Excerpts from
An Anthology of the Gaon by Rabbi Moshe Tzuriel
A Selection of sayings of the Vilna Gaon regarding beliefs, extracted from most of the writings of his disciples, of those faithful to him, and from some of his own writings

The Vilna Gaon

translated for the spiritual elevation of Tzivia daughter of Dovid in the world to come. This translation was by more than one person and over a long period of time, therefore minor variations in translating styles appear here

This Anthology is Not Appropriate For Non-Jewish Souls. Instead Press On: A Light Unto the Nations


And this is what is meant regarding Avraham the Patriarch by the verse: Now I know that you are G-d-fearing (Gen. 22:12), i.e., by means of the precept of binding [Yitzhak for sacrifice] which Avraham performed with the characteristic of cruelty, now was completed ''Now I know'' - that Avraham is G-d-fearing - and not out of his natural disposition (he acted).

This is also what is meant by the verse to wreak vengeance upon the nations... to exact justice of them as it is written, It is glory for all his ( G-d's) pious ones (Ps. 149:7-10) - even G-d's pious ones who regularly deal in kindness (M'sillat Y'sharim, beginning of Section XIX), and yet when they wreak vengeance, it is ''glory''; - for they are not behaving in this way because of their natural disposition. (Imru No`am, B'rakhot 33) See his commentary on the Song of Songs 1:16.



The First Man

The first Man sinned because of the souls of the `erev rav ''mixed multitude'' that were included in him - Yahel Or to Zohar 1-28b. 




By the look of the shape of a person's limbs one can learn of that person's private characteristics (just as this is so for animals, as well) - Adderet Eliyahu, Gen. 1:26 ''kidhmuthenu''.

Each and every precept is inscribed upon a certain limb - to Tikkunei Zohar, p. 178.

The shapes and deformations in one's body correspond to one's sins in a former incarnation - to Tikkunei Zohar, p.313


The Love of Hashem

There exists the love of a useful person (such as relatives), the love of a pleasant person (such as the love of a woman), the love of what is good (such as the love of those with good character traits). And there is also the love we return when we feel that others love us, loving in return like the reflecting water surface, the face in accordance to their face. For this reason , was it said, ''my sister'' (a useful person), ''my friend'' (a pleasant person), ''my dove'' (beautiful character traits), ''my perfect one'' (reacting like the reflecting waters ,the face according to the face) - to the Song of Songs 5:2.

''fiery sparks'' - are those who fear G-d; ''the flame of G-d'' - are those who love G-d - to the Song of Songs 8:6.

Torah and prayer, without love and fear, do not rise up to heaven - Tikkunei Zohar, p. 52.




The prophet used to give a person's instruction in the way to worship G-d, according to the root of the soul of he that inquired and according to the nature of his body - to Proverbs 16/4.

The High Priest used to advise people in the same way - to Proverbs 27/9.

Prophecy appears as a result of pure thought, broad understanding, abstinence and meditation in solitude - to Job 4/13.

Prophecy was handed over to children - Yahel Ohr, B'reishith 42: p.28 in print.




''When the good becomes abundant , he will kick out at his Creator and lessen his trust upon Him, as the verse says: va-yishman yeshurun va-yiv`at - 'But Yeshurun grew fat and kicked'. On the contrary, it is better for a person to undergo a little suffering in this world, for the suffering will bring him closer to His worship - and this is what was meant by tsarot levavi hirhivu... 'troubles have broadened my heart' - to Ruth 1/19.

''Ki eth asher yohav Ha-Shem yokhiah, ukh'av eth ben yirtse 'for Ha-Shem reproves him who He loves, and as a father He desires His son' (Proverbs 3/12) - for it is accepted for a father to chastise his son only, whereas if his (the father's) friend does not accept his reproof, he lets him go his own way to wherever he desires'' - to Proverbs 3/12.





The fact that a person puts off performing a mitzvah until the morrow leads to his not performing it at all, rather, as soon as he has the opportunity he should immediately perform it - to Proverbs 10/8, 14/23, 27/1

If not now, then when?'' (Avot I) - the Sages did not say ''if not today'', for even on the same day, one should already now, perform the mitzvah.- to Proverbs 6:9


Hashem resides in the midst of the land for the sake of the Torah (see Shmot Rabba 33) and with the nullification of Torah the land is lost Yahel Or - Vayikra 161A at length







List of All Topics In This Anthology

Rabbi Aharon Kahn has given a series of audio lectures on the Vilna Gaon's commentary to the Biblical book of Proverbs (also known as the Biur HaGra to Mishlei). Search the www.yutorah.org web site if you wish to listen or download those lectures.


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