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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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GENESIS — 1:28 fertile

All human actions are either commanded, prohibited, or meant to secure some basic need.  For whatever deviates from the bounds of the necessary – either toward excessiveness or toward deficiency – can be nothing other than a command, if it be for the sake of Heaven, or a prohibition, if it is not for the sake of Heaven.  Upon further examination of the basic need to draw sustenance from the world, we find that we are commanded to do so, as it says in the beginning of [the account of] Creation: (the verse) and then it says, “Behold I have given you every seed bearing plant on the face of all the earth. Genesis 1:29. Thus, securing one’s need for food is included in the category of the commanded.  Since this is so, it is now evident that all human actions are either commanded or prohibited.  DUTIES 271

GENESIS — 3:7 opened

Most common folk and many distinguished people are filled with wonder when observing something they are unaccustomed to seeing – for example, a solar or lunar eclipse, thunder and lightning, thunderbolts, a tempest, and the like.  But they feel no wonder at the movements and courses of the spheres – sun, moon, and stars – at sunrise and sunset, the falling of the rain, the blowing of the wind, or similar phenomena that are ever present and are seen regularly.  They are awed when they see the ocean, its waves and storms, and the many living creatures in it; but they are not awed by the flow of the rivers and the gush of water from the springs, [flowing] day and night without lull or letup, and by many other such phenomena.  Therefore, my brother, you should reflect on all that G-d has created – what you have grown accustomed to and what you have not grown accustomed to, what you have seen before and what you have never seen.  … Pretend that you had been devoid of vision before ever perceiving them, and that only later did you open your eyes, see them, and come to know them.  The ignorant resemble the blind, and that, when they gain knowledge, it is as if their eyes are suddenly opened, and they can see! As Scripture says of Adam and Chavah [the verse], though we know that they could see beforehand.  DUTIES 747

GENESIS — 4:7 master

Regard as important the very smallest of your victories over [the yetzer hara], the slightest increase of your power over it, so that this be for you a step to a greater victory. For [the evil inclination] will be quick to obey you and will not stand up to you when you stand up to it, as [the verse] says: “Its obedience is unto you, and you may rule over it.”  Accordingly, do not be daunted by it, through its armies be mighty; do not be afraid of it, though its supporters be many.  For its chief intent is to make truth out of falsehood; its main purpose is to uphold untruth.  How soon comes its fall, how swiftly its ruin, if you will be realize its weakness.  DUTIES 487

GENESIS — 6:5 plan

Since it is clear that man fails to live up to his obligations, it was strictly out of grace that the Creator, in His love and compassion for man, gave him the ability to correct his error and make up the loss in his service, by repenting and returning to Him.  He then emphasized its importance and gave assurances concerning it, through His servants, the prophets.  He allows us wide-ranging excuses when we stray from the path of His service, and has promised to accept [our repentance] and quickly favor us, even if we have long defied His word and violated His covenant, as He clearly stated in the passage that says, “When a wicked man turns from his wickedness and executes justice and righteousness, because of these he will live’ Ezekiel 33:19.  DUTIES 605-7

GENESIS — 6:9 blameless

(Translated as “wholehearted” in Duties of the Heart.)  What you must know is that the aim and objective of the duties of the heart are for both our outer and inner selves to share equally in serving G-d; that the heart, tongue, and limbs be consistent in their testimony, that they authenticate each other and bear out one another, rather than oppose and contradict each other. This is what Scripture calls being “wholehearted”: You must be wholehearted with Hashem your G-d Deuteronomy 18:13; He was wholehearted in his generation (this verse); He who acts wholeheartedly does what is right, and speaks the truth from his heart Psalms 15:2; I contemplate the wholehearted path; when will I attain it? I will conduct myself with wholeness of heart, within my own house Psalms 101:2.  DUTIES 37.

GENESIS — 8:21 evil

A human being, we find, is subject to diverse natural forces, is composed of divergent elements, possesses conflicting traits of character, and must adapt to changing circumstances.  Accordingly, his deeds are also diverse. They include the noble and the reprehensible, the corrupt and the just, the good and the evil. Hence the need for the restraining bonds of revealed law and the restrictions of the political order.  As for what is written in the Torah on this matter, Scriptural comments include the following: [This verse], “Every impulse of the thought of his heart was only for evil, all the time” Genesis 6:5; “A man is born a wild donkey” Job 11:12; “Behold, even the moon is not bright, the stars are not pure in His sight.  How much less man, a maggot” Job 25:5-6; How can he, born of mortal woman, be upright?” Job 25:4.  DUTIES 605

GENESIS — 8:21 evil

As for exercising care in one’s thought and guarding it, you should not neglect to watch over your thoughts, reflections, and imaginings; for they alone are responsible – in proportion to their corruption or refinement – for most of the corruption or refinement in conduct, as it says in Scripture: “Above all that you guard, watch over your heart; for from it spring the sources of life Proverbs 4:23; For the devisings of man’s heart are evil from his youth [this verse]; For I know their devisings Deuteronomy 31:21; For Hashem searches all hearts, and understands the devising of every thought 1 Chronicles 28:9; It is a thing very close to you, in your mouth and I your heart, that you can do Deuteronomy 30:14; What does Hashem your G-d ask of you? Only that you fear G-d Deuteronomy 10:12.”  Therefore, my brother, see to it that all your actions are devoted solely to the Creator, may He be exalted, so that your work not be for naught and your labor not be in vain, as it is written: “Why pay money for no bread, and labor without being satisfied?” Isaiah 55:2  DUTIES 543

GENESIS — 9:2 fear

Out of His abounding goodness to mankind, G-d put the fear of man into dangerous wild creatures so that an infant be safe from cats, rats, and the like.  When a man dies, however, he is no longer safe from them, as our Masters, of blessed memory, expounded; “A day-old infant, alive, need not be guarded from rates; Og, King of Bashan, dead, needs to be guarded from rats, as it says “The fear of you, so long as the life force is within you [reading וחתכם as וחיותכם] will be instilled in all the wild beasts of the earth’ (this verse).  Shabbat 151b.  DUTIES 211

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