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Parasha No. 50
Ki Thavo: “When thou art come”

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 26, 1 - 29, 8


The people of Israel have received the gift of Torah and attained happiness:
they must now learn to respect its source.

Plan

1. The context
2. The mitzvot in the parasha
3. Their meaning
4. Analysis of linguistic features
5. Their significance
6. Summary
7. Rabbenu Bahya
8. The presence of kavod
9. The holy people
10. The declaration of the first fruits
11. Application of the mitzvot:
- Halla
- Tzedaka
- Maaser
12. Conclusion
13. Personal Development Exercises
14. Recommended reading
- on tzedaka:
- For advanced students
- Second Level

Listen to the patasha
teanim Ashkenazim (Ort link)


Listen to the haftara
teanim Ashkenazim (Ort link)

Rules and Exercises
in order to be able to read and understand the Torah


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The parasha in context

The people of Israel have received endless gifts: life, the exodus from Egypt, the revelation of the Torah and, soon, the inheritance of the land of Israel. In addition, they have received the laws and regulations for an ideal society, for domestic happiness and spiritual fulfillment (preceding parasha Ki thetze, the liberation of the female war captive), and for vanquishing its enemies (Amalek). Everything seems perfect: and it is at this moment that the Torah teaches us, as with a newly-married couple who have just moved into their new apartment (land of Israel), how negligence and lack of commitment can quickly spoil perfect happiness. In order to prevent happiness from turning into tragedy, the Torah teaches us how to safeguard it. How? By always being aware of and recognizing its source. We shall discover the magnificent interpretation of the Baal Haturim.

The mitzvot in the parasha

There are only 6 mitzvot in this parasha (mitzvot nos. 606 to 611). They are grouped thus:
" the ritual presentation of the first-fruits and the tithe with solemn declarations as set pit om: "ve anita ve amarta lifne hashem…," (26.5) and "le itvadot al biur hamaaserot uterumot" (26, 13);
" the setting aside of the first-fruits and donating them to the Levites or the Cohanim;
" the prohibition against eating the fruits in mourning or other specific conditions:"lo akhalti ve oni mimenu, I have not eaten thereof in my mourning..," (26, 14); "lo viati memenu be tame, "neither have I put away thereof, being unclean" (26, 14); "ve lo natati memenu lemet shmati be kol Hashem, nor given thereof for the dead; I have hearkened to the voice of Hashem" (26, 14);
" the commandment to walk in the path of God: "vehalkhta bi drakhav, walk in His ways" (28, 9).
Maimonides develops these issues in Tractate Zeraim 3, 1-10.

Their meaning

The last mitzva ("you shall walk in His ways") includes all the others for it commands us to live fully according to God's plan, to live in His image and to be his merkava (chariot).

We are therefore commanded to lead a pure, holy life in everything we do: in our professional and personal lives and in our smallest actions, such as partaking of food. To remind us of this, we must remove a part of certain foods and reserve it for God: this is the basis of everything.

Analysis of linguistic features
(Method of study). The Shla tells us that the full meaning of the mitzvot can only be understood by paying attention to a particular linguistic form: "velakahta mereshit kol-peri haadama, thou shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground" (26, 2).

He notes that the use of this expression (mereshit, the first), rather than behathala (at the beginning) is significant.
Let us read the first two verses of the parasha (26, 1-2): "When thou art come in unto the land which Hashem, thy G-d giveth thee for an inheritance, and dost possess it, and dwell therein; that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground…thou shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place where Hashem thy G-d shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. And thou shalt come unto the priest…and say unto him: I profess this day unto Hashem thy G-d, that I am come unto the land…."

We have seen how difficult it was for the people to reach the land of Israel, and witnessed their hesitation to leave Egypt, and the episode of the spies who tried to prevent the people from entering the land. We confront the very same problems today. Even those who have come to live in the land of Israel, hesitated a long time before doing so. The local Jewish community of the diaspora has replaced the land of Israel for many Jews and Israel has been relegated to being a symbol for prayer, a place for vacationing, retiring, getting married or celebrating a bar mitzva. This is the modern equivalent of the spies'refusal to enter and dwell in the land of Israel.

But the parasha also deals with another problem: once in the land of Israel, a Jew has the task of making the land Isra-El, a land belonging to El (G-d) and not to the people to do as they choose. We learnt at length from the books of Vayikra and Bemidbar what is the function of the land: it is Eretz hakodesh, the "Holy land."

Imagine that you invite friends to stay for a few months in a private part of "your" house and they quickly forget that "you" are the owner and that they are in "your" house at "your" invitation. It is exactly this problem with which the Torah confronts us when it tells us: the day you enter and dwell in the land, you must make an act of acknowledgment each time you take of the land and declare: I, today, acknowledge that.. and I profess…." The Torah stresses this because it is a problem that recurs for every generation, not just for some Jews, but for all Jews.

Here is a recent example of this problem in Israel: the new Minister of Education (from the extreme left, anti-religious Meretz party) is replacing the traditional school books on the history of Israel with a new, "post-Zionist" version that rejects the very tenets of Zionism (gone is the Jewish ideal of returning to Zion; present and past history are examined only from the perspective of left-wing ideology which bases itself on universal human rights and not on Judaism. The irony of this position is that while rejecting the basis of the State of Israel as being both "Jewish" and "democractic," it supports the ideologies of our enemies who promote their own non-universal, nationalistic goals!).

The parasha teaches us therefore something very important; with every new harvest or joyful event, we must remember the source from which everything stems. To understand this fully, we need to examine the language of the parasha.

At the peshat (literal) level, the use of the word reshit (the first) means to take at the beginning of a season the first of the fruits of the land of Israel, as Rashi explains: "ve lo khol reshit, not all the fruits….ella shiveat hamminim bilvad she nishtabeha vajen eretz Yisrael, but only the 7 species that constitute the glory of Israel." It was necessary for Rashi to explain this, because Bemidbar 18,13 (refer to it) leads us to believe that this applies to every fruit. Rashi demonstrates that the verse in this parasha refers to the species that are specific to Israel. We do not come to Israel because it is like any other country, or because it is better than any other country. We come to Israel because it is different to other countries and has attributes we must praise .. she nishtabeha. (Read Mishna 1, 3 in Tractate Bikurim and page 84 b in Tractate Menahot on the reasons for this praise). Despite all this, we still do not have the full explanation for the use of the specific term reshit.

(Method). The method of analysis used in psychology and psycho-analysis is similar to that which we use for the Torah: it is not enough to understand the overall message which is expressed, we need to examine every linguistic nuance for they represent deep meanings. Let us examine the word reshit. It is with this word (bereshit) that the Torah begins, so it must have great significance. The position of every word in the Torah is of great importance, for the meaning of the Torah is not found just in one place; it is scattered in many places, in order that we will search for it. It is the same with people. If we remain at the level of initial impressions, we never really get to know another person. To do so, we must search, love, discover, apply, remember and understand. It is the same with the Torah. This is why it is written: ma ahavti Toratekha, kol hayom hi sihati, Oh how I love Thy Torah, it is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119, 97).

Reshit is found in Bemidbar 15, 20 in respect of the setting apart of the first of the dough (halla). It is also found in Devarim 18, 4 with regard to the first-fruits of corn, wine, oil and fleece of sheep. (Refer to these verses).

The significance of these linguistic features
(Method of study) After identifying the various positions of the word, we must now ask questions in order to understand what they represent. In what way are these commandments to set aside halla and the first-fruits more important than others, and why are they are linked directly to the creation of the world?

We know from Rashi's commentary on the beginning of the Torah that Israel is reshit, the beginning of creation and that the world was created for Israel and for the Torah.

In Bereshit Rabba 1, 4 Rav Huna states: "the world was created by three things, the setting aside of halla, the setting aside of a tithe of10% or maaser, and the setting aside of the first-fruits; and what is the meaning of 'in the beginning God created..' ? There is no reshit except for halla, there is no reshit except for maaser, there is no reshit except for the first-fruits." Strange text.

(Method of study) We can see that the Torah only becomes comprehensible through the explanations of the Sages (the Shla, Rashi, Bereshit Rabba). It is therefore important to study them. Students of Torah often make the error of imagining, when they discover the initial or apparent meaning of a text, that they have grasped the full meaning. In most cases, they are mistaken, for the full meaning can only be discovered after a long search.

Summary
While we the connection between reshit and the three mitzvot (halla, maaser, peri), appears to be well formulated, we also see that there is a contradiction in Rashi's use of this formula in Bereshit Rabba for three different things.

Tradition resolves these problems in the following way:
1. The aim of creation and of Israel is that man should live according to the Torah, with holiness in his soul and in his body which has 613 parts, like the 613 mitzvot.
2. If the body is so dependent on its biological parts, how can it elevate itself to the level of the Torah? It is the function of food to raise the biological level to the level of holiness through religious rituals; this notion is developed by the Shla in his study on kedusha and food (see chapter "?").
3. The elevation to holiness is achieved first through the maaser on grains and then through the setting aside of the produce of the grains, the dough (halla). The process must begin right from the beginning and this is why one sets aside the first fruits. Then it must proceed in stages till the olam habaa, the world to come.
4. This represents the continual process in which man must walk in the ways of God and be like Him. This connection (adhesion) to God is what enriches us, for He is then within us.
5. This is why we have never lacked anything, says Rashi (Devarim 2, 7) and why we should consider ourselves rich and not poor: lo tikhpu et tovato leharot keilu atem aniim, ella hareu atzmekhem ashirim. This is the function of the Jewish quality of tzedaka, charity and benevolence towards those in need.
6. It is this which creates the state of benediction (berakha) and joy (simha) that accompanies the obligatory mitzvot, and which is described in the list of blessings (berakhot).
7. In contrast, when man no longer follows this process of creation and elevation, admonitions (klalot) ensue. When a process is no longer directed towards goodness, then the worst horrors will take place, as described in the parasha.
8. By describing this process and its consequences in detail, and by insisting on the need to follow all of God's prescriptions, the Torah wishes us to understand to what extent this complex system of creation is inter-related and the power man possesses to create life, or to destroy it by disregarding the rules of holiness and the mitzvot.

Rabbenu Bahya
1. He elaborates on the issue of the tithes and the setting aside of the first-fruits to include money and tzedaka. He says: he who gives and truly makes a sacrifice will be saved from death for he will be closer to God to whom he gives through his sacrifice. This acknowledges that the beginning of all beginnings is God, reshit kol reshit.
2. The Levites and the Cohanim also have the role of elevating the people towards Hashem, to the place of His residence, his maon. It is unjust to accuse Israel of not being at this level, as do the Jews of the Diaspora ("I cannot immigrate to Israel because I will not find there the same spirituality and religiosity as in my community"). This is an egoistic view, for knowledgeable and spiritual people have a duty to educate and elevate those who have less knowledge than they do.
3. Thus the Jew in this world is linked to the world above. This is expressed in the letter shin whose three branches symbolize our link with the world above and with the shekhina (the presence of God among us). One can then say that the shekhina dwells here among us, as was commanded: "be holy and I will live and dwell among you."

The presence of kavod
This is what is called the presence of the kavod of Hashem, as was the case in the time of the first Temple, and as is expressed in lekha dodi (the Friday night song): kevod hashem alaikh nighla, the glory of Hashem is revealed unto you," and in the haftara of this parasha: kevod Hashem alikh zarah, the glory of Hashem is risen upon you." The haftara tells us that in the plan of creation, the people will be re-united and the nations of the world will join us. Read Isaiah 60.

The holy people
Thus after the dutiful, careful process of elevation through the mitzvot, the people of the Torah will have united the two worlds, and then, through them, the light of Hashem will radiate for everyone. The role of Judaism is to be a source of blessing for the world - to be the "cohanim" of the world. The Jewish people were chosen for this role: this is the true meaning of am segula, the chosen people (not in the meaning of a people chosen at the expense of others, as antisemites, who distort the Torah, maintain).

Undoubtedly, the Jewish people are different to the rest of the world. They do not have the same way of thinking or lifestyle, but this is because their role is to carry out the mitzvot, in order to bring blessings to the world.

This is a demanding, noble, altruistic, beneficent role, and a service as is the meaning of the word cohen.

The declaration of the first-fruits
The text of the parasha says: "when thou art come in unto the land…thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit…thou shalt come unto the Cohen that shall be in those days and say unto him (veamarta): 'I profess (higadti) this day unto Hashem thy God (elokekha), that…' "

- Several questions arise here, but we shall just examine the first one: the difference between the verbs (you will say, I profess) and the fact that the person who brings the fruits does not say "my God" or "our God" but "thy God."

- Rashi explains concisely the meaning of the verbs: "and thou will say (veamarta): that you are not ungrateful." This is an avowal and an acknowledgment. Rashi draws his interpretation from the Sifre: "you will say (veamarta) to the Cohen that you are grateful for the kindness bestowed on you by Hashem in the past…" The verb higadti (I profess) is strong and represents an affirmation of deeds, not something superficial.

- The issue of gratefulness recalls what happened between the people and Moshe, as is recounted in Tractate Avodah Zarah pages 5a and b: "Hashem said: mim-yiten ve haya levavam lahem le yirea oti, Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear Me (Devarim 5, 26). Moshe said to the people of Israel: ungrateful and thankless are you, you should have answered: give us then this heart….."

Rashi refers to this (on Devarim 2, 7: For Hashem thy God hath blessed thee in all the work of thy hand; He hath known thy walking through this great wilderness; these forty years Hashem thy God hath been with thee; thou has lacked nothing, lo hasarta davar") when he says: "for Hashem thy God blessed you, so you must not be ungrateful towards His kindness by acting as though you are poor, but you must see yourselves as rich, lo tikhpu et tovato leharot keilu atem aniim, ella hareu atzmekhem ashirim."

It is now clearer why Rabbenu Bahya makes tzedaka the focus of his introduction to the parasha based on Proverbs 3, 9-10: "Honor Hashem with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty….." He elaborates on the theme of tzedaka (begun in parasha Reeh) and says: "the want which is caused to someone from tzedaka will be beneficent for it will save him from death… and he who gives tzedaka to the poor, it is Hakadosh Barukh Hu who gives it. This also connects with the gift of the first-fruits, the reshit, for the Cohen is reshit and Hashem is reshit de reshit, the beginning of beginnings."

Application of the mitzvot

Since the instructions vary for different situations, it is necessary to consult a rabbi, for it is his function to interpret the practical applications (halakha) of the Torah:

1. Halla
This mitzva is derabbanim for the temple is destroyed but we still practice it in order not to forget it. The blessing applies only to the flour of 5 grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt) that are used in human consumption, and to a minimum of 1560 or 1667 grams of flour (the variation depends on which Sage one follows). The flour is set aside after it has been made into a dough and then burnt. After setting aside, one says: barukh ata Adonai Elohenu Melkh haolam ashe kideshanu ve mitzvotav ve tzivanu lehafrich halla teruma. If the flour is below the set quantity, one says: hare zo halla, this is halla.

2. Tzedaka
This is an obligation for everyone, even the poor. The minimum one must give is one tenth of one's possessions (maaser, tithe). It must be given immediately to someone in need and carried out discreetly (matan beseter), if possible through an intermediary in order not to humiliate the beneficiary and in order that it should be done disinterestedly. It should be given in joy, with consideration for one's priorities: those near have priority over those who are far; young couples and Torah students must be helped; women have priority over men and prisoners over everyone (refer to the file: "Liberate the prisoners"), most of all female prisoners. Every community has organizations that administer tzedaka.

3. Maaser
The tithe (teruma gedola and maaser rishon) involves one-tenth of all the produce of the land of Israel, that was given to the Levites, and which are burnt or discarded after being wrapped up. A tenth of this part, or maaser min ha maaser, was given to the Cohen (Bemidbar 18, 11). Both these categories were landless. The maaser sheni must be consumed by its owner in Jerusalem (Devarim 14, 22-27) and can be converted into money for facility. There is also the maaser ani or poor tithe (Devarim 14, 28-29 and 26, 12) which is symbolized by destroying a small coin on the eve of Pesah on the 4th and 7th year of a shemita or fallow year.

Today instead of the produce of the land, we give as tzedaka one tenth of our goods.
We must first begin by estimating our goods or revenue, distributing one tenth, and then constantly setting aside one tenth for tzedaka. This is a practice which religious Jews carry out systematically. It is a tzedaka that is connected directly to the rituals of the Temple.
The Sages considered that he who gives a quarter of his revenue as generous, he who gives a fifth as average, and he who gives no more than a sixth as miserly. He who does not give to the poor is considered a gozel, one who robs from the poor.
A product that is bought from a person who does not know these rules well (am haaretz, ignorant) is called demai, suspect. The purchaser, in such cases, says: u maaser ani hare hu ve dromo ve hareni mafkid nekhasai ve zokhe vo, I consider him as maaser of the poor and I give him my goods and he deserves it. If no tithe has been paid, the produce is called tevel and cannot be consumed. The person who knows about these issues is called haver.

Tractate Yevamot 86 b also mentions tithes paid by the Levites if they did not come to live in Israel. This is in keeping with the parasha.

Rabbis need to be consulted in these matters, because there are specific dates for these rituals (1 Tishri, Tu bishevat), and the rules vary in certain years as in the shemita year. If someone does not live in Israel, his gift can be brought by a shaliah mitzva, a representative.

One is not obliged to keep these rules if one does not benefit from the goods, produce, etc. but one must keep these rules if one uses them. There is no dispensation from these rules and those who try to find one must change their ways (yesh levatel minhagam). The rules do not apply to produce cultivated by non-Jews on their own land in Israel or to produce imported to Israel.

Conclusion

We have received the maximum (life, the Torah, the land of Israel, laws for ensuring harmony and happiness). The question now is: how will we use all of this.
It is surprising to see how some of our leaders decide by themselves issues relating to our patrimony, and the relinquishment of the land of Israel, without taking into consideration what tradition tells us. The same leaders would not make economic decisions without consulting experts. They make political decisions in the name of peace and happiness. But our tradition has shown that benediction and admonition depend on these rules. New ideologies do not influence the way a missile or car operates. The Torah has taught us that there is an order of things in the world and particularly with regard to Israel. We must adhere to it.

We are now able to understand the brief commentary of the Baal Haturim on the first word of the parasha. Each one of his words is a pearl and a beacon.
He notes that the word ki has the same numerical value as lamed, study (30) and thavo has the same letters as avot, the fathers. Basing himself on Tractate Hulin 92 b, he says that there are never less than 30 tzaddikim (righteous) in Israel, who are as worthy as the patriarchs.
Explanation: this Gemara explains that there are Ma (45) righteous men who support the world, 30 of whom are in Israel. This demonstrates the special role played by Israel, but it can only do this through the tzaddikim. It is they who bring shalom, not the masses who do not recognize the divine role of Israel and the Jewish people. Even if the majority of the people support foreign ideologies and do not live according to the Torah, it is sufficient that there are 30 righteous men in order to ensure Israel's holiness.

This is confirmed by the great Ribbi Shimon bar Yohai in Bereshit Rabba 35,2: "the world cannot exist if there are less than 30 righteous men like Avraham." Notice that he does not say 30 righteous men, but 30 who will be like Avraham, who was prepared to sacrifice and give his son to Hakadosh Barukh Hu and who strove his utmost to "go up" to Jerusalem. This is why converts are asked to do likewise and are called "ben Avraham." Ribbi Shimon bar Yohai affirmed this difficulty: "if there were only 2, it would be my son and me; and if there were only one (the dreadful state of solitude that would exist if the world goes against Israel) it would be me." This is what I wish for for every reader, and every man and woman who elevate themselves by "coming up" to Israel.

How do we get to this figure 30? It comes from the word yiye, whose numerical value is 30 (explanation in Bereshit Rabba 49, 3), in Bereshit 18,18 which says: "Avraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him."

The Sages have helped us to discover the deep inter-connections between the mitzvot. Without them, we cannot understand the Torah: they are there for us, their "table is prepared" (the title of the book Shulkhan Arukh ).

Other nations have ideologies, we have the Torah. But like any great work or engine, we need a good user's manual to understand it and put it into practice.

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Personal development exercises

1. Re-read the whole parasha in this perspective.
2. Summarize the stages in the method of study described above.
3. Explain the meaning of:
"the world was created by three things, the setting aside of halla, the maaser or tithe of ten per cent, the setting aside of the first-fruits;"
"in the beginning God created…;"
"There is not reshit except for the halla. There is no reshit except for the maaser. There is no reshit except for the setting aside of the first-fruits."
4. Reflect on:
+ what your possessions mean to you.
+ whether you are aware of the source of your happiness, whether you are grateful, etc.
+ whether you link your happiness to the Creator.
+ whether you view the land of Israel as a magnificent present which has been given to you.
+ whether you respect it, if you live in it, and whether you adhere to the rules of the master of the house.
+ whether you keep the mitzvot and remit to the Creator a part of what you have been given, which will be used towards tzedaka for the poor,for the poor who study the Torah and for works that teach the Torah (this is a priority defined by the Sages for tzedaka).
+ whether you keep a regular count of what you set aside for tzedaka.
5. Discuss with those close to you what you have learnt and feel.

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Recommended reading on tzedaka

Bereshit 18, 19
Vayikra 25, 36
Devarim 15, 8-10
Isaiah 32, 17
All of Malachia chapter 3.
The Modia commentary on parasha Vayekhi.

For advanced students
Tractate Shabbat 119 a.
Shulkhan Arukh, Yore Dea 247.


Illustrative chart of the 100 parts of the maaser (tithe)
(every * sign equals 1% of the harvest)

The teruma gedola, a small tithe given solely to the Cohen

The maaser rishon (10%) given to the Levites
******** (*)
of which 1% is given to the Cohen: (*)
terumat maaser or maaser de maaser

The part of the harvest which we are allowed to use (81%), after
deduction of the rest
**********
**********
**********
**********
**********
**********
**********
**********
*

There remains the maaser sheni or maaser ani (9%)

*********

Two conditions, for carrying these rites out fully, are absent today:
+ the purity of the Cohanim is flawed,
+ the Temple no longer exists.
Thus the two parts which were destined for the Cohanim (around 1%) are not given to them and are destroyed. One must be sure this has been done before consuming any produce; this is one of the tasks of those in charge of kashrut.

Angle2


- Psychology and Repentance
   (in french)

Part 15
STUDY HEBREW

Part 16
JERUSALEM

- Jerusalem excavations
- Terror and counseling
- Peace and peoples
- Israel and Iran
- Visual study & song on snow
for, through our union with the song of nature, the plan of Creation will be fulfilled

-
Poem: to be moon

In french

Avec Modia, vivez
vos vacances en Israël,
Texte et photos

- Par Modia, arrivez au Kotel
- La vie du Kotel
- Prières au Kotel
- Fête au Kotel
- La destruction du Temple
- Photos rares et émouvantes des abords du Temple
- Synagogues de Jérusalem
- Maisons de Jérusalem
- Les fleurs de Jérusalem
- Ici, tout sur Jérusalem
- "Le" texte sur Jérusalem
- Voir et visiter Israël
- Voyage dans le Nord d'Israël
- Belle carte d'Israël
- Jérusalem et les nations

- Vacances en Israël sur Modia
- Le Kotel en film direct
- et ici aussi, autre caméra

- Trahison historique:
L'antique synagogue de Jéricho

 

Part 17
ISRAEL AND
THE NATIONS

- Love towards all people
- Light in war
- Before the hanukiah
- Land of Israel
- Jerusalem excavations 2007
  Proof of the lies propagated
  by the media

In french - Hope in Israel



Part 20
PHOTOS
"Encounters with God
in the real"

- You are planning a tour in Israel - Photos
- My photos and judaism
- New year of beauty
- Flowers
-
Gallery photos


Part 21
SONGS

- My english songs



Dedication

Rav Professor
Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour
(Dipur, in hebrew)

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