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


"Moshe said to Aharon, 'Approach the altar…' and Aharon approached…" [9:7-8]

Some Rabbis say that Aaron saw the (horned) altar as having the form of a bull [which the Jews had worshipped] and was frightened. So Moses said to him. "Do not be afraid. Strengthen yourself, draw near; were you not chosen by G-d to be High Priest? Do your priestly duties." That is why [the two consecutive verses say], "Moshe said to Aharon, 'Approach the altar…' and Aharon approached…" with zeal. The reason for this (apparition which Aharon saw) is that since Aaron was 'the holy one of the Eternal,' having no sin on his soul except for the incident of the golden calf, therefore the sin was firmly fixed in his mind, something like that which King David said (Ps. 51:5), "My sin is continually before me." Thus, Moses encouraged Aaron and taught him that the guiltless should come and effect atonement for those who are guilty.


Rabbeinu Bachya

"..they put fire in them (the censers) and placed incense in them." [10:1]

A kabbalistic approach: We can gain a clearer picture of the sin of thee sons of Aaron when noting that the Torah wrote, "they placed on it" instead of: "they placed on them" [there had been two censers, each brother having entered with his own censer]. When you compare what the Torah writes in connection with the 250 men who offered incense (Numbers 16:18) you will find that the fire and incense is described with the words "they placed it on them, (the censers, plural). When the instruction as to the correct procedure is issued in the Torah (Numbers 16:17) Moses had told these men "place on them incense." (No mention had been made of fire although the 250 men added their won fire). The word on it (aleyha) as distinct form on them (aleyhem) is an allusion the attribute of Justice. The Torah is trying to give us an insight into the thinking of Nadav and Avihu at that time. They knew that incense was intended to counter, to stop the attribute of Justice in its tracks, as we know from Moses in Deuteronomy 33:10 "they place incense to placate Your anger." The word k'toret itself means "establishing a spiritual affinity." The Aramaic translations of the words "she tied" (Genesis 38:25) is vekataret. The spiritual affinity established by means of the incense is meant to draw down an abundance of heavenly blessings by means of the attribute of Justice, which in turn will confer these blessings on the person burning up the incense. The sin of the person offering incense with such considerations consists in the fact that it is not permissible to direct one's offering to any other attribute of G-d than the tetragram, i.e., HaShem. Seeing that Nadav and Avihu erred in the address to which the offered their incense, we do not find it described as "as a fire offering of pleasing fragrance to the Lord," but the very attribute of Justice to whom they addressed their offering smote them. This is the meaning of the words "fire came forth from the presence of the Lord and consumed them so that they died."



"Moses and Aaron..came out and blessed the people." [9:23]

G-d displayed sensitivity for the honor of Moses. After Aaron had blessed the people, the glory of G-d did not manifest itself until Moses had joined him in blessing the people. (compare verse 22)
Another lesson from this verse may be the importance of the merit of joining hands when performing a mitzvah (commandment). Even the High Priest's blessing was reinforced when Moses joined him in blessing the people, and only their combined efforts achieved what they had aimed at, the manifestation of G-d's glory in the tabernacle. Similarly, all mitzvot, when the result of combined efforts, are more effective in bringing us closer to G-d.



"This is the animal which you should eat - but this you should not eat." [Lev. 11:2]

The impure spirit of the External Forces rests on the forbidden foods, and anyone who eats them ingests this spirit, thereby detrimentally affecting his own soul. Consumption of pure foods, however, confers upon the person eating them some of the spirit of purity and holiness resting on those foods. This is what is meant by the verse "The righteous man eats to satisfy his soul" (Proverbs 13:25). Talmud (Chagiga 27) teaches us that as long as the Temple was standing, the sacrifices offered on the altar were the instruments of atonement for the Jewish people. Nowadays…it is our table which has to serve as the instrument for our atonement…

Nowadays, when we do not have a Temple and an altar, it is our table which has to serve as the instrument for our atonement. The author of Emek Ha-Beracha also states that a heavenly sanctity rests on foods which are pure and permitted, and this is alluded to in the verse "This is the animal which you should eat - but this you should not eat." (Lev. 11:2)



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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