The Aura of Torah


The Aura of Torah

A Kabbalistic-Hasidic Commentary to the Weekly Readings

Rabbi Larry Tabick

416 pages
1 illustration


July 2014


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Because a welter of details sometimes conceals the Torah’s aura of holiness, Jewish mystics and spiritual teachers for centuries have attempted to reveal that aura through creative interpretation. The Aura of Torah explores these attempts in an effort to bridge the gap between the Torah text and the modern Jewish spiritual quest.

This book collects a wide variety of interpretations of Torah passages, commentaries, and midrash rooted in the mystical side of Jewish tradition,including original Hebrew and Aramaic texts translated by Rabbi Larry Tabick. The quoted authors span many centuries and speak from many schools of thought: kabbalists writing within the tradition of the Zohar and other gnostic works; Hasidic teachers from the modern movement founded by the Ba’al Shem Tov in eighteenth-century Ukraine; and German pietists, or Hasidei Ashkenaz, of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Tabick examines how these texts build on the underlying principles of the Torah—the supremacy of God, the interconnectedness of nature and morality, and the unique (though not exclusive) role of the Jewish people in the divine plan for all humanity—to point to a deep spiritual truth in the world of the divine and the soul.

Author Bio

Larry Tabick is a rabbi of Shir Hayim, the Hampstead Reform Jewish Community in London. He is the author of Growing into Your Soul: A Celebration of Jewish Life for Your Coming of Age.



"The Chasidic pioneers, ever concerned to prevent religion sliding into dull routine, refreshed Torah with their creative readings. As this book amply demonstrates, Jewish spirituality remains rooted in the text."—Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle

"The Aura of Torah is more than interesting and thought-provoking readings of biblical commentaries. The exegeses, taken from the heart of Kabbalah and the writings of Hasidic masters, have much historical value and give the modern reader insights into the ways eighteenth and nineteenth century Eastern European rabbis wanted their congregations to think about life and the Torah."—Fred Reiss, San Diego Jewish World

"[The Aura of Torah is] an enormously valuable collection of commentaries from the mystical viewpoint, which will enrich our understanding of the weekly parashah, and present fodder for much discussion on the timeless words of Torah."—Dov Peretz Elkins, Jewish Media Review

The Aura of Torah is an important and useful contribution to the emergent literature of spiritual companions to the parashah. There is nothing quite like it on the shelf. Tabick assembles mystical teachings for the general reader with insight, creativity, and obvious spiritual depth.”—Lawrence Kushner, author of Honey from the Rock

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Aura of Torah

The World’s Aura: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah

[1] Genesis 1:1 Unfinished Business—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[2] Genesis 2:24 The Soul’s Mate—Yitzchak Mordechai ben Yisra’el Aharon Podvah
[3] Genesis 5:22,24 The Enoch Enigma—Yisra’el ben Eliezer, Ba’al Shem Tov

[4] Genesis 6:13 Wisdom or Cleverness?—Hayyim of Krasna
[5] Genesis 8:15,20 Misplaced Anger—Zohar, Sitrei Torah
[6] Genesis 9:20–21 The Wine of Torah—Avraham ben Shmuel Abulafia

Lekh Lekha
[7] Genesis 12:1 “Go for Yourself”—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[8] Genesis 13:17 Going About for Wisdom—Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher ben Chlava
[9] Genesis 17:1 God Fills and Surrounds All Things—Mordechai of Chernobyl

[10] Genesis 18:17 Lovingkindness in All That Happens—Yitzchak of Vorki
[11] Genesis 20:11 Fear of God—Pinchas of Koretz
[12] Genesis 21:17 Silent Screaming—Menachem Mendel of Vorki

?ayyei Sarah
[13] Genesis 24:1 For All—Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
[14] Genesis 24:44 Kindness and Compassion—Zevi Elimelech of Dinov
[15] Genesis 24:62 God Sees Me—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov

[16] Genesis 25:25–26 Falsehood and Truth—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov
[17] Genesis 26:15,18,20–22 Digging Our Own Wells—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[18] Genesis 28:9 Positive from Negative—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica

[19] Genesis 28:12 You Are a Ladder—Yishayah HaLevi Horowitz
[20] Genesis 29:17 “The Young Woman with No Eyes”—Naftali Hertz ben Ya’akov Elchanan Bacharach
[21] Genesis 31:40 Coming and Going in Thought—Uri of Strelisk

[22] Genesis 32:4 Prayers Are Messengers—Aharon (II) ben Asher of Karlin
[23] Genesis 33:17 Houses for the Soul—Shalom Rokeach of Belz
[24] Genesis 34:19 How to Love God—Hayyim ben Menachem Mendel of Kosov

[25] Genesis 37:2 Renewed Each Day—Aharon (II) ben Asher of Karlin
[26] Genesis 37:32 Rebound—Reuven Hoeschke, based on Zohar I, 144b
[27] Genesis 39:2 The Double Test—Simchah Bunam of Pshische

[28] Genesis 41:1 The Light of Consciousness—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[29] Genesis 42:1–2 Broken Torah—Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk
[30] Genesis 44:17 The Importance of Truth—Aryeh Leib, Shpole Zayde

[31] Genesis 44:18 Ways of Coming Closer—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[32] Genesis 45:16 The Voice of Prayer—Zohar I, 209b–210a
[33] Genesis 46:2 The Level of Israel, the Level of Jacob—Aharon (II) ben Asher of Karlin

[34] Genesis 47:28–29 Body and Soul—Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher ben Chlava
[35] Genesis 49:8 Being a Jew—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov
[36] Genesis 49:28 The General and the Particular—Simchah Bunam of Pshische

[37] Exodus 1:7 Bodies of Holiness—Meir ben Chalifa Bikayam
[38] Exodus 3:5 Habits Get in the Way—Yosef ben Yechiel Michal of Yampole
[39] Exodus 5:22–23 Joining with the Pain of the Shechinah—Elimelech of Lyzhansk

[40] Exodus 6:5 Service for Positive Reasons—Moshe ben Yisra’el Polier of Kobrin
[41] Exodus 7:9 Performing Signs—Shalom Rokeach of Belz
[42] Exodus 8:22 Sensitivity to Others—Mordechai of Neschiz

[43] Exodus 10:22–23 Darkness between Us—Yitzchak and Menachem Mendel of Vorki
[44] Exodus 12:3 How to Eat—Moshe Cordovero
[45] Exodus 13:2 The Firstborn Thought—Yisra’el Friedman of Ruzhyn

[46] Exodus 13:18 Going Up—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[47] Exodus 14:15 Turn to Israel First—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[48] Exodus 17:16 The War against Amalek—Natan of (Nemirov) Breslov

[49] Exodus 18:1 Reacting to Fear—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[50] Exodus 19:5 The Greatest Treasure—Moshe ben Yisra’el Polier of Kobrin
[51] Exodus 20:2–3 Your Physical Being, Your Spiritual Being—Mordechai of Chernobyl

[52] Exodus 21:24 Whose Eye?—Menachem ben Binyamin Recanati
[53] Exodus 22:13–14 Soul on Loan—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[54] Exodus 24:7 “Who Is This Life Force?”—Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl

[55] Exodus 25:1–2 Not Just Now—Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir
[56] Exodus 25:31 Becoming a Menorah—Mordechai of Neschiz
[57] Exodus 27:1 Your Body Is an Altar—Hayyim Yosef David Azulai

[58] Exodus 28:4 The Ideal Jew—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica
[59] Exodus 28:32 Everyone Is a Priest—Yishayah HaLevi Horowitz
[60] Exodus 29:46–47 God Is Still Our God—Hayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar

Ki Tissa’
[61] Exodus 30:12 Ransoming Yourself—Pinchas of Koretz
[62] Exodus 33:20 Seeing the Face of God—Mordechai of Chernobyl
[63] Exodus 34:17 The Danger of Generalizations—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica

[64] Exodus 35:3 Fiery Anger—Tikkunei HaZohar
[65] Exodus 35:30,31,33 Stone or Wood?—Yisra’el ben Shmuel of Modzhitz
[66] Exodus 38:8 Seeing Yourself in a Mirror—Ya’akov Yosef of Polonnoye

[67] Exodus 38:21 Submitting an Account—Mordechai of Chernobyl
[68] Exodus 39:42 Work or Service?—Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher ben Chlava
[69] Exodus 40:36 Removing the Cloud—Avraham Yissachar Ber HaCohen of Radomsk

[70] Leviticus 1:1 Going to Your Head?—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[71] Leviticus 2:13 A Union of Opposites—Efraim Shlomo ben Aharon of Luntshits
[72] Leviticus 5:17 Turning Good Deeds to Naught—Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev

[73] Leviticus 6:2 Harnessing Our Drives—Ya’akov Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz, Seer of Lublin
[74] Leviticus 7:37 Torah Is What We Make of It—Yisra’el Friedman of Ruzhyn
[75] Leviticus 8:29 Sanctifying Sight—Yisra’el ben Shmuel of Modzhitz

[76] Leviticus 9:6 It Depends on You—Ya’akov Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz, Seer of Lublin
[77] Leviticus 10:1–2 Refining Your Plans—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica
[78] Leviticus 11:45 Dedicated to God—Yisra’el ben Eliezer, Ba’al Shem Tov

[79] Leviticus 12:2 We All Receive—Yisra’el Friedman of Ruzhyn
[80] Leviticus 13:23 Spirituality: Moving or Stationary?—Ya’akov Zevi Yolles
[81] Leviticus 13:59 The Affliction of the Shechinah—Avraham Yissachar Ber HaCohen of Radomsk

[82] Leviticus 14:4 Humility at the Wrong Time—Yitzchak Meir of Gur
[83] Leviticus 14:35 What Is Love?—Zevi Hirsh ben Shmuel Zanvil Minkovitz of Semyatitch
[84] Leviticus 15:31 Separation for the Sake of Cleansing—Menachem Mendel of Rymanov

’A?arei Mot
[85] Leviticus 16:2 Charity Begins at Home?—Uri of Strelisk
[86] Leviticus 16:30 Self-Cleansing—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[87] Leviticus 18:5 Putting Life into the Commandments—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

[88] Leviticus 19:2 Infinite Progression—Hayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar
[89] Leviticus 19:36 An Honest “Yes” and “No”—Yehudah ben Shmuel HeHasid of Regensburg
[90] Leviticus 20:7 Always Be Prepared—Menachem Mendel of Rymanov

[91] Leviticus 21:1–2 Priests in Thought—Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir
[92] Leviticus 23:2 Keeping Festivals Holy—Yishayah HaLevi Horowitz
[93] Leviticus 24:19 It Will Come Back on You—Yisra’el ben Shmuel of Modzhitz

[94] Leviticus 25:2 Trust Only in God—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica
[95] Leviticus 25:23 Only Passing Through—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov
[96] Leviticus 25:35,36 Taking No Personal Interest—Elimelech of Lyzhansk

[97] Leviticus 26:3 Making God—Zohar III, 113a
[98] Leviticus 26:13 “Two Structures”—Mordechai of Chernobyl
[99] Leviticus 27:33 The Love of Inferior Things—Dov Ber, Maggid of Mezritch

[100] Numbers 1:1 The Spread of Torah—Naftali Zevi Horowitz of Ropshitz
[101] Numbers 2:2 Advice against Greatness—Avraham Yissachar Ber HaCohen of Radomsk
[102] Numbers 4:20 Cheap Imitations—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov

[103] Numbers 4:46–47 Joy Is Also a Mitzvah—Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher ben Chlava
[104] Numbers 6:26 A Gift from a King—Simchah Bunam of Pshische
[105] Numbers 7:9 Exertion Required—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

[106] Numbers 8:3 Keeping It Fresh—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica
[107] Numbers 9:18 Moving On with the Help of God—Yishayah HaLevi Horowitz
[108] Numbers 12:3 Accepting Yourself—Simchah Bunam of Pshische

[109] Numbers 13:32 Beyond the Earthly—Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir
[110] Numbers 14:13–16 Why God Can Forgive—Moshe Leib of Sasov
[111] Numbers 15:39 Not Even If You Have a Good Heart—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

[112] Numbers 16:1 The Ongoing Struggle—Ya’akov Zevi Yolles
[113] Numbers 16:22 The Spirit in Flesh—Hayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar
[114] Numbers 17:23 Producing Blossoms and Almonds—Simchah Bunam of Pshische

[115] Numbers 19:2 The Secret of the Red Heifer—Menachem Mendel of Vorki
[116] Numbers 20:14 Brothers on the Inside—Ya’akov Yosef of Polonnoye
[117] Numbers 21:17–18 Prayer as Meditation—Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher ben Chlava

[118] Numbers 22:23 The Soul Can See Everything—Uri of Strelisk
[119] Numbers 23:9 Turning Things Around—Menachem Mendel of Rymanov
[120] Numbers 24:5 The Internal Takes Precedence—Avraham Noach HaLevi Heller of Dolina

[121] Numbers 25:12 Inner Conflict—Ya’akov Yosef of Polonnoye
[122] Numbers 27:16 Leaders: Military and Spiritual—Ya’akov Yosef of Polonnoye
[123] Numbers 28:2 Feeding God—Pinchas of Koretz

[124] Numbers 31:2 Moses Never Has Left Us—Pinchas of Koretz
[125] Numbers 31:21 The War after War—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[126] Numbers 32:22–23 Becoming Pure before God—Menachem Mendel of Rymanov

[127] Numbers 33:1–2 Journeys of Purification—Yisra’el ben Shabbetai Hapstein, Maggid of Koznitz
[128] Numbers 34:2 Conquering Evil Within—Elimelech of Lyzhansk
[129] Numbers 35:6–7 Repairing What We Have Damaged—Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta

[130] Deuteronomy 1:17 Overcoming Doubt—Ya’akov Yosef of Polonnoye
[131] Deuteronomy 1:31 No Two the Same—Elazar ben Yehudah of Worms
[132] Deuteronomy 2:24 Concentration and Humility in Prayer—Menachem Mendel of Rymanov

[133] Deuteronomy 4:39 Nothing but God—Yishayah HaLevi Horowitz
[134] Deuteronomy 5:5 Ego Gets in the Way—Kalonymos Kalman HaLevi Epstein
[135] Deuteronomy 6:4 The Meaning of Divine Unity—Moshe Alsheich

[136] Deuteronomy 8:3 The Spirituality of Eating—Hayyim Vital
[137] Deuteronomy 9:15–17 The Weight of the Law—Hayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar
[138] Deuteronomy 10:21 Prayer Is Divine—Pinchas of Koretz

[139] Deuteronomy 11:26 Today—Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
[140] Deuteronomy 13:4 Testing Times—Yisra’el ben Eliezer, Ba’al Shem Tov
[141] Deuteronomy 15:22 Why Eating Is Like Sleeping—Ya’akov Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz, Seer of Lublin

[142] Deuteronomy 16:18 Judgment Within—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[143] Deuteronomy 18:13 Raising Love and Fear to God—Yisra’el ben Eliezer, Ba’al Shem Tov
[144] Deuteronomy 19:14 Making God Real—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov

Ki Tetse’
[145] Deuteronomy 21:10 The War against Evil—Moshe Teitelbaum of Ujhely
[146] Deuteronomy 23:19 Praying without Desire—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica
[147] Deuteronomy 25:19 Blotting Out Amalek Within—Yisra’el ben Eliezer, Ba’al Shem Tov

Ki Tavo’
[148] Deuteronomy 26:11 How to Rejoice—Mordechai of Neschiz
[149] Deuteronomy 26:16 Timeless Prayer—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[150] Deuteronomy 28:31 Backward Curses—Pinchas of Koretz

[151] Deuteronomy 29:9 Standing before God—Yisra’el Friedman of Ruzhyn
[152] Deuteronomy 29:28 The Hidden and the Revealed—Hayyim Vital
[153] Deuteronomy 30:11–12,14 The Shechinah in Our Mouths—Baruch ben Yechiel of Medzibodz

[154] Deuteronomy 31:1 Controlling Our Words—Elimelech ben Hayyim Meir Yechiel of Grodzhisk
[155] Deuteronomy 31:12 Fixing Holiness in Our Minds—Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica
[156] Deuteronomy 31:18 When God Is in Hiding—Simchah Bunam of Otvotzk

[157] Deuteronomy 32:1 Without Knowing What We Say—Menachem Mendel of Rymanov
[158] Deuteronomy 32:18 Forgetting God—Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
[159] Deuteronomy 32:47 The Torah as Advice—Meshullam Feibush HaLevi Heller of Zbarazh

Ve-zo’t Ha-berakhah
[160] Deuteronomy 33:1 The Never-Recurring Now—Hayyim ben Menachem Mendel of Kosov
[161] Deuteronomy 33:18 Business and Study—Hayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar
[162] Deuteronomy 34:12 Returning to the Beginning—Moshe Hayyim Efraim of Sudylkov

Appendix 1: Original Texts

Appendix 2: The Teachers

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