Posts Tagged ‘Shemot’

7
Jan

Which Attribute?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Reflections & Observations

I was fluctuating between sadness and inspiration when I finished reading Rohinton Mistry’s.”A Fine Balance.” I have yet to shed the horrible cruelties powerfully described. The caste system, misuse of power, the desperate search for work, forced castration, and the hopeless lives of the masses helped me understand what the Children of Israel experienced in Egypt. Each nightmarish scene contains a powerful expression of the drive to live and the sweetness of kindness. I hear echoes of people being rallied to support a new government, suffering under the leaders they supported, and the merit of the women who kept the family alive under the worst conditions.

A week later, I realized that it was the goodness that made the deeper impression. I experienced the power of good over evil. So inspired, I gave the book to one of my daughters, who is quite upset with me for suggesting she read such a horrible story. When we last spoke, my daughter was struggling with finishing the book with its historically accurate descriptions of suffering in 1975 India. “How could you ask me to read such a horrible story?”

My daughter sounds just like Moses: “My Master! Why have You done evil to this people (Exodus 5:22).” I’ll respond as God did to Moses:

“The Lord spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am God’ (6:2).” Lord, or, Elokim, is the Name we associate with Justice, often harshness. God, or, Hashem, speaks of God’s compassion. Elokim, Justice, says to Moses, “I am Hashem, compassionate – find the goodness hidden in the folds and creases of the suffering. Moses cannot become a complete leader until he can find the power of good and the drive for life that motivate the people to move forward.

In his fury, Moses failed to see how the foremen assumed the extra burden imposed on the slaves. He could have challenged God by calling on such compassion and demanding that their good earn them redemption. Moses continued to speak of Israel as victims, not the heroes they were. Moses would have to learn to treasure the extraordinary kindness that softened every scene of suffering. (See, “Respectful Compassion.”)

I want my daughter, all my children and students, to mine through the horrible and treasure the good. We see and read of horrible things happening in the world and our communities, and we hear Elokim, God’s Judgment speaking. We have to pay attention to God’s message to Moses, “I am Hashem, compassionate and kind – I want you to find the good that is hiding underneath the suffering.”

A long ago friend, Dennis Prager, once convened a gathering that focused on Altruism: “The Altruistic Personality – Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe.” I recall Dennis challenging the audience to remember the names of the heroes who stepped forward in moments of ugly tragedy – the name of the Secret Service agent who stepped in front of a bullet meant for President Reagan, the name of the man who jumped into the freezing Potomac to save victims of a plane crash. No one knew the names.

We focus on the bad, not the good. We focus on Elokim, not Hashem. We read “A Fine Balance,” and shiver in horror. We study the Exodus story and wait for the miracles to find Hashem, the Compassionate One, and miss the scenes of human kindness that are so much more powerful than the evil.

“I may be Elokim, but you must always search for Hashem, so that you will become a force of kindness and compassion that will overcome the bad.”

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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13
Jan

Moment to Decide

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,

In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;

Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,

And the choice goes by forever, ‘twixt that darkness and that light.

– James Lowell, 1845

“It happened in those days that Moses grew up and went out to his brethren and observed their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man, of his brethren. He turned this way and that and saw that there was no man, so he struck down the Egyptian and hit him in the sand (Exodus 2:11–12).” Moses had no problem with his “Moment to Decide.” He did not only decide to protect the Hebrew man, he decided to risk his position as a member of the royal palace by executing the Egyptian aggressor.

This was not Moses’ first Moment to Decide, as we saw in, “The Mouth.”

“The minister of Midian had seven daughters; they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s sheep. The shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and save them and watered their sheep (16–17).” Moses had no problem with his “Moment to Decide.” In the moment, he decided to provoke the shepherds and defend the women, once again, placing himself at risk in a place where he did not have the advantage of being a member of the royal family. The women he saved, on the other hand, were not quite as skilled in taking advantage of their “Moment to Decide.” Moses saved them, and they go home without him. “Then where is he? Why did you leave the man? Some and him and let him eat bread (Verse 20)!”

Yitro’s daughters were not the only ones who were not quite as skilled as Moses in taking advantage of their, “Moment to Decide,” Aaron too, once failed, as we saw in, “Biblical Personalities-Aharon-Selections from the Midrash.”

This man who has no difficulty in taking full advantage of his “Moment to Decide,” continues his pattern when, “he saw and behold! The bush was burning in the fire but the bush was not consumed. Moses thought, ‘I will turn aside now and look at this great sight’ (3:2).” (See, “A Dream-Wine & Vision,” “Lessons from Life,” and, “A Fantasy Lecture by King Solomon.”)

Something changes. “Do not come closer to here, remove your shoes from your feet, for the place upon which you stand is holy ground (Verse 5).” We never read of Moses removing his shoes.  Did he hesitate?

“I am the Lord of your father, the Lord of Abraham, the Lord of Isaac, and the Lord of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to gaze toward the Lord (Verse 6).” We could say that Moses did decide; he decided to hide his face, however, when the verse says that, “he was afraid,” it implies that this was not a deliberate decision, but an act of fear. What happened to this man who never before had a problem with his Moment to Decide?

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should take the Children of Israel at of Egypt?” Not the answer we would expect from the man who has the confidence to act in his Moment to Decide!

The sages teach us that Moses spent an entire week arguing with God. What happened to the Moses who never before hesitated to act with confidence and determination?

Is this what happens to a decisive person who meets God?

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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12
Jan

All in The Family

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“A man went from the house of Levi and he took a daughter of Levi (Exodus 2:1).” [We have discussed the absence of proper names in “Table Talk–Shemot I.”]

Perhaps this verse informs us of one of the reasons that the Children of Israel fell into the trap of slavery: “a man from the house of Levi,” “a daughter of Levi,” it seems to be all about the tribe of Levi. Perhaps we are dealing with the family no longer functioning as one family, but as divided families. A man from Levi marries a woman from Levi is all we need to know. The tribes are sticking to themselves. We are no longer dealing with a single family but twelve.

Something terrible happens when a family divides. “She could not hide him any longer, so she took for him a wicker basket and smeared it with clay and pitch; she placed the child into it and placed it among the reeds at the bank of the River.” What did this mother expect to happen to her child? “His sister stationed herself at a distance to know what would be done with him.” The sister was concerned with what would happen to the baby; not the mother and not the father. Are we to believe that she is the only person who came up with the idea of saving a child this way? Was it not a regular scene on the Nile for a bunch of baskets to be floating with Jewish babies inside?

The Children of Israel were no longer a unified family. Each tribe lived independently and separately. Perhaps, once the people began to sever strong family ties, they became inured to family connections; they could place a baby in a basket, send it down the river, and walk away.

We are taught that the tribe of Levi did not fall into the trap of slavery. It seems that although they were not tricked into becoming slaves, they absorbed some of the influence of living amongst slaves.

There are other hints in the text to this loss of family connections: “A new King arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph.” While we are quite critical of the king for pretending that he did not know of Joseph and for lacking gratitude, we have to wonder whether the Children of Israel were any more grateful than the new King!

No one knew where Joseph was buried. Surely the family understood that Joseph’s role in Egypt would be an important asset for them as they remained there. I would have expected the family to build. A huge mausoleum marking the place where Joseph was buried but, they did not. They too forgotten about Joseph. Another family connections severed.

“During those many days, it happened that the king of Egypt died, and the Children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out.” Rashi quotes the Midrash that teaches us that Pharaoh did not actually die, but was stricken with leprosy and was instructed by his physicians to bathe in the blood of Jewish babies. Yet, they cried out, “because of the work,” not because their children were being slaughtered! Yet another family connection severed.

People who will sever such important and powerful connections will eventually lose their sense of identity. This is why, this Book, Exodus, or, “Names,” begins without names; a man from Levi, a daughter of Levi, his sister, the baby; descriptions, but no names. They had lost their sense of identity. How? By severing family connections.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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30
Dec

Mind Games

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Mind Games

Mind Games

Did you hear the one about the guy who walks into the throne room of the most powerful emperor on earth and say, “My God demands that you destroy your economy and acknowledge His power?” The emperor says, “Who let this guy in? Whoever it was, kill him!”

You haven’t heard it, well, neither have I. In fact, that is not exactly what happened. Yes, Moshe did walk enter and make demands, but Pharaoh deals with it strategically and makes things worse for the Children of Israel.

How did Moshe get into the palace for the second time for his ill-fated snake trick? He claims to be speaking for the Greatest Power and all he can pull off is the old stick turns into snake trick! Harry Potter could do that.

What was Pharaoh thinking this entire time? Would a powerful emperor allow someone into his palace to threaten him?

I can imagine his adopted grandson, Moshe being allowed into Pharaoh for the first time in 40 or more years since grandpa wanted Moshe dead. We do not read of Pharaoh trying to kill Moshe. I would have.

Did his astrologers not tell him that someone would come to topple him? Did Moshe not fit all the criteria? What was Pharaoh thinking?

Pharaoh was intrigued. Moshe walks in, claiming to speak for this Infinite Power, and yet, the Power wants Pharaoh to cooperate. The Power is not threatening to force the freedom. God wants Pharaoh to grant his permission. Why?

If God has such power, why is he even asking me?

Pharaoh was intrigued. Moshe was granted entry to the throne room.

That is exactly how God “strengthened” Pharaoh’s heart, long before God “hardened” the king’s will.

There’s more…

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Dec

Fists & Fingers

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Fists

Fists

Exodus: Chapter 8:12 -15: “It is a finger of God!”

Seems more like the FIST of God to me, not a finger!

The sorcerers understood that whatever they were experiencing was not the Hand of God, certainly not His fist, but a simple finger. God was holding back, and they all had to wonder, and did; “Why? Why was He holding back?”

How long world He hold back?

What would TWO fingers feel like? Three? Four? Hand? They were wondering.

The plague was not only lice all over their bodies; the plagues were striking deep inside of them as they wondered what was next.

There’s more..

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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26
Dec

Traveling Through History: Moshe and Pharaoh

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Time Travel

Their first public confrontation over, Pharaoh asked Moshe to remain behind for a closed-door meeting. Moshe agreed, but only if his brother, Aaron, could join them.

“Uncle Moishe,” he said as his servants served drinks, “my grandfather and father often spoke of you. We wondered what you were doing, and never expected this! You’ve been gone for sixty years. It seems to me that you found God.”

“I did, dear nephew, and He is the Real Thing. You will lose if you fight.”

“I don’t know if I’ll lose, but I do know one thing: If I win, you will soon be forgotten. If you win; I will have a permanent place in history!”

“That you will. It will be in Jewish history, not Egyptian,” laughed Moshe.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah

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24
Dec

Wind Surfing

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Flying

I am sitting in a nice warm home listening to the powerful wind blow against and around the house, breaking branches, and tossing my neighbors’ garbage all over my lawn. Pip, our dog, looks out wistfully wishing to be outside and wind tan, the way he does when he sticks his head out the car window.

I too, long to be outside in the wind. I’m not a wind tanner, but I am a devoted wind flier. Our apartment building in 1964 Toronto stood in a wide-open area. The winds were scary, especially for a gorgeous and adorable four-year-old boy. I was walking with my mother insisting that I did not need to hold her hand to withstand the wind. I was wrong. The wind literally lifted and carried me across the street. It was only seconds, but I remember the feeling of flying, I was free, wondering why my mother was screaming.  I became a devoted wind flier.

The winds of life are far more powerful than the wind outside. They carry all of us, not just angelic four year olds. We are lifted and carried by events that shape the world, and we have a choice whether to simply be carried or to fly with the wind.

The winds of history are picking up speed in this week’s portion. God blew a relatively small wind to fly Joseph to Egypt, and then increased its power to lift the entire family and carry them all to Joseph. A storm is brewing as Jacob readies the family for his death. It approaches hurricane speed as Joseph and his brothers die. The tornado will touch down as the new Pharaoh assumes the throne.

The winds of history were blowing. Many of The Children of Israel stuck their heads out the window and absorbed the wind’s blow. Wind tanners. Most allowed themselves to be sucked up by the Egyptian winds and became slaves.

A few chose to be wind fliers and soar with the wind. The Tribe of Levi was tossed by the Egyptians but it was so determined to be a wind flier that it never succumbed to Egyptian’s hot air. They never became slaves.

The winds of history are clearly blowing with gale force. We have a choice whether to simply stick our heads out the car window and wind tan with Pip, or, to fly with the wind and use each challenge as an opportunity to soar and rise to new heights.

Fly with me.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah

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24
Dec

A Changed Family

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Change

Change

The family had changed. When the names were listed in Vayigash, the family was divided by mothers: The sons of Leah and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid. The sons of Rachel and then the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. The order in this week’s portion is changed. The family is no longer divided by Leah and Rachel.

Joseph’s name was listed with the rest of the family in Vayigash, but not in this week’s portion, Shemot. Was it because of Joseph’s absence that the family was able to reconnect beyond the divisions of Rachel and Leah?

Perhaps, when the sons of Leah heard that their father wanted to be buried next to Leah and not Rachel, they no longer felt that their mother was being treated as second best. Their resentments disappeared. When their issues with Jacob were no longer on their minds, they were able to rise above their resentment of Joseph as well.

Now they would survive the exile in Egypt.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Dec

Envy

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Envy

Envy

Joseph never experienced envy, at least not to the degree his brothers were infected by the green monster. I wonder how he would have handled the experience after everything he suffered because of their envy.

I suspect that the Sages were actually critical of Joseph’s conviction that he was free of jealousy: “And Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation.” (Exodus 1:6) Rabbi Chama bar Chaninah said, “Why did Joseph die before his brothers? Because he acted with an air of greatness.”

Joseph was the viceroy of Egypt and his position demanded that he act with a certain air of authority. He whole-heartedly forgave his brothers, and did all he could to save and support his family. Where and when did he lord over his brothers?

Imagine that Joseph was not the first of the brothers to die, but the last. He certainly had the power to bury them in Israel. The Egyptians were only interested in keeping Joseph’s remains. He would have carried his brothers’ remains to Israel, knowing full well that he would not be granted that privilege until the Jews would be redeemed from Egypt. Would he have experienced envy of his brothers being buried in Israel while he was stuck in Egypt even after death?

Perhaps Joseph died first so that no one in the family would be buried in Israel and he would not experience the misery of envy after all he had suffered at its hands. Perhaps Joseph died first so that he would know that even he would not have been able to handle the evil, twisted tentacles of envy.

He was convinced that he could never be infected, and yet, he learns from his early death, that he was vulnerable to infection. He could no longer ‘lord it” over his brothers that he was better equipped to handle envy.

The Sages see Joseph as learning a powerful lesson about himself as he approached death. He must have wondered why he, the second youngest, would predecease his sibling. He may have even figured out that God was teaching him, that there was already a tiny infection in his heart; he was convinced that he was invulnerable to envy and he learned, or at the very least, suspected, that perhaps he was not.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Dec

The Psalm of Redemption XII: A Change is as Good as a Rest by Rav Moshe Stepansky

by developer in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Prayer

Singing Psalms

“A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall.” (Verse 13)

Everybody is familiar with the talmudic saying “B’makom she’ba’alei t’shuva omdim shom, ein tzaddikim g’murim omdim shom” where Ba’alei T’shuva stand-even total tzaddikim don’t stand.

The Holy Ba’al Shem Tov explained this saying as referring to the verse mentioned above.

The verse actually compares two types of righteous men:

1.He who will flourish like a date-palm, and,

2.He who like a cedar in Lebanon will grow tall.

The BeSH”T explains the Ba’al T’shuva is literally The Master/Owner of T’shuva, who shares his Avodat HaShem and inspires others to return and come closer to G-d. 

The Master of T’shuva is the righteous man who flourishes like a date-palm whose branches spread out far and wide and bear fruit.

The totally righteous person, the Tzaddik Gamoor, as per the BeSH”T’s explanation, may be very holy by himself, but he stands tall like a cedar in Lebanon while bearing no fruit as he does not bring others closer to G-d.

The BeSH”T says, in light of this explanation of the pasuk, we can understand the saying that where Ba’alei T’shuva stand – even total Tzaddikim don’t stand.

So, what does this have to do with Shabbat and Redemption?

Everything.

R’ Leibele Eiger mentions that SHaBat is rooted in the super-root SH B which is also the super-root of t’SHuVa.

During the Six Days of Activity, we are always in forward, physical motion and perhaps not always in forward spiritual motion.

Comes along Shabbat and we have the opportunity to return to our former higher spiritual level we experienced last shabbat.

The vehicle to attain this is changing gears from the physical maelstrom of the week to the spiritual focus of Shabbat.

Of course, if we are lucky enough we can take the spiritual highs with us into the week and imbue our physical endeavors with them.

The yidn in Egypt were in a state of despair (at least the men were).They were being so drudged into the ground with their physical tasks, they were beginning to doubt the possibility that one of their own had been viceroy of Egypt.  Par’o “asher lo yoda et Yosef” had written a revision of history, by effectively removing any trace of Yoseif. [Had it not been for Serakh bat Asher, Moshe Rabbeinu would not have located Yoseif’s casket buried in the Nile, to fulfill the promise of burying him in Eretz Yisrael].

They were losing any hope they’d ever be anything but slaves.

Moshe brought the message of Shabbat to them – You can change !! You will return to being the children of Kings!!! Although you may be downtrodden and mired in the physical -you will have the opportunity to rise to the highest spiritual  levels. (Moshe was the Master of T’shuva )

The ‘Redemption Code’ Yoseif shared (B’Reishit 50;24) “v’Eilokim pakode yifkode etchem , v’He’eloh etchem min ha’aretz ha’zote el Ha’Aretz asher nishba l’Avraham, l’Yitzkhak ul’Ya’akov” is usually translated ‘and G-d will surely remember you and will bring you from this land to the Land He promised to Avraham Yitzkhak and Ya’akov.’ 

I’d like to suggest an alternate translation -pakode yifkode can also mean command i.e.Mitzvah===>

Yoseif is sharing the following message “Redemption will be at hand when G-d will give you commandments.Rather than be a slave to some human king, you will become Servants of G-d,King of all Kings. And He will raise you up from all this physicality (min ha’aretz hazote) and bring you to the Land He promised to Avraham Yitzkhak and Ya’akov.”.

And Moshe came and reminded the yidn of Yoseif’s message.

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