Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/customer/www/mizmorledavid.org/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 324

(First day: Exodus 19:1-20:23)

(Haftara: Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12)

(Second day: Shabbat:  Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17)

(Haftara: Habbakuk 2:20-3:19)

(Megillat Ruth)

1. [Exodus 20:10] In the 10 Commandments, Shabbat is characterized as a day of rest. Why not characterize it as a day of prayer, or a day of thought and meditation, or a day spent with family and friends?

2. [1st day, haftara] The Torah reading the first day is the 10 commandments. The haftara is the very mysterious, mystical experience of Ezekiel. By choosing these very different readings, what message do our rabbis want to convey?

3. [2nd day, Deuteronomy 15:9] On the 2nd day of Shavuot, which is Shabbat this year, we read about lending money to the needy and other acts of kindness. The 1st day we read about revelations of God and other mystical experiences. Why is there this separation? Why not read about both kindness and revelations on both days?

4. [Megillat Ruth] We read the book of Ruth on the 2nd day of Shavuot. The main theme of the book of Ruth is kindness. To give a more realistic picture of Judaism, shouldn’t the book of Ruth have more laws?

5. Shavuot is also the festival of the 1st fruits. Farmers brought their first fruits to Jerusalem. Why is it fitting that the giving of the Torah and the celebration of the first fruits should fall on the same day?


[Ruth 3:18] “The man will not rest unless he finishes the thing (the marriage) today.”

Boaz wasted no time and insisted that he do the act of kindness and marry Ruth immediately. The midrash tells us that if Boaz had waited another day, it would have been too late. We know that King David and the Messiah are the descendants of Boaz and Ruth. This comes to tell us that in relation to acts of kindness, one must act immediately and waste no time.

–R. Yisrael Mayer Kagan, the Chafetz Chaim—Radin, Poland

(Leviticus: 6:1-8:36)

Shabbat Hagadol

(Haftara: Malachi 3:4-24)


1. [6:2] “… it is the law of the olah.” The sacrifice called the “chatat” is partially burned on the altar, and partly eaten by the Kohanim. The sacrifice “shlamim” is in part burned on the altar, in part eaten by the Kohanim, and in part eaten by the person who brought the sacrifice. The sacrifice “olah” is completely burnt on the altar, and is the only one which may be brought by a non-Jew. Why is the olah the most appropriate sacrifice for a non-Jew?

2. [Malachi 3:24] “and returns the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children toward their fathers.” This happens in the ideal Messianic era. Do fathers now not love their children, and do children not love their fathers? How will this change and why it is so important for the ideal messianic society of the future?

3. [Passover] In ethical Jewish thought, risen dough in bread and cakes represents arrogance and evil in general. Why is risen dough a good metaphor for the arrogance and the tendency toward evil?

4. [Passover] In many of our commandments we, mention the departure from Egypt. Why does this seem to be even more important than getting the Torah on Sinai?

5. [Passover] The feast of Pesach is called so in Hebrew because God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites when the firstborn of the Egyptians were killed (Shmot 12:13). This appears to be a small detail in the whole process of deliverance. Why is the festival named after this small detail? 


[Haggadah for Passover] “This is the bread of the poor.”

The bread of the poor is the modesty which the Israelites had before they received the Torah. It is, in fact, that which allowed them to receive the Torah. Without modesty, it would have been impossible for the Israelites to adopt the holiness of Torah. Through modesty – poverty – and the awareness that without divine influence there cannot be wisdom and knowledge, the Israelites were able to accept the sublime light.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

Dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And in memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzhak and Chana, Chaim Yechiel Yosef ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

(Leviticus: 1:1-5:26)     

(Haftara: Yechezkel 45:16)

(Shabbat HaChodesh)

(Shabbat Rosh Chodesh)

1. [1:2]  “…when a man brings an offering to God…” The root of the word for sacrifice—”korban” means coming close. How would animal sacrifices make the person who brings them  come closer to God?

2. The Rambam (in The Guide for the Perplexed ) says that animal sacrifices were commanded only because the Israelites were used to them in Egypt. However, they were later replaced by prayer. In which ways is prayer a replacement for sacrifices?

3. [Haggadah of Pesach]  One of the commandments of  Pesach night is to tell the story of our liberation from Egypt.  The story is supposed to be told through questions and answers.    What does the question-and-answer format contribute to the seder and what does this rule (question-and-answer) tell us about Judaism and the Jews?

4. [Haggadah of Pesach]  The passage in the haggadah about the 4 sons teaches us that each son should be taught in a way which is suitable to his understanding. This is a model of Jewish education, as it says in the book of Mishle, “Teach the youth according to his way (Mishle 22:6)”.  Why is this an effective educational method?

5. Our holy books tell us that chametz—leaven—represents arrogance. On Pesach, leaven is totally forbidden to us. Arrogance is also totally undesirable to us, so why is leaven only forbidden on the week of Pesach. Why is it not forbidden all year round?


Real freedom is connected to real kindness, and only appears in the world when one has the purest personal qualities.  This purity removes all envy from the heart, like the prophetic vision: “I will remove your heart of stone and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel..

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli ZuckerAnd to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

(Exodus: 35:1-40:38)

Parshat Hachodesh

(Exodus 12:1-20)

(Haftara: Ezekiel 45:18-46:15)

1. [35:31]  “And he filled him with the spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge…”  These are all intellectual qualities. What other qualities also make up the spirit of God?

2. [35:34] “And the ability to teach, he put into his heart…”  From this pasuk, it would seem that the ability to teach is inborn in a person.  Is it possible to learn how to be a very effective teacher if one was not born with the natural qualities of a teacher?

3. [35:35] “And he filled him with wisdom of heart to do craftsmanship…those who do craftsmanship and think thoughts.”  Is craftsmanship more a quality of the mind, more a quality of the heart—of emotion, or more a quality of control of the body?

4. [Parshat haChodesh, Exodus 12:11]  “And this is how you should eat it…in haste…”  The Jewish ethical sages praise the quality of haste-energy.  They also praise the quality of calmness.  Can calmness and haste-energy co-exist in someone’s personality and actions?

5. [Yechezkel 46:18]  “And the leader will not take…any person from his possession.”  This haftara is read as a preparation for Pesach.  It ends with a matter of  justice.  The leader cannot use his position to do unjust things.  Pesach is a festival of national and personal liberation. What does justice have to do with liberation?


The past is not only relevant, but current as well. The liberation from tyranny, and the fight for freedom, is the story of Jewish history as a whole. It is only by identifying personally with the exodus that we can proceed with the Haggadah and truly be grateful to God for His past and present miracles.

–Rabbi J. D. Soloveitchik, 1903-1993, Belarus and the USA.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

(Shmot 30:11-34:35)

(Haftara: Parah: Ezekiel 36:16-38)

(Shabbat Parah)

1. [32:19] “…and he threw the tablets from his hands and he broke them…” Although Moshe knew about the sin of the golden calf before he came down from the mountain, he still broke the tablets. [32:7,8].  The Sforno (1475-1550, Italy) says that when Moshe saw how happy the Israelites were, he got angry and threw the tablets down. The Rashbam (10851158, France).  says that Moshe lost his strength when he saw the worshippers and he threw the tablets so they wouldn’t fall on his feet when they dropped. Which of these explanations seems better to you?

2.  Rashi says that Aharon co-operated in making the calf because he was scared of being killed. The Ibn Ezra says that Aharon co-operated because he didn’t believe that the calf was idolatry. And if it were idolatry, he would not have done it, even under the threat of death. What is the difference between the way that each of the commentators sees Aharon? How would each viewpoint affect other stories of Aharon in the Torah?

3. [32:4] Rashi says that the “mixed multitudes”—the non-Israelites who also came out of Egypt–started the sin of the golden calf, and then lured the Israelites into doing the sin. The Torah does not specifically say this. We know that the Israelites are also capable of negative behaviour, so what does Rashi gain by blaming the “mixed multitudes”?

4. [Haftara: Ezekiel 36:21] “I took pity on my holy name… “ God says that He will return the Jews to their land, and in that way, He will save the honour of His holy name. When the Jews went into exile, how was His holy name desecrated, and how is His holy name honoured by the return of the Jews to the land of Israel? What if the Jews don’t act properly in their land—is there still honour?

5. [36:26] “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”.  What specific changes will happen to the individual and then to the nation as a whole, when this prophecy is realized?


[32:26] “…whoever is for God, let him come to me, and all the sons of Levi gathered [to Moshe]”.  We know that many Israelites did not worship the golden calf. The sons of Levi were not the only ones. However, the others did not have the courage to actively oppose the wrong-doers. They wanted to remain uninvolved. They did not want arguments.  Only Levi actively opposed the evil. That’s why God says, “The Levi’im are mine. [Bamidbar 3:11]

–R. Yitchak Meir of Ger (1798-1866), Poland.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg

And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

Numbers 6:2-9:35

 Rosh Chodesh

1. [6:9] “…and they didn’t listen to Moshe because of impatience and hard work”.  If the Israelites had not been impatient and hadn’t worked so hard, they also wouldn’t have listened to Moshe, because their lives would have been easier.  Under what conditions does an oppressed people listen to someone who wants to free them from their oppression?

2. [6:12] “…the children of Israel didn’t listen to me, so why would Pharoah listen to me…”   The Riva (12th century, France) explains the logic in the following way: The children of Israel didn’t listen to me , even though I came for their good, so why would Pharoah listen to me when I’m telling him something that’s not good for him?  Some commentators say that this is faulty logic. What might be faulty about the logic here?

3. [6:14] In the previous parsha, the Torah gave us a list of the tribes. Rashi, our main commentator, says that this shows how much God loves the Israelites. Here the Torah gives us a list of the heads of the tribes. Why does the Torah write lists

of names so often?

4. [6:30] Moshe does not want to be the leader of the Israelites, but God insists that he is the man for the job. What qualities does Moshe have that make him a proper leader? How are these qualities different from the qualities that we usually associate with leadership?

5. [7:19] In this parsha, 7 plagues are mentioned. They are: 1) the changing of the waters of Egypt to blood; 2) frogs everywhere; 3) lice; 4) swarms of flies; 5) disease on the cattle; 6) boils on the body; and 7) hail. The commentators try to find a pattern to the plagues. Do you see a pattern to the plagues?


There are 10 words in the Torah for prayer. When the Israelites were in spiritual exile in Egypt, their power of speech—their prayer—was also in exile. (This is seen in everyday life when a person is depressed. The person’s full power of speech is lost—is in exile.) The 10 plagues that removed the exile restored the power of speech so that the Israelites could pray the 10 expressions of prayer.

The Chiddushei HaRim–R. Yitzchak Meir of Ger (1798(?)-1866)

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

(Exodus 1:1 – 5:23)

(Haftara: Isaiah 27:6- 28:13, 29:22,23)

1. [1:8] “And a new king arose over Egypt…”  Rashi quotes an argument from the Talmud. One chacham says that it was really a new king, and the other chacham says that it was the same king, but he changed his policies. How does the story change according to each of these opinions?

2. [2:2] “…and she saw that he was good…” In explaining the meaning of “he was good”, Rashi says that the whole house was filled with light. The Sforno (1475-1550—Italy), however says that Moshe was prettier than the average baby. What might have made Rashi give a “miraculous” explanation?

3. [2:10] “…because I pulled him out of the water.” What quality did Pharoah’s daughter show by pulling him out of the water, and how might this choice of name have affected the development of Moshe’s personality?

4. If Moshe was raised in the Pharoah’s palace, what might have caused him to identify so much with the children of Israel?

5. [3:8] “…to a land flowing with milk and honey, the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite…” Why does God also mention that the land is inhabited by these tribes? Wouldn’t that fact be discouraging to Moshe?


[4:10] “…I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue.”

Many leaders are very good  and persuasive speakers. Why did God choose Moshe, who had such difficulty with his speech?

God did not want people to say that the reason that the children of Israel accepted the Torah was because they were convinced by a charismatic and persuasive leader. Rather, the reason they accepted the Torah was because of their encounter with God at Mount Sinai.

–Rabbi Nissim (the Ra”n), Spain,  (1320-1380)

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


(Haftara: Ezekiel 37:15-28)

1. [44:18] Yosef is the model for Messiah ben Yosef. According to the Gaon of Vilna, the final redemption will be modeled on the redemption from Egypt, and one model will be Yosef and everything in his life. Yosef looked like an Egyptian and there was Geulah. The midrash tells us that the b’nei Yisrael, years later, were redeemed because they did not change their names, their language or their clothing.  And that is also a model for the redemption. How can we resolve this contradiction? Is the model of redemption based on Yosef—to be a Jew in one’s heart, but be hidden, or is the model the b’nei Yisrael in Egypt?

2. [45:14] “…and he cried and Binyamin cried on his neck.” Rashi says that they cried over the Temples that would be destroyed in the future—each in the other’s territory.  Each of the brothers had a deep love and compassion for the other in relation to eternal matters. Other commentators say that they cried because they had been separated for so long. What might motivate Rashi to explain the brothers’ deep emotion in such an impersonal way?

3. Some commentators interpret negative actions by our forefathers (like the sale of Yosef by his brothers) in a positive way. They had the most noble motivations. Other commentators see our forefathers as human and developing toward Godliness. Which school of interpretation do you prefer? Why?

4. [Haftara: Yechezkel 37:22] The prophet tells us how in the messianic era, there will be no divisions among the Jews. If that is the ideal, then why was the division into tribes encouraged and reinforced earlier in our history?

5. [Haftara: 37:24] “…and they shall all have one shepherd…” In another messianic vision, we are told that “all your children will be taught by God” (Yeshayah 54:13)—everyone will have a direct relationship with God. Here, we are told that there will be one leader on the model of a shepherd. If everyone will have a direct relationship with God, why is there a need for a shepherd-like leader?


[Yechezkel 37:24] “And my servant David will be king over them…”

In the messianic future, all the Jews will return to God, and will repent totally for all their sins of the past. However, there will be many who will be embarrassed because they have so many sins. For these people, King David will be their inspiring example. From David’s life they will understand that “tshuvah” helps for everything—even the most severe sins– and one’s relationship with God and with the world can always be repaired.

Ahavat Yehonatan, Yonatan Eibeschitz,  (1690-1764), Prague

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


(Haftara: Zechariah 2:14-4:7)


1. [41:39] “…since God has informed you of all of this…”   Pharoah believed that Yosef’s  interpretations of the his dreams and his servant’s dreams were true interpretations and come from God. On the basis of this, he even raised Yosef from being a prisoner to being Pharoah’s main officer. Nonetheless he remained an idol-worshipper.  How could Pharoah justify to himself the fact that the God of Yosef is so all-knowing and powerful, and yet still not devote himself to Yosef’s God?

2. [41:51]  “And to Yosef were born 2 sons…”  Yosef named his first son Menashe because “God made me forget…my father’s house”, and he named his second son Ephraim because “God has made me prosper” in Egypt.  Some of our commentaries say that Yosef was only masquerading as an Egyptian, but was still a “Hebrew” in his heart.  Others disagree and say that Yosef , while believing in God, saw himself as an Egyptian. On the basis of the names that he gave his sons, which of these interpretations seems to be the better one. Could one also justify the other interpretation?

3. [42:21]  “…we are guilty about our brother…”   Yosef hears his brothers say that they did wrong in selling Yosef.  Still he causes them a lot of trouble. Why doesn’t Yosef tell them who he is?  What more does he expect of them?

4. [Chanukah]  There is a difference of opinion whether after Shabbat, one should first light the havdalah candle which signifies the end of Shabbat or whether one should first light the Chanukah candles.  What might be the reasons that underlie this difference of opinion?

5. [Chanukah]  On Chanukah, we were victorious over the Greeks, and we rejected Greek culture totally. Later, however, many of our rabbis had great respect for Greek philosophy and other aspects of Greek culture. At the time of the Maccabees, why couldn’t we accept some aspects of Greek culture and reject their paganism?


The existence and survival of the nation are commemorated in the Chanukah candles and the miracle of Chanukah.  But a person should not think that the existence of the nation is for everyone’s personal gain. “One is not permitted to count money by the light of the Chanukah candles.” Rather, one must know that the purpose of the nation is a very elevated purpose. The name of God is what defines the nation, and the nation carries the covenant of the Torah in its heart.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


(Haftara: Ovadiah 1:1-3:21)

1. [32:21]  “…I will appease him with the present that goes before me…”  Ya’akov had seriously hurt Esav, and Esav had wanted to kill him. Ya’akov thought that by giving Esav a generous gift, Esav would forgive him. It would seem that if Esav was ready to forgive Ya’akov, then a gift is unnecessary, and if Esav is not ready to forgive, then a gift is not going to help.  What was Ya’akov thinking in sending this gift to Esav?

2. [32:27]  “…I will not let you go unless you bless me…”   Ya’akov demanded a blessing and the “man” changed Ya’akov’s name to Yisrael.  It seems that if Ya’akov had not demanded a blessing, his name would have remained Ya’akov. The fact that Ya’akov became Yisrael is considered a big spiritual change.  What is the significance of the fact that Ya’akov had to demand the blessing?

3.  [32:29] “And he said, ‘Your name will no longer be Ya’akov, but rather Yisrael, because you have wrestled with God (or  with powers)…”  The Jewish people are called Yisrael.  There are many stories about our forefathers. Why do we, as a nation, have a name that recalls this event?

4.  [Ovadiah 1:15] “…as you have done, it shall be done unto you…” The wicked should receive whatever bad they did to others.  However, we see that sometimes the wicked prosper.  If God is totally just, then how can the wicked prosper?

5. [Ovadiah 3:21]  “And saviours shall rise up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esav, and the kingdom will be God’s”.   It seems that judging the mount of Esav will causeGod’s kingdom to be revealed.  The pasuk does not speak of a victory over Esav, but rather of “judging” the mount of Esav. How can this judgment bring God’s kingdom?


The great dreams are the foundation of the world…the prophets dream…the poets dream while awake…the great thinkers dream of the perfected world…we all dream….The crudeness of conventional life, which is wholly immersed in materialism, removes the light of the dream from the world…Then the vision of the dream will return and it will become a clear revelation.

–R. A. Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli ZuckerAnd to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


Mizmor LeDavid meets at the Mesorati High School, 8 Beitar Street, in the auditorium. There is another minyan that meets there, we are the one further north. Accessible from Beitar, the single gate at the bottom of the semi-circle of steps, or from the north end of Efrata Street, through the gate on the right, then turn left.

Subscribe to our Newsletter