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


"This is my G-d v'anveihu" [5:2]

'v'anveihu'-I will elevate [the Great Name, i.e., the Tetragrammaton], to the G-d of the most high naveh [abode], this being the G-d of my fathers, to whom He had appeared as Ei-l Sha-dai. And now I shall exalt Him by the complete Name, for henceforth the Name will be ish milchamah [literally, "man of war", but here alluding to the attribute of justice]. And His Name will be the Eternal, [meaning that the name comprises justice with mercy], similar in meaning to the verse "Now I will be exalted, now I will lift Myself up" [Isaiah 33:10]. It is possible that the word 'zeh' [this] alludes to the seven emanations in wisdom, this being associated with the verse "..zeh [this] is My Name for ever, v'zeh [and this] is My memorial" [Above 3:15] And in the Mechilta we read: "My G-d. - He dealt with me according to the attribute of mercy, while with my fathers he dealt according to the attribute of justice. And whence do we know that my G-d signifies the attribute of mercy? Because it is said, My G-d, my G-d, why hast Thou forsaken me?[Psalms 22:2, "And surely one would not say to the attribute of justice, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" Rashi] Heal her now. O G-d, I beseech thee.[Numbers 12:13] The Eternal is 'E-il' [G-d] and He hath given us light." [Psalms 118:27] If so, Scripture her says 'zeh E-ili' [this is my G-d], meaning that "with me He is E-il [G-d in His aspect of mercy] in this matter, since He was exalted with mercy to be compassionate in His justice."

"..And his hands were "emunah" "
Ex. 17:12
This means that they remained steadily uplifted. The usage of the world is similar to the expression: "And yet for all this we make 'amamah' [ a sure] covenant" [Nehemiah 10:1], meaning a provision "fixed" by covenant. Similarly, "a peg fastened in a place"ne'eman" means [sure and] strong.

By way of the Truth [the mystic lore of the Kabbalah], Moses lifted his ten fingers to the height of heaven in order to allude to the ten emanations and to cleave firmly to Him Who fights for Israel. Here is explained the matter of uplifting of hand during the blessing of the priests, and its secret.


Rabbeinu Bachya

"As long as Moses held his hands up…" [17:11]

A kabbalistic approach: Moses' raising his hands was a matter of his concentrating on his ten fingers being pointed at what is called rom hashamayim. The kav ha'emtsha-ie, the central line in the emanations, which we discussed earlier, is known as rom with the vowel shuruk. Moshe did something similar to what the priests do when they raise their hands in the priestly blessing. By concentrating on the number ten they also concentrate on the ten emanations and the source of blessing, that flows from that region to disembodied spirits. At such a time the power of any force opposing such prayers is checked and its influence halted (at least temporarily). At such moments the Israelite soldiers would be victorious. The words "Israel had the upper hand" was therefore something closely linked to Moses' continued ability or willingness to raise his fingers and concentrate on the number ten. Whenever Moses' concentration flagged, the accusing finger of the celestial representative of Amalek made itself felt and the Israelites retreated. Moses was compelled to lower his hands from time to time as it is not admissible to interfere with opposing spiritual forces to such an extent that one neutralizes them altogether. G-d has not created forces in the universe in order for them to be totally ineffective. This is what the prophet Isaiah 45:18 also had in mind when he said of G-d creating the earth "He did not create it a waste, but formed it for habitation." This statement includes all the phenomena G-d has created, not just those that we appreciate or are fond of. Consider the matter as if in order to have balance in the world the forces of evil have a role assigned to them and it is not up to any man to totally deny them unless the premise for their existence has been removed, i.e. unless all people are good all the time. "The Midrash expressed this by saying that it is forbidden to stand with outstretched hands in prayer for more than three hours."



"An omer is a tenth of an ephah." [16:36]

Why is the quantity of an omer described only at the end of the whole chapter? And why is this information important to us nowadays?

Since there is a mystical element in the heavenly food manna, the meaning of 'tenth' is a reference to those mystical properties. Similar considerations underlie the 10 words in Psalms 104:14, describing the process resulting in the production of bread. Also the 10 words in the benediction recited over bread are based on the 10 stages of the process. For this reason, we place our 10 fingers on the bread when reciting the benediction.

Based on Job 38:4, aipho hayita (where have you been), Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai concludes that original Adam incorporated all future mankind within his person. Anyone born subsequently would thus be, in a sense, a part of Adam. Since the soul of the Jew is part of G-d, each Jew has within him some minute replica of the 10 heavenly spheres which Kabbalists view as the celestial power structure.



Prayer involves two diametrically opposed emotions: joy and happiness on the one hand, a crushed heart on the other. There are two diametrically opposed verses, each one of which purports to tell us how to serve G-d by prayer. In Psalms (100:2) we are told: "Serve the Lord in joy," whereas in Psalms (2:11) we are told: "Serve G-d in trepidation!" The plain meaning of the verses in question is that they apply to prayer which is called "service of the heart."

Our sages have said that while praying, we must direct our heart toward Heaven and our eyes towards Earth: Our downcast eyes to remind us of our smallness, our insignificance before G-d the Exalted. Our uplifted heart will induce fear and trepidation so that we may serve G-d out of true reverence. Once we have attained this level of reverence our heart will contemplate what is above us and thus will be full of joy that we have been found fit to serve such a Master. We note that both emotions are an integral part of prayer.

There are still other mystical aspects to this issue regarding prayer, for there exists a problem of all the forces that interpose themselves between us and Heaven, trying to prevent our prayers from reaching there. The sages who formulated the sequence of our daily prayers arranged for us to recite the "Verses of Song" (Pesukei Dezimra) so that we may cut a path through these forces impeding our prayers. This is why someone who engages in conversation between the recital of the beginning of the "Verses of Song" and its conclusion undermines the purpose of the recital of these hymns; as a result, the major part of our prayers will not be able to proceed heavenwards for the "Verses of Song" should have been engaged in deflecting the kelipot, spiritual barriers, which try to prevent our prayers from "breaking through"


Ohr HaChayim

"...Eat it today for today is G-d's Shabbat. You will not find [anything] in the field today." (16:25)

Moses did not tell the people explicitly not to go out and collect manna. He only told them that they would not find any manna in the field if they went to collect it.
The last words in the verse may also be understood as the rationale for the people not being able to find manna in the field on that day. In other words: "the reason you will not find manna in the field tomorrow is that tomorrow is a Shabbat for G-d." We may have an allusion here to what Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said in the Zohar, page 88: "The food supply for the six weekdays descends from the celestial spheres on the Shabbat; this supply then descends further on a daily basis." Moses only excluded the manna from being found on the Shabbat in our world, i.e. "in the field," in the celestial world it could be found on the Shabbat.



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 Rabbeinu 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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