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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

JANUARY 26-27. 2006 8 SHEBAT 5767

Pop Quiz: What were Bnei Yisrael commanded to do on the tenth of Nisan?


"Speak to the entire assembly of Israel." (Beresheet 12:3)

As we read this fascinating perashah, all of our attention is focused on the plagues and how Hashem fulfills his promise to take his beloved people out of Egypt. Along the way, there is an interesting insight that we shouldn't miss. It says in our verse, "Speak to the entire assembly." Rashi comments that although the word "speak" is in the plural, implying that both Moshe and Aharon were to convey the commandment to the nation, it is known from elsewhere in Scripture that only Moshe transmitted Hashem's commands to the nation. Aharon was to be the one to speak to Pharaoh. What happened was that Moshe and Aharon honored each other. They formulated the words together, and so it was as though both of them were speaking. The trait of great Jewish leaders is to honor each other when speaking, as we find that Hillel and his students always mentioned the opinion of Shammai and his students first.

Rabbi Yehudah Tsadkah z"l and Rabbi Ben-Sion Abba Shaul z"l (who in his younger years was a student of Rav Tsadkah) were once both lined up to speak at Yeshivat Porat Yosef. However the two could not agree on who would speak first. Each was adamant that the other be the first to address the students. Finally Rav Tsadkah prevailed and Rav Abba Shaul conceded to speak before his Rebbe, now turned colleague. However he felt the need to excuse himself to his listeners. "Do you know why I am speaking first? For the same reason that one is not permitted to eat anything after the afikoman. The reason for this halachah is that the Torah wants the taste of the misvah to remain with us as long as possible. Therefore I, too, want you to retain the flavor of the Rosh Yeshivah's wonderful words."

When it was Rav Tsadkah's turn to speak, he also had some words to preface: "In truth I should not speak at all in order not to spoil the flavor of Rav Ben-Sion's precious remarks. But what can I do? My friends have pressured me to say a few words…" Needless to say, the students of the Yeshivah, who witnessed the gracious honor each of their leaders accorded the other, were very moved. The example of their leaders made a tremendous impression on them. Let us all be their students and learn from them. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And let a man ask his friend for gold and silver" (Shemot 11:2)

The Jewish people were commanded to "borrow" gold and silver from the Egyptians to be able to serve G-d with these ornaments. Hashem willed it so in order that the Jews should be paid back for all their hard work which they contributed to Egypt. The question is: The Torah says they should ask their friends - were the Egyptians our friends? At best, they were our hosts, albeit very cruel and vicious ones to say the least. Why call them our friends?

One of the commentators says a novel idea. The Jews were first told to borrow from among themselves any gold and silver jewelry they might own. When they had done each other the kindness of lending to someone what they needed, then the Egyptians would be more amenable to doing the same thing. The word "friend" refers to the Jews themselves, that they should lend each other and then the Egyptians would follow suit.

The lesson is a truly powerful one. If we want to create a spirit of giving or sharing in the world, then we, the Jewish People have to act in that same way, and that will influence the nations to do the same. When we ask that Hashem show us mercy and tolerance and forgive us our faults, we have to be ready to do it first. That will cause that same spirit to be created in this world which in turn will cause Heaven to answer us measure for measure. We hold all the keys to Divine intervention. Let's use the right ones as often as we can. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"There was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. One did not see his own brother" (Shemot 10:22-23)

They were unable to see anything. Why the emphasis on one's brother?

Many years ago a man emigrated from a small town in Russia to the United States. His business enterprises were blessed with success and he became very wealthy. A few years later, his brother arrived, found his way to the successful brother's house, and presented himself to the doorman as the brother of his master. The doorman directed him to the waiting area and afterwards came back with a message that his master had no brother. He sent back a number of signs hoping that his brother would recognize him. Again the doorman came back, "Sorry, my master says he has no brother and does not know you." Disappointed and hurt, he told the doorman to tell his master, "I advise him to make a will immediately, because he does not have much time left to live."

Petrified, the brother rushed to the door and asked in alarm, "How can you make such a statement? My doctor proclaimed me in excellent health!" The immigrant brother looked his brother in the eyes and said, "The city in which we grew up as brothers was very small and poor. The townspeople were unable to afford a full-time physician. I studied first-aid and administered their medical needs. From my experience I learned that when a patient can no longer "recognize" his own brother, his situation is extremely serious and he has little time left to live."

Some aspects of the plague of darkness are unfortunately prevalent in contemporary times. Sadly, there may be Jews enveloped in darkness who do not recognize fellow Jews as their brothers who deserve to be helped materially and especially spiritually. Such conduct endangers the continuity of the Jewish community.

Hopefully, like the Jews of Egypt, we too will merit "For all the children of Israel there was light in their dwellings." Everyone will see the true light and do the utmost for his brother - his fellow Jew. (Vedibarta Bam)


"But against any of the Children of Israel no dog shall whet its tongue" (Shemot 11:7)

Why did Hashem specify dogs instead of simply saying, "No wild beast will harm them?"

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 105a) declares that Laban, Bilaam and Cushan-rishatayim are the same person. Laban chased after Ya'akob, wanting to destroy him and the future of the Jewish people. Years later he returned as Bilaam and advised Pharaoh to drown the Jewish children, and later, in the days of Balak, he came to curse the Jewish people. In the time of the Judges, when the Jewish people angered Hashem through their improper behavior, He exiled them for eight years under the regime of Cusham-rishatayim, king of Aram. He, too, was a reincarnation of Laban (see Judges 3:7-11).

The acronym of the names Cushan, Laban and Bilaam spells the word "keleb - dog." Hashem told Moshe, "Throughout history, the wicked will always reappear and attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. However, be assured that neither Laban in all his disguises (keleb) nor any other enemies will succeed, G-d forbid, in destroying the Jewish people. (Vedibarta Bam)


"Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt…Today you go forth in the month of Abib" (Shemot 13:3-4)

We may question the Torah's inclusion of the word "hazeh - this day." Why is it necessary to emphasize "this" day? There is obviously something unique about that day which must be especially remembered. We may suggest the following thought. The Torah seems to accentuate the time of year when the Exodus from Egypt took place, Hence, it is stated, "Today you go forth in the month of Abib," which refers to the month of Nisan or the beginning of spring. This is a time of renewal when the young seedlings are beginning to blossom. It is a time of growth and expansion, a time to go forward with excitement and exuberance. It was also, as Rashi says, a fitting time for the Exodus to take place. It is neither too hot nor too cold, and there are no rains.

The Netziv suggests another insight into the month of Abib. Just as during the spring season seedlings easily germinate and grow with little external support, the great miracles which B'nei Yisrael witnessed should inspire them to develop profound levels of faith in Hashem. The lessons garnered from the Exodus should serve as a vehicle for "emunah," faith in Hashem.

This is the meaning of "hayom hazeh, - this day." Today you have been privy to such glorious sights that easily convince you to believe. Remember this during moments of trial and travail, when Hashem's Providence is "hidden." All too often we remember only the moments of sorrow and anguish, and we forget those instances in which Hashem's beneficence is publicly revealed. We are enjoined to remember the Exodus not as an abstract historical occurrence, but rather to vividly "relive" this experience as if we have been there. Consequently, we will be imbued with an indomitable and resolute faith in Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: To set aside an animal to be used for the korban Pesah.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

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