son whom Hagar bare, Ishmael.

16. And Abram was eighty- six years old, when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

16. And Abram was the son of eighty-six years when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.




Welcome to the World of P’shat Exegesis


In order to understand the finished work of the P’shat mode of interpretation of the Torah, one needs to take into account that the P’shat is intended to produce a catechetical output, whereby a question/s is/are raised and an answer/a is/are given using the seven Hermeneutic Laws of R. Hillel and as well as the laws of Hebrew Grammar and Hebrew expression.


The Seven Hermeneutic Laws of R. Hillel are as follows



1. Ḳal va-ḥomer: "Argumentum a minori ad majus" or "a majori ad minus"; corresponding to the scholastic proof a fortiori.

2. Gezerah shavah: Argument from analogy. Biblical passages containing synonyms or homonyms are subject, however much they differ in other respects, to identical definitions and applications.

3. Binyan ab mi-katub eḥad: Application of a provision found in one passage only to passages which are related to the first in content but do not contain the provision in question.

4. Binyan ab mi-shene ketubim: The same as the preceding, except that the provision is generalized from two Biblical passages.

5. Kelal u-Peraṭ and Peraṭ u-kelal: Definition of the general by the particular, and of the particular by the general.

6. Ka-yoẓe bo mi-maḳom aḥer: Similarity in content to another Scriptural passage.

7. Dabar ha-lamed me-'inyano: Interpretation deduced from the context.



Reading Assignment:


The Torah Anthology: Yalkut Me’Am Lo’Ez - Vol II: The Patriarchs

By: Rabbi Yaaqov Culi, Translated by: Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

Published by: Moznaim Publishing Corp. (New York, 1988)

Vol. 2 – “The Patriarchs,” pp. 81-115



Rashi’s Commentary for:  B’resheet (Genesis) 15:1 – 16:16


Chapter 15


1 After these incidents Wherever the term אַחַר is used, it signifies immediately afterwardsאַחֲרֵי signifies a long time afterwards (Gen. Rabbah 44:5). After this miracle had been wrought for him, that he slew the kings, he was worried and said, “Perhaps I have received reward for all my righteous deeds.” Therefore, the Omnipresent said to him, “Fear not Abram, I am your Shield” from punishment, that you will not be punished for all those souls that you have slain, and as far as your being worried about receiving reward, your reward is exceedingly great. [from Aggadath Beresheet 16:2; Tan. Buber, Lech Lecha 15; Pirke d’Rabbi Eliezer ch. 27]


2 since I am going childless Heb. עֲרִירִי . Menachem ben Saruk (Machbereth p. 137) explained it as meaning an heir, and a similar instance is (Mal. 2:12): “a son (עֵר) and a grandson (וְעֽנֶה) .” Hence, עֲרִירִי would mean without an heir, as you would say (Job 31:12): “and it will uproot (תְשָׁרֵשׁ) , all my crops” [meaning] it will tear out its roots. Similarly עֲרִירִי means childless; in Old French, desenfantez. It appears to me, however, that עֵר וְעֽנֶה is derived from the same root as (Song of Songs 5:2): “but my heart is awake (עֵר) ” whereas עֲרִירִי is an expression of destruction, as in (Ps. 137:7): “Raze it, raze it (עָרוּ עָרוּ) ” and as in (Hab. 3:13): “destroying (עָרוֹת) the foundation,” and as in (Jer. 51:58): “shall be completely destroyed תִּתְעַרְעַר) (עַרְעֵר ,” and as in (Zeph. 2:14): “for the cedarwork will be destroyed (עֵרָה) .”


and the steward of my household - וּבֶן מֶשֶׁק בֵּיתִי , to be interpreted like the Aramaic translation, (וּבַר פַּרְנָסָה הָדֵין דִי בְּבֵתִי) : and this sustainer who is in my house). My entire household is sustained by his orders, as (below 41:40): “and by your orders they will be sustained (יִשַׁק) .” [ בֶּן מֶשֶׁק ‚ means] “my administrator,” but if I had a son, my son would be appointed over my possessions.


Damascus Heb. דַמֶשֶׂק . According to the Targum, he was from Damascus, but according to the Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 44:9) [the meaning is] that he pursued the kings until Damascus. And in our Talmud (Yoma 28b), it (the word דַמֶשֶׂק ) is interpreted as a notarikon [acrostic דוֹלֶה וּמַשְׁקֶה ]: he drew and gave to drink from his master’s teachings to others.


3 Behold, You have given me no seed So of what avail is all that You will give me?


5 And He took him outside According to its simple meaning: He took him out of his tent, outdoors, to see the stars. But according to its midrashic interpretation, He said to him, “Go out of your astrology,” for you have seen in the signs of the zodiac that you are not destined to have a son. Indeed, Abram will have no son, but Abraham will have a son. Similarly, Sarai will not give birth, but Sarah will give birth. I will give you another name, and your destiny will change (Ned. 32a, Gen. Rabbah 44:10). Another explanation: He took him out of the terrestrial sphere and lifted him above the stars. This explains the expression ofהַבָּטָה , looking down from above (Gen. Rabbah 44:12).


6 And he believed in the Lord He did not request of Him a sign regarding this, but regarding the inheritance of the land, he did request of Him a sign, and he said to Him, “How will I know? [from Ned. 32a]


and He accounted it to him as righteousness The Holy One, blessed be He, accounted it to Abram as a merit and as righteousness for the faith that he believed in Him (Targum Jonathan). Another explanation for: “How will I know?” He did not ask Him for a sign but he said before Him, “Let me know with what merit will they [my descendants] remain therein [in the Land]?” The Holy One, blessed be He, replied, “With the merit of the sacrifices.”


9 three heifers -(Gen. Rabbah 44:14) Three calves, symbolic of the three bulls: the bull of Yom Kippur, the bull brought when the interpretation of a law is hidden from the people [because of an error of the Sanhedrin], and the heifer whose neck was broken.


and three goats Symbolic of the he-goat that is sacrificed inside, the he-goats of the additional offering of the festivals, and the he-goat that is sacrificed as a sin offering for an individual.


and three rams A guilt offering for a definite sin, a guilt offering for a doubtful sin, and a ewe lamb for a sin offering for an individual.


and a turtle dove and a young bird A turtle dove and a young pigeon. [These are the various species offered up for all kinds of atonement sacrifices.]


10 and he divided them He divided each one into two parts. The verse does not lose its simple meaning, because He was forming a covenant with him to keep His promise, to cause his sons to inherit the land, as it is written (verse 18): “On that day, the Lord formed a covenant with Abram, saying, etc.,” and it is the custom of those who form a covenant to divide an animal and to pass between its parts, as it is written (Jer. 34:19): “who passed between the parts of the calf.” Here too, “a smoking furnace and a fire brand, which passed between the parts,” was the agent of the Shechinah, which is [referred to as] fire. [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer , ch. 28]


but he did not divide the birds Since the idol-worshipping nations are likened to bulls, rams, and goats, as it is said (Ps. 22:13): “Many bulls surrounded me, etc.,” and Scripture states (Dan. 8:20): “The ram that you saw, the one with horns, represents the kings of Media and Persia,” and Scripture states (ibid. verse 21): “And the he-goat is the king of Greece.” And the Israelites are likened to young doves, as it is said (Song of Songs 2:14): “My dove, in the clefts of the rock.” Therefore, he divided the animals, as an allusion that the nations will gradually perish. “But he did not divide the bird,” as an allusion that Israel will exist forever. [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 28; Targum. Ps. 22:13]


11 And the birds of prey Heb. הָעַיט This is a bird, and [it is called עַיט ] because it swoops down [ עָט ] and seeks the carcasses. (Job 9:26): “to swoop upon food,” and like (I Sam. 15:19): “and you flew (וַתַּעַט) upon the spoil.”


upon the carcasses upon the parts. (Other editions: הַפְּגָרִים is translated into Aramaic as פַּגְלַיָא , [meaning “carcass,” and not “parts,” as Rashi interprets]. But because they [the Targumim] were accustomed to translating אִישׁ בִּתְרוֹ [verse 10] as וִיהַב פַּלְגַיָא [meaning: “He placed each part”], the word פַּגְלַיָא was mistakenly changed to פַּלְגַיָא , and they therefore translated הַפְּגָרִים as פַּלְגַיָא . But whoever translates that way is in error, because we cannot equate בְּתָרִים , parts, to פְּגָרִים , carcasses, for בְּתָרִים should be translated פַּלְגַיָא , and פְּגָרִים should be translated פַּגְלַיָא , an expression of פִּגוּל , an abominable thing, as (Lev. 19:7): “it is an abominable thing (פִּגוּל) ,” an expression of a carcass. (So I heard from Rabbi Judah the son of Rabbi Samuel.) And so it was emended in a Rashi ms., and in another ms. was written: So did Rabbi Meir the son of Rabbi Samuel explain.)


and Abram drove them away Heb. וַיַשֵׁב , an expression of blowing and causing to fly away, like (Ps. 147:18): “He causes His wind to blow (יַשֵׁב) .” This is an allusion that David the son of Jesse will come to destroy them, but they will not permit him from heaven [to do so] until the King Messiah arrives. [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 28]


12 and behold, a fright, etc. An allusion to the troubles and darkness of the exiles. [from above mentioned source, Targum Jonathan, Targum Yerushalmi, Gen. Rabbah 42:17, and many other midrashic sources]


13 that your seed will be strangers From the time that Isaac was born until the Israelites left Egypt was four hundred years. How so? Isaac was sixty years old when Jacob was born, and Jacob, when he went down to Egypt, said, “The days of the years of my sojournings are one hundred and thirty years,” which total 190. They were in Egypt 210 years, like the numerical value of רְדוּ (See Rashi, below 42:2.) ר = 200 ד= 4 ו = 6 = 210 Thus, the total is 400 years. Now, if you should say that they were 400 years in Egypt, [this is not so] because Kehath was one of those who descended to Egypt. If you compute the years of Kehath (133) and those of Amram (his son, 137), and the 80 years of Moses, his age when they left Egypt, you will find only 350 [years]. And you must still subtract from them all the years that Kehath lived after the birth of Amram and that Amram lived after the birth of Moses. [from Seder Olam ch. 3]


in a land that is not theirs It does not say, “in the land of Egypt,” but, “[in a land] that is not theirs,” and from the time Isaac was born (below 21:34): “and Abraham sojourned, etc.” (Below 20:1): “And [Isaac] sojourned in Gerar.” (Ps. 105:23): “And Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.” (Below 47:4): “To sojourn in the land we have come.”-[from Mid. Abchir]


14 And also the nation [The word] וְגַם , [and also], is to include the four kingdoms (Babylon, Persia and Media, Greece, and Edom), for they too will perish because they enslaved Israel. [from Gen. Rabbah 44:19]


will I judge with ten plagues. [from Gen. Rabbah 44:20]


with great possessions with much money, as it is said (Exod. 12:36): “and they emptied out Egypt.”


15 But you will come to your forefathers in peace And you will not witness any of this. [From Gen. Rabbah 44:20]


to your forefathers His father was an idolater, and He announces to him that he will come to him? This teaches you that Terah repented. [from Tan. Shemoth 18]


you will be buried in a good old age He announced to him that Ishmael would repent during his lifetime (Gen. Rabbah 30:4, 38:12), and that Esau would not embark on evil ways during his lifetime. Therefore, he died five years before his time, and on that very day, Esau rebelled (ibid. 63:12). See below 25:29f.


16 And the fourth generation After they will have been exiled to Egypt, they will be there for three generations, and the fourth will return to this land (Mishnath Rabbi Eliezer ch. 5), for in the land of Canaan He spoke with him, and formed this covenant, as it is written (above verse 7): “to give you this land to inherit it.” And so it was: Jacob descended to Egypt. Go forth and figure his generations: Judah, Perez, and Hezron, and Caleb the son of Hezron was one of those who entered the land (Sotah 11b).


for the iniquity of the Amorites will not be complete that they should be sent out of their land until that time, for the Holy One, blessed be He, does not punish a nation until its measure is full, as it is said: (Isa. 27:8): “When her measure is full, when You send her away, then You will strive with her.”-[from Zohar, vol. 1, p. 113b]


17 Now it came to pass that the sun had set Heb. הַשֶׁמֶשׁ בָּאָה וַיְהִי [The subject apparently does not agree with the predicate, because שֶׁמֶשׁ is a feminine noun, whereas וַיְהִי is a masculine verb. Therefore, Rashi explains as follows:] This is similar to (below 42:35): “And it came to pass that they were emptying their sacks;” (II Kings 13:21): “And it came to pass that they were burying a man;” meaning: this event took place. [The subject of וַיְהִי is not הַשֶׁמֶשׁ but דָבָר זֶה (i.e., it is as if the masculine noun דָבָר זֶה (this event) were inserted after וַיְהִי .] The same is true in the two instances quoted by Rashi, in which the subject is plural, whereas the predicate is singular. There too, the subject of וַיְהִי is דָבָר זֶה .]


the sun had set Heb. בָּאָה . It had set.


and it was dark The day darkened.


and behold, a smoldering furnace, etc. He hinted to him that the kingdoms of the pagans would fall into hell.-[from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 28]


had set Heb. בָּאָה Its accent is on the first syllable. Therefore, it is explained that it had already set; but if its accent were at the end, on the “alef,” it would be explained to mean: as it was setting. but it is impossible to say this, for it is already written (above verse 12): “Now the sun was setting” and the passing of the smoking furnace happened after this. It is found that it had already set. And this difference exists in every word in the feminine gender, whose radical consists of two letters, such as tc (to come), oe, (to arise), ca, (to return). When the accent is on the first syllable, it is in the past tense, e.g., this case and e.g., (below 29:9): “and Rachel came (בָּאָה) ,” (below 37:7) “my sheaf arose (קָמָה) ;” (Ruth 1:15) “Lo! Your sister-in-law has returned (שָׁבָה) .” However, when the accent is on the final syllable, it is in the present tense, denoting a thing that is happening now and is continuing to happen, like (below 29:6): “She is coming בָּאָה with the flocks;” (Esther 2: 14): “In the evening she would come (בָּאָה) , and in the morning she would return (שָׁבָה) .”


18 To your seed I have given The word of the Holy One, blessed be He, is like an accomplished fact.


the great river, the Euphrates river Since it is associated with the Land of Israel, He calls it great, even though it is the last of the four rivers going forth from Eden, as it is said (above 2:14): “and the fourth river that is the Euphrates.” A common proverb states: “A king’s servant is a king; associate with a ruler, and people will bow down to you.” -[from Sifre Devarim 6]


19 The Kenites There are ten nations [enumerated] here, but He gave them only seven nations. The [other] three are Edom, Moab, and Ammon, and they are [here referred to as] the Kenites, the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, which are destined to be [our] heritage in the future, as it is said (Isa. 11:14): “upon Edom and Moab shall they stretch forth their hand, and the children of Ammon shall obey them.”-[from Gen. Rabbah 44:23]


20 and the Rephaim the land of Og, concerning which it is said (Deut. 3:13): “That is called the land of the Rephaim.”


Chapter 16


1 an Egyptian handmaid She was Pharaoh’s daughter. When he (Pharaoh) saw the miracles that were wrought for Sarah, he said, “It is better that my daughter be a handmaid in this household, than a mistress in another household.”- [from Gen. Rabbah 45:1]


2 perhaps I will be built up from her This teaches that whoever has no children is not built up but demolished.-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:2]


I will be built up from her in the merit that I will bring my rival into my house.-[from Gen. Rabbah 71:7, Aggadath Bereishith 52]


to Sarai’s voice to the Divine Spirit within her.- [from Gen. Rabbah 45:2]


3 So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took She took her with words, “You are fortunate that you have merited to cleave to a holy body such as this one.”-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:3]


at the end of ten years This is the allotted time for a woman who has lived ten years with her husband and has not borne children to him, when he is obligated to marry another.-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:3]


of Abram’s dwelling This tells us that the time they dwelled outside the Land does not count in the number [ten years], because it was not said to him, and I will make you into a great nation, [i.e., this promise would not be fulfilled] until he would come to the Land of Israel.-[from above source]


4 And he came to Hagar, and she conceived from the first union.-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:4]


and her mistress became unimportant in her eyes She said, “This Sarai her conduct in secret is not like her conduct in public. She shows herself as if she is a righteous woman, but she is not a righteous woman, for she did not merit to conceive all these years, whereas I have conceived from the first union.”-[from aforementioned source]


5 May my injustice be upon you [For] the injustice that has been done to me, I lay the punishment upon you. When you prayed to God, “What will You give me, since I am going childless?” you prayed only for yourself, whereas you should have prayed for both of us, and I would have been remembered with you. Moreover, you are stealing from me your [protective] words, for you hear my degradation, and you remain silent (i.e., you are depriving me of the words you should have spoken to Hagar to reprimand her on my behalf).-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:5]


I gave my handmaid, etc. between me and you Every בֵינֶיךָ in Scripture is spelled defectively (without the second yud), but this one is spelled plene. It may thus also be read וּבֵינַיִךְ (second person feminine), for she cast an evil eye on Hagar’s pregnancy, and she miscarried her fetus. That is why the angel said to Hagar, “Behold, you will conceive.” But was she not already pregnant? Yet he announces to her that she will conceive? But this teaches that she miscarried her first pregnancy.- [from Gen. Rabbah 45:5]


6 And Sarai afflicted her She enslaved her harshly.-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:6]


8 where are you coming from [meaning]: “Where have you come from?” He knew [where she was coming from] but he wished to give her an opening to commence speaking with her. Now the אֵי מִזֶה [lit. where from this] means: “Where is the place about which you can say, ‘From this place I have come.’”


9 And the angel of the Lord said to her, etc. For each statement, another angel was sent to her. Therefore, the word מַלְאָךְ , angel, is used with each statement.- [from Gen. Rabbah 45:7]


11 Behold, you will conceive When you return, you will conceive, like (Jud. 13:5): Behold you shall conceive, stated concerning the wife of Manoah.


and bear a son - וְיֽלַדְתְּ is וְיוֹלֶדֶת , and similar to this (Jer. 22:23): You, who abide (ישַׁבְתְּ) in the Lebanon, (יוֹשֶׁבֶת) who nest (מְקוּנַנְתְּ) in the cedars [like, מְקוֹנֶנֶת ].


and you shall name him This is the imperative [feminine], as the text states for the masculine: (below 17:19): “and you shall name him (וְקָראתָ אֶת שְׁמוֹ) Isaac.”


12 A wild donkey of a man who loves the wilderness to hunt beasts, as it is written (below 21:20f): “And he was an archer; and he dwelt in the desert of Paran.”


his hand will be upon all [He will be] a bandit.-[from Tan. Shemot]


and everyone’s hand upon him Everyone will hate him and attack him.


and before all his brothers he will dwell for his seed will be numerous.


13 You are the God of seeing - רֳאִי is vowelized with a “chataf kamatz” because it is a noun, i.e., the God of seeing, Who sees the humiliation of the humiliated.-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:10] (Other editions: Another explanation: “You are the God of seeing” meaning that He sees all, but no one sees Him. Targum Jonathan).


Have I seen here also הֲגַם הֲלֽם is an expression of wonderment. Would I have thought that even here in the desert I would see the emissary of the Omnipresent after I had seen them in the house of Abraham, where I was accustomed to seeing angels? And you should know that she was accustomed to seeing them, because Manoah saw the angel once and said, “We will surely die,” and this one saw four, one after the other, and she was not frightened.-[from Gen. Rabbah 45:7]


14 Be’er Lachai Ro’i As the Targum renders: a well upon which the living angel appeared.


15 and Abram named, etc. Although Abram had not heard the words of the angel, who said, “And you shall name him Ishmael,” the Holy Spirit rested upon him, and he called him Ishmael.-[from Bereishith Rabbathi, also Mid. Aggadah]


16 And Abram was eighty-six years old, etc. This was written in praise of Ishmael, to let us know that he was thirteen years old when he was circumcised, and he did not object.-[Mid. Aggadah]



Ketubim: Psalms 11:1-7


Rashi’s Translation


1. To the conductor, of David; I took refuge in the Lord. How do you say to my soul, "Wander from your mountain,[you] bird"?

1. A hymn of David. In the word of the LORD I have hoped; how do you say to my soul, wander to the mountain like a bird?

2. For behold the wicked tread the bow, they set their arrow on the bowstring to shoot in the dark at the upright of heart.

2. For behold, the wicked bend the bow, fixing their arrows on the string to shoot in darkness at the firm of heart.

3. For the foundations were destroyed; what did the righteous man do?

3. For if the foundations are shattered, why did the virtuous do good?

4. The Lord is in His Holy Temple. The Lord-His throne is in Heaven; His eyes see, His pupils try the sons of men.

4. The LORD is in His holy temple; God's throne is in the highest heavens; His eyes see, His eyelids examine, the sons of men.

5. The Lord tries the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

5. God examines the righteous/generous, but His soul hates the wicked and those who love rapacity.

6. He shall rain upon the wicked charcoal, fire, and brimstone, and a burning wind is the portion of their cup.

6. He will bring down rains of retribution on the wicked, coals of fire and brimstone; a violent storm-wind is the portion of their cup.

7. For the Lord is righteous; He loves [workers of] righteousness, whose faces approve of the straight [way].

7. For the LORD is righteous/generous, He loves righteousness/generosity, the honest man will look upon His countenance.




Rashi’s Commentary on Psalm 11:1-7


1 How do you say to my soul, “Wander from your mountain, etc. This is on the order of (I Sam. 26:19): “for they have driven me today from cleaving to the Lord’s heritage,” for they drove him out of the [Holy] Land to outside the [Holy] Land, and here he says, “I took refuge in the LORD [hoping] that He would restore me to cleave to His heritage. How do You, who drive away my soul, say to me,


... “Wander from your mountain”? Pass over your mountain, you wandering bird. For every wandering person is compared to a bird that wanders from its nest, as it is written (in Prov. 27:8): “As a bird wandering from its nest, so is a man wandering from his place.” For your nest has wandered, because we have driven you from the entire mountain like a wandering bird. The Masoretic spelling is נודו [plural] because it is also expounded on in reference to Israel, that the nations say that to them. 


2 For behold the wicked/Lawless Doeg and the informers of the generation who cause hatred between me and Saul. tread The expression of treading is appropriate for the bow, because if it is stout, he must place his foot on it when he wishes to bend it. the bow They have directed their tongue treacherously [as] their bows (Jer. 9:2). they set their arrow on the bowstring lit. the cord [the string], of the bow, corde d’arche in French, a bowstring. in the dark In secret. at the upright of heart David and the priests of Nob. to shoot ajeter in French. 


3 For the foundations were destroyed Because of you the righteous/generous priests of the Lord, who are the foundation of the world, were slain. what did the righteous/generous man doDavid, who did not sin, what did he do in this entire matter? [He said to Doeg,] You will bear the iniquity, not I. 


4 The LORD is in His Holy Temple Who sees and tests their deeds, and although His throne is in Heaven and is lofty, His eyes see you on the earth.


5 The LORD tries the righteous/generous And if, because I suffer and am pursued by you, you boast, saying (below 71:11), “G-d has forsaken him,” it is not so, but so is the custom of the Holy One, blessed be He, to chasten and to test the righteous/generous but not the wicked/Lawless. The flax worker as long as he knows that his flax is of high quality, he beats it, but when it is not of high quality, he crushes it only a little because it breaks. His soul hates He lays away the recompense for his iniquities/Lawlessness for the “long world,” and then He showers [punishment] upon them [sic] in Gehinnom. 


6 charcoal Heb. פַּחִים, an expression of charcoal (פְחַם). burning Heb. זִלְעָפוֹת, an expression of burning. Menachem (p. 79) interprets it as an expression of (Isa. 28:2) “a storm of destruction (שַׂעַר קָטֶב).” Likewise, (in Lam. 5:10), “because of the heat of (זַלְעֲפוֹת) hunger”; (below 119:53), “burning (זַלְעָפָה) seized me.” That is to say, (as in Ezek. 27:35), “became greatly alarmed (שָׂעֲרוּ שַׂעַר).” (The quotation from Menachem appears only in several early printed editions, and not in any manuscript.) 


7 For the LORD is righteous/generous; He loves [workers of] righteousness/generosity and has mercy on the righteous/generous and loves those whose faces see the straight [way], in whose sight the straight way is proper. whose faces approve of the straight This refers to “The LORD is righteous/generous; He loves [workers of] righteousness/generosity and those whose faces approve of the straight [way].” Our Sages [Mid. Ps. 11:2, Sanh. 26a, Lev. Rabbah 5:5] interpreted “the wicked/Lawless tread the bow” as referring to Shebna and his company, and they interpreted “the upright of heart” as referring to Hezekiah and his company. For the foundations are destroyed If the foundations are destroyed by them, what did the Righteous/Generous One of the world accomplish? The sequence of verses, though, does not concur with the Midrash.



Meditation from the Psalms

Psalm 11:1-7


By: H.Em. Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David


The commentaries do not agree on the specific event in David’s life to which this psalm refers. Meiri,[1] for example, holds that this psalm corresponds to the events related in I Shmuel 23, when David defended the city of Keyilah against a Philistine attack.


Rashi sees this as related to Doeg and the informers of the generation who cause hatred between David and Saul. 


However, all agree that this chapter represents a chronicle of treachery, recounting the slander of those who wished to undermine David. These wicked men flatly denied the cornerstone of our faith, ‘personal divine guidance’ and refused to accept the fact that HaShem is ever-present and intimately involved in human affairs. David’s many misfortunes served them as evidence that G-d abandons everyone, even the righteous.[2] David forcefully responds to this heresy with his own resounding declaration of unshakeable faith. David teaches us to trust and connect with HaShem in the most intimate way possible. David proclaims his full reliance and trust in HaShem.


In the war of the five kings versus the four kings (which we studied last week), Avraham was the victor and became, in essence, the king of the world. This week’s portion, in v15:1, records the fear that Avraham had regarding that victory. He feared that he had used up all of his merit and had no reward in the Olam HaBa. The Midrash Tanchuma Yelammedenu puts it this way:


You find that Abraham once pondered over the matter of divine justice. What did he say to himself? R. Levi was of the opinion that he said to himself: It appears to me as though I have already received my full reward in this world, inasmuch as the Holy One, blessed be He, has assisted me against the kings and has saved me from the furnace. Surely, I have received my full reward; there can be no additional reward awaiting me in the world to come. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: Since you dare to reflect on My actions, you must bring a burnt offering to Me. Therefore, He said: Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, even Yitzchak, and get into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.[3] R. Yitzchak declared: Abraham excoriated himself unmercifully, saying: Perhaps of those whom I have killed, there were some righteous men. The Holy One, blessed be He, replied: Those whom you have destroyed were like thorns that you eradicated from before Me. You have committed no sin because of it; rather you shall be greatly rewarded because of it, both now and in the future.[4]


Our Torah portion also records the marriage of Avraham and Hagar with all of its associated family troubles, which caused Avraham great distress. This major trial which Avraham experienced was part of a series of ten trials. Here is a list of the trials according to Maimonides:


1) The “Calling” of Lech Lecha, leaving behind a situation that is no longer working in order to surrender to the unknown.


2) The famine in Canaan, especially after G-d has promised blessing and prosperity – economic security of the entire region is threatened. Feelings of abandonment and perhaps betrayal from Life itself.


3) The injustice he faced in Egypt concerning Sarah – government sponsored injustice.


4) The war between the four kings and the five kings – being at the mercy of the turbulent political climate of the times.


5) The marriage to Hagar that came as a result of having no children with Sarah – family drama and relationship challenges.


6) The command to circumcise himself at his advanced age – carrying out G-d’s Will can be painful.


7) The injustice and deception suffered at the hands of Avimelech of Grar when he also took Sarah – people could be cunning, manipulative and self-seeking at the expense of others


8) The sending away of Hagar after having impregnated her - family drama, heartbreak, and pain.


9) The sending away of his son Ishmael – family drama, heartbreak and pain.


10) And finally, the binding and attempted sacrifice of Yitzchak, his beloved son, Yitzchak – testing the limits of sanity itself


The Ramban states that the reason that HaShem tests us is not to see whether or not we will pass. The reason for tests is to help us bring out our dormant greatness.[5] When we are challenged to live and to practice what we know in our hearts, it brings out our reliance and connection with HaShem in a most intimate, clear, and powerful way. Why does HaShem do this? “HaShem love the righteous”.[6] This is the greatest gift and opportunity. HaShem places us in the arena of challenge in order to make us great.


Tests draw us closer to HaShem and force us to practice what we believe. Under the stress of a test our true colors shine forth, for better or worse. We actualize our potential. How many people do we know who went through a turbulent time in life and came out a different person. We must work hard to ensure that our hearts are committed to HaShem so that we can echo David’s words with deep recognition that HaShem loves us and wants us to be great.


Tests are the banners HaShem uses to display the high levels of “those who fear [Him].” (The Hebrew word for test is nisayon, a word phonetically related to nes – banner.) By testing such people, He is proclaiming: These are the finest examples of mankind.


The Midrash speaks of the testing of a vessel while quoting our psalm:


Midrash Rabbah - Genesis 55:2 The Lord trieth the righteous, etc.[7] R. Jonathan said: A potter does not examine defective vessels, because he cannot give them a single blow without breaking them. What then does he examine? Only the sound vessels, for he will not break them even with many blows. Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, tests not the wicked but the righteous, as it says, ‘The Lord trieth the righteous’.


Clearly the vessels are men in the above Midrash. It is also apparent that Avraham was a sound vessel as he had now reached the mid-point of his ten trials. In speaking about the trials of the righteous, David was surely thinking of Avraham (a sound vessel), and his ten tests, as he was composing this psalm. Avraham was teaching us to trust and connect with HaShem in the most intimate way possible – in the midst of a trial! Avraham was proclaiming his full reliance and trust in HaShem.


It is very interesting that our Psalmist speaks of a wicked archer in the very parasha that we see the birth of Ishmael, in 16:15, who will become a great archer[8] and will torment Yitzchak, the child of promise.[9]


The connection of our Psalm with our Torah Seder is by means of the phrases:[10]


Psalm 11

Torah Portion

Tehillim (Psalm) 11:1 I took refuge in HaShem…

Bereshit (Genesis) 15:6 And he believed in Adonai; and He counted it to him for righteousness.



Tehillim (Psalm) 1:6 with “coals; fire and brimstone and burning wind.

Bereshit (Genesis) 15:17 and there was thick darkness, behold a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces


Ma’aseh Avot Simin L’banim,” the deeds of our fathers are signs for their children. Everything that occurred to our ancestors did in previous generations are lessons for us in our generation. Just as our ancestors suffered greatly while they were in galut (exile), we too suffer while we are in galut. Just as our ancestors in their galut were tested on a physical level, we too are being tested in our galut.


Finally, all tests given to us by HaShem are really opportunities for us. Be it for our personal growth, or for the glory of HaShem’s name, or, at times, for the benefit of the generation, we should realize that they are given only to those who can withstand them.[11]


Lets examine one of the times when HaShem tried the righteous[12]


Judaism is a religion that maintains that salvation depends upon the sacrifice of a beloved son centuries ago. The Midrash teaches us that when Avraham put the knife to Yitzchak’s throat, his soul departed. Judaism is a religion whose adherents believe that their sins are expiated because someone long ago offered himself up to be sacrificed. Though this may be hard to believe, it is absolutely true.


The sacrifice of which I speak is not the crucifixion of Yeshua, but rather it is the binding of Yitzchak from the book of Bereshit (Genesis). Because Avraham willingly offered his beloved son to HaShem as a sacrifice, HaShem blessed Avraham, and, just as important, HaShem blessed Avraham’s descendants. This is straight from the Torah. According to our Sages, because Yitzchak offered himself freely to HaShem as a sacrifice, HaShem blessed Yitzchak, and, just as important, HaShem blessed Yitzchak’s descendants. Therefore, our generation, a generation of descendants, benefits from the righteousness of Avraham and Yitzchak. We are blessed because of their willingness to sacrifice.


One aspect of this blessing is that HaShem is merciful toward us. Because our ancestors so dutifully obeyed HaShem’s command, HaShem is more willing to look past our sins. Indeed, our Sages teach that HaShem is more willing to forgive our sins because of our righteous heritage. If our sins are thereby forgiven, then we will secure our place in the world to come. Simply stated: Because Avraham and Yitzchak obeyed HaShem, HaShem blessed their descendants. This blessing includes HaShem’s mercy, and HaShem’s forgiveness of our sins. Our sins having been forgiven, we will enjoy eternal life in the world to come. Through this progression, we can draw a causal connection between the attempted sacrifice of a beloved son and the forgiveness and salvation of a later generation. Believe it or not, this is Jewish.


Zechut avot[13] is the doctrine by which we benefit from the good deeds of those who came before us. In addition to our patriarchs, we also benefit from the righteous deeds of the matriarchs. For instance, our Sages teach in the Midrash that HaShem will return the exiles to Israel because of the merits of the matriarch Rachel.


The merits of the forefathers is not a stagnant thing. It is not only our patriarchs and matriarchs, but, also our own grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, and mothers. Each generation should earn merits as a legacy for future generations.


Though we may be unfamiliar with zechut avot, it is actually a central tenet of Judaism. Though it may seem foreign to us, we can actually find it in three familiar sources. Zechut avot plays a prominent role in the Torah, in our daily worship, and in our High Holiday liturgy. Let us begin with our Torah portion. We read in:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:1 “These are the statutes and the ordinances which you shall observe to do in the land which HaShem, the G-d of your fathers, has given you to possess.”


There are many names for HaShem, so when a text specifies a particular name for HaShem there is often a special significance. In this passage, the Torah introduces a series of commandments which the Israelites must fulfill in order to possess the land that HaShem has promised. What is significant here is the nature of that promise. The Israelites’ sole claim to the land is that HaShem had promised it to their forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaaqob. The Israelites will receive the land because of zechut avot, the merit of their ancestors. That is why we find in this verse the particular name for HaShem as “Lord, G-d of your fathers.”


One of the most intriguing commentaries on the Akeida, the binding of Yitzchak, sees the sacrifice as actually having been consummated and as effecting atonement for Israel in the same manner as animal sacrifices:


“There was a remarkable tradition that insisted that Avraham completed the sacrifice and that afterward Yitzchak was miraculously revived. According to this Aggadah, Avraham slew his son, burnt his victim, and the ashes remain as a stored-up merit and atonement for Israel in all generation.”[14]


The Baal HaTurim quotes a Pirke d’Rebbi Eliezer[15] that at the time of the Akeida; Yitzchak actually died and was immediately brought back to life.


Leviticus Rabbah. 29:9 R. Judah says: When the sword touched Yitzchak’s throat his soul flew clean out of him. And when He let his voice be heard from between the two cherubim, ‘Lay not thy hand upon the lad, ‘the lad’s soul returned to his body. Then his father unbound him, and Yitzchak rose, knowing that in this way the dead would come back to life in the future; whereupon he began to recite, Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who quickens the dead. Pirke de-Rav Eliezer 31


The Torah also alludes to the death of Yitzchak in Bereshit chapter 22. In this chapter of the Torah, there is no reference to Yitzchak returning home with his father.


Through the Akeida, Yitzchak had attained the status of a korban[16] and was forbidden to leave Eretz Canaan[17]. Yitzchak was 37 years old at the time of the Akeida.[18]


In Bereshit 22:9, the word “binding”. Va Ya’akod, is found nowhere else in Tanakh in conjugative form. This “binding” was something truly unique!


Yitzchak’s death was NOT caused by Avraham; the Torah is clear on this point. It appears that Yitzchak gave up his own soul. This matches well with Mashiach Who was not killed by the Romans, but instead laid down His own life.[19]


The Akeida – The Timing


There appears to be some support for the Binding of Yitzchak taking place on Pesach. Rashi tells us that the Akeida was on Pesach.[20] The Zohar also makes this point.[21] Finally, the Talmud gives us a hint that the Akeida took place on Pesach:


Rosh HaShana 11a …on New Year the bondage of our ancestors in Egypt ceased; in Nisan they were redeemed and in Nisan they will be redeemed in the time to come. R. Joshua says: In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; in Nisan the Patriarchs died.


There is also some relationship between Rosh HaShanah and the Binding of Yitzchak:


The Maharil[22] compiled a detailed and authoritative compendium of the customs of his native Ashkenaz. In Chapter 9 of the section on Rosh HaShana, he explains:


“On Rosh HaShana, after the meal, we have the custom of going to the lakes and rivers to cast into the depths of the sea all of our sins. This commemorates the Akeida, in accordance with the Midrash[23] which says that [on the way to the intended sacrifice of Yitzchak] Avraham Avinu passed through a river until the water reached up to his neck, and said, ‘Rescue me, HaShem, for the waters have reached until the soul’.[24] And it was actually Satan, who made himself into a river in order to prevent Avraham from performing the Akeida.”


The Maharil emphasizes that Tashlich (when we cast crumbs into the water on Rosh HaShana) is a commemoration of the Akeida. By going to the river, we demonstrate to HaShem that we recall Avraham’s determination to fulfill His command. Not only was Avraham willing to sacrifice his only son, but he was willing to endure great hardship in order to do so. We imply that we too are willing to overcome obstacles to carry out HaShem’s will.


By emphasizing our continuing connection to Avraham Avinu, showing that we are his spiritual as well as his genetic heirs, we show that we are fully worthy of sharing in the blessing which HaShem swore to Avraham’s descendants as a result of the Akeida.[25]


According to our tradition, when we sound the shofar on the morning of Rosh Hashanah, HaShem hears the sound and remembers the ram that Avraham Avinu, Father Avraham, offered as a sacrifice (instead of his son Yitzchak) atop Mount Moriah so many generations ago. Our act of association resurrects the merit of Avraham, and his merit of faith is attributed to us, simply because we made the connection. You don’t get the zechut unless you make the connection. Unless you sound the shofar, invoke the symbolic link (whatever it may be) that affirms your bond, their merit is of no value.


Why should a dissolute Jew who identifies as a Jew be redeemable? Here it gets mystical. According to our sages, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs passed their spiritual DNA down to their descendants. Their spiritual achievements were not personal. In virtually every Divine revelation to the Patriarchs, G-d makes promises dealing with their descendants, they will be “like the stars of the heaven” and “like the sands of the seashore”, they will inherit the Land of Israel, etc. Among the promises was that G-d would not let a Jewish soul hit rock bottom without Divine intervention to stop his free-fall. This spiritual safety net is called, “zechut avot”, the merit of the forefathers.[26]


According to the Midrash, at the splitting of the sea, the angel of Egypt protested to G-d that both the Hebrews and the Egyptians were idol worshippers. Why should the Hebrews be saved, and the Egyptians drowned? G-d answered that because the Hebrews are the descendants of Abraham, Yitzchak, and Yaaqob; zechut avot, the merit of the forefathers, they should be saved.


But zechut avot, like any inheritance, only becomes yours if you claim it. Your grandfather can bequeath you a bank account worth a million dollars, but if don’t show up at the lawyer’s office and identify yourself as Jake Levy’s grandson, you won’t have access to his fortune. If you don’t actively identify as a Jew, you can’t inherit the precious fortune of zechut avot.


Zechut avot is like a skydiver’s reserve chute. If the main parachute fails to open, and the skydiver is falling at 120 mph, he can be saved by the reserve chute. But only if he pulls the cord! The cord that activates the merit of the forefathers is Jewish identity.


Jewish identity is what prompted Kirk Douglas to fast every Yom Kippur. As he proudly stated, “I might be making a film, but I fasted”.


Jewish identity is what prompted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to post a large silver mezuzah on the doorpost of her Supreme Court chambers.


Jewish identity is what prompted movie star Scarlet Johansson to stand up for Israel at the cost of her prestige as an Oxfam ambassador.


The Passover Seder speaks about four sons. Only one of them is cast as “wicked”. As the Haggada states: “The wicked son, what does he say? ‘What is this service to you?’ ‘To you,’ but not to him. Because he excludes himself from the community, he is a heretic. … Say to him, ‘Because of what G-d did for me when I went out of Egypt.’ For me, but not for him, because if he would have been there, he would not have been redeemed.”


The first Passover marked the birth of the Jewish nation. Every Passover since poses the challenge to every Jew: Are you in or are you out?


But what of those among us who have no ancestors from whom to derive such zechut? What of the orphans who do not know upon whom to connect? Or the Jews by choice, the convert, who have no Jewish ancestry at all? This is the good part. It’s not hereditary! It’s not in our chromosomes or our cell structure. It’s in our history, the collective memory of our people. It’s open to anyone who chooses to remember:


Galatians 3:6-9 Even as Avraham believed HaShem, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Avraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that HaShem would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Avraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Avraham.


Do we really believe that we’re genetically related to Avraham and Sarah? Do we actually think that if we could trace back our ancestry as far as we wanted we would find Yaaqob, Moshe, and Ruth? Does it matter? We’re related to them when we choose to relate to them. You see, the act of connecting to them, to the deeds they performed, to the choices they made is, for us, a choice as well. What makes the zechut happen is just as dependent upon our conscious decisions as it was upon theirs. It’s a two-way street. Their merit is credited to us by our merit. And in both instances, the merit is the simple product of making a choice.



Ashlamatah: Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:1-8 + 2:2-3


Rashi’s Translation


1. ¶ The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

1. The prophecy of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he prophesied concerning the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of the house of Judah.

2. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken; Children I have raised and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me.

2. Hear, O heavens which shook when I gave My Law to My people, and give ear, O earth which reeled before My word; for the LORD speaks: "The house of Israel is My people. I called them sons. I cherished and glorified them, but they have rebelled against My Memra.

3. An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master's crib; Israel does not know, my people does not consider.

3. The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not teach to know the fear of Me, My people does not understand, to return to My Law."

4. Woe to a sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, evildoing seed, corrupt children. They forsook the Lord; they provoked the Holy One of Israel; they drew backwards.

4. Woe, because they were called a holy people, andsinned; a chosen congregation have multiplied sins; they were named as a beloved seed and they acted wickedly, and it was said of them, "Cherished sons'; and they corrupted their ways! They have forsaken the service of the LORD, they have despised the fear of the Holy One of Israel, because of their wicked deeds they are turned about and backwards.

5. Why are you beaten when you still continue to rebel? Every head is [afflicted] with illness and every heart with malaise.

5. They do not understand so as to say, "Why are we still smitten?" They continue to sin. They do not say, "For what reason is every head sick and every heart mournful?"

6. From the sole of the foot until the head there is no soundness-wounds and contusions and lacerated sores; they have not sprinkled, neither have they been bandaged, nor was it softened with oil.

6. From the remnant of the people even to the heads there is not among them one that is perfect in My fear. All of them are disobedient and rebellious; they defile themselves with sins as a dripping wound. They do not forsake their arrogance and they do not desire repentance, and they have no merits to protect them. 

7. Your land is desolate; your cities burnt with fire. Your land-in your presence, strangers devour it; and it is desolate as that turned over to strangers.

7. Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence the Gentiles take possession of your land; and because of your sins it is removed from you, and given to aliens.

8. And the daughter of Zion shall be left like a hut in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.

8. And the congregation of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard after they have picked it clean, like a tent for staying overnight in a cucumber field after they have stripped it, like a city which is besieged.

9. "Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant, we would soon be like Sodom; we would resemble Gomorrah."  {P}

9. Had the abounding goodness of the LORD of hosts not left us a remnant in His mercies, then our sins would have been with us, so that as the men of Sodom we should have perished, and as the inhabitants of Gomorrah we should have been destroyed. 



1. ¶ The word that Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

1. The word of prophecy which Isaiah the son of Amoz prophesied concerning the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

2. And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it.

2. And it will come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of the sanctuary of the LORD will be established at the head of the mountains, and raised above the hills; and all kingdoms will turn to worship upon it,

3. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

3. and many peoples will come, and say: "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the sanctuary of the LORD, to the house of the Shekhinah of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us ways that are correctbefore Him and that we might walk in the teaching of His Law." For out of Zion will go forth the Law, and the teaching of the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4. And he shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  {P}

4. And He will judge between kingdoms, and will reprove many peoples, and they will beat their swords intoploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; people will not take up a weapon against people, neither will they learn war any more. 




Rashi’s Commentary for: Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:1-8 + 2:2-3‎‎


Chapter 1


1 the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz Said Rabbi Levi: We have a tradition from our ancestors that Amoz and Amaziah, king of Judah, were brothers.


which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem Now, did he not prophesy concerning many nations, viz. the prophecy of Babylonia (ch. 13), the prophecy of Moab (ch. 15)? Thus you learn that this is not the beginning of the Book, and that the Book is not given its name for this prophecy. So we learned in the Baraitha of the Mechilta (Exod. 15:9,10): “In the year of King Uzziah’s death” (6:1) is the beginning of the Book, but there is no early and late in the order [i.e., the order of the chapters is no indication of the chronological order. (Others read: There is no early and late in the Book Parshandatha.] The context proves this point, for, on the day of the earthquake (see Zech. 14:5), the day Uzziah became a metzora (see 2 Chron. 26:19), it was said: “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me” (6:8). We learn that this was the beginning of his mission, and this prophecy was said afterwards. And concerning this alone, it is stated: which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, just as Scripture says concerning each nation, “the prophecy of such and such a nation.” Here too, Scripture writes: “which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” Since they are harsh reproofs, he calls them “chazon,” which is the harshest of the ten expressions by which prophecy is called, as is stated in Gen. Rabbah (44:7), and proof of this is the verse (infra 21:2), “A harsh prophecy (חָזוּת) was told to me.”


in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah. These four kings he buried, [i.e. he outlived,] in his lifetime. On the day Uzziah became a metzora, the Shechinah rested upon him, and he prophesied all the days of these kings, until Manasseh arose and killed him. (And this prophecy was said in the days of Hezekiah after the ten tribes were exiled.)


2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth And Moses said, “Give ear, O heavens, … and may the earth hear” (Deut. 32:1). Why did Isaiah change the wording? Our masters taught concerning this matter, [and] many midrashim [are] in the section entitled “Ha’azinu” in Sifrei, but the Sages disagreed with them and said: A matter is not so unless witnesses come and testify. If their words coincide, their testimony is fulfilled; if not, their testimony is not fulfilled. Had Isaiah not addressed the heavens with giving ear and the earth with hearing, the heavens would testify and say, ‘When we were called to this testimony in Moses’ time, when he said, (Deut. 30:19) “I call heaven and earth to witness against you,” we heard with an expression of giving ear,’ and the earth would testify, ‘I was called with an expression of hearing,’ hence their testimony would not coincide. [Therefore,] Isaiah came and reversed the matter. Consequently, both are found to testify with an expression of giving ear and with an expression of hearing.


for the Lord has spoken That you should be witnesses in this matter, when I warned them in Moses’ time. Therefore, come and hear what I reason with them, for they transgressed the warning, I did not sin against them, but I raised them and exalted them, yet they rebelled against me. [Another version reads:] That you should be witnesses in this matter. Now, where did He speak? “Give ear, O heavens and I will speak” (ibid. 32:1). [So this was taught] in Mechilta (Bo 12).


3 his owner Heb. קֽנֵהוּ [is] like מְתַקְּנוֹ , the one who affixes him to the plowshare for plowing by day, and since he has accustomed him to this, he knows him. The dull donkey, however, does not recognize his master until he feeds him. Israel was not intelligent like the ox, to know, when I called him and said, “Israel will be your name” (Gen. 35:10), and I informed them of several of My statutes, yet they deserted Me, as is related in Ezekiel (20:39): “Let each one go and worship his idols.” Even after I took them out of Egypt and fed them the manna and called them, “My people, the children of Israel,” they did not consider even as a donkey. Another explanation is:


An ox knows its owner An ox recognizes his owner so that his fear is upon him. He did not deviate from what I decreed upon him, by saying, I will not plow today. Neither did a donkey say to his owner, I will not bear burdens today. Now, these [creatures,] who were created to serve you, and are not destined to receive reward if they merit, or to be punished if they sin, did not change their manner, which I decreed upon them. Israel, however, who, if they merit receive reward, and if they sin are punished.


does not know i.e., did not want to know; they knew but trod with their heels, and my people did not take heart to consider.


4 Woe Every instance of הוֹי in Scripture is an expression of complaining and lamenting, like a person who sighs from his heart and cries, “Alas!” There are, however, several, which are an expression of a cry, the vocative voice, e.g., “Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north” (Zech. 2:10), which the Targum renders, אַכְלוּ , an expression of announcing.


Woe There is a reason to cry about a holy nation that turned into a sinful nation, and a people referred to by the expression, “for you are a holy people” (Deut. 7:6), turned into a people with iniquity.


a people heavy with iniquity The heaviness of iniquity. The word denotes a person who is heavy, pesant in French, ponderous. The word כֶבֶד is a substantive of heaviness, pesantoma in French, and is in the construct state, and is connected with the word עָוֹן , iniquity.


evildoing seed And they were seed whom the Lord blessed (Isa. 61:9). Similarly, they were children of the Holy One, blessed be He, and they became corrupt.


they provoked Heb. נִאֲצוּ , they angered.


they drew backwards [The root נְזִירָה ,] wherever it appears, is only an expression of separation. Similarly, Scripture states: “And they shall separate (וְיִנָּזְרוּ) from the holy things of the children of Israel” (Lev. 22: 2), “the one separated (נְזִיר) from his brothers” (Gen. 49:26). Here too, they drew away from being near the Omnipresent.


5 Why are you beaten... A person who was punished (lit. beaten) and repeats his sin his friend admonishes him and says to him, For this you have been punished, yet you do not take heart to say, ‘For this I have been punished. I will not repeat it again.’ Here too, why are you beaten since you continue disobedience, to turn away from following the Omnipresent? Is not every head afflicted with illness and every heart with malaise? Why then do you not understand?


6 soundness An expression of perfection, sound without pain.


wounds Heb. פֶּצַע , i.e., a wound of a sword.


contusions Heb. חַבּוּרָה , an expression of a bruise. [Some editions read:] Other bruises.


and lacerated sores Jonathan renders: מְרַסְסָא , lacerated and crushed.


and lacerated sores demarcejjre, in O.F., and in the language of the Talmud, we find, “he bumped (טַרְיֵה) his head” (Chullin 45b). Menahem explained it as an expression of moisture, i.e., moist and wet, always oozing [muyte in O.F.].


they have not been sprinkled These lesions were not sprinkled with medicinal powders by physicians. This is an expression of: (Job 18:15) “Sulphur shall be sprinkled (יְזֽרֶה) on his dwelling.” Menahem explained it as an expression of healing, as in (Jeremiah 30:13): “No one pronounced your judgment for healing (לְמָזוֹר) .”


neither was it softened with oil Their wound was not softened with oil, as is customary with other wounds. It would be inappropriate to say here, “They were not softened with oil,” for they soften only the place of the sore, not the wound and the contusion but the sprinkling and the bandaging applies to all three, [i.e., the wound, the contusion, and the lacerated sore.] Therefore, the plural number applies to them; the lesions were not sprinkled and not bandaged. Jonathan interprets the entire verse figuratively, referring to the fact that they were soiled and afflicted with iniquity. Accordingly, he rendered, “From the sole of the foot until the head,” from the smallest to the greatest, there is no soundness. There is none good among them, wounds and contusions, rebellious deeds, iniquities, and inadvertent sins.


they have not been sprinkled... i.e., they have not been healed by repenting wholeheartedly, nor has it been softened with oil, not even a trace of repentant thought has entered their heart.


7 in your presence, strangers devour it Before your eyes, your enemies will devour it.


and desolate of you as a heritage turned over to strangers, which is desolate of its owners. Jonathan renders in this manner.


8 And the daughter of Zion shall be left devoid of its inhabitants, for they will be exiled from its midst, as a hut in a vineyard, made by a watchman, and when the produce of the vineyard is gathered, he leaves his hut and goes away, after they gather it.


like a lodge in a cucumber field As the lodge, which the watchman made at the end of a cucumber field, to watch its cucumber, is left, for after it is gathered, he leaves it and goes away; the one in the vineyard is called a hut since he lives in it day and night; by day, he guards it from the birds and by night from the thieves, b ut cucumbers are hard, and there is no fear of the birds, and one need not watch them by day. It is, therefore, called a lodge since it is a place of lodging at night. Jonathan renders: Like a bed in a lodge (again repeated in Hebrew), [in] a cucumber field, in a cucumber field after it has been picked (בָּתַר דְאַבְעָיוּהִי) , after it has been picked. [This is the expression of the Mishnah] (Peah 4:5): “There are three gatherings (אַבְעָיוֹת) a day.”


like a besieged city Like a city which was besieged, and they make huts around it to hide the troops, and when they give up the siege [lit., when they go away from it], they leave them and go away. All this is Jonathan’s translation.


9 Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant by His own volition and with His mercy, not because of our merits.


we would soon be like Sodom All of us would be destroyed.



Chapter 2


2 At the end of the days after the rebels perish.


firmly established fixed.


at the top of the mountains On a mountain that is the head of all the mountains in the importance of the mountains.


and it shall be raised above the hills The miracle performed on it, will be greater than the miracles of Sinai, Carmel, and Tabor.


will stream will gather and stream to it like rivers.


3 to the house of the God of Jacob Since he [Jacob] called it [the Temple site] Beth El [the house of God], therefore, it will be called on his name, but Abraham called it a mount, “On God’s mount shall He appear” (Gen. 22:14); Isaac called it a field, “to meditate in the field” (ibid. 24:63).


4 into plowshares koltres in O.F.


pruning hooks sarpes in O.F. [serpes in modern French], with which they prune the vineyards.



Verbal Tallies

By: H.Em. Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

& HH Giberet Dr. Elisheba bat Sarah


Beresheet (Genesis) 15:1 - 16:16

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:1-8 + 2:2-3

Tehillim (Psalm) 11

Mk 1:32-34, Lk 4:40-41, Acts 4:1-4


The verbal tallies between the Torah and the Psalm are:

LORD - יהוה, Strong’s number 03068.

Saying / say - אמר, Strong’s number 0559.

Steward / children - בן, Strong’s number 01121.


The verbal tallies between the Torah and the Ashlamata are:

Thing / word - דבר, Strong’s number 01697.

Saying / say - אמר, Strong’s number 0559.

LORD - יהוה, Strong’s number 03068.

Go - הלך, Strong’s number 01980.

Steward / children - בן, Strong’s number 01121.

House - בית, Strong’s number 01004.


Beresheet (Genesis) 15:1 After these things <01697> the word <01697> of the LORD <03068> came unto Abram in a vision, saying <0559> (8800), Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 ¶  And Abram said <0559> (8799), Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go <01980> (8802) childless, and the steward <01121> of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?


Tehillim (Psalm) 11:1  « To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. » In the LORD <03068> put I my trust: how say <0559> (8799) ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

Tehillim (Psalm) 11:4  The LORD <03068> is in his holy temple, the LORD’S <03068> throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children <01121> of men.


Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD <03068> hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children <01121>, and they have rebelled against me.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 2:3 And many people shall go <01980> (8804) and say <0559> (8804), Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD <03068>, to the house <01004> of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word <01697> of the LORD <03068> from Jerusalem.






Torah Seder

Gen 15:1 – 16:16


Psa 11:1-7


Is. 1:1-8 + 2:2-3



Gen 16:12

Ps 11:4



Gen 15:1
Gen 15:2
Gen 15:3
Gen 15:4
Gen 15:5
Gen 15:7
Gen 15:8
Gen 15:9
Gen 15:13
Gen 15:18
Gen 16:2
Gen 16:5
Gen 16:6
Gen 16:8
Gen 16:9
Gen 16:10
Gen 16:11
Gen 16:13

Ps 11:1

Isa 2:3


land, earth

Gen 15:7
Gen 15:13
Gen 15:18
Gen 16:3

Isa 1:2
Isa 1:7


flaming, fire

Gen 15:17

Ps 11:6

Isa 1:7


who, whom

Gen 15:4
Gen 15:7
Gen 15:14
Gen 15:17
Gen 16:15

Isa 1:1



Gen 15:2
Gen 15:3

Isa 2:2
Isa 2:3


heir, son

Gen 15:2
Gen 15:3
Gen 16:11
Gen 16:15
Gen 16:16

Ps 11:4

Isa 1:1
Isa 1:2
Isa 1:4



Gen 15:14

Isa 1:4
Isa 2:2



Gen 16:13

Isa 1:2



Gen 15:1
Gen 15:4

Isa 2:3



Gen 16:7

Isa 2:3



Gen 15:1
Gen 15:17

Isa 2:2


going, come

Gen 15:2
Gen 16:8

Isa 2:3



Gen 15:4
Gen 15:12
Gen 15:17
Gen 16:2
Gen 16:6
Gen 16:11
Gen 16:14

Ps 11:2



Ps 11:1

Isa 2:2
Isa 2:3


offspring, seed

Gen 15:3
Gen 15:5
Gen 15:13
Gen 15:18
Gen 16:10

Isa 1:4



Ps 11:4
Ps 11:7

Isa 1:1



Gen 16:5

Ps 11:5


know, certain

Gen 15:8
Gen 15:13

Isa 1:3



Gen 15:1
Gen 15:2
Gen 15:4
Gen 15:6
Gen 15:7
Gen 15:8
Gen 15:18
Gen 16:2
Gen 16:5
Gen 16:7
Gen 16:9
Gen 16:10
Gen 16:11
Gen 16:13

Ps 11:1
Ps 11:4
Ps 11:5
Ps 11:7

Isa 1:2
Isa 1:4
Isa 2:2
Isa 2:3



Gen 15:18

Isa 1:1
Isa 2:2


come forth

Gen 15:4
Gen 15:5
Gen 15:7
Gen 15:14

Isa 2:3



Ps 11:2

Isa 2:3


make ready

Ps 11:2

Isa 2:2



Gen 16:11

Ps 11:3



Gen 15:10
Gen 16:12

Isa 1:5
Isa 2:2



Gen 15:3
Gen 16:1
Gen 16:10

Isa 1:6



Gen 15:2
Gen 15:8

Ps 11:3

Isa 1:5



Gen 16:2
Gen 16:3

Isa 2:2
Isa 2:3



Gen 15:16

Isa 1:4



Gen 16:4
Gen 16:5
Gen 16:6

Ps 11:4



Gen 16:14

Isa 1:1
Isa 1:5


presene, face

Gen 16:6
Gen 16:8
Gen 16:12

Ps 11:7



Gen 15:6

Ps 11:7



Gen 15:10

Ps 11:1



Gen 15:5

Ps 11:4

Isa 1:2


listened, hear

Gen 16:2
Gen 16:11

Isa 1:2







Torah Seder

Gen 15:1-16:16


Psa 11:1-7


Is. 1:1-8

+ 2:2-3



Mk 1:32-34

Remes 1


Lk 4:40-41

Remes 2


Acts 4:1-4


hear, heard

Isa 1:2

Act 4:4




Gen 16:3

Act 4:4




Gen 15:1 
Gen 15:4 
Gen 15:17

Mar 1:32

Act 4:4 



Mar 1:34

Luk 4:41

δύνω  /  δῦμι

went down

Mar 1:32

Luk 4:40




Gen 16:4 
Gen 16:5  
Gen 16:13  
Gen 16:14

Psa 11:7

Isa 1:1

Mar 1:34

Luk 4:41


come forth,

go forth

Gen 15:4
Gen 15:5
Gen 15:7
Gen 15:14

Isa 2:3

Luk 4:41



Isa 1:6

Luk 4:40



Gen 15:12 
Gen 15:17

Mar 1:32

Luk 4:40



Gen 15:6  
Gen 15:7  
Gen 16:5 
Gen 16:13

Isa 2:2 
Isa 2:3

Luk 4:41



Mar 1:34

Luk 4:40


according to,


Gen 15:8  
Gen 16:12 

Isa 1:1




Gen 16:13

Isa 1:2

Mar 1:34

Luk 4:41

Act 4:1



Isa 1:3 
Isa 1:4  
Isa 1:7

Act 4:1 
Act 4:2



Gen 15:1 
Gen 15:2   
Gen 15:4  
Gen 15:18

Luk 4:41



Isa 2:3

Act 4:4



Mar 1:34

Luk 4:40


all, things,


Gen 15:10 
Gen 16:12

Isa 1:5

Mar 1:32

Luk 4:40



Gen 15:6

Act 4:4



Mar 1:34

Luk 4:40



Isa 1:7 
Isa 1:8 

Mar 1:33


put, place,


Gen 15:10

Act 4:3



Gen 15:2 
Gen 16:11 
Gen 16:15

Psa 11:4

Isa 1:1  
Isa 1:2 
Isa 1:4

Luk 4:41



Gen 15:4 
Gen 16:2



Gen 16:6 
Gen 16:9  
Gen 16:12

Luk 4:40

Act 4:3








Sidra Of B’resheet Gen. 15:1 - 16:16

“In a vision saying”

By: H. Em. Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu ben Abraham &

Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai





(Luke 4:40-41)

Mishnah א

School of Hakham Tsefet


(Mark 1:32-34)

Mishnah א


And at the setting of the sun just after Habdalah, all who were sick with various manners of disease and calamity] brought (led) them to him (Yeshua) and he pressed his hands on each of them willingly out[27] of his graciousness righteous/generosity cured them. But the shedim – demons came out of many, saying and shouting “You are the son[28] of G-d” (Messiah)! And he rebuked them and would not permit them to speak, because they knew (da’at) that he is the Messiah.

And evening being come, at sunset[29] just after Habdalah they (the people of the community) brought to him (Yeshua) all manner[30] of sick or those controlled (possessed) by shedim – demons. And the entire community (city) gathered around the door of the home where he was staying. And he (Yeshua) willingly out of his graciousness,[31] righteous/ generosity cured[32] various diseases and calamities and cast out many shedim – demons; and he would not permit the shedim – demons speak, because they knew who he was.


School of Hakham Shaul


(Acts. 4:1-4)

Pereq א


Now while Hakham Tsefet and Hakham Yochanan were speaking to the people, the Kohanim (Priests) of the Tz’dukim (Sadducees) with the captain of the Bet HaMikdash (Temple guard)[33] and the Tz’dukim (Sadducees) came to them, being indignant because they (Hakham Tsefet and Hakham Yochanan) were teaching the people concerning Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead. And they laid their hands on them (arrested Hakham Tsefet and Hakham Yochanan) and put them in prison until the next day, for it was already evening (the sun was setting).[34] But many of those who heard[35] the teachings of Hakham Tsefet and Hakham Yochanan became faithfully obedient[36] to the Master’s Mesorah and they numbered about five-thousand.




Commentary to Hakham Tsefet’s School of Peshat


We must her first point out that our Torah Portion begins with the phrase “In a Vision Saying.” While the Nazarean Codicil does not make that exact statement it relates to the Torah Portion in verse 12 of chapter 15 where the statement relates to the exile of Abrahams children through the promised seed of Yitzchaq saying “now when the sun was going down.” Herein we should learn a lesson which the Nazarean Codicil is making in relation to the present Torah Seder.


The message we should learn from this passage, among other things is that the “setting of the sun” brings about the great exile (which we currently experience). Yet Yeshua establishes a powerful lesson here. Those who will be sustained in this Galut (exile) must be Shomer Shabbat.


We note here that the sun has set and that Habdalah has come and gone. This ceremony, practiced at the end of every Shabbat separates the Holy from the mundane (profane). The timing of Habdalah in the Nazarean Codicil is often referred to as “the first of the week.” τη μια των σαββατων συνηγμενων (tē mia tōn sabbatōn sunēgmenōn)[37] in this case the Talmidim met at the “first of the week” referring to the time just after Habdalah and not Sunday morning. It is most likely that they lived in a communal setting with an Erub so they could “come together” for Habdalah and have a meal.


The key thought in our present pericope being separation between the Holy and profane. We would not usually translate the concept of division as division between the Holy and profane, preferring the separation between the Holy and the mundane. We have used this term because of the setting where Yeshua must separate between the holy and profane in those persons possessed with demons, making a play on words.



Ha – Mavdil   (Heb. הַמַּבְדִּיל; “who distinguishes”), name of a hymn sung in the Havdalah ceremony at the close of the Sabbath. The acrostic yields the name of the author Isaac the Younger (probably Isaac b. Judah Ibn Ghayyat of Spain (1030–1089). There are two versions of the hymn; in both the refrain starts: “May He who maketh a distinction between holy and profane pardon our sins (in most versions: “and our wealth”); may he multiply our offspring as the sand and as the stars in the night.” The hymn was probably composed for the concluding service (Ne’ilah) of the Day of Atonement. One version is still recited as a seliḥah piyyut in the Ne’ilah service of some of the Sephardi rites (e.g., Algeria); the other, and better known version, has become the standard hymn for the Havdalah service in all Jewish rites.[38]


The citation above demonstrates the antiquity of the relationship between Habdalah and the Torah Seder where Abram is promised the blessing of innumerable seed. Based on the citation from the Encyclopedia Judaica we would opine that the piyyut was actually much older than the cited dates. The antiquity of Habdalah predates the Men of the Great Assembly. Therefore, we must believe that the basics of Habdalah originated long before this period. A regular distinction between the Sabbath and Habdalah was possibly initiated before the giving of the Torah at Sinai. Given the fact that Hakham Tsefet is called the “leader of the poets” by Rashi's grandson, Rabbenu Tam in his Otzar HaMidrashim.[39] And having penned Nishmat ("Soul of"), which opens with the words, "The soul of every living being will bless your name"[40] causes us to wonder how far-reaching his influence was on the Yom Kippur service and the early Siddur.


NISHMAT KOL ḤAI (Heb. נשְמַת כָל חַי; “The soul of every living being”), the initial words and name of a prayer recited at Sabbath and festival morning services at the conclusion of the Pesukei de-Zimra introductory biblical hymns. This prayer expresses the gratitude men owe to God for His mercies in sustaining them. In talmudic literature it is called Birkat ha-Shir (“Benediction of the Song,”Pes. 10:7, and 117b–118a). Based upon the opinion of R. Johanan, Nishmat also became part of the Passover Haggadah. Nishmat consists of three main sections. The first contains an avowal of God’s unity: Besides Thee we have no King. Deliverer, Savior, Redeemer… We have no King but Thee.” Some scholars believed that this passage was composed by the apostle Peter as a protest against concepts foreign to pure monotheism.[41]


Hakham Tsefet is actually referred to as the “Hakham of the poets by Rashi's grandson, Rabbenu Tam in his Otzar HaMidrashim.[42] These thoughts show us just how closely associated Hakham Tsefet was with the House of Hillel. We also note that the Houses of Hillel and Shammai differed in their order of blessings for Habdalah.


m. Ber. 8:5 The House of Shammai say, “[The order of the blessings at the conclusion of the Sabbath is] lamp, meal, spices, and habdalah.” But the House of Hillel says, “Lamp, spices, meal, and habdalah.” [The blessing over the lamp—] the House of Shammai say, “Who created the light of the fire.” But the House of Hillel say, “Who creates the lights of the fire.” [43]


Consequently, we can see the order that Yeshua would have followed. The Peshat materials of Mordechai allude to the separation between the Holy Torah Scholar filled with חן grace – gracious, and the demon possessed who gathered at the door. His Eminence Rabbi Dr Yosef ben Haggai has correctly stated that these events did not take place “inside” the house but at the door og the house where the mezuzah was located. Again, the mezuzah makes further distinction between the holy (inside) and the profane (outside). As we commented in a recent pericope, the gate (door) to the soul is the mind. If the mind is properly guarded, with the Mezuzah (Shema Yisrael, the recital of pure monotheism) we will not have any possibility of demonic possession.

Demon Possession

We do not intend to elaborate at great lengths on the “demonic” ranks and numbers. This study would be time consuming and unfruitful for present purposes. We have no need to focus on the shedim – demons, their origins and numbers save for the sake of illustrating varied points of interest. The phrase “demon – possessed” speaks volumes. Namely, that the person who is inhabited by the shade – demon is the “possession” of the shade.


Now of these souls some descend upon the earth with a view to being bound up in mortal bodies, those namely which are most nearly connected with the earth, and which are lovers of the body. But some soar upwards, being again distinguished according to the definitions and times which have been appointed by nature. Of these, those which are influenced by a desire for mortal life, and which have been familiarised to it, again return to it. But others, condemning the body of great folly and trifling, have pronounced it a prison and a grave, and, flying from it as from a house of correction or a tomb, have raised themselves aloft on light wings towards the aether, and have devoted their whole lives to sublime speculations. [44]


For those who love the body and feral pleasure, the intermediaries bind them to their incontrollable pleasures with the control of a shade – demon. We should also note that by use of “shade – demon,” Hakham Tsefet is NOT referring to the Yetser HaRa. The Yetser HaRa is the natural G-d given balance needed for human survival. The reference to “shedim – demons” teaches us that the person who believes that the body is the purpose for living, will be bound by a shade – demon to live in that manner. Again, we state that the Torah Scholar is never controlled or possessed by the shedim – demons.


B’resheet 15:5 And He took him outside, and He said, "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So will be your seed." 


 And He took him outside According to its simple meaning: He took him out of his tent, outdoors, to see the stars. But according to its midrashic interpretation, He said to him, “Go out of your astrology,” for you have seen in the signs of the zodiac that you are not destined to have a son. Indeed, Abram will have no son, but Abraham will have a son. Similarly, Sarai will not give birth, but Sarah will give birth. I will give you another name, and your destiny will change (Ned. 32a, Gen. Rabbah 44:10). Another explanation: He took him out of the terrestrial sphere and lifted him above the stars. This explains the expression of הַבָּטָה, looking down from above (Gen. Rabbah 44:12).


Rashi’s comments illustrate the point that Hakham Tsefet is trying to make. That point is that these intermediaries do not control the Torah Scholar and Torah observant Jews.[45] Lloyd Gaston makes the illustration of this point in his book “Paul and the Torah.”


The Gentile Predicament. Even to set down conclusions briefly will distort Paul. He did not begin with an objective analysis of the Gentile situation, and he thought mythologically rather than systematically about it. Nevertheless, it might be helpful to oversimplify here in order to make clear what is at issue. Chapter 1 raises the question of how the law relates to Gentiles in early Jewish thought. Chapter 2 carries the argument further by discussing in particular the apocalyptic conception of the angels of the nations. Since these two essays were written, there has appeared a significant study of Paul’s theology advocating apocalyptic as the matrix for all of Paul’s thought. An even more recent book revives the “principalities and powers” as part of Paul’s background. It is to be hoped that these two works will provide the stimulus for renewed attention to these important aspects of first-century thought.


The basic myth can be baldly stated. If early Judaism thought that God ruled over Israel directly, his rule over the Gentile nations was indirect and impersonal, through an agent something like a Persian satrap, if one will. The most common way of imagining these agents is in terms of the “angels of the nations.” A more Hellenistic way of putting the matter is to say that God’s rule, especially over nature, is administered by the “elements of the world,” that is, earth, water, air, and fire, or by the gods, especially the national gods. All of these are to be found in Paul along with much more general language concerning “the powers.” If in principle the rule of the angels or elements or gods was intended to be benevolent, for most people of this period it was experienced as oppressive. None of this is stated explicitly by Paul, but the basic pattern must be presupposed as part of the first century world-view.[46]


Gaston is demonstrating that there are elemental agents whose principle duty is rule over the world, specifically the gentiles. However, should the Jewish people fail to allow themselves to be controlled by the Torah, these agents will seek to control them as well.


δαίμων is not a word of bad omen in Greek. In the earlier language, it is used interchangeably with θεός, though more commonly it denotes the abstract notion of deity. In the later language, it denotes inferior deities, beings between God and man.[47]


and he would not permit the shedim – demons speak, because then knew who he was.


According to popular belief demons are “shades” which appear in all kinds of places, especially the lonely, at all possible times, especially at night, and in the most varied forms, especially those of uncanny beasts.[48]



The mention of Habdalah and the allusion to the mezuzah makes Hakham Tsefet’s point and lesson very clear. Freewill allows us to be “controlled” by our choice. We can be controlled by the Torah and the Oral Torah or, we can be controlled by the shade – demon of our choice. The present pericope demonstrates a number of people who were controlled by the shedim – demons, which they had previously chosen. However, seeing the light of the Master’s Mesorah these people came to a place that they desired restoration. This is an echo of last week’s statements in 2 Luqas (Acts) (3:17-26)…


“Therefore, do Teshubah and return to God so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the times of strengthening (comforting) may come from the presence of the LORD, so He will send the Messiah Yeshua chosen for you.”


The final statement demonstrates G-d’s choice for us.




Remes Commentary to Hakham Shaul



One cannot escape the sublime connection between the present Peshat pericope of Hakham Tsefet and the Torah Seder account of the “covenant of the pieces.” We should immediately note the verbal and thematic connection between these two pieces of materials.


And evening, at sunset[49] just after Habdalah


B’resheet 15:12 Now the sun was ready to set, and a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold, a fright, a great darkness was falling upon him. 


We would also like to point out that during the Habdalah ceremony we light the multi-wicked candle called a לפיד (lapid – torch) and recite the blessing for fire. However, the subtlety is in the stars as lights (fires) of the heavens. The number of the stars are associated with the “seed” of Abraham. Furthermore, the לפיד (lapid) is reminiscent of the smoking furnace of our present Torah Seder.


B’resheet 15:17 Now it came to pass that the sun had set, and it was dark, and behold, a smoking furnace and a fire brand, which passed between these parts.


And the entire city gathered around the door. And he (Yeshua) willingly out of his graciousness,[50] righteous/generosity…


The souls of the B’ne Yisrael are to shine like the stars of the heavens. Therefore, we would suggest that there is a sublime hint to the beauty of the Jewish soul. Like a bright and brilliant star, Messiah appeared at the door of Hakham Tsefet’s house. The surrounding community saw this star and came to see its brilliance. Having seen the essence of the star within Yeshua i.e. the Torah and Oral Torah, the souls possessed by demons desired to reflect this light.


Pro. 19:6 Many will entreat the favor of the Prince (generous נָדִיב – nadib man),[51] and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.


6 The great will beg the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend All become friends to a man who gives gifts. This may be interpreted as referring to those who give charity, and it may be interpreted as referring to those who disseminate the Torah. (Rashi)  


The Hebrew root נָדִיב (ndb) connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will to divine service or sacrifice. Therefore, we see the graciousness and generosity of the Master as a healing agent for those bound by the shedim – demons giving them uncompelled and free movement of the will.


The trade-off for those possessed by shedim – demons was that of bondage to “terrestrial virtue” for “heavenly virtue.” Here we comment in Remes albeit the explanations of So’od would better suffice. Nevertheless, the Remes hint suggests that the legalistic nature of the Shammaite has permeated the region of the north. Legal bondages have gripped the “entire city.”[52] The true essence of the Jewish soul is that of Torah. If that essence is corrupted by any deviation from the truth of the Torah, the soul will suffer innumerable forms of impairment. For example, the damage brought to the soul of the leper is the result of lashon hara – evil speech. It is noteworthy to mention that those who flee from authority or submit to despotic authority damage their soul.


For you think that you are endowed with some great skill because you have devised absurd opinions imposing upon you by an appearance of probability, in opposition to the truth: but in reality you are proved to be destitute of skill, in as much as you are unwilling to be healed of that terrible disease of the soul, ignorance. (Leg 3:36) [53]


The leper was banished from the presence of G-d to the regions beyond the camp. Here he was given room and space to do Teshuba. Yet those who are expelled from the camp (Divine Presence) often become prisoners to wickedness. The teshuba of the leper brings purity to the soul, which in turn heals the body. If the leper will not do teshuba, the damage to his soul and body becomes irreparable.

Righteousness by Faith?

While we can see that legalism is not G-d’s way, we must also assert that neither is “salvation by faith.”  However, “salvation” is by faithful obedience to the Torah and Oral Torah as genuine truth. Hakham Shaul follows the refrain “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him as righteousness/generosity” in the Nazarean Codicil four times with Hakham Ya’akov citing this reference once.[54]


Rashi translated B’resheet as follows…


B’resheet 15:6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him as righteousness. (Rashi)


The Ramban translates the same passage as follows…


B’resheet 15:6 And he trusted HaShem, and He reckoned it to him as righteous. (Ramban)


The Ramban from a Remes hermeneutic suggests, “Abraham believed G-d that he would have an offspring.” He (Ramban) further states that Abraham believed that he would have offspring because of “G-d’s righteousness,” not his (Abraham’s) “righteousness.” Hakham Shaul makes his point clear in declaring the purpose of his letter to the Romans.


Rom 1:5 Through him (Yeshua) we have received chesed and a commission to bring into faithful obedience[55] [to the Torah] among all the Gentiles under his (Messiah’s) authority, Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God which is revealed from faithful obedience to faithful obedience; as it is written, "but the righteous man will live by faithful obedience."


It is very interesting that Hakham Shaul’s words are twisted and contorted to give license for any lifestyle one should choose, when Hakham Ya’akov cites the same passage arguing “justification” through faithful obedience. Simply stated, Hakham Shaul’s words are contorted for self-gratification by those who have no understanding of the Torah.[56]

Olly olly oxen free


When we were children, we would play “hide and seek” and “kick the can.” While everyone is familiar with the concept of “hide and seek” the rules of “kick the can” are different. Kick the can was a game similar to hide and seek. However, the point of the game was to “guard the can.” The can was usually filled with rocks, which were the “treasure.” The guardian of the can had to look for those hiding nearby, like “hide and seek.” The trick for those hiding was to wait until the guardian of the can was gone to look for those in hiding. When he was not guarding the can those in hiding would come and “kick the can” full of treasure. If this was accomplished without being caught by the guardian, all those in hiding were “liberated and free.” The person who was able “kick the can” without being caught would shout out “olly olly oxen free.” The rest of those in hiding came out to have their chance at kicking the can.


The game of “hide and seek” used the same refrain. However, this was usually after the “seeker” became tired of hunting for the hiding souls without any success. His, “olly olly oxen free” meant that all those in hiding could come out into the open without any penalty. It is hard to determine the etymology of the phrase “olly olly oxen free.” There are several suggested possibilities. However, the point was that those in hiding out were free to come in home free, without penalty per se. So, why should we use this refrain in a commentary on Torah?


B’resheet 15:13 And He said to Abram, "You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers


Hakham Tsefet connects to the Torah Seder with the shedim – demons because of their feral attributes. Rabbi Culi tells us that the animals of the Abrahamic vision represent those four empires that would subjugate the B’ne Yisrael.[57]


The Peshat or literal interpretation of the cited text is that the “seed of Abraham” will go into exile and eventually be redeemed. Rashi suggests that the “fright” Abraham experienced is due to the troubles that his seed would face in their exiles. Our Remes interpretation of the passage can read, “your seed will be strangers,” gerim who must be “grafted into “the stock of the B’ne Yisrael. However, the hiding souls we are referring to are the lost souls of the Babylonian and now, the great exile. As such, we cry out to all those in hiding, “olly olly oxen free.” We Nazarean Jews will share the virtues of the heavens. “Now (the) virtue (of the heavens) is called a paradise metaphorically, and the appropriate place for the paradise is Eden; and this means luxury: and the most appropriate field for virtue is peace, and ease, and joy; in which real luxury especially consists.” (Leg 1:45)[58]


How often and how much the two Hakhamim, Hakham Tsefet and Hakham Shaul collaborated with regard to the Triennial Torah Seder and Peshat/Remes materials would be conjecture. Here our point is to demonstrate that these two Hakhamim were very much in tune with each other. Hakham Tsefet speaks of shedim – demons, dark and Habdalah. Hakham Shaul mimics this material in Luqas 4:40-41. However, the wily Hakham Shaul weaves his web in 2 Luqas (Acts) 4:1-4 by placing the Hakhamim into a prison for teaching the resurrection. This is pictured in Abraham’s sleeping, dream vision during the day.


The Peshat lays the foundation for our Remes so carefully and cleverly that we often overlook the subtle materials which should be used as hints. Accumulating the points of the Nazarean Codicil in conjunction with the message of the Torah Seder we should see the grand picture.


The control and possession by the shedim – demons is clearly a hint to the controlling powers of the intermediaries who police and govern the nations. However, if this is all the further we take this notion we will have missed the whole point and truth of being Nazarean Jews, serving in the Palace of the Master. Hakham Tsefet makes it VERY clear that the B’ne Yisrael would submit to the coming “Governance of G-d” through the Bate Din and Hakhamim. Therefore, the B’ne Yisrael remains directly under the control of every G-d-fearing Hakham and Bate Din. This begs the question of how the Gentiles relate to G-d. Every preacher in the world will agree that they must submit to the Master’s regime. The gentiles who would turn to G-d are brought under the authority of the Master and his intermediaries, the Nazarean Bate Din and Hakhamim.


Col 2:15 When he (Yeshua) had disarmed the rulers and authorities (intermediaries), he made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through him.


Eph 3:10-11 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He (God) carried out in Yeshua HaMashiach our Master,


Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to [Nazarean] rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,


While these verses look to the future they are also seated in present realities. Therefore, the Nazarean Jews should accept their duty as the intermediaries of the nations and shine like the stars of the heavens.






Questions for Understanding and Reflection


  1. From all the readings for this Shabbat which verse or verses impressed your heart and fired your imagination?
  2. What question/s (no more than two questions) about the Torah Seder for this Shabbat arose for which Hakham Tsefet’s Mishnah provides an adequate answer/s?
  3. Taking into consideration all the readings for this Shabbat what is the prophetic statement for this week?



Blessing After Torah Study


Barúch Atáh Adonai, Elohénu Meléch HaOlám,

Ashér Natán Lánu Torát Emét, V'Chayéi Olám Natá B'Tochénu.

Barúch Atáh Adonái, Notén HaToráh. Amen!

Blessed is Ha-Shem our God, King of the universe,

Who has given us a teaching of truth, implanting within us eternal life.

Blessed is Ha-Shem, Giver of the Torah. Amen!

“Now unto Him who is able to preserve you faultless, and spotless, and to establish you without a blemish,

before His majesty, with joy, [namely,] the only one God, our Deliverer, by means of Yeshua the Messiah our Master, be praise, and dominion, and honor, and majesty, both now and in all ages. Amen!”




Next Sabbath: “Vay’hi Abram”

“And when Abram was”



Torah Reading:

Weekday Torah Reading:

וַיְהִי אַבְרָם



“Vay’hi Abram”

Reader 1 – B’resheet 17:1-6

Reader 1 – B’resheet 18:1-4

“And when Abram was”

Reader 2 – B’resheet 17:7-9

Reader 2 – B’resheet 18:5-7

“Y cuando Abram tenía”

Reader 3 – B’resheet 17:10-14

Reader 3 – B’resheet 18:7-9

B’resheet (Gen.) Gen. 17:1-27

Reader 4 – B’resheet 17:15-17


Ashlamatah: Jer. 33:25 – 34:5 + 34:8-13

Reader 5 – B’resheet 17:18-20



Reader 6 – B’resheet 17:21-23

Reader 1 – B’resheet 18:1-4

Psalms 12:1-9

Reader 7 – B’resheet 17:24-27

Reader 2 – B’resheet 18:5-7


    Maftir – B’resheet 17:24-27

Reader 3 – B’resheet 18:7-9

N.C.: Mark 1:35-39

Luke 4:42-44 & Acts 4:5-12

         Jer. 33:25 – 34:5 + 34:8-13




Shabbat Shalom!

Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu ben Abraham
















[1] Rabbi Menachem Ben Shlomo Meiri. His Torah commentary always took a non-literal approach.

[2] The ArtScroll Tanach Series, Tehillim, A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and rabbinic sources. Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Translation by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer in collaboration with Rabbi Nosson Scherman.

[3] Bereshit (Genesis) 22:2

[4] Tanchuma Buber, Lech Lecha 15.

[5] Ramban Commentary On The Torah, translated and annotated with index, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel. See Bereshit 22:1

[6] Tehillim (Psalms) 11:7

[7] Tehillim (Psalms) 11:5

[8] Bereshit (Genesis) 21:20

[9] Bereshit (Genesis) 21:9

[10] His Eminence Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai found these correlations.

[11] It is important to note that we should NEVER request a test. As King David found out, one who requests a test will always fail that test. We must wait for the test that HaShem know we will pass – and let that be enough for us.

[12] Tehillim (Psalms) 11:5

[13] Lit. the merit of the fathers.

[14] The Torah: A Modern Commentary (UAHC, 1981), p. 151, n.5

[15] Chapters of Rabbi Eliezar is an aggadic-midrash. Traditionally, PRE has been understood to be a tannaitic composition which originated with the tanna Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, - a disciple of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and teacher of Rabbi Akiva - and his disciples.

[16] Sacrificial offering.

[17] Bereshit 26:1-2

[18] Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 56:8

[19] I Yochanan (John) 3:16

[20] Rashi on Bereshit 18

[21] see the Zohar on Bereshit (Genesis) 28:11

[22] Rav Yaakov HaLevi Segal Moelin (c. 1365 – September 14, 1427) was a Talmudist and posek (authority on Jewish law) best known for his codification of the customs (minhagim) of the German Jews.

[23] Yalkut Shimoni, Vayera 99

[24] Tehillim 69:2

[25] Bereshit 22:16-18

[26] The end of the section was written by Sara Yoheved Rigler.

[27] Verbal connection to Isa 2:3

[28] Verbal connection to Psa 11:4 and Isa 1:1

[29] Verbal connection to B’resheet 15:12 (“and it came to pass as the sun was going down”) and Psa. 11:2

[30] TDNT 5:886

[31] חן grace – gracious, an allusion to a Kabbalist. See Ramban. (2008). The Torah; with Ramban’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated, (Vol. Sefer Beresheet). Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications ltd. p 340 n2

[32] θεραπεύω (therapeuo) contains the dual concept of “willing service” – slavery and healing of a disease or offering medical attention. Note the concept as stated in Proverbs. 19:6 Many will entreat the favor of the prince; and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. Also a thematic connection to Psa 11:7

[33] m. Middot 1:1 In three places do the priests keep watch in the sanctuary: (1) in the room of Abtinas, (2) in the room of the flame, and (3) in the room of the hearth. And the Levites [keep watch] in twenty-one places [I Chron. 26:17–18]: five at the five gates of the Temple mount; four at the four corners on the inside [of the Temple wall]; five at the five gates of the courtyard; four at the four corners on the outside [the wall of] the courtyard; and one at the office of the offering [M. 1:6], and one at the office of the veil, and one behind the Mercy Seat [outside of the western wall of the holy of holies, M. 5:1]. also a connection to Psa 11:4

[34] ἦν γὰρ ἑσπέρα ἤδη (ēn gar espera ēdē) for it was already evening (the sun was setting) anchors this pericope of 2 Luqas (Acts) into the Torah Seder with its shared components of the Nazarean Codicil. This makes a three-fold witness to the materials of the Torah Seder and the Nazarean Codicil being read according to the Triennial Torah Seder.

[35] Verbal connection to Isa 1:2

[36] Verbal connection to B’resheet 15:5

[37] Cf. 2 Luqas (Acts) 20:7

[38] Thomson Gale. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Judaica, (2 ed., Vol. 8). (F. Skolnik, Ed.) 2007: Keter Publishing House Ltd. p. 295

[39] Bekkum, 299.

[40] Shimon Halevi Horovitz, Machzor Vitri, (Berlin: bi-defus shel Ts. H. Ittskavski, 1889), 282. This is also discussed in Wout Van Bekkum, "The Rock on Which the Church is Founded," Saints and Role Models in Judaism and Christianity (Brill, 2004), 300 and "Nishmat Kol Hai," Encyclopedia Judaica CD ROM Edition, Judaica Multimedia (1997).

[41] Thomson Gale. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Judaica, (2 ed., Vol. 15). (F. Skolnik, Ed.) 2007: Keter Publishing House Ltd. p. 275

[42] Bekkum, 299.

habdalah The ceremony which marks the conclusion of a Sabbath or festival and the beginning of an ordinary day.

[43]Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah: A new translation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p.12

[44] Philo. (1993). The Works of Philo, Complete and Unabridged in one volume. (N. U. Edition, Ed., & C. Yonge, Trans.) Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 377 (1:138 – 139)

[45] Culi, R. Y. (1989). The Torah Anthology (B’ereheet 12:1-28:9) (Vol. 2). Brooklyn, New York: Moznaim Publishing Corporation. p 89. See also Zohar Chadash, p. 8

[46] Gaston, L. (1987). Paul and the Torah. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. p. 9 (Bolding and underlining are my emphisis)

[47]Gould, E. P. (1922). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to St. Mark. New York: C. Scribner's sons. p. 26

[48]Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 2.6

[49] Verbal connection to B’resheet 15:12 (“and it came to pass as the sun was going down”)

[50] חן grace – gracious, an allusion to a Kabbalist. See Ramban. (2008). The Torah; with Ramban’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated, (Vol. Sefer Beresheet). Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications ltd. p 340 n2

[51] The root  נָדִיב (ndb) connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice

[52] This hyperbole should alert us to the fact that Hakham Tsefet is trying to tell us just how far reaching this problem was.

[53] Philo. (1993). The Works of Philo, Complete and Unabridged in one volume. (N. U. Edition, Ed., & C. Yonge, Trans.) Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 54

[54] Cf. Rom. 4:3, 9, 13; Gal 3:6; Jam 2:23

[55] Note: It is G-d’s grace, if I may use the term, to bring Gentiles into faithful obedience of the Torah and Oral Torah through the agent of Yeshua our Messiah.

[56] For those who wish to understand this subject more fully, we recommend Lloyd Gaston’s work “Paul and the Torah.”

[57] Culi, R. Y. (1989). The Torah Anthology (B’ereheet 12:1-28:9) (Vol. 2). Brooklyn, New York: Moznaim Publishing Corporation. p 89. See also Zohar Chadash, p. 96

[58] Philo. (1993). The Works of Philo, Complete and Unabridged in one volume. (N. U. Edition, Ed., & C. Yonge, Trans.) Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 45