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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 — 1:27 image

By doing acts of chesed (the term denoting all forms of assisting others) you emulate G-d.  The Chofetz Chayim cites commentators who explain that “image of G-d” means man has the ability to emulate G-d, who bestows kindness on people.  Someone who performs a kind act reflects G-d’s attributes.  Someone who thinks to himself, “Why should I help others?” completely alienates himself from G-dliness.  The very survival of humanity is dependent on chesed.  Every person, without exception, needs the help of his fellow man as anyone who has given the matter thought realizes. For example: 1.People, even the very wealthy, sometimes need to borrow money. 2. A person may need others to help him gain a source of income. 3. When a person celebrates a joyous occasion, such as a wedding or bris, he needs people to rejoice with him, for a man who is alone cannot experience complete happiness. 4. When a person is sad, he needs people to comfort him and cheer him. 5. When a person has a heavy load, he needs people to help him. 6. When a person travels to another town, he needs people to invite him to their homes. 7. When a person is ill, he needs people to visit him and give him care. 8. Even after a person dies, he is still dependent on the kindness of others to bury him. [Illustrative anecdotes provided, including citations to Ahavat Chesed, part 2, ch. 2; Micah 6:8; Yorah Daiah 246:18; Chayai Hamussar, vol. 2, p. 218; Pele Yoatz, sections chesed and derech Eretz].  PLYN 20-23.

GENESIS — 1:27 image

In all encounters with other people, remember that you are dealing with a being who was created in the image of G-d. Rabbi Akiva said, “The verse, ‘Love your fellow man as yourself’ Leviticus 19:18 is a great principle of the Torah.” Ben Azai said, “The verse, ‘When G-d created man He created him in His image’ Genesis 5:1 is an even greater principle.” (Jerusalem Talmud Nedorim 9:4).  Love of one’s fellow man which is not motivated and nourished by the realization that man was created in G-d’s image, is doomed to failure.  Without this realization, why should a person feel obligated to love his fellow man? Man in the universe is so miniscule, he can be considered of minor importance. What, after all, is man, but one of several billion inhabitants on a planet which is only a speck of matter in a vastness of space that extends for billions of light-years.  The individual is lost in immensity beyond imagination.  And man himself is merely a mass of bones, nerves, muscles and blood that happens to function in an orderly fashion.  Is he worthy of more consideration than an animal or insect? But when we realize that man alone is fashioned in the image of the Creator of heaven and earth, he is suddenly transformed from an inconsequential and insignificant being into one that is without parallel.  Although seemingly miniscule, he is the pinnacle of creation.  This is what Ben Azai meant when he said that man’s being created in the image of G-d is an even greater principle than “love your fellow man.”  Man was created in G-d’s image and must be respected accordingly.  PLYN 19-20.

GENESIS — 2:7 living

A person who speaks against others is inferior to animals.  Onkelos defines the words “a living soul” (nefesh chaya) as a soul which can speak.  Man, then is elevated above all animals for G-d has given him the ability to speak.  However, this unique faculty elevates man only when he uses it for a worth purposes.  Someone who misuses his speech by speaking against others is considered lower than a beast.  A beast cannot destroy through talk, whereas man can slay with his tongue.  PLYN 24

GENESIS — 2:22 sleep 

A husband should overlook his wife’s deficiencies in order to prevent disputes.  Adam’s state of unconsciousness at the time of the creation of Chava (Eve) illustrates how a husband should relate to his wife. At times a husband should act in his home as if he were asleep and unaware of his wife’s shortcomings.  Even if a wife forgets or disregards her husband’s wishes, the husband should not grow angry and shout.  He should overlook minor faults in order to avoid domestic quarrels.  (Toldos Yitzchok cited in Maim Loaiz on this verse).  PLYN 24-25

GENESIS — 2:24 flesh 

A husband and wife and required to mutually honor and respect each other.   Ramban [Nachmanides] explains the concept of one flesh as a uniquely human experience.  The mating of animals is a temporary and purely physical act.  Through the sanctification of marriage, however, a husband and wife become the closest of relatives.  “The Sages commanded that a husband honor his wife more than himself and love her as himself.  He should increase his spending for her welfare in proportion to his wealth.  He should not place upon her excessive fear.  He should speak pleasantly to her.  He should be neither sad nor quick to anger.”  “The Sages commanded that a wife honor her husband exceedingly. She should revere him and all of her actions should be in accordance with his will. He should be in her eyes as a prince or king. She should do as he desires and refrain from doing whatever he dislikes.” Mishneh Torah, Laws of Marriage 14:19,20.   Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz, Rosh Hayeshiva of Mir in Jerusalem, offers this insight: “If a husband will try to fulfill his obligations and the wife will try to fulfill her obligations, they will live a happy and tranquil life together.  Troubles begin with the husband is only concerned that the wife meet her obligations to him, and the wife is only concerned that the husband meet his obligations to her.”  PLYN 26

GENESIS — 3:6 tree 

We should save others from embarrassment.  Why was the tree not identified? Because G-d does not wish to grieve any of His creations.  Had the tree been identified, people might have said, “This is the tree through which the world was afflicted.”  Midrash Tanchuma cited by Rashi on verse 7.  G-d saved even an inanimate object from shame; all the more so must we try to save people from embarrassment.   PLYN 29

GENESIS — 3:21 clothed 

We are obligated to provide clothes for the needy.  We are obligated to emulate G-d.  Just as He clothed the naked, so too must we clothe the naked Sotah14a. Ideally, one should give the finest quality clothing to the poor Maimonides, Laws of Things Forbidden on the Altar 7:11.  However, before one discards used clothes, one should consider the possibility that a poor person would prefer used clothes to none at all Pele Yoatz, halbosho.  Great care must be taken not to embarrass the recipient, since a person may feel humiliated when offered used clothing.  In some communities, volunteers regularly go from house to house collecting clothes that are not needed.  If this commendable practice cannot be instituted, every community should at least appoint someone to keep a list of institutions or individuals who could utilize such garments.  PLYN 30-31

GENESIS — 4:10 blood

After Kayin killed Hevel, G-d told Kayin that the guilt of the blood of all of Hevel’s potential descendants would devolve upon him (Rashi). The Chofetz Chayim commented that if a person can be punished for the negative effects of his actions on future generations, then surely he will be rewarded for the positive effects.  If you teach someone Torah and influence him to become a G-d fearing person, well versed in Torah, he will raise his children accordingly.  As subsequent generations continue in this fashion, you will be rewarded for being the original impetus. (Toras Habayis – Elbonah shel Torah).  PLYN 34

GENESIS — 5:24 walked

A craftman must take extreme care to produce a product of the highest quality. … Shoddy workmanship constitutes cheating the customer.  The Torah obligates you to produce as perfect a product as you are able.  Moreover, no matter how mundane one’s vocation may be, it can be elevated by keeping in mind that one is helping others.  The Midrash Michtav MaiEliyah vol 1, pp. 34-35 relates that Chanoch was a shoemaker whose mind was occupied with elevated thoughts as he stitched shoes.  Rabbi Yisroel Salanter explained that those elevated thoughts were not of a mystical nature.  Rather, Chanoch took meticulous care that each stitch be perfect so as not to cheat his customers.  Moreover, he tried to make each shoe as comfortable as possible in order to give his customers pleasure.  His main motivation was to help others rather than merely to sell shoes for a living.  PLYN 35

GENESIS — 6:13 corruption

We are forbidden to steal even small amounts. … Rabbi Yochanan said, “Come and see the power of corruption. The generation of the flood violated everything, but the final decree against them was not signed until they were guilty of stealing.” Sanhedrin 108a.   Rabbi Alexander Ziskind explained the severity of stealing in the following manner: When one steals a few dollars from another person, he is actually causing more damages than might initially appear.  The victim might have invested the money and received a profit, and when his children would have inherited his money, they too could have gained profit from it.  The same with their children and their children’s children until the end of time.  This could amount to a fortune, and as the Sefer Chasidim writes, all this is taken into account.  We must realize the gravity of stealing even small sums, and resolve to keep far away from this crime Yesod Veshoresth Haavodah 10:2.  Rabbi Shalom Shwadran made the following observation: “I have seen people enter a store and sample some of the food without paying for it.  In many instances the owner really wanted them to pay, but was embarrassed to ask for such a small amount.  Such behavior is to be condemned.  It is similar to that of the generation of the flood.” PLYN 36

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