The Power To Hold Back

In Cheshek Shlomo, Rabbi Pappenheim connects “eitan” to the biliteral root aleph-tav, which he further reduces to the monoliteral root tav. He explains that this root means connections and linking.

The Strong Ones (Part II)

Another verse in Psalms (68:35) exhorts the reader to give “oz” to G-d. Obviously we can’t actually strengthen G-d.

The Strong Ones (Part I)

Rabbi Wertheimer explains that the greater Torah scholar a person becomes, the more effort he must exert on performing good deeds and not lose himself in the more theoretical world of study.

Peace And Quiet

“Shalom” implies the cessation of hostilities, while “sheket” implies the cessation of any rush or toiling that force people to be constantly moving about.

Remembering The Wall (Part II)

Other words derived from this root include “chatzi” (half), “chazot” (midday or midnight), “chutz” (outside/exterior), and “cheitz” (arrow).

Remembering The Wall (Part I)

Rabbi Pappenheim suggests that “chomah” is related to “milchamah,” as the main purpose of building a city wall is to protect its inhabitants from enemy warfare.

When Suddenly…

The Talmud (Kritut 9a) states that “peta” connotes shogeg (by mistake), while “pitom” could connote oness (by accident), meizid (on purpose), or shogeg. The Midrash (Sifrei to Numbers 6:9) disagrees.

Take A Breather (Part III)

The Shelah (1555-1630) writes that not everyone can be cognizant of their chayah and yechidah during their lifetimes. Only bnei aliyah (spiritually-elevated people) can connect with their chayah-yechidah.

Take A Breather (Part II)

Rabbeinu Yonah notes that the nefesh and ruach represent man’s instinct for thriving and surviving in a physical or material way.

Take A Breather (Part I)

Maimonides explains that “ruach” also means a life-giving spirit, which is what remains of a person after death (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

All About Hair

In another famous Talmudic passage, the rabbis speak about taming the force of the Evil Inclination for idolatry, which took on the form of a lion made of fire.

Kneading The Dough

Rabbi Mecklenberg writes that “arisah” is related to “eres” (bed): Just as dough consists of a mixture of flour and water, so too a bed’s mattress rest on a mixture of interplaced beams or planks.

A Coriander Conundrum

Ultimately, when Antoninus pointed out that doing so would totally erase his progeny, Rebbe encouraged the Roman official to have mercy on his deviant daughter.

Where’s The Gold?

Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz (1765-1821) writes that Ophir is Peru, where large deposits of gold are supposedly concentrated.

The Old Switcheroo

The Torah stipulates that if one tries to transfer holiness from one animal to another, both the original animal and the new animal become consecrated.

Divorce Bills And Other Documents

Rabbi Sofer explains that all legal documents are called “get” because they bring people together (e.g., lenders and borrowers, buyers and sellers, etc.).

Blemished Imperfections

Rabbi Dr. Ernest Klein explains that this word originally referred to a dot or speck on an otherwise pristine background and was later expanded to mean any type of blemish or defective imperfection.

Sing And Song (Part II)

The word “yashar” (straight) would seem to hold the opposite meaning of “shirah,” but Rabbi Shapiro notes that in rabbinic literature the two are linked.

Sing And Song (Part I)

In what is possibly a separate explanation, the Malbim writes that “shirah” is a more general term that can refer to song both in a religious sense and in a secular sense, while “zimrah” refers specifically to a religious song that speaks of G-d’s praises.

Laborious Work And Angelic Creativity

Rabbi Kook warns that sometimes a person can become so involved and devoted to his work that his work controls him instead of the reverse.

Better Late Than…

Rabbi Shapira-Frankfurter discusses a third word for delay or late: “hitmahmah.” In his view, this word denotes a delay caused by moving slower than usual.

Five Ways To Be Silent

A fourth word for quiet is “hass.” This verb means making others quiet (i.e., hushing them). The etymology of this word might be an onomatopoeic adaptation of the sound used to quiet others (like “shh…”).

How Many Foreheads?

The Mishnah and the Talmud do not explain what “padachat” means, so how do we know it means “forehead”?

Stealing And Robbing

The gaNav steals at Night [i.e., when nobody is looking] while the gazLan steals in the Light [i.e., out in the open].

Heat With The In-laws

The groom does not join a new family, but rather branches off from his own family, creating a new subdivision of it.

Spoils Of War

Rabbi Pappenheim traces the etymology of “baz” and “bizah” to the biliteral root bet-zayin, which refers to something unimportant.

That’s A Flogging

He argues that "malkut" only denotes physical hitting while "makkot" denotes any sort of painful ordeal.

Running On Willpower

A number of commentators explain that “chefetz” is a strong, physical type of desire while “ratzon” is a more subtle desire to do the right thing.

My Dear Deer

The Land of Israel is often called the desired land: “eretz chefetz” (Malachi 3:12), “eretz chemdah” (Jeremiah 3:19, Zecharia 7:14, Psalms 106:24), and “eretz ha’tzvi” (Daniel 11:16, 11:41).

Jacob’s Three Names

How do we know that Yeshurun is Yaakov? One place where the equivalence is clear is a passage recited before the morning prayers.


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