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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3

JANUARY 13-14, 2012 19 TEBET 5772


"It happened in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren." (Shemot 2:11)

When Moshe Rabenu was still quite young, the Torah tells us that he went out to the countryside to see firsthand the enslavement to which his brethren were subjected. When he saw an Egyptian beating a Jew, he saw that there was no one around so he killed the Egyptian. Rashi says that "he saw no one around" means he examined the Egyptian's soul and determined that no righteous descendant will come from him. Later it is also revealed to us that he killed the Egyptian by uttering one of Hashem's Holy Names and using its powers.

Moshe Rabenu was young at the time. Some commentators say he was only a teenager, and he lived in the palace of Pharaoh from the time he was weaned from his mother Yochebed. Midrash Tanhumah says that his adopted mother, Batya, kept him within the confines of the palace until that day when Moshe went out to observe the slavery. Nevertheless, by the time he left the palace, he had already become a spiritual giant, possessing Divine vision and Divine powers to use at will. The question is obvious. How was Moshe able to achieve such a high level at such a young age, if he was always in the palace, surrounded by idolatry?

Rabi David Hofsteder explains, based on the Zohar and other sources, that Moshe Rabenu was born with a unique soul. This soul gave him greater potential for spiritual achievement than anyone who ever lived or would ever come after him. The Zohar says, "Even before Moshe was born, he existed on a very high plane. Therefore, the Shechinah remained with him from the day he was born." He needed this special soul to have a potential to be a person that could go up to Heaven and receive the Torah and bring it down to the Jewish people. He was born with the potential to override the laws of nature and perform miracles for the sake of his people. All this was his potential. It was up to him to use it for good and not to become part of the ways of Pharaoh. If Moshe was born with such great capabilities, it is understandable that he needed no teacher to become the greatest prophet.

There is an important lesson here. While every person has free choice, Hashem sends certain very special people into this world endowed with lofty souls from birth. Certainly there is none to compare to Moshe; nevertheless, Hashem sends exalted souls to every generation. Those are the sadikim and gedolim (Torah giants) of each generation. On a superficial level we may think we understand their intentions and the reasons they conduct themselves as they do. The truth is, however, that many times we cannot truly comprehend the reasons and intentions behind many of their actions. Therefore, sometimes we cannot question them. Therefore, let us honor them appropriately and heed their guidance for our own benefit. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

As we begin the book of Shemot, Exodus, we can see right away why this is called the Book of Redemption, for it talks about the exile into Egypt, the bondage and servitude under the Egyptians, and the ultimate redemption thereof. Why, however, are the portions dealing with the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, placed in the book of Shemot? What do they have to do with the Redemption?

The Ramban tells us that the redemption was not complete until the Jews came back to the level of the forefathers, and that was when we had the Mishkan with the Divine Presence in it. This was a replica of the homes of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, who also had the Divine Presence completely among them and which was manifested by the Clouds of Glory on their tent, the Eternal Lamp shining inside and the dough constantly fresh, just like in the Mishkan. This is truly a remarkable statement. The Mishkan was only a replica of the tents of our forefathers. How foolish are those who speak against our ancestors as if they were from our generation, ascribing to them our own faults and frailties, when in reality they were like angels on this earth. We have no concept of the holiness and greatness of these individuals and anyone who thinks they can understand them with our own limited vision is really revealing flaws in his own character, rather than in those he may be speaking about. As the Gemara sums it up, if the earlier generations are like angels in our eyes, then we are compared to human beings, but if we think they are humans, we are only like donkeys, and not even like the donkey of Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair! Let us take this lesson of Ramban to heart and realize how awesome and elevated are our ancestors so that we may learn even the slightest amount from them. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Sometimes success is the greatest deterrent to achieving a goal.

Success comes in stages. When you go on a diet to lose fifteen pounds, the first five melt away pretty quickly. When you commit to an exercise program - whether it involves running, cycling, or working with weights - the initial improvement in strength and stamina comes almost at once.

And that is the problem. That first jump in a positive direction can lead to complacency and sabotage the systematic progress needed to reach the ultimate goal.

It takes consistency to achieve a goal. It takes what our elementary-school teachers called "stick-to-it-tivity."

The trick to success is to continue working on yourself even after seeing improvement. When you feel that you are better than you were when you embarked on a self-improvement project, don't stop. Don't slack off. Take that next step forward towards your objective, because methodical dedication to a goal until it is achieved is what yields success.

It only takes a minute of focus and evaluation, but that pause to reflect will jump-start you and boost you to the next level. (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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