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

Jerusalem

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GENESIS — 1:28 fruitful

The Mishna states in Yevamot 65b that the Torah’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” only applies to a man, obligating him to try to sire at least one son and one daughter.  Therefore, when a couple has been married for ten years without having children – at which point it is assumed that they cannot have children together as a couple – the husband is entitled to a divorce, since he cannot fulfill the commandment to have children with this wife, but may be able to do so with another woman (Yevamot 64a; see also Shulchan Aruch EH 154:10).  EYES 163
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GENESIS — 3:21 clothed

Rabbi Simlai states in Sotah 14a: “The Torah begins with an act of kindness – as it is written [this verse], and it ends with an act of kindness – as it is written Deuteronomy 34:6, ‘And He buried [Moshe] in the depression.’” In other words, the very first act of G-d in the Torah, following the creation of Adam and Eve, is that of providing them with clothing.  Similarly the Torah ends with G-d Himself burying Moshe on Mount Nebo.  The lesson that can be derived from all this is that one cannot believe in G-d or study His Torah without being kind to others, for this is the very essence of the Torah itself. … If [a Jew] will be truly … undergo some self-examination, he will indeed be inspired to return to the heritage of our ancestors and conduct himself with a greater degree of kindness and truthfulness, so that the verse, “Israel, it is through you that I shall be proud,” will truly come true.  EYES 256-7
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GENESIS — 6:2 took

… the sage Rav considered it a chilul HaShem [desecration of G-d’s name] if he were to buy meat from a butcher without paying for it on the spot, lest someone suspect that he did not intend to pay for it – even though buying on credit would surely not be seen as anything wrong if done by an ordinary individual.  Therefore, my brother and friend, take great caution to protect your soul.  If you encounter a rabbi, Chassidic Rebbe, Rosh Yeshiva (yeshiva dean), or any other spiritual leader of this nature, who shows disregard for the mitzvos between a man and his fellow --- let along if he shows disrespect for Torah scholars – keep as far away from him as the distance of a bowshot. [Based on the language of Genesis 21:16.]  You too could easily become ensnared in his trap, and instead of drawing you closer to the true Torah, he will draw you close to a counterfeit Torah.  For there is no greater falsification than this: He contemptuously transgresses many explicit Torah prohibitions, because the are “only” mitzvos between a man and his fellow men, yet the masses still consider him a tzaddik [holy person] – even if he is caught stealing from the public!  And all this, in spite of the explicit statement in the Talmud Bava Basra 88b that “the punishment for sins of [faulty] measures [Overcharging customers by using measures that overestimate the actual weight or amount of product] is even more severe than the punishment for sins of sexual impropriety.”  Moreover, the Ramban writes in his commentary on the Torah [this verse] that “the punishment [of the Great Flood] was only decreed against them on account of their robbery, because [the criminality of this act] can be inferred by human logic, and need not be taught by a Torah law.”  If so, how severe must the punishment be for us Jews, who have also been commanded against wronging or defrauding our fellow man through a number of explicit prohibitions.  Now, all this applies to any Jew who commits these transgressions. However, when the perpetrator is a spiritual leader, the magnitude of his sins is far greater, as the Kli Yakar indicates in his commentary on Moshe Rabbeinu’s statement to his brother Aharon Leviticus 9:7, “And provide atonement for yourself and for the people.” EYES 151
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GENESIS — 6:2 took

[I]f Jewish judges meet the standards set by the Torah, they will not only benefit both parties, by returning the victim’s property and saving the exploiter from the serious sin of stealing, but will also instill feelings of justice and equity in the hearts of the Jewish people.  Moreover, the civil laws of the Torah reflect an incomparable concern for the effect of one’s actions on his fellow man.  For the Torah’s command Deuteronomy 6:8 to “do what is fair and good in the eyes of G-d,” demands more of us in this regard than do the laws of any other nation, as we learn in Tractate Baba Metzia 108a with respect to the “Laws of Bar Metzra” [adjoining property owner]. Thus, when proper judges enforce these laws, they will naturally being about a Kiddush Hashem [sanctification of G-d’s name].  However, if Jewish dayanim [judges] are ch”v unworthy, and they rule in favor of the exploiter because of a lust for money, it is the judges themselves who openly commit robber, as the Ramban [this verse] writes regarding the Dor HaMabul (Generation of the Flood): “The dayanim, whose task it was to do justice, committed open robbery themselves – and no one stopped them.” And as the Ramban’s statement implies, the punishment deserved by these judges is more severe than that of ordinary people who commit robbery, since others will learn from their actions and do likewise.  People will say: If the judges, whose job it is to execute justice, are committing robbery in broad daylight and no one restrains them, then everything has become permissible. “If a blaze has broken out amongst the great cedars, what can be expected of the meager moss that grows upon the walls?” [An expression found in Tractate Mo’ed Katan 25b] EYES 338
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GENESIS — 6:13 lawlessness

[T]he sages teach Pesachim 87b, “A man only plants one measure, for the sake of bringing forth many measures.  In the same manner, HaShem plants the Jewish people throughout the various lands, in order to increase the number of converts [to Israel].”  However, as long as they are deceitful in their dealings with other nations, who will want to be attached to them?  After all, G-d is even strict with regard to theft from the wicked, as the Torah states [this verse], “And the earth was filled with robbery.”   EYES 267
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GENESIS — 6:13 lawlessness

Many people show a greater disregard for the mitzvos that apply between a man and his fellow (bein adam la’chaveiro) than for those that are between man and G-d (bein adam la’Makom).  It appears that there are two reasons for this.  Firstly, they erroneously believe that one who violates the mitzvos between man and G-d is directly slighting the Creator’s honor, whereas one who violates the mitzvos between man and his fellow only damages the honor of man and his needs. The second rationale stems from the fact that no punishment is meted out by man [The power to mete out all physical punishments, including all forms of the death penalty, rested solely in the hands of the 71-members supreme court, the Sanhedrin.  Hence, these court-administered punishments essentially came to an end with the destruction of the Temple, and along with it, the rule of the Sanhedrin] for commandments transgressed between man and his fellow.  Even one who embarrasses another person in public—a sin so severe that he loses his share in the World to Come [As the Talmud points out in Bava Metzvia 59a, even one who omits adultery with a married woman – whose punishment is execution by strangulation – nonetheless retains his share in the World to Come] – is nonetheless free of any court-administered punishment.  Similarly, even one who commits robbery, one of the gravest transgressions  [This is implied by the Talmud’s statement Sanhedrin 108a that the fate of the Dor HaMabul (Generation of the Flood) was only sealed on account of their robbery], does not receive lashes [If one intentionally violated a biblical prohibition (laav) that is punishable by a Divine death (rather than a court-administered penalty), the Sanhedrin sentenced him to receive as many as 39 lashes.  It should be noted, however, that a number of extraordinarily difficult conditions had to be satisfied in order for this sentence to be carried out.  For example, two witnesses must testify that he committed the transgression within seconds of being warned by them not to do so.  The witnesses must also undergo extensive cross-examination separately, and their testimony is stricken if they contradict each other on even minor details].   However, both of these arguments are false. The first line of reasoning is forcefully refuted by the Ramban in Parshas Yisro Exodus 20:13, in his comments on the commandment “You shall not kill:” Behold, the Ten Commandments are divided [into two halves], so that five relate to the Creator’s honor, and five are for the man’s benefit … It appears that the tablets were written with the first five on one tablet – these are the commandments pertaining to G-d’s honor, as I mentioned.  The second set of commandments appeared on the second tablet, so that the two sets of five would be opposite each other. The Ramban elucidates this matter further in the continuation of his commentary, according to the allusions and secret mysteries of the Torah, in his usual, holy manner.  But we are not qualified to dabble in the Torah’s secrets.  The simple message that is revealed to us by the balanced layout of the Ten Commandments on the Luchos (Tablets) is the following.  Just as we may surely not believe that the two Luchos were unequal in holiness, or that the sanctity of all the Ten Commandments is not equal – so, too, are all of the Torah’s mitzvos equal in holiness, whether they are between man and G-d, or between man and his fellow.  For it is by the Word of G-d that we have been commanded to observe all of the Torah’s commandments.  The same Torah that commands, “You shall not eat from a carcass, or from a torn animal,” Leviticus 22:8 and “You shall not wears shatnes (mixed fibers), wool and linen together,” Deuteronomy 22:11, also decrees “You shall not be a gossip–monger,” Leviticus 19:16, “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary,” Deuteronomy 19:14, and “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:13.  In fact, violating one of the commandments between man and his fellow is even more serious than violating a commandant between man and G-d, since one who transgresses one of the former has not only sinned against G-d, as is the case for all of the Torah’s prohibitions, but also against his fellow man.  This is precisely what the Ramban alludes to in his commentary on Parshas Noach [this verse], regarding the statement by Rabbi Yochanan (Sanhedrin 108a) that the decrees of the Mabul (Great Flood) was ultimately sealed on account of their robbery, and not as a result of their adulterous behavior.  The reason, explains the Rambam [sic?], is that “robbery is evil committed against both G-d and human beings.” In other words, robbery is also a sin between man and G-d, since the Torah states “You shall not steal,” just as it commands, “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:13 But the former has an additional aspect of sin in that it causes harm to other people as well.  Similarly, the Rambam writes [Yad HaChazakah, “Laws of Charitable Gifts” 10:1], that we are obligated to pay more heed regarding the commandment of charity than with regard to any other positive commandment in the Torah.  Thus, although tzedakah is but a mitzvah between man and his fellow, we are obligated to be more stringent concerning its observance than for that f all the positive commandments between man and Gj-d.  We have also not seen it stated with regard to any commandment, that one who does not perform that mitzvah is not a descendant of our forefather Abraham, with the exception of one who does not have compassion for others, as cited in the Talmud (Beitza 32b).  The second line of reasoning used by those who show disregard for the mitzvos between a man and his fellow can also be rejected, based on the comments of Rabbeinu Yonah in Sha’arei Teshuva (3:24): … Our Sages of blessed memory taught (Chulin 141a): “One does not receive lashes for violating a laav (negative commandment) that is linked to a positive one.” For example, the prohibition Deuteronomy 22:6 “Do not take the mother-bird together with the young,” is linked to the positive commandment (that immediately follows it in the same verse), “You shall surely send away the mother-bird.” But even though the courts do not administer lashes for these transgressions, there are violations among them whose punishment reaches to high heaven in its severity, and whose judgment mounts on high.  For example, in the case of theft, it is written Leviticus 9:13, “You shall not rob,” and this is connected to the positive commandment Leviticus 5:23, “He shall return the robbed items that he has robbed.”  Yet our Sages have stated Sanhedrin 108a, “The fate of the generation of the flood was sealed only because of robbery, as it is stated [this verse]: ‘The end of all flesh as come before Me, for the earth is filled with robbery.’” And although the sin of illicit relations is more serious than that of robbery, the nature of the penalty for robbery is to draw nearer the day of destruction, and to hasten that which lies in store for one….  EYES 120-4
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GENESIS — 11:4 ourselves

[T]he Maharal echoes the words of R. Yosef Yaabetz, that the reason the Sages of the Talmud did not have to engage in a worldly occupation was because their desire for Torah was so powerful, that their Torah study alone was sufficient to keep them from sin.  However, for ordinary people, only the combined toil of both is sufficient – the toil in worldly pursuits removes the inclination for immorality, and the spiritual toil removes the inclination for idolatry.  Now, in more recent times, the “inclination for idolatry” expresses itself in the form of hubris and the belief in “kochi v’otzem yadi,” [That is, instead of believing in idol gods, he “worships” himself, as described in Deuteronomy (8:12-17): Lest you eat and be satisfied…and you increase silver and gold for yourselves, and everything that you have will increase. And your heart will become haughty and you will forget HaShem, you G-d … And you may say in your heart, “kochi v’otzem yadi asah li es hachayil hazeh (My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth)!”] such as the sentiment expressed by the Dor Haflagah (Generation of the Dispersion), who said [this verse].  [Thus, their haughtiness was literally stretched to the point of rebelling against G-d.]  The “inclination for immorality” in our times comes from the terrible licentiousness that is so prevalent and widespread today.  Thus, according to their view that as the generations decline in spirituality there is an ever-greater need for the toil of both Torah and an occupation, it goes without saying that to survive unscathed in our lowly generation we certainly need both, and the toil of Torah itself is insufficient.  EYES 469
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GENESIS — 11:5 came

… cruelty begets cruelty.   Even if at the outset it is just a modicum of cruelty, in the end it will grow, as the Seforno teaches in Parshas Noach, in his commentary on [this verse], “And Hashem descended to see.” He writes: The expression “descended to see” is said of G-d, may He be blessed, when the subject under discussion does not yet deserve to be punished at that particular time; it is only on account of the degeneracy he will ultimately be drawn to. [In other words, the word “descend” means “descending in time,” that is, looking down the road into his future.] Such is the case of the “rebellious son,” regarding whom our Sages taught Sanhedrin 72a ‘The Torah foresaw his eventual end.’  [According to the Talmud, the passage in Deuteronomy 21:18-21) calling for the rebellious son to be killed was only intended as a moral lesson, to nip evil behavior in the bud before it degenerates into something far worse.] This is similarly true with regard to the city of Sodom, about which the Torah states Genesis 18:21, “I will descend and see.” For in truth, their wickedness at that time was not any worse than any of the other heathen nations, that they should deserve the punishment they received in this world—with the sole exception of their cruelty to the poor, which ultimately led to utter depravity, as it is written Ezekiel 16:49 “Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom…She did not strengthen the hand of the poor and need.”  This was also true of the Jewish nation’s punishment of exile, as the Torah states, “I shall see what their end will be.”  [Deuteronomy 32:20]  Thus, according to the Seforno, it was inevitable in all these cases that their limited cruelty would ultimately worsen and develop into outright cruelty and depravity.  In the case of Sodom, this notion also clears up an apparent contradiction between the statement in Ezekiel, which seems to imply that the people of Sodom merely sinned in that they “did not strengthen the hand of the poor and need,” and the Talmudic lesson in Sanhedrin 109b which indicates that Sodom’s cruelty far exceeded a mere failure to give charity to the poor.  In fact, they actually went so far as to brutally torture a young girl who was caught giving bread to the poor!  The Seforno therefore explains that this is the meaning of the verse, “I will descend and see” – namely, I will look down into the future.  Even though their cruelty at the present moment is only manifest by the fact that they do not give bread to the poor, that cruelty will ultimately rise to the level described in the Talmudic example of the young girl who was tortured for daring to give bread to the poor.  Because of this natural tendency for cruelty that is left unchecked to grow ever stronger and more prevalent, it is of critical importance to denounce it immediately, before it is allowed to poison the public ethic. EYES 207-8
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GENESIS — 11:9 scattered

The following comments by Rashi on [this verse] seem particularly relevant today: Whose sins were more severe – the Dor HaMabul (Generation of the Flood) or the Dor Haflagah (Generation of the Dispersion)? [As related in Genesis (ch.11) and expounded upon in the Midrash, they planned to build a tower ascending to Heaven, from which they would wage war against G-d.  Since their common language and location led them to unite in rebellion against G-d, He dispersed them over all the earth and gave them different languages].  [The former] did not directly rebel against G-d, whereas [the latter] sought to do battle with G-d!  Yet the former were drowned, whereas the latter were not expunged from the face of the earth.  But the reason is that those in the Dor HaMabul were robbers, and there was discord amongst them.  Therefore, they were destroyed. But those [in the Dor Haflagah] displayed love and friendship for each other, as it is written Genesis 11:1, “of one language and of common purpose.” This teaches us that discord is abhorrent and peace is great.  Rashi has thus introduced a very important chidush (novel notion) regarding the Dor HaMabul.  For although our Sages have stated explicitly Sanhedrin 108a that its fate was only sealed on account of their robbery, Rashi offers the novel idea that it was not robbery alone that sealed its fate.  Rather, it was the fact that in conjunction with the robbery, there was discord between them -- a natural consequence of robbery – and HaShem views internal strife with great abhorrence.  But concerning the Dor Haflagah, the opposite was true.  Although they denied the very existence of G-d, they did not perish, because they displayed love and friendship towards each other.  This teaches us how great peace is reckoned before G-d.  This fundamental concept is stated and reiterated a number of times through our holy Torah.  Yet in spite of this, we see in our own generation that amongst those who are known as Charedim (ultra-Orthodox), there is more discord and baseless hatred than there is amongst the secular.  Consequently, even if all of the mitzvos were being observed perfectly, this sin alone should be sufficient to make every heart tremble.  For this is an exact parallel to the situation that the Ramban described above, when he wrote regarding the generation prior to the Great Flood,” The dayanim, [judges] whose task it was to do justice, committed open robbery themselves—and there was no one to stop them.” The same is true in our situation.  The very leaders who should be instilling good middos (personal traits) in the hearts of the Jewish people, initiate strife themselves, with no concern whatsoever about the chilul HaShem [desecration of G-d’s name] that they bring about.  EYES 341-3
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GENESIS — 18:4 little

[T]he holy Torah itself relates in Pashas VaYeira Genesis 18:1-8 how Avraham Avinu brought guests into his home with great love and warmth, even though he was convinced that they were “Arabs who bow down to the dust of their feet.” [Rashi’s commentary on Genesis 18:4, based on Bava Metzia 86b].   In verse three, Avraham implores, “My masters! If I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass away from your servant.”  The Ramban comments:  In my opinion, the correct reading of this verse is that Avraham first addressed them all as “my masters.” He then turned to each [and addressed them] individually. [In this passage, the Ramban seeks to explain a peculiarity that he points out earlier, namely, that Avraham first addresses the passerby in the plural, then in the singular, and then again in the plural]. To the first, he said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass away from your servant.” He repeated this statement to the second visitor and the third, as well.   That is, he entreated each one individually [in this manner.] He then said to all of them, “Let a little water be fetched, and you can all wash your fee.” He addressed them in this courteous and respectful manner out of his great desire to be benevolent to his guests.   It should be noted that Avraham perceived that these were wayfarers, and that they had no desire to loge with him. This is why he only requested that they take a little water to wash their feet on account of the heat – to put “cold water on a weary soul” [Based on the language of Proverbs 25:25] – and that they recline beneath the tree in the afternoon breeze, without asking them to come indoors to the tent.   It is not for nothing that the Torah expounds at such length in the recounting of the story, providing more meticulous details than it does with respect to the laws of issur ve’heter.   [The laws of keeping kosher, which are amongst the most detailed and complex in the Torah].   Though this, we learn that compassion is the very essence of a Jew, and that if one is not merciful towards his fellow men, he cannot be of the descendants of Avraham.  EYES 107-8
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