Archive for February 2017

Perek Shirah - Grasses Say

Sunday, February 26, 2017 · Posted in ,

דְּשָׁאִים אוֺמְרִים - Grasses Say



Tehillim 104:31

יְהִי כְבוֹד יְהוָה לְעוֹלָם יִשְׂמַח יְהוָה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו
 yehi chevod HASHEM le'olam yismach HASHEM bema'asav
May the glory of HASHEM endure forever; let HASHEM rejoice in His works.

King David prays that no part of the world should perish in the kind of upheaval that destoryed Sedom and Amorah, when G-d in His fury acted to destroy them. On the contrary, "let HASHEM rejoice in His works," for they bear witness to His wisdom. As it says, "The work of My hands, that I may be glorified" (Yeshayahu 60:21)

Having now completed the description of all the works of Creation, King David declares that everything depends on the will of the Holy One. If that is His will, HASHEM will "rejoice in His works," unlike what happened before, when G-d was grieved in His heart (Bereishit 6:6) about the Flood Generation, the Bavel Generation, and about Sedom and Amorah, who corrupted their deeds. Then HASHEM did not rejoice in His works.

G-d will rejoice in His works when the Mashiach comes. This is hinted at in the letters of ישמח (yismach), which are also the letters of  משיח - the Mashiach. (Me'am Lo'ez)

Perek Shirah - Vegetables of the Field Say

Thursday, February 23, 2017 · Posted in ,

יְרָקוֺת שֶׁבַּשָּׂדֶה אוֺמְךִים - Vegetable of the Field Say:


Tehillim 65:11

תְּלָמֶיהָ רַוֵּה נַחֵת גְּדוּדֶהָ  בִּרְבִיבִים תְּמֹגְגֶנָּה צִמְחָהּ תְּבָרֵךְ
telameiha raveh nachet gedudeiha birvivim temoggenah tzimchah tevarech
Watering her ridges abundantly, settling her furrows; You make her soft with showers; You bless her growth.

The plowed line of earth is a furrow, and the banks that flank each furrow are its ridges; "her" refers to the earth. King David says, "You satisfy 'the ridges abundantly, settling her furrows' with ample rain. 'You make her soft with showers' and thereby 'You bless her growth.'"

The Scripture speaks of the three stages of planting and growth that require rain. Water is needed at planting time in order for the seeds to sink into the softened earth; otherwise they would remain on the surface as food for the birds of heaven. Water is needed to break up the seeds and make them grow, and then, when the stalks form, water is needed for them to fill out. Accordingly, he says here: "Watering her ridges abundantly, settling her furrows" so the formations of dispersed seeds should sink down; "You maker soft with showers" for the seeds to sprout; and then "you bless her growth" to fill out the stalks.

Chazal teach: Why is the first rain called יורה (yoreh)? For it instructs מורה (moreh) human beings to plaster the roofs of their houses and make all necessary repairs. another thing is that this rain satisfies the earth and fills it down to the depths. As it says, "Watering her ridges abundantly, settling her furrows; You make her soft with showers; You bless her growth." Alternatively, yoreh means that it falls gently and it does not fall vehemently.

 R. Yochanan said: So great is the day of the rains, that even armies cease their activity to celebrate. He adduced this from the present verse, "Watering her ridges abundantly, making her columns rest (נחת גדודיה). (Me'am Lo'ez)

Perek Shirah - Other Grain Sheaves Say

Monday, February 20, 2017 · Posted in ,

שְׁאָר הַשִּׁבָּלִים אוֺמְרִים - Other Grain Sheaves Say



Tehillim 65:14

 לָבְשׁוּ כָרִים הַצֹּאן-וַעֲמָקִים יַעַטְפוּ-בָר יִתְרוֹעֲעוּ אַף-יָשִׁירוּ
lavshu charim hatzon va'amakim ya'atfu-var yitroa'u af-yashiru
The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with grain; they shout for joy, yes, they sing.

"The meadows" - the grassy resting places - "are clothed with flocks" so densely that they give the appearance of wearing the sheep as a garment. "The valleys" - all the deep meadows and desert oases - are so abundantly "covered over with grain," that "they shout" shouts of joy. They "sing" out of great abundance.

Chazal explain: The meadows are clothed with flocks at the same time the valleys are covered over with grain. This is in the month of Adar when the sheep are impregnated.

"The shout...yes, they sing." Though everyone will enjoy plenitude, they will sing. No man will be envious of another. They will dwell in friendship and brotherhood. (Me'am Lo'ez)


This song is the climax of a psalm of encouragement and hope. Calamities may come and drought may parch man, beast, and field, but G-d is always near. (Rabbi Nosson Scherman)

Perek Shirah - Sheaf of Barley Says

Sunday, February 19, 2017 · Posted in ,

שִׁבּׂלֶת שְׂעוֹרִים אוֹמֶרֶת - Sheaf of Barley Says



Tehillim 102:1

תְּפִלָּה לְעָנִי כִי-יַעֲטֹף וְלִפְנֵי יְהוָה יִשְׁפֹּךְ שִׂיחוֹ
tefilah le'ani chi-ya'atof velifnei Hashem yishpoch sicho
A prayer of the afflicted man, when he envelops (swoons), and pours forth his utterance before Hashem.

Literally, יַעֲטֹף means to envelop. King David would chant this psalm whenever he became wrapped up in himself and under camouflage vanished from before his enemies who vilified him constantly. He would then pour forth the utterance of his heart in prayer "before Hashem," pleading for deliverance from his troubles. His prayer was a vast outpouring, like aman pouring water in great abundance. Thus he says, "A prayer of the afflicted man, when he envelops, and pours forth his utterance before Hashem."

Some explain that King David composed this psalm on behalf of the exiles in the future who will be the agonized victims of their many enemies.

To "envelop" also means to fold and enfold. This conveys the image of a supplicant bowed down in a poser of devout prayer. He gives the appearance of being enfolded by part of his own body.

King David addresses the Jewish people in exile, inspiring them to pour forth their devotions and prayers before the Holy One. Entreat Him to save you from the birth pangs of the messianic age and to bring about the return of all Jews everywhere.

Chazal have also taught: Until when must a man stand in prayer? - until he swoons. That is to say, until he also pleads for his life. His soul should attain a lofty plane of serving G-d. (Me'am Lo'ez)


The Rambam writes, "It is a Mitzvah from the Torah to cry out to Hashem for help...whenever trouble strikes the community."

When we daven during troubled times, we aren't just performing the Mitzvah De'orita of praying to Hashem, but we are confirming our belief that only Hashem can help us.

The Sefer Ha'Ikrim comments that somone who doesn't pray in his hour of need must either be lacking faith that Hashem is watching, or lacking faith that Hashem is all-powerful, and that both of these are utter heresy.

The Sefer HaChinuch adds: "And someone who is in difficult circumstances and does not call out to Hashem to save him has violated this mitzvah of prayer...for it is as if he has removed himself from the overseeing of Hashem."

Sometimes people don't daven, not because of lack of belief in Hashem, but rather because of lack of belief in themselves; doubting if they are worthy of their prayers being accepted. Truthfully though, Hashem is available to every person, whether he is worthy or not.

As the Sefer Ha'Ikrim explains, Everything we get from Hashem everyday isn't a result of man's righteousness but rather it is an expression of Hashem's benevolence and compassion.

As it says in Dani'el 9:18- "Turn Your ear, Hashem, and listen...For not because of our righteousness do we pour out our supplications before You, but because of Your great compassion."

To be worthy of Hashem accepting our prayers we don't need to be perfect, or even close to it. We simply need to reach for the lifeline He is extending to us, and to grasp it gratefully, confident that at the other end is the One Power Who can save us. (Praying With Fire by R' Heshy Kleinman)

Perek Shirah - Sheaf of Wheat Says

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 · Posted in ,

שִׁבּׂלֶת חִטִּים אוֹמֶרֶת - Sheaf of Wheat Says


Tehillim 130:1

 שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהוָה
shir hama'alot mima'amakim keraticha
A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths have I called You, Hashem.


To this very day, this particular psalm has been said by Jews in times of trouble. If they have time to say many, they will always include Tehillim 130; if they only have time to say one psalm, then, usually, it will be this one, for, it is one of the few that reach out from the “depths” of despair. One can feel King David's sense of utter helplessness, and his need for a miracle. This is why he has appealed to Hashem — using Four Letter Ineffable Name of G-d — and not a “lesser” Name of G-d. (Rabbi Pinchas Winston)

King David composed the present psalm about himself, but intended it for the future exiles. They should conduct themselves as he did and then G-d will have mercy upon them.  King David's prayer for G-d to heed the prayers of the exiles and forgive their iniquities. That is, they should expect the deliverance to come by supernal loving-kindness, i.e. even though they will not deserve it.

Some say, "Out of the depths" - the lowest spiritual state - "have I called You." For a man may be at he height of material success, yet be in the most debased condition in matters of the soul. (Me'am Lo'ez)

Every Jew has a spark of holiness in his heart but it may be surrounded by layers of materialism. When he recognizes this spark, even though it is buried, then he will be able to call G-d 'from the depths' of his heart. This is what is meant by the verse "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water but a man of understanding will draw it out" (Mishlei 20:5). In every heart lies a spiritual capacity, but only a 'man of understanding' can reach in and 'draw it out', that is recognize and develope it. (Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv)

Perek Shirah - Apple Tree Says

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 · Posted in ,

תַּפּוּחַ אוֹמֵר - Apple Tree Says



Shir Hashirim 2:3


כְּתַפּוּחַ בַּעֲצֵי הַיַּעַר כֵּן דּוֹדִי בֵּין הַבָּנִים בְּצִלּוֹ חִמַּדְתִּי וְיָשַׁבְתִּי וּפִרְיוֹ מָתוֹק לְחִכִּי
ketapuach ba'atzei haya'ar ken dodi bein habanim betzilo chimadti veyashavti ufiryo matok lechiki
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the sons. In its shade I delighted and sat, and its fruit is sweet to my palate.

How beloved is the Congregation of Yisrael before the 
the Holy One, blessed be He, that she lauds Him in this verse. We should look into this. Why does she laud Him through the apple and not with something else or with something that has color, or fragrance or taste.


Since it is written "apple tree," it turns out she is lauding him in every manner, with color, fragrance and with taste. Just as the apple appears in colors, it has white, red green, so does the the Holy One, blessed be He, appear in supernal colors - namely chesed, gevurah and tiferet that are the secret of white, red and green. As the apple tree has a fine fragrance more than other trees, so about the the Holy One, blessed be He, it is written, "And His fragrance like the Levanon" (Hoshea 14:7). Just as the apple's taste is sweet, so also is the the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written, "His mouth is most sweet" (Shir Hashirim 5:16) (Zohar)


Rebbi Chama son of Rebbi Chanina said: What is meant by the verse, "[He is] like an apple tree ("Tapuach") amongst the trees of the forest..." (Shir HaShirim 2:3)? Why were the Jews compared to an apple tree?

Just as an apple tree reverses the natural order and produces its fruit before its leaves, so too the Jews reversed the natural order [when they accepted the Torah on Mt. Sinai] by saying "We will do [what you request of us]" before saying "We will hear [what you request of us]". Normally, one must first hear what to do, and only then can he do it. (Gemara Shabbat 88a)


Rabbi Yitzchak opened with, "Like the apple tree" (Shir Hashirim 2:3). Happy is the portion of Yisrael more than all the idolatrous nations, because all the other nations were handed to appointed ministers to control them. As for holy Yisrael, happy is their portion in this world and in the World to Come that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave them neither to an angel nor to another ruler, but took them for His own portion. This is the meaning of, "For Hashem's portion is His people" (Devarim 32:9), and, "For Hashem has chosen Yaakov to Himself" (Tehilim 135:4). "Like the apple tree among the trees of the wood": just as the apple tree is different in color from all the other trees in the field, so is the Holy One, blessed be He, separated and marked above all higher and lower legions. Hence His Name is Hashem Tzva'ot, WHICH MEANS He is a sign (Heb. ot) throughout the celestial army (Heb. tzava). (Zohar)


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Perek Shirah - Date Palm Says

תָּמָר אוֹמֵר - Date Palm Says

[Picture of matah (date orchard), Kibbutz Ketura, Israel]


Tehillim 92:13

צַדִּיק כַּתָּמָר יִפְרָח כְּאֶרֶז בַּלְּבָנוֹן יִשְׂגֶּה
tzaddik katamar yifrach ke'erez balvanon yisgeh
A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, he will grow like a cedar in the Levanon.

In the beginning he bears suffering, but in the end "the righteous man will flourish like the date palm" and produce abundant fruit. Similarly, the date palm does not produce fruit except after a long time has passed; seventy years. The "he will grow" higher and higher, "like a cedar in Levanon."

Contrary to the wicked, who wither (v1:4), the tzaddik who flourishes like the date palm will stand many years, "like a cedar in Levanon" growing high. 

The date palm remains forever straight, even when its fruit are plentiful. Similarly, the tzaddik stands upright and does not become bent through indulgence in passions. He struggles constantly against his physical impulse. 

Just as the date palm brings forth fruit after seventy years, so also the tzaddik is rewarded after his death, after having lived seventy years.

The Talmud writes, "Why is it written, 'The righteous man will flourish like the date palm; he will grow like a cedar in Levanon.'? If it says a cedar, why say a date palm; and if it says a date palm, why say a cedar? However, if it would say a date palm and not say a cedar, I might infer that just as the date palm does not change its trunk, so the tzaddik does not change his trunk - basic nature. And, if it would say a cedar and not say a date palm, I might infer, just as the cedar does not produce fruit, so the tzaddik does not produce fruit. Accordingly, it mentions both the date palm and the cedar.

Chazal also teach that just as among date palms and cedars none are knotted and none are crooked, so are there no twisted or non-upright tzaddikim. Just as the date palm and the cedar cast a long shadow, so the reward of the righteous reaches far. Just as the date palm and the cedar have their hearts pointing upward, so it is also for the righteous . (Me'am Lo'ez)


There are two types of righteous individuals, the Baal Shem Tov notes.  One is constantly engrossed in service to G-d but has no involvement with others.  He keeps his righteousness to himself.  Such an individual can be compared to a cedar – large and strong but does not bear fruit.  Like a cedar, this individual may be great in knowledge of the Torah and in service to G-d but does not do anything to produce other righteous individuals.  On the other hand, there is another type of righteous individual who can be compared to a date palm.  A date palm is also large and strong but in addition it flourishes – it bears fruit.  Similarly, such a righteous individual steps out of his immediate four amot and spreads the beauty within him to others around him, whereby his righteousness bears fruit, bringing others closer to G-d.  Whereas the cedar will just “grow tall”, developing itself, the date palm “shall flourish”, bearing fruit and spreading good to the world.

May we, like the date palm, grow significantly and also flourish and bear fruit, reaching out to others and giving of ourselves to others.  And may G-d, in merit of our actions, bring us even closer to Him, enjoying everlasting bliss in service of G-d now and in closeness to Him in the world to come.

Perek Shirah - Pomegranate Says

Monday, February 13, 2017 · Posted in ,

רִמּוֹן אוֹמֵר - Pomegranate Says:

[Pomegranate tree in Ramat Negev highlands, Israel]

Shir HaShirim 4:3

כְּפֶלַח הָרִמּוֹן רַקָּתֵךְ, מִבַּעַד לְצַמָּתֵךְ
kefelach harimon rakatech miba'ad letzamatech
As many as the pomegranate's seeds are the merits of your unworthiest, within your modest veil.

The pomegranate sings that one dare not underestimate even the apparently lowliest people. The fruit's hundreds of hidden, tasty seeds symbolize the 613 commandments. Like the veil hiding the person behind it, one never knows the abundant merits of people who are seemingly ordinary or worse. As the Sages put it, even the comparatively few merits of the lowest among you are numerous as a pomegranate's seeds. History is replete with unexpected courage and self-sacrifice from the least likely people. (Rabbi Nosson Scherman)

The pomegranate teaches that every part of the Jewish People is necessary in order to be considered whole. Those members of Benei Yisrael (the Jewish People) who are less intent on following the Torah are compared to the peel of the pomegranate, while the seeds are compared to those who strive to lead the Jewish People in the Torah. They are what makes the Benei Yisrael into a People intent on accomplishing its mission on Earth. However, without the shell, the pomegranate would fall apart, no longer considered to be a fruit. The protection afforded by the physical strength of those who are less inclined in the Torah, help hold the Jewish People together. (Knaf R'nanim) 

It is through their hishtadlut (physical effort) to defend their fellow Jew that we are all held together. Just as the pomegranate is one, so too, the Jewish People should strive to becomes one, not disassociating from a fellow Jew because of their lack of knowledge or lack of commitment to Judaism. Through increasing achdut (oneness) among the Jewish People, may we merit to make the "peel of the pomegranate" serve as well as the "fruit inside". By doing so all of our enemies will have all the more to fear. (Choshvei Shemo)

Perek Shirah - Fig Tree Says

Sunday, February 12, 2017 · Posted in ,

תְּאֵנָה אוֹמֶרֶת - Fig Tree Says:


Mishlei 27:18

נֹצֵר תְּאֵנָה יֹאכַל פִּרְיָהּ
notzer te'enah yochal piryah
He who preserves the fig tree will eat its fruit

Keep a careful watch over the fig tree and in the end you will eat of its fruit. 

This also alludes to faithful attentiveness - diligence - in the tents of Torah study. Chazal expound: Why is Torah learning likened to a fig tree? For even as a fig tree, when cultivated, yields fruit, so too the Torah student. When meditating in the words of the Torah, he always savors new insights. 

The fig tree does not produce ripe fruit all at once. Similarly, no man fathoms the essence and substance of the Torah the very first time he studies. Only through constant meditation (Yehoshua 1:8) do the words of the Torah yield sweet insights and inferences that are "sweeter than honey and the honeycomb" (Tehillim 19:11).

Just as the fig tree is picked every day, and so much be worked daily, the same obtains for the Torah. Thus the verse says in conclusion, "and one who attends upon his master will be honored," which alludes to Yehoshua. The Torah says that "Yehoshua son of Nun..did not depart out of the tent" of Torah study (Shemot 33:11)

Scripture also prescribes the proper sequencing of Torah study. A father should begin by teaching his son the Scriptures, then Mishnah and finally Gemara. Similarly, figs are plucked from the tree in sequence, one after another. (Me'am Lo'ez)

Perek Shirah - Vine Says

· Posted in ,

גֶּפֶן אוֹמֶרֶת - Vine Says:

[Grapevine in Yisrael]


Yeshayahu 65:8

כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה כַּאֲשֶׁר יִמָּצֵא הַתִּירוֹשׁ בָּאֶשְׁכּוֹל וְאָמַר אַל-תַּשְׁחִיתֵהוּ כִּי בְרָכָה בּוֹ--כֵּן אֶעֱשֶׂה לְמַעַן עֲבָדַי לְבִלְתִּי הַשְׁחִית הַכֹּל
ko amar HASHEM ka'asher yimatze hatirosh baeshkol ve'amar al-tashchitehu ki verachah bo ken e'eseh lema'an avadai levilti hashechit hakol
Thus says Hashem, "Just as when wine can be found in the cluster one says, 'Do not destroy it, for there is good in it,' so shall I act for the sake of My servant and not destroy everything."


Nevertheless, do not despair, for G-d will yet bring Redemption - even if you do not deserve it. It will be like the cluster which has a few grapes and will not be destroyed, but be tread upon for its juice, while the pips and rinds are cast away. Thus will G-d extract the "good" in His people and purify them of their "evil rinds." (Me'am Lo'ez)

Don't Be Wasteful

It is forbidden to wastefully destroy any useful object, as we learn from the commandment, "You must not destroy [the city's] trees" (Devarim 20:19). One who wantonly destroys furniture or utensils, tears clothing, or wastes good food, is guilty of violating this commandment. Furthermore, if he does so in anger, it is considered as if he had committed idolatry. One should not destroy anything over which a blessing can be said, as it is written, "Do not destroy [the grapevine] for the blessing [over its wine] is in it." (Yeshayahu 65:8). (Aish . com)


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