You may want to have a look at http://susefaq.sourceforge.net/articles/openssh.html for a quick reminder of how ssh works
There is a nice little howto about using SSH.
The main website for SSH FAQ is http://www.snailbook.com
You can find links to the articles as well as the very useful Keychain script here: http://www.gentoo.org/projects/keychain/
Keychain caches your private keys so you don't have to enter your passphrase to unlock them each time the ssh-agent needs them.