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JANUARY 1-2, 2005 20 TEBET 5765

Pop Quiz: Who performed the berit milah for Moshe's son, Eliezer?


"Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren and observed their burdens" (Shemot 2:11)

We are introduced to Moshe Rabenu. After the Torah tells us that Moshe went out to see his brothers in their suffering, the Torah proceeds to tell us about an incident. Moshe sees an Egyptian striking a Jew and Moshe takes action and strikes down the Egyptian. The Torah adds that before he killed the Egyptian, "He turned this way and that and saw there was no man" (2:12).

Rabbi R. Pelcovitz explains that in this brief episode the Torah is teaching a number of important lessons. We know from the next episode that there was strife and a lack of unity among the Jewish people at the time. Our Sages also tell us that the Jewish commitment to their teachings had become weak and their merits were few. Yet, when Moshe went out to his brothers he didn't see their faults, what he saw were their burdens. This is a true measure of maturity, as the Torah hints to this when it says, "And Moshe grew up." When he saw the injustice he did more than empathize with his brothers, he took action. When the Torah states that he looked around and saw that "ein ish" - that there was no one around willing to help, he fulfilled the words of the Sages, "Where there is no man try to be a man" (Abot 2:6). We should also note that despite that Moshe studied the general picture of the suffering of his brothers, he didn't miss the plight of the individual. The greatness of Moshe was that even as he saw the burdens of his brethren in general he was still able to focus on the trouble of one individual Jew.

The Torah, in these brief verses, teaches us the following vital lessons: First, the importance of seeing the problems, not the faults, of the community. Second, try to assume responsibility and not be deterred by the apathy of others. Third, not to allow one's involvement with the community at large to blind one to the plights of the individual. There is a saying that the smaller the focus of attention, the harder the task. It is easier to be a civil leader than a good husband and father, and easier to be a humanitarian than to help a neighbor or a single person. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Anyone who reads the story of Moshe being placed in a basket in the river to prevent his death at the hands of the Egyptians, and then Pharaoh's own daughter saving him can't help but be amazed by the ways of Hashem! Pharaoh made many sweeping decrees to kill the baby boys at birth and afterwards solely to prevent the birth of the redeemer of the Jews. His own daughter saves Moshe from the river and brings him up on his father's lap! The verse in Tehillim says: "It is a time of affliction for the house of Jacob and from it he will be saved. The Rabbis tell us that the letters of the word "mimena - from it" spell also "min Haman - from Haman." In the story of Purim we find a similar parallel. Haman made decrees to wipe out all the Jews but from his very own hands came the salvation! He erected a gallows to kill Mordechai and from his own hand came his downfall when he was hanged on those gallows!

This should give us hope and inspiration in our difficult times. The land of Israel is besieged by its enemies, and our people are going through tough times. But Hashem is preparing the time for redemption, and through the enemies' own hands will come the salvation for the nation of Israel. We must pray to Hashem with intensity and devotion to merit to see this very soon in our own days! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"The lad grew up, and she brought him to the daughter of Pharaoh and he was to her as a son. And she called his name Moshe..." (Shemot 2:10)

Ibn Ezra states that it is possible that Hashem had Moshe raised in the palace of the king in order for him to experience a royal manner of behavior. He would both see it firsthand and get into the habit of acting this way. We see how this early training helped Moshe develop into a dynamic personality. He killed an Egyptian in order to defend a person he was attacking. He rescued the maidens in Midian and enabled them to water their flocks.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented on this that we see here a powerful lesson on the importance of learning and habit in the development of a person and in preparing him for greatness. Even someone with the inherent greatness of Moshe needed a total environmental learning experience of royalty to integrate the personality necessary to be a great leader. The attribute of dynamic leadership is not easy to acquire. One needs much effort and many learning experiences to obtain this attribute.

Moshe was the most humble of all men. In his personal life he mastered the ability to ignore any slights or insults. But he was a powerful leader who accepted responsibility to save people in difficulties. One's self-image is a key factor in one's behavior. Moshe's self-image was of a prince growing up in the palace of an absolute monarch. This allowed him to take any action necessary to do what was right.

The most precious gift you can bestow upon any child is a positive self-image. Constant criticism and fault-finding knocks away at one's self-esteem. A child growing up with inferiority feelings is handicapped. This will limit him in many ways. The key focus of anyone dealing with children must be, "How can I elevate this child's self-image?" Yes, humility must be taught, but the humility of a Moshe Rabenu. This is an awareness of one's greatness with the realization that all is a gift from Hashem. (Growth through Torah)


"They said, 'An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds.' He said to his daughters, 'And where is he? Call him that he may eat bread.'" (Shemot 2:19-20)

Why did Moshe disguise himself as an Egyptian man?

Yitro was the High Priest of Midian. When he gave up idol worship, the people of the city excommunicated him and his family. His daughters were shepherdesses and all the shepherds harassed them when they would come to draw water for their cattle. When Moshe noticed their troubles and came to their rescue, they were very grateful.

Moshe, being very humble, felt that he did not deserve any appreciation or credit. He told Yitro's daughters, "Everything that happens in this world is hashgachah peratit (by individual Divine providence). The fact that I am here today is not my doing but because of something that happened in Egypt." He went on to tell they that one day when he was out in the field he noticed an "ish Misri - an Egyptian man" viciously beating a Jew. Moshe then rescued the Jew by killing the Egyptian oppressor.

He continued, "When Pharaoh found out that I had killed an Egyptian man, he sought revenge, and I had to flee. Were it not for the episode with the 'ish Misri,' I would not have left Egypt to come to Midian. Thus, I am actually here today thanks to the 'ish Misri.'"

The daughters returned home and told their father Moshe's explanation that thanks to an 'ish Misri' they had been saved. Yitro concluded that surely it was a very honorable and humble person who did not want any credit for himself. Therefore, he told his daughters, "Such a respectable person should be invited to our home. It will be an honor to have him at our table and perhaps he will marry one of you." (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: Why is "Mizmor Letodah" not recited on Shabbat and Yom Tob? Answer: This speaks about the Korban Todah. Since this sacrifice was not offered on Shabbat or Yom Tob, we do not recite this paragraph on these days. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)


"And these are the names of Bnei Yisrael who came to Egypt." (Shemot 1:1)

Rashi points out that even though Hashem already enumerated the children of Ya'akob previously, He counted them again due to His great love for them. He counted them once when they went down to Egypt and again after their deaths to indicate that they made a positive impact on their children and on society, which lasted even after they passed away. The legacy they transmitted had a lasting effect on their future generations.

A primary goal in a parent's life is to set an example for his children that will endure even after the parent has passed away. This will ensure that he continues to live on beyond his own lifetime. As the Gemara teaches, "Ya'akob Abinu lo met - Jacob, our forefather never died." Since his life's teachings continue to live throughout the generations, it is considered like he himself is still alive.

Question: What is the greatest lesson in life that you have learned from your parents? What lesson do you think your children will pick up from you?


This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3.

In our perashah, Hashem commands Moshe to go back to Egypt to bring out B'nei Yisrael. Moshe tries to convince Hashem to send someone else instead of him, until finally Moshe agrees to go. Similarly, in this haftarah, the prophet Yirmiyahu is told by Hashem that he had been chosen to be a prophet. Yirmiyahu attempts to refuse, saying that he is not worthy and that the people will reject him, but he finally agrees.

Hashem's prophecy to Yirmiyahu is that even though the Babylonians will bring destruction to Israel, they (and anyone else who rises up against Israel) will be punished by Hashem. Our perashah begins the story of the slavery of the Jews in Egypt which ultimately led to the Ten Plagues and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Yam Suf.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Moshe's wife, Sipporah.

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)

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