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Haftarah: Yehezkel 28:25-29:21

JANUARY 4-5, 2008 27 TEBET 5768

Rosh Hodesh Shebat will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 8.


"The thunder will cease and the hail will no longer be so that you shall know that the earth is Hashem's" (Shemot 9:29)

The Zohar Hakadosh describes an unusual aspect of the plague of hail. When Moshe Rabenu prayed to Hashem that the hail should stop, it stopped immediately. It stopped so quickly that even the hail that was already falling stopped in mid-air and did not reach the ground. What ever happened to that hail that never landed? It's still up there in the sky today! Hashem is leaving it there, and it will rain down upon the heads of our enemies in the war of Gog-Umagog in the Messianic era and destroy them.

To fully understand the meaning of this phenomenon, the following explanation will help. The miracles of the Exodus from Egypt came to teach all the people of the world that Hashem is the only G-d in heaven and on earth. There is no other, but it seems that only the Jewish nation learned this important lesson. This is evident in the fact that we repeat every day, twice a day in the Shema, the belief that "I am Hashem, your G-d, Who took you out of Misrayim." We also say this many times in our prayers on Shabbat and holidays. However, the nations have not yet learned this lesson, so that even at the dawn of our future redemption by the Mashiah, they will come to do battle against Hashem and his Mashiah. And then this tremendous storm of hail left over from Misrayim will rain down on them. This will be a completion of the job, of the lesson taught in Egypt of the power and oneness of Hashem. As we say every day in Alenu Leshabeah: "And the sons of all flesh will call out Your name, all the wicked of the land will turn to You and they will all accept the yoke of Your kingdom, and Hashem will be the King of the entire world." Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The second plague to befall Egypt was the plague of frogs. As the children's song goes, "Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were truly everywhere." The amazing thing about this plague was that at the outset, Hashem brought upon the Egyptians one huge frog. When they began hitting the frog in anger and frustration, it multiplied again and again, until they were everywhere. The Steipler Rebbe Z"l asks the obvious question; Why didn't they stop hitting it when they saw the results of their actions?

He answers with a very profound truth about human nature. When a person is angry and does something in his anger, although he sees that no good will come out of it, he can't help himself. His anger carries him further to do what he knows intellectually he will regret later on. How often do we get into an argument and begin saying things we know we will have to take back. At the time, we feel that we just "have to" do this regardless of the consequences. Later on we realize how foolish we were and wish it never happened.

We should realize that the majority of the time getting angry does more harm than good. Although the Rabbis tell us that there are certain times we are allowed to act angry if we are truly calm inside and there is good reason for it, nevertheless, experience has shown that this is difficult to rely upon. Next time we think about losing our temper, let's remember the big Egyptian Frog, and think about the consequences. This will help us find alternatives to solve our problems without losing our temper. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Behold, B'nei Yisrael will not listen to me, how then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips" (Shemot 6:12)

Moshe Rabenu was reluctant to accept the position as spokesman and leader of B'nei Yisrael. Moshe's reason us understandable and clear. Why would Pharaoh accept Moshe, if B'nei Yisrael, the people whom he was attempting to rescue, did not believe in him themselves? Much has been discussed by the commentators regarding Moshe's argument. B'nei Yisrael had a somewhat justifiable reason for not heeding Moshe. They were overwhelmed and dejected. They yearned for freedom, but they were too discouraged to hope for it. On the other hand, Pharaoh had no reason to ignore Moshe's words, other than pure obstinacy. The commentators explain that Moshe was actually making a statement regarding his inability to "reach" B'nei Yisrael, his own people.

The Sefat Emet explains that as long as B'nei Yisrael are reluctant to listen and accede to their leader's instructions, the leader will be ineffective. A leader derives his power from the people who are his charge. A leader who does not maintain the respect of his congregation cannot serve as a spokesman for them. Moshe told Hashem that his mission to Pharaoh would be useless rhetoric. If B'nei Yisrael would not listen to him, his lips would be "uncircumcised," closed up. Thus, he would be unable to express himself effectively on their behalf. When a leader does not have the esteem of his flock, it is reflected in his inability to guide them.

Rav E.M. Shach implies that B'nei Yisrael refused to listen to Hashem due to their chagrin from the hard labor. Hashem nonetheless implored Moshe to continue speaking to them. He explains that Hashem's words must register a profound impact upon a person. It may not be immediately noticeable, but ultimately Hashem's words will accomplish their purpose. "Sacred words" can never be lost on man. This statement should serve as a source of encouragement to anyone who has been ready to give up his mission to imbue and teach Torah to others. Although it may appear at times that one is not accomplishing anything, he should remember that Torah taught with sincerity will never be taught in vain. (Peninim on the Torah)


"Take your rod and cast it down before Pharaoh so it becomes a serpent." (Shemot 7:9)

Environment has a profound influence on a man. Even the most evil of men can improve when he comes into good and noble company. Conversely, even the best man can turn into a "serpent" when put into an environment where corruption predominates.

Moshe sought to make Pharaoh understand that although they were hated and oppressed in Egypt to such a degree that they had lost all resemblance to human beings, the Jews could become the greatest and noblest among men if only they would be freed from the corrupt atmosphere of Egypt. To accomplish this end, Moshe showed him the "rod of G-d," the rod on which the Ineffable Name was engraved. This was the rod by means of which the greatest miracles of all were performed. When it was cast down before Pharaoh, i.e., when it was placed into the environment of Pharaoh, it turned into a poisonous serpent. But, as soon as Moshe took hold of it, i.e., as soon as it returned to the immediate environment of Moshe, it was transformed back into a "rod of G-d." Such is the strength of the influence of the environment on man. (Wellsprings of Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Levi (Yochebed's father) & Kehat, Levi's son (Amram's father).

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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