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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3

JANUARY 16-17, 2009 21 TEBET 5769

Pop Quiz: How was Moshe related to Levi?


"Moshe thought, 'I will turn aside now and look at this great sight - why will the bush not be burned?'" (Beresheet 3:3)

We begin the book of Shemot. Israel is enslaved by Egypt, and the great Moshe Rabenu enters the scene. .Moshe is tending the flock of Yitro, his father-n-law when he is confronted by an amazing sight, the burning bush. Moshe asks, "Why is the bush continuously burning and not being consumed by the fire?" The question being asked here seems quite simple and obvious, something that would be unremarkable even if it were asked by a small child. What possible significance is there to our knowing that Moshe asked why the bush was not being consumed by the fire? Let's skip this detail and proceed to what seems most important - that G-d called out to him from the midst of the fire and spoke to him.

Rabbi Nisan Alpert A"H explains that herein lies a fundamental truth of our faith. The nations of the world often consider our continued existence to be a thorn in their sides. Our situation might be considered analogous to that of a bush on fire. Our enemies have repeatedly sought to annihilate us, to eradicate us from this world. Our brothers and sisters throughout history have literally been set afire in the course of the Spanish Inquisition, during pogroms and concentration camps. Yet the Jewish people have continued to flourish. It is a miracle that even the nations could not fail to acknowledge, yet sadly, we see that many of our brethren have somehow failed to take notice. They seem to not be following the ways of the Torah and seem quite distant. It is not that they have openly and willingly rejected the Torah. How could they? They don't even know what it is, without benefit of a Jewish education and real Jewish life. How could they even know what it is they are missing? Still, though, we have to wonder and to dream - if only they would ask the question whose answer seems so obvious. A question that does not demand any great level of prior knowledge, and which could bring them to see certain simple truths:

* How is it that the bush has not been consumed?

* How is it that the Jewish people are still alive?

* What could possibly account for this astounding phenomenon?

My friends, in our times we have witnessed the two most fiendish creations in history - the Nazis, and now the abomination of Arab terrorists. Both have been thrown against us! It makes you think - why us? It must be all part of G-d's master plan. 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" spell also "miHaman"- 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 ktrah og. 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

Answer to Pop Quiz: Levi was Moshe's maternal grandfather and his paternal great-grandfather.

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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