From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of
13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben
14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben
16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe
Alshech of Tsfat
17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya
18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim
"...and keep My covenant, you shall by My special treasure among
'and keep My covenant'. I.e., "the covenant that I have made with
your fathers to be a G-d unto them and to their seed after them."
[Gen. 17:7] Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra explained it as referring to the covenant
which Moses was to make with Israel after the giving of the Torah, as
he said: "Behold, the blood of the covenant, which the Eternal hath
made with you in agreement with all these words." [further, 24:8]
By the way of Truth, [that is, the mystic lore of the Kabbalah, the verse
is to be understood as meaning] that "you should keep My covenant
to cleave unto Me, for if thou shall indeed hearken unto My voice and
do all that I speak [see ibid., 23:22] then you shall be Mine own s'gulah
(treasure) from among all peoples."[here in verse 5] This means that
"you will be a treasure 'in My hand," for a king does not hand
over a precious object into the hand of another (for permanent possession).
The word s'gulah here is similar in meaning to the expression:
"..us'gulath (and treasure) such as kings and the provinces
have as their own."[Eccl. 2:8]
The Ten Commandments
A Kabbalistic approach. The Ten Commandments correspond to the ten emanations
you will find in the 613 letters corresponding to the 613 commandments
which emanate from the Ten Commandants. The extra seven letters (which
we discussed earlier) are an allusion to the seven 'voices' Moses heard,
i.e. that he acquired an understanding of the meaning of the seven lower
emanations while he experienced the revelation at Mount Sinai. When you
add these seven letters to the other 613 letters the total numerical value
will be 620, the numerical value of the tenth and highest emanation keter.
The seven emanations which Moses had learned to understand were all derived
from that highest emanation keter.
Each emanation relates or is relevant to one of the Ten Commandments (continued
"Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my
covenant, then you shall be my own treasure from among all peoples: for
all the earth is mine: and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and
a holy nation." [19:5-6]
In order now for you to hear My voice personally, all you have to do
is listen to My commandments and observe My covenant. The freedom from
the angel of death will come only 40 days later. At this stage the most
you can achieve is to hear My voice.
Should Israel ask that if they are to be totally spiritual creatures such
as angels, why would G'd take the Torah out of the celestial regions,
away from the angels, and give it to them? The Torah answers that Israel
has two tasks.!) To become a kingdom of priests. 2) To be a holy nation.
When our sages describe the condition of the soul in the world to come,
they employ the following hyperbole. 'The righteous are seated with their
crowns on their heads". They do not simply say that the righteous
wear crowns, but that they wear their crowns on their heads while seated.
Angels are always described as standing, never as leaping, or moving forward.
See, for example: Isaiah 6, 2; Zachariah 3,7.
We need to view G-d as like a king who has two categories of servants
at his command. One category is assigned duty in his palace, a permanent
assignment. The reward of these servants is the very fact that they have
the privilege of serving G-d. The second category of servants receive
instructions to perform their errands on behalf of G-'d outside His palace.
Their reward will be that once they have performed their tasks, they will
be recalled to the palace and assigned positions of honor near the king,
and enjoy the king's company henceforth. They will not be called upon
to carry out any further assignments.
There is no doubt that this latter category of servants is the more beloved
of the two. The first category referred to in our parable are the malachey
hasharet, angels of service, whom G-d employs forever who are busy
carrying out assignments as we read in Psalms 103:21 'His servants who
are performing His will'
The second category are the Jewish people, whose assignments are limited
to the time allocated to them on this earth. After that, they retire to
celestial regions, enjoying the peace and harmony that prevails there.
The reason they can do so is, that by performing G-d's commandments down
here, we have created new agents for G-d. Our crowns are these very angels
created by our meritorious acts. It is all this which G'd has in mind
when He tells the Jewish people 'you will be for Me etc...' Since angels
are not equipped with an evil urge, they cannot receive credit for subduing
it, sublimating it.
This is the reason G'd prefers tzadikim over malachim,
righteous people over angels.
I shall now attempt to convey some of the mystical dimensions of the
Ten Commandments, five of which address themselves to our Maker and five
to the well-being of our fellow-man. The entire Torah consists of permutations
of the name of G-d
We are already well aware that the entire Torah consists of permutations
of the name of G-d, permutations which extend endlessly in all directions
of the universe.
The four-lettered Ineffable Name, yud, hei, vav, hei (Havayah)
is the name which symbolizes G-d's essence. All other names are somehow
derived from this four-lettered name; these various "pseudonyms"
of G-d's name are subordinate to this name, Havayah. There is not
a word or letter in the Torah which does not in some form allude, however
indirectly, to a name of G-d and which in turn links up with the four-lettered
Ineffable Name. This means that the "Torah of G-d is complete",
and all its aspects somehow lead back to the Ineffable Name.
Keeping this in mind it is easy to understand that the Ten Commandments
contain within them the whole Torah in "capsule form".
The Ten Commandments consist of 620 letters, corresponding to the Crown
[in Hebrew keter, which has a numerical value of 620] of Torah.
613 of these letters represent the 613 commandments of the Torah that
are addressed to the Jewish people, whereas the other 7 letters represent
the 7 Noahide laws, addressed to all of mankind. It is fairly obvious
then that the Ten Commandments more than any other part of the Torah contains
the mystical dimension of the Ineffable Name
Who took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house
of slavery." (20:2)
The division between the words 'from the land of Egypt" and from
the house of slavery" may also be deliberate, i.e. the first expression
refers to the Exodus which has already taken place, while the last expression
refers to the liberation in the future when the Messiah will arrive.
The words "who has taken you out of Egypt" also provide the
answer to the question why G-d did not simply replace the Egyptians in
Egypt with the Jews and establish us as the rulers in that land. Why was
it necessary to leave the land, to travel through the desert, etc.? Surely
the Israelites would have derived greater satisfaction from such a solution
to their problems than to have to march to Canaan and there to dispossess
a people which had never done them any harm. Moreover, it would have demonstrated
G-d's power if He dispossessed the Egyptians of their land!
G-d explained that inasmuch as the very land of Egypt was a house of
bondage, this would not have been appropriate. We read in Deut. 32,8:
"when the Supreme G-d handed out the inheritance of the various nations,
He established boundaries for the peoples in relation to Israel's numbers."
The Zohar volume 1 page 108 comments that G-d handed out certain places
on earth to the guardian angels of the various nations, and that the only
land He did not assign to such guardian angels was the land of Canaan.
G-d had reserved the land of Canaan for Himself.
The Torah says 'house of slavery,' describing the place as one assigned
to one of G-d's servants (the guardian angel of Egypt). G-d did not want
for the Jewish people to live in a homeland which "belonged"
to the guardian angel of the Egyptians. He wanted the Israelites to reside
in a country which was directly under His personal guidance.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.