Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Parsha Va'era, halachos and stories

Leah bas Rivka needs prayers

A quote that I saw this week that can be applied to the Israeli-Arab conflict too. "The cause we are engaged in is so just and righteous that we must try to rise superior to every obstacle in its support.". General George Washington. December 1775

My cousin Shmuel aka Samuel puts out his own Torah Drasha and although this is from last Shabbos it is well worth reading: Rav Sabato Shlita addresses Moshe's humble beginnings in this week's Parsha:

The book of Shemos opens with a quick background on the state of the nation living in Egypt followed by the birth of Moshe. Within just a few chapters a selection of several events from Moshe's life are covered, starting from his birth and leading up to his return to Egypt at the age of 80. Clearly the remainder of his life and his leadership of the Jewish people will be the focus of the rest of the Torah and thus the Torah provides a mere glimpse of his life before the age of 80. However, why did the Torah choose specifically the events it did from Moshe's childhood? Certainly many things happen over the course of the first 80 years of one's life, but the Torah only selected a few anecdotes from Moshe's earlier years. How did the Torah choose these?

The answer that we will try to present here is that the qualities that Moshe ended up utilizing as a leader in the remainder of his life have their basis among these selected events. We can break down Moshe's defining qualities into five:

1) First of all, he was a prophet. And while it is hard for us to know exactly what that means, we know that one of the climactic moments of his entire career was receiving the Torah at Har Sinai where he interacted with G-d "פנים אל פנים," face-to-face (anthropomorphically).

2) His second defining characteristic was that of a savior and redeemer of the nation.

3) Moshe's role as a leader of the nation over the course of their 40 year journey from Egypt to the Land of Israel.

4) He served as a judge, the highest judge in the nation (as is detailed later in Parsha Yisro).

5) Lastly, he represented the nation before G-d, advocating on their behalf, such as at times when G-d was preparing harsh punishments for the Golden Calf and the spies.

A further trait, on a more personal side, was his trait of extreme humility -- as the Torah describes: more humble than anyone else in the world (see Bamidbar 12:3).

If we go through the early events of Moshe's life with these defining qualities in mind, we will see that each quality was present even from before he became a leader.

The first event the Torah describes is told as follows (2:11-12): וַיְהִי בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם, וַיִּגְדַּל מֹשֶׁה וַיֵּצֵא אֶל-אֶחָיו, וַיַּרְא, בְּסִבְלֹתָם; וַיַּרְא אִישׁ מִצְרִי, מַכֶּה אִישׁ-עִבְרִי מֵאֶחָיו. וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה, וַיַּרְא כִּי אֵין אִישׁ; וַיַּךְ, אֶת-הַמִּצְרִי, וַיִּטְמְנֵהוּ, בַּחוֹל. -- 'It was in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brothers and saw their suffering. And he saw an Egyptian man strike one of his Ivri brothers and looked this way and that and saw that there was no one there and struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.' This short anecdote already describes Moshe as a savior, even before he is commanded to serve as such by G-d. From the beginning of his life it is already clear that when he sees a problem he does not wait to try to fix it but rather takes action. It is also worth noting the first portion of the verse: that he saw his brothers' suffering -- a leader must understand the issues of his people in order to be able to serve them.

The following two Pasukim display yet another trait (2:13-14): וַיֵּצֵא בַּיּוֹם הַשֵּׁנִי, וְהִנֵּה שְׁנֵי-אֲנָשִׁים עִבְרִים נִצִּים; וַיֹּאמֶר, לָרָשָׁע, לָמָּה תַכֶּה, רֵעֶךָ. וַיֹּאמֶר מִי שָׂמְךָ לְאִישׁ שַׂר וְשֹׁפֵט, עָלֵינוּ 'He went out on the second day and there were two Ivri men fighting. He said to the evil one: "Why are you striking your friend?" And [the man] replied: "Who made you a ruler and judge over us?"' Here, Moshe is already finding himself serving as a judge for Bnei Yisrael, picking out the one who he views as the aggressor and speaking up. And soon afterwards, when Moshe flees to Midian, he again plays a role in law enforcement as he saves Yisro's daughters from the hands of the other shepherds at the well (see 2:17). This demonstrates the true pure desire within Moshe to pursue justice, not only within his own nation but for anyone. A person with a pure desire to do good wishes to help the underdog in any situation not only within his own people.

In the next phase of his journey, Moshe serves as a shepherd for Yisro’s sheep. This demonstrates Moshe's ability to lead -- to shepherd an entire nation.

His shepherding brings him, one day, to the burning bush, the סנה. A number of similarities make this event a clear parallel with receiving the Torah at הר סיני. It is at the bush that Moshe first receives prophecy at the location that the rabbis tell us is indeed הר סיני -- little does Moshe realize at that moment that he will return there not too long afterwards for the greatest prophecy of all time.

All in all, Moshe's defining characteristics are demonstrated one after the other in these few short chapters that open the book of Shemos, introducing Moshe as the leader of the Jewish people. When G-d commands him to take these skills with him back to Egypt to free Bnei Yisrael, he does not quickly agree -- portraying his extreme humility.

The principle here is true in every individual: a person's early years and the practices of their early life will stick with them and will impact the rest of their life. When a person defines what those characteristics will be early in life, it is important to do so with this in mind as those characteristics ultimately define the remainder of life as well. In the first chapters of Shemos, those events that helped define Moshe and the rest of his life as a great leader are chosen to teach exactly that.

Shabbat shalom,

Shmuel E.

Parsha Va’era

Parsha and my Drasha for this year, I have plenty to add and even more points than only that the first 7 plagues would allow me to write or even talk about even a an hour’s lecture so I want to attack things from a different angle. I wanted because of the new readership and even to remind myself of past thoughts to use my own old words on Chapter 8 was from 4 years ago with one or two additions.

6:2 And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him: 'I am the LORD;

The Tetragrammation is used for the first time. This is the Compassionate attribute of the L-RD.

3 and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, using the names ELOKIM and KAIL SHAKKAI judgement and all powerful or all mighty but by My name YHWH I made Me not known to them.

Last week in the Tzimtzum (condensing) of the L-RD to come to people instead of a lofty tree only in a bush, the name used is “I will be what I wish to be”.

For even though Adam and Kayn were able to speak with G-D and obtain mercy, they were more in awe and fear of HIM and Noach and his generation too. For even though the Yod-Kay-Vav-Kay is a more awesome name, the ALL MERCIFUL FATHER is a different concept to mankind.

4 And I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they sojourned. 5 And moreover I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant.

Anybody who asks “Where was G-D in the holocaust?” has the right to question but the answer if one rereads the two Pasukim above is quite sufficient. For G-D is with us all the time, everywhere, the whole earth is full of HIS GLORY and yet at times he hides himself from us. Why? What for? I cannot answer this whether it is a test or a punishment but these facts exist. It can be compared to a small child playing in the sandbox and either daddy or mommy peeking out the window keeping a watchful eye on them. HASHEM of course does not take a random look at us but can monitor us all the time. Until the advent of surveillance cameras we would not have been able to imagine this in our mind.

6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments; 7 and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God,

In case there was any doubt whatsoever, now you would have none not of ME nor MY MIGHT but you shall see the power and the salvation.

who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

For 210 years, the people were under the influence of the god-king Pharaoh. He was a power to be feared. 600 chariots was a massive army and enough to suppress a bunch of fearing slaves with their slave mentality.

8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a heritage: I am the LORD.'

Another statement of power, justice and mercy.

9 And Moses spoke so unto the children of Israel; but they hearkened not unto Moses for impatience of spirit, and for cruel bondage.

10 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 11 'Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.' 12 And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying: 'Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?' 13 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

This time HASHEM is involving Aaron as Moshe is losing it and he needs Aaron to reinforce himself.

The following narrative starts off as the natural order of things. First comes Reuven, Shimon and then Levi but we don’t continue with Yehuda or the other tribes at this point so why is it brought down? The only few reasons that I can come up with to answer this question is that even though the tribes are equal so we show two ordinary tribes and then Levi; still the whole narrative is only to introduce us to the family background of Moshe and Aaron as they are playing the major part in the Chumash from here onwards.

14 These are the heads of their fathers' houses: the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel: Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben. 15 And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman. These are the families of Simeon. 16 And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon and Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were a hundred thirty and seven years. 17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families. 18 And the sons of Kohath: Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were a hundred thirty and three years. 19 And the sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations. 20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years. 21 And the sons of Izhar: Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri. 22 And the sons of Uzziel: Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Sithri. 23 And Aaron took him Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, to wife; and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 24 And the sons of Korah: Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites. 25 And Eleazar Aaron's son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites according to their families. 26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said: 'Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts.' 27 These are they that spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are that Moses and Aaron. 28 And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spoke unto Moses in the land of Egypt,

Moshe essentially got married very late in life as his two children were very young when he was 80 as we saw last week with the circumcision.

29 that the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 'I am the LORD; speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak unto thee.' 30 And Moses said before the LORD: 'Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?'

Moshe with his speech defect is too shy to talk and usually laughed out in crowds so you can imagine his fear of speaking before Pharaoh and his ministers.

7:1 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'See, I have set thee in God's stead to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

Aaron is not as a prophet but as a translator into a strong cohesive statement which is completely clear before Pharaoh. (An example of this can be with my being in Israel for 40 years similar to Moshe being in the Sinai region for 40 years. Moshe did not have communications there were no TV programs up dating his old language skills. When I left the states people were told that one feels well but this generation only feels good. There was no give me a hi-five, rap, break-dance and other forms of communication.) Just imagine Moshe being trained in his language skills over seven decades previously with a living language and culture – besides his speech impediment, he would be facing a different language, different meaning and additional vocabulary and idioms.

2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.

The first thing a child asks is why didn’t HASHEM make (or force) Pharaoh to let the Bnei Yisrael out? The Torah comes along and tells us to multiply signs and wonders. However, I am thinking this is not only for the land of Egypt but for our mixed multitude and the people who would question the L-RD in the future. For knowledge of what would happen in Sefer Bamidbar, HASHEM knew in the beginning before it happened. Of course there was free will and it could have turned out differently. HASHEM is better and bigger than the creation. HE could foresee what would happen to Korach if he rebelled and if he didn’t rebel for both scenarios or even a combination was thought out like a rebellion and a repentance so that one could not squawk against what the consequences were as we have now written down in the Torah. The free choice was out there. Even up until the sixth plague Pharaoh essentially had free will after that HASHEM hardened his heart.

4 But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay My hand upon Egypt, and bring forth My hosts, My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt, by great judgments.

Egypt was destined to enslave Yisrael but not to afflict the Bnei Yisrael in the way they did. Because of the affliction and murders of the male babies it was now time for retribution to be paid.

5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.' 6 And Moses and Aaron did so; as the LORD commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spoke unto Pharaoh.

Moshe speaks and Aaron interprets and Moshe performs the miracles such as the Rod, blood, etc.

8 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 9 'When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying: Show a wonder for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron: Take thy rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent.' 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so, as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their secret arts. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.

Pharaoh’s magicians used real serpents that were charmed and Moshe a real rod. This is the amazing thing that a real piece of wood could be turned from the plant realm into the animal realm and back. This is a genetic secret of creation that only the L-RD knows.

13 And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken. 14 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuses to let the people go.

At this point Pharaoh is as stubborn as a mule or ox that does not want to do his master’s bidding. Pharaoh views himself as the god of Egypt and most likely was worshipped too. What happens under dictators like in Romania, Iraq and in North Korea today is that they poster themselves up for the people to praise and propagandize everybody. Even Pharaoh believed his own lie.

15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goes out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thy hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him: The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying: Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness; and, behold, hitherto thou hast not hearkened; 17 thus says the LORD: In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD--behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river.'

Why is Pharaoh and Egypt being punished with the river? For this we have to go back 80 years ago to the period of 80 years previously. Jewish male babies are thrown into the river. Now the river and Egypt will be punished measure for measure for this crime. Pharaoh would go and defecate in the morning and a god should not do these things. He would hide everything in his morning bathe and Moshe came at that time to confront him. Now speaking about embarrassing moments for the man god.

19 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Say unto Aaron: Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'

Now this is either a complete miracle and the water literally turns to blood or it is some other factor. For many years I suggested red clay earth in large amounts being swept into the river. However, earth would not accumulate like that in vessels. So again we have to turn back to blood or under natural causes one finds some algae or virus that chemically turns all the water into a blood like color.

20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

As we see that under Hakaras HaTov (obligation for a good deed) Moshe was saved by the river and the river turned red when he entered the water therefore he could not smite the water. However, Aaron had no such a relationship with the inanimate river and therefore he could smite the river. We also see that with the dust because Moshe covered up the dead Egyptian in dust.

21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.

Have you ever been to a lake where a fish has died from being hooked and thrown back or killed by a fisherman and the small of a small fish can be dreadful. Now multiply this by hundreds of thousands maybe millions of fish and what a stench it must have been.

22 And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their secret arts; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.

Even the earth or sand could not filter out the blood or blood like color of the water so the magicians succeeded in turning hydrochloric or other clear acid and phenolpthalic solution into ‘blood’ but they could not succeed in reversing the process..

26 And the LORD spoke unto Moses: 'Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him: Thus says the LORD: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 27 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs. 28 And the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bed-chamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into your ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs. 29 And the frogs shall come up both upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.'

Frogs are under the guidance of HASHEM and at HIS command and with no free will, they will jump into ovens and as a reward HASHEM might make them into a mammal in a future life. The frogs which often children grab and capture for fun became disgusting from their odor, noise and the interference with everyday tasks such as walking, cooking dressing. Nobody likes frogs crawling in their clothing at all times or jumping into bed with them or choking them by jumping into their mouths as the people slept or talked.

More often than none I don’t have time to look back at previous posts to see that I do not repeat myself but sometimes and somethings after four years are worth repeating:

8:1 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Say unto Aaron: Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the canals, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.' 2 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 3 And the magicians did in like manner with their secret arts, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.

The magicians mastered the use of negative spiritual forces found usually in Shaddim (forms created after mankind and not completed before the Shabbos entered Gan Eden they are often mistranslated as demons). By harnessing Shaddim one could do a lot. The only positive legends of Shaddim are with Yosef Shaddah who was harnessed by our Sages in Talmudic times and became ‘Dumb Yossele the Golem of Prague’.

4 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said: 'Entreat the LORD, that He take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto the LORD.' 5 And Moses said unto Pharaoh: 'Have thou this glory over me; against what time shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, that the frogs be destroyed from thee and thy houses, and remain in the river only?' 6 And he said: 'Against to-morrow.' And he said: 'Be it according to thy word; that thou may know that there is none like unto the LORD our God. 7 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only.'

As you wish, I will remove the frogs but I know what will happen once the pests are removed. You maybe the king, but you are no better than the Hakaras HaTov of the wine steward to Yosef for two years.

From Rav Frand Shlita: Rashi on this Pasuk [verse] teaches that it was Aaron, rather than Moshe, was commanded to initiate this plague because the Nile protected Moshe when he was thrown into it as an infant. Therefore, Aaron initiated the plague of Blood and the plague of Frogs (in which the Nile was also smitten). The Gemara comments on this: A person should not cast stones
into the well from which he has drunk.

This is the principle of Hakaras HaTov [recognizing a favor]. We learn from here that Hakaras HaTov applies even when the doer of the favor is only doing what he is supposed to do anyway. The Nile merely floated the basket. That is the nature of water. It is a law of physics that something lighter than water floats on water. The Nile thus did not go out of its way to do anything special for Moshe. It just did what it has been doing since the beginning of time.

And yet, we still learn from here that there is an obligation of Hakaras HaTov. This dispels a common practice among people. It is the nature of people to say: "Why do I need to say 'Thank you'? Why do I need to have Hakaras HaTov? –- He had to do it anyway!"

Hakaras HaTov is not measured by the benefactor's efforts. It is measured by the impact on the recipient. When someone benefits from someone else –-
whether the benefactor did or did not need to provide the benefit, he did or did not have to do it, whether it was or was not a bother for him, the beneficiary has a responsibility to recognize that he owes a debt of gratitude. The proof is the Nile River. It merely did what water does and yet Moshe Rabbaynu felt a sense of Hakaras HaTov
RavFrand, Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and -------------------------------------------------------------------------
To support Project Genesis -, go to ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Permission is granted to redistribute, but please give proper attribution and copyright to the author and Both the author and reserve certain rights. Email for full information.

Speaking about Hakaras HaTov, note that earth covered up the dead Egyptian in Parshas Shemos and so it protected Moshe so here below we continue with the theme that Aaron brings on the plague. In modern Hebrew “KINNIM” is lice and not gnats. 12 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Say unto Aaron: Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.' 13 And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were gnats upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt. 14 And the magicians did so with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; and there were gnats upon man, and upon beast. 15 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh: 'This is the finger of God'; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken. This is the first time the magicians cannot hypnotize snakes or use trickery or witchcraft to move frogs and they have to admit that G-D is involved here. Why didn’t they realize it when Moshe’s staff swallowed their snakes and turned back into a snake – I figure that it must have been either fear of Pharaoh or losing their position with Pharaoh.

16 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him: Thus says the LORD: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 17 Else, if thou wilt not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 18 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end that thou may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. …

The separation from the land of the Bnei Yisrael and the Egyptians on how the plague effected the populace. “You will not get any of the plagues of Egypt”.

21 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said: 'Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.' 22 And Moses said: 'It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God; lo, if we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? The Egyptians worshipped sheep. 23 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as He shall command us.' 24 And Pharaoh said: 'I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away; entreat for me.' 25 And Moses said: 'Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow; only let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.' 26 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and entreated the LORD. 27 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 28 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. Just like some of the politicians today Pharaoh reneged on his promise as soon as things were smooth sailing for him. The J.H. Hertz Chumash indicates that it was beetles. However, the standard Midrashic commentaries report this was a mass migration of wild African Animals. If the lion or tiger has a choice of hunting a Zebra or Giraffe or a domesticated animal guess which he’ll hunt. The Midrash goes on to say that the Egyptians locked themselves in their houses and a giant octopus or squid put its tentacles inside via the window slot and unlatched the door so that the jungle could come inside. As you know many Egyptians lived by the river for eating, drinking, agriculture and toilet. Anybody for a pack of gibbons in your house, a few large man eating snakes in town or male chimps chasing after female humans? People were literally going Ape! Put a tiger in your tank anybody?

9:1 Then the LORD said unto Moses: 'Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him: Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks; there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4 And the LORD shall make a division between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.' 5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying: 'Tomorrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.' 6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

Maybe would enquire why the Bnei Yisrael are not suffering and you are could it be?

7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go. Here was a golden opportunity the Egyptians who feared the L-RD put their cattle inside and they lived and those who did not lost their cattle outside.

8 And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron: 'Take to you handfuls of soot of the furnace, and let Moses throw it heavenward in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.' 10 And they took soot of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses threw it up heavenward; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

Note the first 5 plagues there was a chance to let the Bnei Yisrael go by free will. Pharaoh hardened his own heart after this his heart is hardened for him. Up unto now Pharaoh and his immediate family were not affected now his wives and children will cry out unto him for fear of the terrible storm about to come. Any cattle that will be out that is the end of them. There were electrical fires within the hail from lightning. The oldest weather forecast in history:

18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. 19 Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; for every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.’ 20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses; 21 and he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

I am sure that I must have mentioned that even though the normal order of things would be that if the fish died in large quantities in the plague of blood that the tadpoles might not necessarily had been affected and without natural enemies, the fish, to attack them it would be natural for their population to grow. But what would make them cover the land like they did or get into every spot. The fact that the fish died at the tadpole development season was perhaps more than ordinary. The combination and timing of natural events makes it a miracle. Like the two or three incidences of babies crying and mommy picking them up in Gilo, near Schem, during the Gulf War and perhaps another case in Kiriat Shemona when almost instantaneous either a bullet or shrapnel landed on the crib. It is a natural event for a baby to cry and a mother to pick up the baby but just in time to save the baby’s life is something else.

Halachos from Danny Shoemann

Between my own medical hiatus during Chanucha and Danny taking a week off, we missed out on two weeks of Halacha. I felt last week that it was too late to post Hilchos Chanucha or Yod Teves.

If one is happy when seeing a very dear friend (including spouses, parents, siblings and teachers) after not having seen them for 30 days, one makes the Bracha of Shehechiyanu:
"Blessed... who has kept us alive, sustained us and permitted us to reach this occasion."
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁהֶחֱיָינוּ וקִיְּמָנוּ והִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה
One can make this Bracha even if one received letters from them during this time. If one has not seen them for more than 12 months one makes this Bracha instead:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, מְחַיֵּה הַמֵּתִים
"Blessed... who revives the dead".
This is because anything 12-months-old is considered to be forgotten. Therefore, if one communicated with them - or received regards from them - during the past 12 months, one says Bracha of Shehechiyanu. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:20

It is forbidden to hit a fellow Jew.

One who hits another Jew has transgressed a Torah prohibition.

Even one who simply lifts his hand with the intent to hit, is called "wicked" as we learned in last week's Parsha (Shmot); "[Moshe] said to the wicked one: Why are you going to hit your friend?" - even before he hit, he was referred to as the wicked one.

Hitting back in self-defense is permitted, if there are no other options.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 184:1

The Blizzard by R’ A.L.

The Northeastern United States has just experienced a winter blizzard of immense proportions, with the amount of snow that fell giving all those who experienced it a better sense of infinity. Perhaps one of the most incredible lessons to learn from the snow which seemingly blanketed a wide area relatively evenly and steadily in the tremendous degree of individualized Hashgacha Pratius that each and every person experienced with the storm. One person was able to go to Schul with great Mesirus Nefesh, another person went to Shul or Minyan that he usually does not go to, and third person was unable to go to Schul at all. One person's flight was cancelled so he was unable to travel to Israel as planned, another person's flight due to arrive in New York City was diverted to another city, where he had to stay for a day, and a third person made a swell of unexpected money by digging out his car and bring people to the airport to wait for flights. Those with the most powerful of cars realized that it is not in the might of the horse or the capabilities of the chariot that one relies, as they were stuck trying to turn into unplowed streets or spun their wheels on patches of snow or ice. This person's street was plowed, that one's were not; this person's neighbor had a snow blower and cleaned his walk so well, that person's son had to clean his walk and injured himself in the process, and a third person had to hire cleaners for a pretty penny. This person made it to the Chasuna and, as a part of the select few there, was able to be the Mekayem Simcha Chosson in an incredible way, that person's wife went into labor and not knowing what to do began boiling water ("we will never forget this"), and a third person was able to go to the store and help the four elderly couples on his block with food. Many viewed the opportunity as a gift from Hashem to learn extra hours (while others only used the opportunity to sort through papers). Some appreciated what it means to have the gifts of a roof over your head, gloves, a winter coat and hot soup, and others ignored the entire as "part of the winter", knowing that it would blow over and preferred to think about the summer, refusing to realize it as a unique challenge and test-with the billions of snowflakes especially designed by Hashem in His Omniscience for each individual in his own particular way. For those in the Northeast, the snow is still here, and there is much Avodas Hashem still to be done. For those outside of the area, they need not wait for a snow storm to be awakened to Hashem's Presence in each and every one of our lives.

Everybody who knows me personally knows that since the financial crises started my Kollel in Kiriat Sefer is basically up the creek without much of a paddle. I have never taken a penny for it and donated of course thousands of dollars. Being a former soldier with a son who was also front line the following hit home hard to me that I decided to write it of course my Kollel needs a few thousand dollars to get through the next few months Rav Mimram 5/2 Rehov .

To all my friends and clients,

Hi all,

Thanks for all your good wishes. Now that I am feeling better I need to get back to doing something constructive.

My wife recently returned from a mission trip to Israel on behalf of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. During the mission, the participants try to identify first hand the needs of the Israeli soldiers who so diligently fulfill their duty of protecting the State of Israel from terrorism. This is a way of life in Israel.

Unequivocally, the soldiers stationed along the West Bank, the ones who have to go into villages and seek out insurgents door to door, said that if they could have a fleece jacket, (one which is authorized by the army) to wear during the winter, it would make their jobs a bit easier. The Israeli army provides the standard field jacket which is heavy and cumbersome and makes it very difficult for the soldiers to conduct their operations effectively. Instead, they choose to go without jackets and the winter in Israel is bitter cold and wet.

Upon hearing this, I went a little crazy and asked the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces to commit me to 500 jackets. They have ordered the jackets through a manufacturer in Israel who will deliver the jackets at a cost of approximately $16 a jacket. A pittance for the benefit to be received by those soldiers who will wear those jackets.

I am therefore asking each and every one of you to help get me out of this bind! This is the season for giving and we have all been so blessed by the Almighty. Please decide if you can help me and see how many jackets you can take off my hands.

The jackets are needed now. Winter won't wait.

Please decide how many jackets you can underwrite on behalf of these wonderful young men and women and send me a check payable to the FRIENDS OF THE ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES for the proper amount at $16 per jacket. Your donation is tax deductible.

God bless you and your families during this holiday season as you help me help those who are truly in need.

I love you all!



Inyanay Diyoma

You will not find this story of Israel in the main media:,7340,L-4003931,00.html

Sometimes some news is good news:,7340,L-4004150,00.html

Re-election bid:

Not a punching bag:,7340,L-4005178,00.html

From Nancy: Napolitano appoints radical Muslim, Eibiary, to Homeland Security! Perhaps the hardest thing for Elibiary to explain away is his sharing the podium with a rabid anti-American and anti-Jewish speaker who has publicly pledged his loyalty to ...the Iranian regime, but he has offered several fantastic explanations for appearing at the December 2004 conference honoring the life and works of the "Great Islamic Visionary" Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Now for Matis Wolfberg’s Story: The tenth man: I would have jokingly called the Tzenter fielder in the game.

Good Shabbos Everyone. The Mensheviks (not to be confused with the Evil Communist Bolsheviks) took over the Russian government after the first World War. For the first time in decades Russian Jews could breathe a little and they enjoyed freedom. Everyone way happy; people were earning a living, especially those Jews who were fortunate enough to be in the diamond and jewelry business. The following story is told by a Jew who lived in that era.
"I, myself, was in diamond trade and things were going very well indeed, Every morning I was at my office in the diamond exchange at eight o'clock, and I was busy all day. One morning I happened to get up early and decided to go to my office to get some paper work done. I had my valise of diamonds and jewelry with me as usual.
As I was walking, I heard someone yell out, "A tzenter, a tzenter!" I turned and saw a man standing outside the small doorway of a tiny synagogue. He was looking for a tenth man to complete a minyan (prayer quorum of ten males over thirteen). When he saw me turn towards him, he shouted to me, "Come in, come in, we need you for a minyan!"
Realizing that I had some time to spare, I went in to be the tenth man. But, when I got inside, I saw that there were only three other men besides myself and the man at the door, who by now had resumed his searching for a "tzenter."
"What's this?" I said . "I'm not the tenth, I'm the fifth. It will take all morning to get ten men in here'" "Now don't worry!" he called back. "Lots of Jewish people walk these streets every morning. We'll have a tenth man in no time.
Frustrated that he had "trapped" me, I began reciting Tehillim (Psalms) for the next ten minutes. By that time all he had managed to find was one more person. I began to leave, but he started pleading with me. "Listen, it's my father's yahrzeit; I have to say Kaddish. Please stay. I'm trying to get the minyan together as fast as I can."
"I can't stay any longer," I protested. "I must be in my office at eight o'clock. And that's right now!',' At that point the man became nasty. "Listen," he said, "I'm not letting you out! I have yahrzeit; I have to say Kaddish! As soon as I get ten men together, we'll get it over with and you'll be able to go!"
I didn't want to agitate him any more, so I reluctantly went back to saying some Tehilim, another ten minutes passed and he had corralled only two more men. I began making my way towards the door again. This time he turned around from the doorway just as I was making my way past him. He pointed a finger at me and said, "If you had yahrzeit for your father, then you would want me to stay! Right? And I would stay I Now I want you to do the same for me!"
His pointing out to me how I would feel if I were in his shoes suddenly made me feel different about the situation. I resigned myself to losing part of the morning and decided, come what may, I would remain. About 8:30 he finally got his ten people together. I thought he would say a mishnah and then Kaddish. But no, he started near the beginning of the davening, right after Korbanos, with the first Kaddish D'Rabanan.
Impatient and exasperated, I looked at my watch and calculated at this rate I would not get to my office until well after nine o'clock. A number or times I looked around to see if an eleventh man had wandered in, so that I could leave and there would still be a minyan. No such luck. I was stuck there until they finished davening.
Once we finished, the man who had yahrzeit thanked all of us profusely, served some cake and whiskey and then let us leave. I began making my way to the office, still carrying my valise full of jewelry. When I came within two blocks of my building, a man I knew ran over to me, frantically waving his hands.
"Quick, get away!" he yelled at me wildly. "The Bolsheviks took over the government today and some of them came in and killed the Jews in the diamond exchange. They're now busy looting as much as they can. Run for your life!"
I did run for my life. I remained hidden for a few days and eventually I was able to get out of Russia. That was my reward for the mitzvah of being part of a minyan. You can well imagine what would have happened to me had I left the minyan early!" (P. 34 The Maggid Speaks, Rav P. Krohn)
We read about he power of prayer in this week's parsha. The Torah tells us about how the Jews cried out to Hashem in prayer, due to the oppression they were experiencing in Egypt. As the verse tells us, "..they cried out. Their outcry... went up to Hashem. Hashem heard their moaning and Hashem remembered His covenant with Avrohom, Yitzchok, and with Yakov." (Shemos 2:23-24) From here we see the that Geulah, the redemption from Mitzrayim - Egypt, began when the Jews cried out in prayer to Hashem.
The ideal place to pray is in a shul with a minyan. In fact, the Rambam, of blessed memory rules that "prayer with a minyan is always heard [by Hashem], even if the minyan contains sinners, Hashem will never be disgusted by the prayer of the many [in a minyan]. Therefore one must join a minyan, and must not daven alone as long as he can daven with minyan... [furthermore,] any person who has a shul in his town and does not daven there with a minyan, is deemed to be a bad neighbor." (Hilchos Tefilla 8:1)
The Chofetz Chayim writes in the Mishna Berurah that one who davens with a minyan will merit long life. (Shulchan Aruch, Oruch Chayim 90, M.B. 39). We saw this concept in the amazing story which we told above. Let us all therefore dedicate and rededicate ourselves to davening with a minyan whenever possible. Through davening with a minyan, Hashem will surely take us out of this Golus, just as He took out the Bnai Yisroel from Mitzrayim through their prayers.
Good Shabbos Everyone.

M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and hopefully next week during my travels I will succeed in distributing more Torah

Rachamim Pauli