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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

JANUARY 11-12, 2008 5 SHEBAT 5768


"Hashem granted the people favor in the eyes of Egypt" (Shemot 11:3)

As the amazing chapter in our history unfolds, we are told about the reaction of the Egyptians while they were being pounded by the ten plagues. They loved us! Despite the fact that the Jewish slaves were the reason for their suffering, they couldn't help but love us. Rabbi Reuven Melamen (Melitz Yosher) says he recalls the statement of the Ramban in the story of Yosef and his brothers (Beresheet 37:15). "The decree of G-d is truth and effort is falsehood," that man cannot escape his Divinely ordained fate. In our context this rule is a guiding light. Many well-meaning people believe that if we make an effort to live with our gentile neighbors with kindness and bestowing honor to them (which we should do anyway), they in turn will do good to us. The way to avoid anti-Semitism is to be on friendly terms with them.

Wee see from the model of the Exodus from Egypt that it could be just the opposite, that even though we were the source of their troubles, they loved us. Even more interesting was that before the ten plagues, the Israelites mixed with the Egyptians and followed the Egyptian way of life and honored them. It didn't help. On the contrary, the treatment the Jews got back was slavery. We learn that effort by man is not the key to getting along between gentile and Jew. There is something else that rules supreme and that is the observance of Jewish law and doing the will of Hashem. Hashem does the rest. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"All of your servants will come down to me…and he left Pharaoh's presence in anger" (Shemot 11:8)

When Moshe was telling Pharaoh about the last plague, which was the death of every first born, he said to Pharaoh, "Your servants will come to me to ask me to leave, and that's when I will leave Egypt." Moshe didn't say to Pharaoh, "You will come to me to ask me to leave," even though that's what really happened, because he didn't want to show dishonor to the king of Egypt. This is truly amazing, because right at the end of this verse it says that Moshe stormed out of the palace in anger for the way Pharaoh had spoken to him. If someone is angry, does he still have the presence of mind to show honor and to speak in a certain way? This should reinforce to us the greatness of our leaders, such as Moshe Rabenu. Although he got angry at Pharaoh, he was in complete control of himself, down to the exact words with which he should speak to the king. Everything Moshe did was exactly measured in order to be able to do the will of Hashem.

Indeed, many of our great Sages followed in Moshe's footsteps in this respect. There was a great Rabbi of the previous generation who once got angry at what his son had done, but waited two weeks, until he was totally in control of his emotions, before rebuking him! On the one hand, we can't help but be in awe of such self-discipline, but on the other hand, we have to learn from them how to behave in such situations. How often do we fly off the handle just because we're upset? Even in anger or frustration we must learn to stay in control and use the right words and the right tone of voice. We will be the real beneficiaries of such self-control. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And he called for Moshe and Aharon [at] night and he said, 'Rise up, go out from among my people'" (Shemot 12:31)

The word "laila - [at] night" seems extra. It would be sufficient to say, "He called for Moshe and Aharon and told them to rise and leave Egypt."

When Moshe came before Pharaoh after the plague of darkness, Pharaoh angrily said to him, I am warning you not to see my face anymore, because in the day when you see my face you shall die." Moshe responded, "You have spoken correctly: I shall never see your face again" (10:28-29). Thereafter, Moshe did not return to Pharaoh.

After the plague of the firstborn, there was an uproar in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh called for Moshe, but he refused to come, saying, "Pharaoh made a promise that I should not see his face and that if I did, I would be killed." Pharaoh, knowing that he needed to see Moshe, began to plead, "Laila - Now it is night and I only promised 'beyom - that on the day' you would see my face you would die. Since it is dark and it is hard to see my face, please come speak to me and take the Jewish people out of the country.

Alternatively, when Moshe asked Pharaoh to release the children of Israel, he refused, arguing, "The people have to be here 400 years and only 210 have passed." Moshe responded, "You enslaved them inhumanely; they toiled for you both day and night. Their unceasing work for 210 years was equivalent to 400 years of slavery under normal conditions." Nevertheless, Pharaoh remained stubborn and did not let them go.

After being punished with the tenth plague, the killing of the firstborn, Pharaoh finally yielded. Hastening to the Jewish neighborhood, he cried the word, "Laila" - "night" - "I admit that Moshe is correct: Their laboring during the night completes the 400 years, and they are entitled to leave Egypt to serve Hashem." (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: On the 16th of Nisan, the first morning after Yom Tob.

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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