JANUARY 30-31, 2003 8 SHEBAT 5764
"About six hundred-thousand men on foot aside from children" (Shemot 12:37)
Our perashah tells of the great spectacle of the Exodus from Egypt. The huge number of 600,000 adult males, which, allowing for women, children and elderly men, gives some idea of the magnitude of the miracle. It also indicates the nation's inspiring faith in Hashem, for they followed Moses into the wilderness, where the lack of food would have terrified anyone who was not prepared to rely on Hashem.
The wording of the above verse, "About 600,000," tells us that the number of adult males was not exactly six hundred-thousand. Rabenu Bachya and Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer say that when counted, the number was short one. What did Hashem do? He joined himself into the number to complete the required number. This is a wonder! What did Israel do to merit this great treatment? It was their overwhelming desire to become free to do Hashem's misvot. As a result of that great desire they became unified as one with Hashem. Any terrible decree can be broken, especially if that decree stands in the way of misvah observance - even the decree of the slavery in Egypt.
Rabbi Yitzchak Silberstein tells a great story that proves this very fundamental idea. In the city of Vilna there was a young student of the Gaon of Vilna. This student became blind. Nevertheless, he stubbornly continued his studies, with great difficulty, and became a true Torah scholar. As he grew up the Gaon took it upon himself to marry off this blind student. A wonderful young woman desired to marry this student and her father was happy to give support to help him continue his studies, The happiness of the Gaon was great, and reached the climax at the night of the wedding. The ceremony reached the point where the groom covers the bride's face with her veil. The Gaon turned to his beloved student and said to him, "Our Sages tell us it is forbidden to marry a woman unless one sees the face of the bride." At that point the student looked at her and, wonder of wonders, he saw her! From that point and on, he was able to see. Everyone present thought this miracle was due to special powers of the Gaon. However, that wasn't it. The great desire to do the misvah tore up the heavenly decree of blindness.
The misvot are truly our honor. We yearn to do the misvot. This is evident in that whenever we travel or go on vacation, we take our misvot with us. We will never leave them behind; they are our lives! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
One of the most important aspects of Judaism is remembering the Exodus from Egypt. Indeed many misvot were given to us just so that we can remember the redemption, as we say in many of our prayers, "zecher lisi'at misrayim - a remembrance of the coming out of Egypt." But we must remember not only the actual Exodus, but also the technical aspects which Hashem did to make the miracle more complete. The perashah tells us that during the plague of the first born, makat bechorot, when so many Egyptians died, there was no barking of any dogs that night. The Rabbis say that when the Angel of Death comes to a city, G-d forbid, the dogs sense it and bark furiously. But here, Hashem made a miracle and didn't allow the dogs to bark, which was a natural consequence. The reason is so that the Jewish people should not be scared by a sudden bark. Did you ever walk near a house when all of a sudden a dog barks and frightens you for a moment? The Jewish people were spared that small discomfort.
As we remember the Exodus from Egypt, we should always remind ourselves of the many kindnesses Hashem did to make our journey more pleasant. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Talking to Yourself
"You will then be able to tell your children and grandchildren My miraculous signs that I have performed among them, and you will know that I am G-d" (Shemot 10:2)
Since the Torah is telling us to relate to our children and grandchildren what happened in Egypt, should it not have said, "vayed'u - and thus they will know"?
Parents are obligated to teach their children about Hashem and enhance and strengthen their faith in Him. Their efforts carry a two-fold reward: 1) Ultimately, their work will bear fruit and they will merit to have children who will be attached to Hashem. 2) Through teaching and talking to the children, the parents, too, will experience an enhancement and strengthening of their faith.
Similarly, in the Gemara (Ta'anit 7a), Rabbi Haninah says, "I learned much from my teachers and more than that from my colleagues, and from my students more than from all." (Vedibarta Bam)
Question: What is the meaning of the word haftarah?
Answer: 1) Its name comes from the word patur, which means exempt. Through the reading of the haftarah, in the days of the decree against reading the Torah, the congregation became exempt (fulfilled their obligation) from reading the Torah by reading the haftarah. 2) The word means conclusion. The haftarah concludes the prayer of Shaharit and the Torah reading. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
"Do not eat of it partially raw, or cooked in water, only roasted over fire" (Shemot 12:9)?
The meat of some sacrifices was permitted to be eaten either by the kohanim or by the one who offered the sacrifice. In most cases, they were permitted to cook the meat in whatever way they chose - cooked, broiled, roasted, etc. However, the only permissible way to cook the korban Pesah was by roasting. Why is this so?
The aroma of roasted meat can be smelled from a great distance. Hashem was testing Bnei Yisrael. Hashem commanded the Jews to sacrifice a sheep, the god of the Egyptians, in full view of the Egyptians. By roasting the sheep without being afraid that the Egyptians would smell it and take revenge, Bnei Yisrael would show that they are proud of the fact that they are Jews. Hashem wanted them to take a stand and declare, "I am proud to be a member of the Jewish nation, and I will worship my G-d regardless of what anyone else thinks or says." This would indicate that they are worthy to be taken out of Egypt and to receive the Torah. A person who does misvot while looking over his shoulder to see what other people are saying about him will ultimately fall short in his service of Hashem.
Question: Does the thought of what others will say ever interfere with your Torah observance? Would you stop on a busy city sidewalk to pray minhah if there was no other place to go and you were out of time?
This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28.
In this haftarah, the prophet Yirmiyahu is sent by Hashem to tell Nebuchadnesar, king of Babylon, to attack Egypt. He then describes the complete devastation of Egypt, similar to the theme of this week's perashah. The haftarah ends with Hashem's assurance that he will save Israel from all their enemies, and although he will punish Israel with justice, he will never wipe them out.
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