Archive for the ‘ 2-Shemot ’ Category

Dvar Torah on Parshat Yitro 5774 2014 – Being Grateful

After Moshe relates to Yitro all the happenings and all the miracles that Hashem had performed for the Jewish people, Yitro’s reaction was to say: בָּרוּךְ יְקֹוָק אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶתְכֶם מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם, “…Blessed is Hashem, Who has rescued you from the hand of Egypt…”. (Ex. 18,10)

Chazal make a very strange observation regarding this statement of Yitro. They say: “It was a disgrace for Moshe and the six hundred thousand (the Israelites who left Egypt) that they did not bless (Hashem) until Yitro came and did so.” (Sanh. 94a)

This is strange, for after the miraculous crossing of the sea they offered a beautiful song of thanks to Hashem for all He did in saving them from the Egyptians. Was this great song of lesser significance than the few words uttered by Yitro? What then did Chazal mean?

The answer may be that the Jews had offered their thanks and appreciation to Hashem for all the favors he bestowed on them. Thanking Him for the blessings He showers on others, this is what Yitro demonstrated. Yitro thanked Hashem, not for what he had been granted, but for what Hashem did to others. This was the great lesson that he taught.

We should be grateful, not only for our blessings, but also for blessings that other people receive.

Dvar Torah Parshat Bo 5774 2014

Before leaving Egypt Hashem tells Moshe to speak to the Israelites:

וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ “…let each man request of his neighbor…silver vessels and gold vessels.” (Ex. 11,2) It is interesting that non-Jewish translations of this Biblical verse translate the word וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ as borrow. Hence many people ask the question, “How could the Jews borrow vessels when they never had intention to return them?”

The Jewish Biblical translations explain the word as “request” or “ask”. Actually the Hebrew word can be interpreted in both ways. The Jewish translation in this instance, however, is more accurate because the Israelites would never have been told by Hashem to borrow with the intention not to return the items.

In the Book of Psalms the word שאל appears in a passage we recite during the month of Elul. אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת יְקֹוָק, “One thing have I asked of Hashem”. (Ps. 27,4) Here the word certainly does not mean borrow.

This emphasizes the fact that one cannot rely on translations but must go straight to the original Hebrew to get the true meaning.

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CHECK OUT SOME FASCINATING HEBREW / ENGLISH SIMILARITIES

Dvar Torah Parshat VaEra 5774 2013

In the first Sidra of the Book of Shemot we read about the birth of Moshe. Nowhere in the Sidra is the name of his parents mentioned. In this week’s Sidra we are first told that his parents were Amram and Yocheved. וַיִּקַּח עַמְרָם אֶת יוֹכֶבֶד, “Amram took his aunt Yocheved as a wife and she bore him Aharon and Moshe…” (Ex. 6,20)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein gives a very interesting explanation for this. He says that their names were not mentioned until Moshe had been chosen to be the redeemer of the Jews. This is a lesson for parents who are privileged to have exceptionally gifted children.

Even if their children are brilliant and display potential abilities, the parents cannot be certain that they will automatically turn out to be successful. They must invest in them much energy and guidance to direct them in the proper road to success. It is only after the children have succeeded and reached their potential that the parents can take credit for their success.

Moshe’s parents were not named until the Torah reveals the position Moshe had attained. Only then were Amram and Yocheved mentioned.

Weekly Dvar Torah on Parshat Shemot 5774 2013

Moshe went to see how his brethren were faring and he noticed that an Egyptian was striking a Hebrew man. He killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. וַיִּשְׁמַע פַּרְעֹה אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה “Pharaoh heard about this matter…”. (Ex. 2,15) The Torah tells us that when Pharaoh heard this he wanted to kill Moshe and Moshe had to flee to Midian.

Jews were being beaten and killed daily. This Pharaoh did not hear. When one Egyptian was killed Pharaoh heard of it. This is the story of generations. When Jews are slaughtered all over the world no one takes heed. When a Holocaust occurs no one is concerned. When one Egyptian is killed it makes an impression.

Thousands of Jews have been killed in Israel by terrorists and no one in the world lifted their voice in protest. When Israel protects itself and kills a terrorist the world is up in arms. This started with Pharaoh and continued throughout the centuries down to our own days.

Dvar Torah Parshat Ki Tisa 2013 5773

In this week’s Portion we read a selection that is recited every Shabbat in the Musaf Amida. The selection starts with וְשָׁמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת “The Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbat…” (Ex. 31,16) The Torah then gives the reason for this observance. “Between me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever: כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יְקֹוָק אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ that in six days Hashem made heaven and earth…”

This statement appears a number of times in the Torah. It simply says that in order to testify our belief that Hashem created the world we have a week of seven days and we rest on the last day to affirm this conviction.

It is an amazing thing that all over the world, with no exception, everyone operates on the basis of a seven day week. Unbeknownst to others, by keeping a seven day weekly schedule they are in effect testifying to this principle, that Hashem, indeed, created the world in six days and ‘rested’ on the seventh.

There is talk from time to time to change the length of the week but these attempts have never taken hold and never even gotten to first base. The truth is that all mankind recognizes this truth whether they openly acknowledge it or not. Most people today also celebrate a Sabbath indicating this fact. This Sabbath may not coincide with the Jewish Shabbat because they would never admit that it originated with the Jews. Nevertheless, by respecting a Sabbath day they do inadvertently recognize that Hashem created heaven and earth.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzaveh 2013 5773

The saying is, “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it”. This is true, not only for wishes but one should be careful about everything he says.

Since Moshe Rabbenu was born his name appears in every Sidra except in this week’s Portion. (Excluding the Book of Deuteronomy where it is missing from four Portions,) The Bal HaTurim, a commentary on the Torah gives a unique reason.

When the Children of Israel sinned in the Wilderness, Hashem said to Moshe He will exterminate them all and build a new nation from Moshe’s descendants. (See Ex.32,10) Moshe pleaded that Hashem should forgive the people, or else,: מְחֵנִי נָא מִסִּפְרְךָ אֲשֶׁר כָּתָבְתָּ, “…erase me now from this book that You have written”. (Ex. 32,32) Chazal tell us, words that come out of the mouths of great people are carried out under all conditions. This, says the Bal HaTurim, was carried out by omitting mentioning Moshe’s name in this week’s Portion.

The Gaon of Vilna asks why Moshe’s name was omitted particularly in this week’s Portion and not in any other. He answers because this Portion is always read in the week when Adar 7 falls out and that is the date that Moshe died.

Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 5773 2013

The theme of this week’s Sidra is the construction of the משכן or Tabernacle in the Wilderness. This was later to serve as the model for the בית המקדש or the Temple in Yerushalayim. In the משכן there were two rooms, one of which was called קודש or Holy and one was called קודש הקדשים or Holy of Holies. Certain functions by the Kohanim were carried out in the room called Holy. The Holy of Holies was reserved only for the High Priest to enter once a year on Yom Kippur. There was a partition separating these two rooms.

Among the items in the Holy room were a table that contained the “Show Bread” which was replaced every week and the Menorah which was lit every day. Harav Kook, the first chief Rabbi of Israel, points out that these two items represent the blessings of prosperity in the world. The table represented the material and physical blessings. The Menorah represented the spiritual blessings of the world.

The Rabbi indicated that there was no partition between them. This suggested that both the material and spiritual matters in the world need not be relegated to different parts of our lives. They can exist with each other simultaneously without conflict. That is why there was no partition between them.

This room was separated, however, from the Holy of Holies with a curtain. The Holy of Holies contained the Torah. It was separated from everything else because it was sacrosanct and stood above all else. It was the word of Hashem and was not to be on a level with our material needs nor even with our spiritual requirements.

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