Sotah 37 - 43
- The clever tactic of Caleiv against the other spies
- The slander of the spies and the tragic aftermath
- Carrying of the Holy Ark in times of Yehoshua and of David
- The multiple covenants regarding the mitzvot
- The order of blessings and curses at Mount Grizim and Mount Eival
- The blessings given by the kohanim – when, where and how
- The danger of selfishness
- Some rules regarding the public reading of the Torah
- The humbleness of the Sages
- The Modim Derabanan recited during repetition of the service
- The kohen gadol's reading of the Torah on Yom Kippur
- The king's reading during hakheil once in seven years
- The danger of flattery
- The selection process of soldiers conducted by kohen appointed for this purpose
- David and Goliath and other confrontations
- Exemptions from military service
Thanks for Thanks
- Sotah 40a
Modim Derabanan, literally translated as the prayer of thanks compiled by the rabbis, is familiar to every Jew who listens in the synagogue to the shaliach tzibur's repetition of the Shmoneh Esrai service. This is what the congregation recites while the shaliach tzibur is saying the Modim prayer which everyone said in the silent service.
What is the meaning of this title? It cannot mean that only this prayer was compiled by the Sages since the entire text of our prayers was compiled by them!
The answer lies in the response given by various Sages to the question of what the congregation says while the shaliach tzibur is saying Modim.
Five different texts are presented by various Talmudic rabbis, and the conclusion reached by Rabbi Papa is to combine them all into a single prayer of thanks. Hence the name Modim Derabanan.
The closing segment of this prayer demands explanation: "For the fact that we thank You may You be blessed, the L-rd to Whom thanks are due."
Rashi's explanation is that we thus thank G-d "for instilling in our hearts the desire to cling to You and to thank You."
It seems from this that the ability to express gratitude is also a gift from G-d, especially since people generally take almost everything they enjoy for granted. We are therefore reminded daily to say thanks for the ability to say the thanks that needs to be said.
What the Sages Say
"Said the Holy One, Blessed be He, to Israel: 'Even if you only fulfilled the mitzvah of reciting the Shma morning and evening you will not be delivered into the hands of your enemies.'"
- Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai - Sotah 42a