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And he called his name Enosh, then began (men) to call in the Name of Hashem. (4:26)

The explanation typically offered for the phrase cited above seems to contradict the reality of those times. Particularly during the generation of Enosh, the decadence of idol worship became the prevalent lifestyle. How can this be reconciled with “then began to call in the name of Hashem”? Rabbi Zvi H. Farber z.t.l. suggests a novel interpretation of this pasuk. He explains that when he emigrated to London, he was impressed by the public display of religious observance. The synagogues were named Machazikei Hadaas, Shomrei Shabbos; the butcher stores proudly displayed their adherence to kashrus, and so on. At first his…

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And He placed at the east of Gan Eden the Keruvim and the flaming sword which turned every way. (3:24)

Rashi translates the keruvim in the pasuk above as “angels of destruction.” This definition contrasts with Rashi’s interpretation in Parashas Terumah of the keruvim which were above the Aron Ha’Kodesh. There Rashi describes keruvim as having the sweet angelic faces of children. Rabbi M.M. Epstein z.t.l.  suggests an educational lesson to be derived from Rashi. The future of a young child is dependent upon his education. If he is brought to the Ohel Moed, to the Bais Ha’Mikdash, to study Torah, then he has the opportunity to reach the zenith of spirituality. He can “hover’ over the Aron Ha’Kodesh, as…

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And Hashem said, “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helpmate for him. (2:18)

In following the text we may wonder why the decision to give Adam a helpmate is followed by the episode of giving names to the various creatures. This is immediately followed by the statement that He had found no helpmate for Adam.  This would seem to indicate that the giving of the names is an essential part of the subject and a prerequisite for the creation of Chava. Rabbi A. Miller, Shlita, explains that, indeed, the giving of the names was actually a way of preparing Adam to receive a wife.  It was necessary to make Adam acutely aware of…

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And there were finished the heaven and the earth and all their hosts. (2:1)

The word “vayechulu” is usually translated as “were ended” or “were brought to perfection.” As the Ohr Ha’Chaim states, the root word vkf also signifies “to yearn.” When Hashem completed creation, He had to prevent His creatures from falling prey to the inertia which befalls every living being who lacks aspiration. He consequently imbued His creatures with a yearning, and quest for Divine Light. The term vkf expresses this yearning, which contains within it the ability to lose oneself entirely in spiritual thought. This longing represents an expression of the love crowning the work of creation. In citing the Ohr…

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And Hashem said; Let us make man in our image after our likeness. (1:26)

Just as a human head of state confers with his cabinet before issuing a decree or enacting a law, so does Hashem “take counsel” with His angels. When Hashem said, “Let us make man,” He was addressing His ministering angels, He was soliciting their “opinion” in the matter. The Midrash describes the following discussion that went on in Heaven: Some angels were opposed to Adam’s creation, while others were in favor. The middah, characteristic, of chesed, kindness, affirmed, “Let him be created,” because he will perform acts of kindness. The middah of emes, truth, stood in opposition. It protested, “He…

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האומר לאביו ולאמו לא ראיתיו ואת אחיו לא הכיר ואת בנו לא ידע

The one who has said of his father and mother, “I have not favored him”; his brothers he did not give recognition, and his children he did not know.” (33:9)

As Moshe Rabbeinu blesses Shevet Levi, he details their qualities and the perfection of their souls, which they exhibited while standing up for the Glory of Hashem and His Torah. They withstood enormous challenges to their spiritual persona and emerged better people, to the point that their individual personal lives had no meaning to them. They lived for Hashem. When Moshe stood in the midst of the Jewish camp following the tragic sin of the Golden Calf, he called out, Mi l’Hashem eilai! “Who is for Hashem should come forward and stand by me!” It was the tribe of Levi…

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וזאת ליהודה ויאמר שמע ד' קול יהודה ואל עמו תביאנו ידיו רב לו ועזר מצריו תהיה

And this to Yehudah, and he said, “Listen, O’ Hashem to Yehudah’s voice, and return him to his people; may his hands fight his grievance and may You be a helper against his enemies.” (33:7)

The Talmud Sotah 7b, teaches that, during all of the years that the Jewish People sojourned in the wilderness, the bones of Yehudah were rolling around in his coffin. Moshe Rabbeinu then prayed on his soul’s behalf. He entreated Hashem, saying, “Who caused Reuven to confess – if not Yehudah?” Immediately, Hashem listened. Yehudah’s bones came to rest, but they were not permitted to enter into the Yeshivah Shel Maalah, Heavenly Academy. Moshe prayed again, requesting, “And return him to his people.” Hashem listened, and Yehudah’s neshamah entered the Yeshivah. He was unable, however, to establish a Torah dialogue with…

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ויהי בישורון מלך בהתאסף ראשי עם יחד שבטי ישראל

He became King over Yeshurun when the numbers of the nations gathered – the tribes of Yisrael in unity. (32:5)

Hashem is Klal Yisrael’s King in the fullest sense only when the nation acts like a klal, united in each individual’s conviction and obedience to carry out His will. When we received the Torah at Har Sinai it was amidst ish echad b’lev echad, “One man with one heart.” The nation was unified as one. We pray for that day to return. Unity among Jews is all-important. Without it, we cannot exist as a nation under G-d. Great tzaddikim have gone out of their way to promote achdus, unity. Horav Moshe Epstein, zl, the Admor of Ozrov, was a well-known…

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תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב

The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Yaakov. (33:4)

This pasuk, which claims that the Torah is our morashah, heritage, seems to contradict Rabbi Yossi’s statement in Pirkei Avos 2:12, “And prepare yourself to study the Torah, for it does not come to you by inheritance.” Is it a yerushah – or not? Horav Meir Lehmann, zl, Rav of Mainz, Germany, explains that, indeed, the Torah is the heritage of the community of Yaakov – but not an inheritance of the individual Jew. The Torah belonging to the Jewish community at large will never be lost, for there will always be men who will see to it that it…

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לפתח חטאת רבץ ואליך תשוקתו ואתה תמשל בו

Sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it. (4:7)

Herein lies the folly of man. True, the yetzer hora, evil inclination, is constantly on guard, looking for ways to entice us into sin. Man, however, does not have to succumb to its blandishments. He can prevail – if he so wants to: Im tirtzeh tisgaber alav. In Rashi’s immortal words, “If you want, you will prevail over it.” It is all up to us. If we want, we will succeed; if our desire for success is lackadaisical, we will fall into its clutches. The following episode gives meaning to the idea that it is all up to us. We…

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