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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

January 7-8, 2011 3 Shebat 5771


"And you shall tell your son…it is on account of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt." (Shemot 13:8)

On the Pesah Seder night, we tell our children and grandchildren many stories. We tell them how Pharaoh had to come out at night in his pajamas to search for Moshe Rabenu and all the people laughed at Pharaoh. We tell them about the plague of Arob, how the lions and tigers chased after the Egyptians. The question is, why do we need to tell the children these stories?

The Exodus from Egypt was the birth of the Jewish nation. Every year at the Seder night, we too, are born again. Our Jewishness is renewed on that night. However, there is one idea that many have trouble coming to terms with. Does the Creator of the Universe care if I make a berachah? Hashem is so great, does it bother Him how I pray or how I observe the misvot? Does it matter to Him if I come five minutes late to shul or five minutes early? Does the Master of the Universe concern Himself with these details of my life? Therefore, we tell our children these stories of redemption from Egypt, whose central theme is that when an Egyptian did something wrong to a Jew or a Jewish child like you, Hashem, Who is infinite, Creator of all worlds, gets upset! He grabbed the Egyptians and beat them up! He gave them not ten plagues, but fifty plagues, two hundred plagues, two hundred and fifty plagues! Why? Because He cares when you get hurt.

Therefore, now we know that Hashem cares if you say Modeh Ani with feeling in the morning. If you say it nicely, Hashem is happy and all the angels are happy! But, if you don't say it with feeling, all the angels in Heaven are sad. Why? Because Hashem cares. This is the essence of a Jew. All the misvot of the Seder night are to make this personal connection with Hashem, and to try our best that we can give this over to our children and they to their children for all generations to come. 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


"And he turned his back and left Pharaoh." (Shemot 10:6)

Why concerning locusts, the eighth plague, does the Torah tell us that Moshe left immediately after giving the warning?

Moshe always came to Pharaoh as Hashem's messenger to inform him of the coming plague. Moshe thought Pharaoh an extremely stubborn man, and therefore he always pleaded with him to relent and listen to Hashem about letting the people go.

Prior to the plague of locusts, Hashem said to Moshe, "Go to Pharaoh and warn him, for I have hardened his heart". Moshe now realized that it was not Pharaoh's stubbornness, but Hashem causing him not to listen. Thus, there was no purpose in him pleading with Pharaoh to let the people go. Therefore after delivering the message of the coming plague of locusts, he immediately turned his back and left. (Vedibarta Bam)

Which two firstborn Egyptians were spared from Makat Bechorot?

During Makat Bechorot all first-born Egyptians died, male and female. Only two survived: Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh because she saved Moshe, and Pharaoh, in order to bear testimony to the world of Hashem's infinite power. (Torahific)


The Midrash records a distinctive question asked by R' Elazar. He inquired concerning the necessity for the requirement of the Korban Pesah prior to the nation of Israel's leaving Egypt. Surely there must have been other misvot which would have merited Bnei Yisrael's redemption. Indeed, Hazal single out four specific misvot for which Bnei Yisrael merited deliverance. They were morally clean; they spoke no lashon hara; they possessed Jewish pride, retaining their Hebrew names; and they maintained their culture, not changing their national language.

Why then was the Korban Pesah an essential prerequisite for their geulah (redemption)? Hazal respond that they were steeped in abodah zarah, idol worship, and Egyptian ideology. It was therefore imperative for them to "draw themselves" away from Egyptian philosophy. As Harav Moshe Swift z"l notes, ethical standards which are independent of religious precepts and principles and human principles which are devoid of G-d consciousness cannot endure. While the "Egyptian" Jew bears no distinctiveness, the Jewish Jew does!

Judaism is not a culture; it is a religion which must be part of the fiber of the Jew. This reality must be imbued into every Jew. The Jew cannot be divorced from his Judaism. The secret of Jewish survival has been our undaunting persistence and unwavering obstinacy against outside influences which are inspired by the realities of contemporary culture. As long as the Torah is our guide, our path toward success is ensured. (Peninim on the Torah)


Shopping bags, garment bags, appointments, fittings. Telephone calls, sales notices, newspaper ads, friends' advice. The wedding date was drawing closer, and so many items were still needed to properly outfit and accessorize the bride and her family.

The joy of a happy occasion is enhanced when everyone looks and feels beautiful. When planning a wedding, it is usually the mother of the bride who works hard to ensure that it all comes together just so - from the wedding gown and veil down to the last sister's hair bow and brother's necktie.

Meanwhile, the father of the bride takes note of the bills and credit-card charges, and gets nervous. But after the initial shock, he learns to stoically accept that this is what it takes to make a simchah, and learns to quietly observe the madness from a calm distance.

There is one point, however, where he should be involved.

His wife comes home with an assortment of apparel. She models each gown and suit for her husband; he sits quietly and watches the fashion show. Finally, she stands before him in the last of the elegant gowns.

"OK, that's it. So - which do you like best?"

"I think you should get the one that you like," he responds. "It really doesn't matter to me."

A man with such an attitude is making a big mistake. His wife wants and needs his input. She wants and needs to please him. The way he can please her in return is by showing an interest in what she buys and how she looks.

When people ask your opinion, they are usually seeking support or approval. A cool "Whatever…" is not the way to fill another person's emotional need. A true manifestation of kindness would be to show interest in a convincing way, proving that someone really does care. Your involvement is the other person's pleasure, so offer your comments in a way that will give your spouse, child, friend or co-worker the psychological boost that is sought. It will be recorded Above as a kindness, and will bring you closer together. One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

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.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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