Thursday, February 9, 2012


At the start of Parshat Beshallach, we read, "The Children of Israel were armed when they went up from Egypt." (Exodus 13:18) The Hebrew term for armed is "chamushim". We learn many reasons for this particular word. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky said they were armed with the "chamishei chumshei Torah" (the five books of the Torah. Rashi tells us that the word "chamushim" comes from the word for five, and that only one-fifth of the Jewish people left Egypt. The others were too assimilated to give up their Egyptian lives, and so as they demanded to live like Egyptians, they also died like Egyptians.
All these interpretations of "chamushim" are great, but what about the plain text...?
The children of Israel were armed, and right afterwards it says (Exodus 17:19), "Moses took the bones of Joseph with him."
Yosef, the only one in the Tanach that is called hatzaddik (the righteous one); Yosef who with the help of G-d interpreted dreams; Yosef who with the help of G-d saved the world from starvation. Moshe took this incredible Yosef's bones and don't you think that that alone was enough to safeguard the people?
Don't you think that the vow that the Jewish people made to take Yosef's bones with them and bury them in Eretz Yisrael was enough to safeguard Am Yisrael?
I do.


(Coming soon. On my phone memo...)


(Coming soon. On my phone memo...)

Va'eira - The Statements We Stand By

In honor of my granddaughter Hallel Nesyah, who just turned four (ad 120).
We have a rule in our family that in gan we speak Hebrew, but at home, we speak English. Halleli was in gan and learned about the ten plagues. When she came home, she tried to explain to her Ema and Abba what the ganenet said, and she translated it into English.
"Today we learned about froggie boo boos."

In Parshat Va'eira we learn the fundamental difference between the meaning of life for the Jewish people, and that of our enemies. These statements have shaped our lives for the past 3500 years. (Exodus: 6:6-8)
** I am Hashem, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt;
** I shall rescue you from their service;
** I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments;
** I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G-d to you...
** I shall bring you to the land ...and I shall give it to you as a heritage.
Five positive statements that would mold a nation, and remain as pillars in the identity of the Jewish people forever.
And what are the statements that mold our enemy.
Let us look forward to Parshat Beshallach (Exodus 15:9):
** I will pursue;
** I will overtake;
** I will divide plunder;
** I will satisfy my lust with them;
** I will unsheathe my sword, my hand will impoverish them.
The Jewish people's statements - freedom, faith in G-d, devotion to the Land of Israel.
Our enemy's statements - destruction, perversion and murder.
Thank you, Hashem, for allowing us to be among your nation.


(Coming soon. On my phone memo...)


(Coming soon. On my phone memo...)