Weekly Reading Insights: 



From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of Moses)

13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat

17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya Horowitz

18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar


".....Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top shall reach the sky. Let us make ourselves a name......" [Gen. 11:4]

He who knows the meaning of the word "name" will understand their intent and will know the extent of their evil intention inconstructing the tower. And then he will understand the whole subject, namely, that theirs was an evil thought, and the punishment that came over them - to be dispersed in their languages and countries - was meted out measure for measure for "they mutilated the shoots" [of faith by seeking to undermine the principle of the Unity]. Thus their sin was comparable to that of their father Adam [see next verse: "And the Eternal came down to see....which the children of men (ha-Adam) had built"]. Contemplete further that in the entire matter of the dispersion it mentions the Four-Letter Name; the flood came on account of the corruption of the land, and the dispersion came because "they mutilated the shoots" of faith and therefore their punishment was meted out by His Great Name. This explains the "coming down" and also the Divine measure meted out in Sodom. [verse 19:24, where the Four Letter Name is also used]


Rabbeinu Bachya

"I have placed My (rain)bow in the cloud…" [9:13]

From the perspective of Kabbalah, the word keshti (my bow) is derived from kasha (hard, severe). It is a reference to the attribute of Justice, the "hard" attribute. G-d said that it should become the sign of the covenant, i.e., the sign of circumcision. The Torah very significantly did not say "the rainbow I have placed in the cloud," in other words "the well known rainbow." The reason G-d refers to "My rainbow," is to remind us that the cloud He speaks of is not one of the regular clouds that appear in the sky every day. He does not speak of the kind of cloud which discharges rain. G-d speaks of the ananeih hakovod (the clouds of glory) such as when we are told in Exodus 16:10 "and behold! The glory of G-d became manifest in the clouds" (the prelude to the Israelites receiving meat and bread from heaven at the hands of G-d.) The meaning of the words in our verse "and the bow could be seen in the clouds" is "the attribute of Justice will (then) become manifest in the cloud." Seeing that we have a verse in Ezekiel 1:28 "as the appearance of the bow which shall be on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brilliance all around. That was the appearance of the semblance of the glory of G-d" Our sages in Chagigah 16 interpreted these words as being a warning that anyone who looks deliberately at the rainbow will have diminished eyesight.
You should be enlightened by the following comment in Bereishit Rabbah 35:3 on the words "I have placed My (rain)bow in the cloud…" "The word keshti describes something that is an obstacle for Me." Is there then such a thing as an "obstacle"
for G-d? Is there anything that HE cannot overcome? We must therefore understand the word as derived from kash (straw) the pedicle of a fruit. Why did the Midrash repeat the same comment twice? Look at the conclusion of the passage! Here
G-d speaks to Noach alone (not to his children) when He says "this is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all of mankind." At this point G-d took Noach into His confidence and revealed a mystical aspect to him that He had not revealed to his children. This is the deeper meaning of the words, "this is the sign (visible symbol) of the covenant." [Gen.9:17]



"G-d told Noach leave the ark" [Gen. 8:15]

The difference in the spelling of the command hotzeh and ha-yetzey in numerical values is 4. This may be a veiled reference to the 4 lettered name of G-ds attribute of mercy. The meaning them would be 'take this attribute out of the ark with you', it will help all the creatures to multiply and fill the earth. This may also be the thought behind G-d saying in this verse va-yedaber, i.e. stern talk, followed by laymor (to say softly). Since there was no outsider to communicate with, G-d may have wanted to indicate that the harsh realities of the midat hadin, (attribute of justice) would henceforth have to be tempered with midat harachamim, the attribute of mercy, in order for the task of rebuilding civilization to be carried out successfully. The period of trials and tribulations is to be left behind with the ark.



"Noah walked with G-d" (Gen. 6:1)

The difference between the verses "Noah walked with G-d" (Gen. 6:1) and "G-d before Whom I [Abraham] walked" (Gen. 24:40) is as follows: Noah needed G-d to "hold his hand", so to speak, whereas Abraham was self-propelled and always took the initiative. Noah was afraid to mix with the corrupt society he lived in and isolated himself with only G-d as his companion because he was afraid of contemporary society's possible influence. Abraham was not only confident that he would not succumb to the corrupt society around him, but he tried to lead his fellow-men back to the path of monotheism and a life of good deeds. I have elaborated on this elsewhere. This is the plain meaning of those verses.


Ohr HaChayim

"And I, here I shall bring on a deluge" [Gen. 6:17]

It is difficult to justify the extra word, the first "I", Rashi explains it to mean: "I am prepared to concur with those angels who have considered man as not worth preserving." According to my own approach it simply means that the stage had been reached for G-d to give permission to the destructive agents that had readied themselves to carry out their design. Although the verse specifies only rain, the Zohar has elaborated on the meaning of the word mabul (deluge) which would not have been needed had the Torah referred only to rain. This word alludes to the deadly power of the angel of death.



Ramban - credits
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or 'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel

Bachya - credits
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The Torah Commentary of Rebbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.

Alsheich - credits
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech, the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

Shelah - credits
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz was born in Prague around the year 1565. He served as Rabbi of Cracow and other congregations before he was appointed as the Rabbi of the community of Frankfurt on Main in the year 1610. In 1916, Rabbi Horowitz moved to Prague where he became the Chief Rabbi of the city. He moved to Eretz Yisrael about 1621. He was rabbi in Jerusalem and in Tiberias, where he died in or about 1630. In addition to his magnus opus, Shenei Luchot HaBrit, he also compiled an edition of the prayer-book with a comprehensive commentary. Many of his innovations, including his formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer, have become part and parcel of the Ashkenazi Siddur.

Ohr HaChayim - credits
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco, on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker, hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only to his Torah commentary.

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