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Shabbat Prayers: Pesukei D’Zimrah: Rabbi Samson R. Hirsch: Desire Life

The 9th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yitzchak Bernays (Barneis) (1792-1849), teacher of Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch. “Who is the man who desires life and loves days that he may see good?” The verse does not say, “he who takes pleasure in life,” but, “he who desires life,” whose only goal is life; that is, he desires to attain such a level of existence as can truly be called “life.”


This is a person of whom it can be said that he has indeed fulfilled the task for which he was called into being. “Keep away from evil,” first, and then, “do good without hesitation,” guard yourself from achieving good through negative means. Do not believe that the end justifies the means. And do not seek to make up for sins by means of more mitzvot. Atonement for sins can be made only by refraining from sin henceforth, and by rendering restitution of the damage done, if that be possible. But do not believe that you may permit yourself to commit sins because, or if, you also practice mitzvot.

Once you have done justice to your duties toward God and are in full accord with His Law by shunning the evil in thought, word and deed, and by doing good, then, “seek peace,” seek to have peaceful relations with your fellow man. Indeed, “pursue it,” literally pursue peace. Do not let it go when it threatens to elude your grasp. If it is about to leave you, preserve it even at the risk of personal sacrifice.

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