MEN: Eliezer David HaCohain ben Naomi, Asher ben Malka, Avraham ben Devorah, Zvi Yechezkel ben Leah, Aharon ben Rishol, Chaim Zev ben Faige Tova, Naphtali Moshe ben Tziporah, Shmuel ben Esther, Shalom Charles ben Gracia, Yoel ben Esther, Zev ben Rachel, Binum Benyamin Tuvia ben Chana Friedel, David Zvi ben Sara Leah, Mordechai Menachem ben Mindel, Yishai ben Leah Gizel
I am asking reader’s help for information if I still need to pray for Yehonatan Pollard or Adin Steinsaltz , Adin Yisrael ben Sarah, Yehonatan ben Malka, also I have a name on my list and I am uncertain who sent me these: Yacov David ben Gittel Chaya,
Women: Karen Neshama bas Esther Ruth, Chaya Melacha Rachel bas Baila Alta, Zvia Simcha bas Devora Yached, Bryna bas Gina Sara, Rachel bas Chana, Feige Rachel bas Taube, Hodaya Nirit bas Mazel, Leah Nikia bas Bertha Sarah, Rivka bas Idit, Kayla Rus bas Chaya Rachel, I am waiting for an answer on Dora bas Dorit from the lady who gave me her name.
Robert H. S. This saddens me. I am old enough to remember not the war itself, but the Eisenhower films shot by the U.S. Military that showed the horrors and inhumanity of the concentration camps. My father rarely spoke about the war however, I remember one particular time he spoke of people he knew who were from the underground and the horrible atrocities that occurred. In my life I have been fortunate to have seen these camps on my travels, to have spoken with survivors and to know a time when people joined together saying "This will never happen again." I am sad now because the films are not shown, the survivors are mostly gone and our schools no longer teach "This will never happen again." Today our schools and society have lost an idea of standards and now teach acceptance at any cost. We must never forget and anti-Semitism must die.
Revised commentary from last week: 15 And the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah; 16 and he said: 'When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, ye shall look upon the birthstool: if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.'
Shifrah: This was Jochebed, [called Shifrah] because she beautified [מְשַׁפֶּרֶת] the newborn infant. [From Sotah 11b] Puah: This was Miriam, [called Puah] because she cried (פּוֹעָה) and talked and cooed to the newborn infant in the manner of women who soothe a crying infant. פּוֹעָה is an expression of crying out, similar to “Like a travailing woman will I cry (אֶפְעֶה) " (Isa. 42:14). Rashi on Sotah 11b explains that she played with the infant to soothe and amuse him.
These according to the Sages were Yocheved and Miriam. However, Miriam would have been under 8 at the time and Yocheved close to 130 years old it does not jive with our reality. Rashi explains the names but the Pshat is that these are two women by those names and different from the mother and sister of Moshe Rabbaynu. The fact that the Torah explains “The name of one and the name of the other” appears to be specific names. The only other explanation is that Shiphrah means nurse like the Torah use of Avimelech and Pinacol with the Plishtim or Pharaoh in Mitzrayim.
6:2 And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him: 'I am the LORD; 3 and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name YHWH I made Me not known to them.
But [with] My name YHWH, I did not become known to them: It is not written here לֹא הוֹדַעְךְתִּי, “but My Name YHWH I did not make known to them,” but לֹא נוֹדַעְךְתִּי, “I did not become known.” [I.e.,] I was not recognized by them with My attribute of keeping faith, by dint of which My name is called YHWH, [which means that I am] faithful to verify My words, for I made promises to them, but I did not fulfill [them while they were alive].
It was more than this – the fathers had perfect faith and trust. In 400 years from now … Moshiach will come … so there was no need for calling upon the attributes of mercy to make miracles rather HASHEM made miracles for them as they went along. Yacov says, Ber. 32:11 I am not worthy of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast shown unto Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two camps. Miracles came to the fathers as HASHEM saw that they need. However after being slaves for 80 years in the depravity of Mitzrayim; the nation had sunk to 49 out of 50 grades of Tuma and were on the verge of going under. They need a Moshiach to make miracles to regain their faith.
This is in conflict with the Medrash that Moshe killed the Egyptian with the DIVINE NAME. Rabbi Berak Kochavi Shlita told me that the NAME was known beforehand but one of awe and now the attribute of Chessed is made known. However, we will see that as usual anything that is handed down on a plate without working for it is not appreciated and later on “We had watermelons and cucumbers in Mitzrayim…”!
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.
And also, I heard: Just as I established and set up the covenant, it is incumbent upon Me to fulfill [it]. Therefore, I heard the moans [complaints] of the children of Israel, who are moaning. whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage. I remembered: that covenant [which I made with Abraham], for in the Covenant between the Parts, I said to him, “And also the nation that they will serve will I judge” (Gen. 15:14).
Since there is no forgetting before HASHEM so why is it necessary to mention that I remember but only to awaken the thoughts of man and in a simple language as if.
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;
This Pasuk is quoted in the Haggada of Pessach and from here we read about the additional plagues at the sea.
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, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 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.'
Originally all of the Bnei Yisrael were scheduled to go into Eretz Yisrael if they wanted to leave Egypt and would not have listened to the spies.
9 And Moses spoke so unto the children of Israel; but they hearkened not unto Moses for impatience of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
because of [their] shortness of breath: Whoever is under stress, his wind and his breath are short, and he cannot take a deep breath. Similar to this [interpretation, namely that what is meant by I am the Lord is: I am faithful to fulfill My word] I heard from Rabbi Baruch the son of Rabbi Eliezer, and he brought me proof [of this explanation] from this [following] verse: “at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My name is the Lord” (Jer. 16:21). [Rabbi Baruch said,] We learn from this that when the Holy One, blessed be He, fulfills His words-even [when it is] for retribution-He makes it known that His name is the Lord. How much more so [does this expression apply] when he fulfills [His word] for good [because the Tetragrammaton represents the Divine Standard of Mercy]. Our Rabbis, however, interpreted it (Sanh. 111a) as related to the preceding topic, [namely] that Moses said [verse 22], “Why have You harmed…?” (Exod. 5:22). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “We suffer a great loss for those [the Patriarchs] who are lost and [whose replacement] cannot be found. I must lament the death of the Patriarchs. Many times I revealed Myself to them as the Almighty God and they did not ask Me, ‘What is Your name?’ But you asked, What is His name? What shall I say to them?’” (Exod. 3:13).  And also, I established, etc.: And when Abraham sought to bury Sarah, he could not find a grave until he bought [one] for a very high price. Similarly, [with] Isaac, [the Philistines] contested the wells he had dug. And so [with] Jacob, “And he bought the part of the field where he had pitched his tent” (Gen. 33:19), yet they did not question My actions! But you said, “Why have You harmed [the Israelites]?” This midrash, however, does not fit the text, for many reasons: First, because it does not say, “And My Name, ה they did not ask me.” And if you say [in response to this] that He did not let them [the Patriarchs] know that this is His name, [and nevertheless they did not ask Him, (and we will explain לֹא נוֹדַעְךְתִּי like לֹא הוֹדַעְךְתִּי, I did not make known,) I will answer you that] indeed, at the beginning, when He revealed Himself to Abraham “between the parts” (Gen. 15:10), it says: “I am the Lord (אֲנִי ה), Who brought you forth from Ur of the Chaldees” (Gen. 15:7). Moreover, how does the context continue with the matters that follow this [verse]: “And also, I heard, etc. Therefore, say to the children of Israel” ? Therefore, I say that the text should be interpreted according to its simple meaning, [with] each statement fitting its context, and the midrashic explanation may be expounded upon, as it is said: “‘Is not My word so like fire,’ says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’” (Jer. 23:29). [The rock it strikes] is divided into many splinters.
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?'
closed lips: Heb. עִרַל שְׂפָתָיִם, Literally, of “closed” lips. Similarly, every expression of (עָרְלָה) I say, denotes a closure: e.g., “their ear is clogged (עִרֵלָה) ” (Jer. 6:10), [meaning] clogged to prevent hearing; “of uncircumcised (עַרְלֵי) hearts” (Jer. 9:25), [meaning] clogged to prevent understanding; “You too drink and become clogged up (וְהֵעָרֵל) ” (Hab. 2:16), [which means] and become clogged up from the intoxication of the cup of the curse; עָרְלַתבָּשָָׂר, the foreskin of the flesh, by which the male membrum is closed up and covered; “and you shall treat its fruit as forbidden (וְעִרַלְךְתֶּם עָרְלָתוֹ) ” (Lev. 19:23), [i. e.,] make for it a closure and a covering of prohibition, which will create a barrier that will prevent you from eating it. “For three years, it shall be closed up [forbidden] (עִרֵלִים) for you” (Lev. 19:23), [i.e.,] closed up, covered, and separated from eating it. How then will Pharaoh hearken to me: This is one of the ten kal vachomer inferences mentioned in the Torah. — [from Gen. Rabbah 92:7] [I.e., inferences from major to minor, such as in this case. I.e., if, because of my speech impediment, the children of Israel, who have everything to gain by listening to me, did not listen to me, Pharaoh, who has everything to lose by listening to me, will surely not listen to me.]
According to tradition he stuttered and it was very hard to understand him. It could be that he spoke Hebrew fluently and stuttered in Egyptian or he stuttered in both.
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. …
The next Pasukim give a family background but only for the purpose of telling us who was Moshe and Aaron and therefore does not go into more than the first three born of Yisrael and not Yehuda and the rest of the brothers.
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 has no self confidence that he is good enough for the task.
But Moses said before the Lord: This is the statement [that Moses] stated above: “Behold, the children of Israel did not hearken to me” (verse 12). Scripture repeats it here because it had interrupted the topic [for the reasons given above], and this is customary, similar to a person who says, “Let us return to the earlier [topic].”
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.
I have made you a lord over Pharaoh: Heb. אֱלֹהִים, a judge and a chastiser, to chastise him with plagues and torments. — [from Onkelos and Tanchuma, Va’era 9] will be your speaker: Heb. נְבִיאֶ, as the Targum renders: מְתוּרְגְמָנָ, your interpreter. Every expression of נְבוּאָה (prophecy) denotes a man who publicly announces to the people words of reproof. It is derived from the root of “I create the speech (נִיב) of the lips” (Isa. 57:19); “speaks (יָנוּב) wisdom” (Prov. 10:31); “And he (Samuel) finished prophesying (מֵהִתְנַבוּת) ” (I Sam. 10:13). In Old French this is called predi(je) ir, advocate. — [based on Onkelos]
Don’t worry, I will put the words into your mouth!
At this point we have not seen one plague and Pharaoh will be given an opt-out with Moshe’s demonstration. It is not until Pasuk 17 that Moshe announces the Plague of Blood unto Pharaoh. The Parsha will then continue with the first 7 plagues.
… 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. 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.
with their magic: Heb. בְּלַהִטֵיהֶם [Onkelos renders בְּלַחֲשֵהון], [meaning] with their incantations. It [the word בְּלַהִטֵיהֶם has no similarity in the [rest of] Scripture. It may, however, be compared to “the blade of (לַהַט) the revolving sword” (Gen. 3:24), which seemed to be revolving because of a magic spell.
Not really magic but the art of snake charming. They used real snakes that appeared to be rods while Moshe used a real rod that turned into a real snake capable of swallowing the other snakes and returning to be a rod which the charmers were incapable of doing.
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. 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.
behold, he is going forth to the water: to relieve himself, for he had deified himself and said that he did not need to relieve himself; so, early in the morning he went out to the Nile and there he would perform his needs. — [from Mid. Tanchuma, Va’era 14; Exod. Rabbah 9:8]
This is a nice story and even possible for some of the lifetime of a Pharaoh, but humans relieve themselves sometimes more than once a day and as a baby, a toddler etc. surely he had to relieve himself and be wiped by a servant. Rather he went to bathe himself each day and perhaps had some religious ceremony with the rising sun for his divinity.
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.'
Pharaoh either said nothing and the status would not change or defy these slaves with a “try me” approach. Either way he brought the plague upon himself and Egypt.
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.' 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.
Aaron took the rod as Moshe was saved by the Nile had still Hakaras HaTov (gratitude) for saving his life and therefore only Aaron could smite the river.
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. 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.
The Egyptian Magicians knew about phenol thallic solution and adding a clear acid to turn to the color blood red but they could not reverse it or make the river reverse. The Medrash says that they had to pay the Bnei Yisrael before their digging produced clean water to drink. One think is for sure that Pharaoh had enough beer and wine to drink so he did not worry while the average Egyptian was in trouble and could not obtain drink.
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.'
Imagine the Mesirus Nefesh of the frogs who jumped into the ovens and people’s clothing and linens.
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.
They did this with the Sitra Acher or the other side of spiritual energy. Through the Koach of the Tumay, they governed the Shaddim (various shaped spiritual entities often mistranslated as demons. Some were positive such as Yosef who was used by the Sages and the Maharal to make the Golem.
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.'
Although there are people who eat frogs to many in their life and hundreds jumping and croaking in each house they were repulsive and the people were glad to get rid of them.
8 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh; and Moses cried unto the LORD concerning the frogs, which He had brought upon Pharaoh. 9 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. 10 And they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stank. 11 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken.
Up until this point Pharaoh had the magicians due similar things via Koach Ha Tuma (impure power) and therefore it was easier to harden his heart.
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 LICE 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 lice upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 14 And the magicians did so with their secret arts to bring forth lice, but they could not; and there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 15 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh: 'This is the finger of God';
The old and wrong translation of the King James and Jewish Publishing Society used gnats instead of lice and therefore the red coloring for the write translation. The reason why the term finger of G-D is used as the Koach Ha Tuma and Shaddim could not move the small lice.
But they could not: Because a demon has no power over a creature smaller than a barleycorn. — [from Sanh. 67b, Tanchuma, Va’era 14, Exod. Rabbah 10:7]
and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken. 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. For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will incite against you and against your servants and against your people and in your houses a mixture of noxious creatures, and the houses of Egypt will be filled with the mixture of noxious creatures, as well as the land upon which they are.
A mixture of noxious creatures: [which includes] all species of wild beasts, snakes, and scorpions in a mixture, and they were destroying among them [i.e., among the Egyptians]. There is a reason [given] for this matter in the Aggadah, [i.e.,] for each plague, why this one and why that one. Following a king’s war strategy did He come upon them [the Egyptians], according to the order of a kingdom when it besieges a city. First they [the King’s army] destroy its [the city’s] springs, and then they blow and sound rams’ horns to frighten them and confuse them; thus did the frogs croak and make noise, etc., as is stated in the Midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma (Bo 4).
The mixture is also mistranslated as flies. The creatures came out of the wilds of Africa and attacked the domestic animals and also humans.
18. And I will separate on that day the land of Goshen, upon which My people stand, that there will be no mixture of noxious creatures there, in order that you know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. 19 And I will put a division between My people and thy people--by to-morrow shall this sign be.' 20. The Lord did so, and a heavy mixture of noxious creatures came to Pharaoh's house and his servants' house, and throughout the entire land of Egypt, the land was destroyed because of the mixture of noxious creatures. 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 have a sheep god and we sacrifice 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. Moses said, "Behold, I am going away from you, and I will entreat the Lord, and the mixture of noxious creatures will depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow. Only let Pharaoh not tease anymore, by 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 Moses' word, and He removed the mixture of noxious creatures from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one was left.
And He removed the mixture of noxious creatures: But they did not die as the frogs had died, for had they [the creatures] died, they [the Egyptians] would have derived benefit from the [animals’] hides. — [from Tanchuma, Va’era 14]
28 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.
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 you refuse to let them go, and will hold them still, 3. behold, the hand of the Lord will be upon your livestock that is in the field, upon the horses, upon the donkeys, upon the camels, upon the cattle, and upon the sheep, a very severe pestilence. 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. 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.
The Hebrew word for the plague is Dever which we call plague today and Chabad uses pestilence as the translation (out of 5 plagues, I have had to use the Chabad translation for 2 of them and I translated one and below the Chabad translation has boils and blisters).
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 blisters 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. 13 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him: Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 14 For I will this time send all My plagues upon thy person, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. 15 Surely now I had put forth My hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and you have been cut off from the earth. 16 But in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exalted you yourself against My people, that thou will not let them go? 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. 22 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.' 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and the LORD caused to hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire flashing up amidst the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
Flaming within the hail: [This was] a miracle within a miracle. The fire and hail intermingled. Although hail is water, to perform the will of their Maker they made peace between themselves [that the hail did not extinguish the fire nor did the fire melt the hail]. — [from Tanchuma, Va’era 14]
Many of us have seen on news reports hailstones the size of baseballs and cars smashed by these hailstones in a fearsome manner. Imagine hours or days of such an event taking place with perhaps lightning within the hail. There is even a theory that the Stromboli Super Volcano exploded at that time causing the hail, plague of darkness etc. Again miracles happen often with natural causes and it is a matter of being there or not being in the path of danger at the correct time.
25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them: 'I have sinned this time; the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat the LORD, and let there be enough of these mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.' 29 And Moses said unto him: 'As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread forth my hands unto the LORD; the thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that you may know that the earth is the LORD'S. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God.'-- 31 And the flax and the barley were smitten; for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten; for they ripen late.-- 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread forth his hands unto the LORD; and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.
You still do not fear: Heb. טֶרֶם ךְתִּירְאוּן, you do not yet fear, and so every [instance of] טֶרֶם in the Scriptures means “not yet,” and it is not a term meaning “before.” [This is] like טֶרֶם יִֹשְכָּבוּ, [which Onkelos renders:] עַד לֹא שְׁכִיבוּ, “They had not yet retired” (Gen. 19:4); טֶרֶם יִצְמָח, [which Onkelos renders:] עַד לֹא צְמָח, “neither did…yet grow” (Gen. 2:5). This too means the same. [I.e.,] I know that you still do not fear [God], and as soon as relief comes, you will continue in your corruption. — [from Onkelos]
34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
Even the potential of earning a lot of money should not void this fixed
time. In an emergency, at the very least you should learn one Pasuk or one Halacha, and remember to catch up on your daily quota when you free up.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 27:1
The fence must be at least 10 Tefachim (80 cm - 30") high and must be strong enough that a person can lean on it and not fall. A roof that is never used does not need a fence. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1 There are authorities who hold 10 Tefachim are about 40 inches or 1 meter.
Similarly one may not own a dangerous dog nor a shaky ladder. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1-2
However, if an animal is causing harm to humans, or can be used to help cure humans, then one may kill it (as humanely as possible) for we see that the Torah allows one to eat meat.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 191:1
On Friday it's a Mitzvah to get up early to go shopping for Shabbat this can even be done before Shacharis if need be (as long as you don't miss your Minyan).
However, items that require preparation should be bought on Thursday already. Ezra the Scribe (who lived about 2,500 years ago) already instituted doing laundry on Thursday in anticipation of Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:4
This week is Shabbat Mevarchim of Chodesh Shevat. Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on Wednesday Shabbat Shalom u Mevorach – Danny Note this also appeared last week but this time Rosh Chodesh will be on Wednesday.
Every person is capable of wondrous creativity. Every person can learn to play the piano, create improvisations, and compose music. How do I know? Years ago, I was a music major at Cal Arts, the California Institute of the Arts, where all non-music majors are required to take two years of piano lessons. I was asked to head the Secondary Piano Program, teaching piano to all the non-music majors.
Each semester, I had a hundred students. Three out of four of them entered my class not knowing how to play piano at all. Moreover, most of them thought that they had no musical talent. Within two years, every one of them not only learned to play the piano, but became expert at musical composition and improvisation. What was my secret? No secret at all. Judaism teaches that every person is a Tzelem Elokim, created "in the image of God." Though only God is the ultimate Creator, Who can create something from nothing, every person created in God's image can create something from something. Creativity is a spiritual process which, because we are all spiritual beings, is accessible to all of us.
Some people are more talented than others, and I'm not saying that everyone will end up performing in Carnegie Hall. But if you have a soul, you can create. Anyone who has the notion that the world of creativity is reserved for a special few simply has not yet tapped into the rich and deeply spiritual world of creativity that exists for all. Everyone can tap into the holy world of music.
Spiritual Piano Playing is accomplished by making oneself a pure instrument for God's music. The problem is not how to create music; the problem is how to remove the impediments that block the music that's flowing from the transcendental Source. To become a creator, the student's work is to allow his or her vessel to empty of all the egoistic blockages, so that God's music can flow through him or her. At the height of the creative process, the musician/artist/writer feels animated by a Higher Source. They often say, "My hands are playing, but the music is coming from the One Above."
The opposite of the creative process is self-criticism. Most children grow up with heavy doses of criticism from well-meaning parents and teachers. Whatever the child does is either "bad" or "wrong" or "not good enough." Children internalize this criticism, carrying it with them into adulthood as self-criticism; it becomes the dam that blocks all their creative energy. Spiritual Piano Playing requires the opposite of criticism. To improvise, the student must stop trying to criticize, censor, and control, and instead allow music to emerge freely, without judgment, from the soul within. To improvise on the piano (or to paint or write, etc.) the student must suspend all self-judgment. (The time for editing is after the piece is created, not during the creative process. There is, in all of us, a Yetzer HaRa, a negative, destructive force, the voice of ego, which rasps: "That sounds stupid... I feel silly... That theme is boring... I made a mistake... I can't play it well enough... What will others think of this composition?" For creativity to take place, this voice must be ignored.
I tell my students not to listen to these self-judgmental messages, to turn them off like a radio interfering with our piano lessons. When my students are improvising, I give them complete approval, without any judgmental feedback. I tape their improvisation, and play it back to them. Even with very young students, the fact that I valued their composition enough to record it builds their self-esteem and frees them to compose even more beautifully. I tell all of my students: "There's no such thing as a mistake -- only a creative opportunity. Anytime a note gets in that a student didn't mean to play, I teach the student how to make it work within the piece or how to use it as a starting point to move into a different section with the music.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of a teacher intently listening to a child‘s needs and desires. Too often, teachers automatically take so much control in lessons, seeking to mold the child into a young imitation of themselves that they actually squash the young student's innate quest to learn and create. Listening to one's student's needs non-judgmentally, and balancing this with guidance, is a difficult feat. Giving direction is a natural inclination for a teacher, but it often interferes with allowing the student's creativity to emerge from within. To allow creativity to emerge, teachers need to let go of their own personal expectations and agendas for their students.
Most piano teachers ignore the individual leanings of each particular student. They give the students a set amount of time to learn each piece, whether the piece is a favorite of the child's or one that he dislikes. This mechanical approach is diametrically opposed to the spiritual approach, which affirms the Divine essence of every student. A computer can play with virtuoso dexterity, but only a Divine soul can play with "soul," with feeling. Only a Divine soul can create.
FROM FAILURE TO SUCCESS
Lisa (not her real name) was 12 years old. She was learning disabled, with ADHD. Lisa couldn't sit still or concentrate, couldn't absorb or learn anything, couldn't retain information, was failing in school, and had no friends. Though she behaved with certain bravado, this was a cover-up for low self-esteem. Lisa's parents brought her to me. "Please give our daughter something she can succeed in!" they begged. "Something that will help her to feel good about herself."
My approach is to enter the child's inner world, with acceptance and without any judgments. I had Lisa improvise at the piano. She would compose a few bars of music and transcribe them onto music paper. Then I'd ask her to visualize a title for her melody, and put lyrics or a story to the music, to draw a picture illustrating the song. I would ask her to dance to the rhythm of the song. Thus the full range of Lisa's creativity was tapped. And for everything she did, I gave her only positive feedback, with no criticism at all. As the months went by, Lisa herself began to make requests about what she wanted to learn. She wanted to learn how to read music, she said and how to play classical pieces. Since every step was coming from her own personal will, her motivation to learn was extremely high. She learned with lightning speed.
As her self-confidence grew, Lisa also did better in school.
In order for this process to succeed, I knew that her family's support was crucial. I taped the numerous compositions that Lisa composed, and suggested that she share the recordings with her family. Meanwhile, I encouraged Lisa's family to pay close attention and to seek out some merit in every piece that she composed. Soon, Lisa was setting up performances in her home, playing her compositions, arrangements, improvisations, and classical pieces. Her family listened carefully and pointed out what they liked about each piece. Lisa's self-confidence grew.
As her self-confidence grew, Lisa also did better in school. A few years went by, and Lisa could read and transpose music. She had capable classical piano skills. She could perform, compose, arrange, and improvise, as well as write lyrics. Lisa became an excellent singer, joined a choir, won the lead in several of her high school plays, and became a phenomenal poetess. She composed 15 amazing pieces of music in various styles: Jewish, Broadway, classical, etc. Later still, Lisa created operas and plays. Today this formerly learning-disabled child is a brilliant, prolific, and successful professional composer.
Music is, by nature, therapeutic. Once you learn how to improvise, you can express on the instrument whatever you're feeling. It's sort of a musical homeopathy. If you're feeling depressed, you don't decide that, since depression is something bad that you shouldn't be feeling, you'll play happy music to try to counteract it. Instead, you play music that matches how you feel. As you improvise the music that expresses whatever state of mind you're in, without judging it, the music naturally transforms into a different state, usually positive, and you transform along with it.
A person who learns this spiritual approach to creativity will never be hampered by "writer's block" or its corresponding version in other art forms. As long as we believe that the creative expression is coming from us, we're vulnerable to dry periods and "not being in the mood." But when I believe that my creative expression flows through me from a Higher Source, then I'm connected to an inexhaustible Source of inspiration, at all times and in all moods. Especially with children, the spiritual approach to music lessons can make the difference between an unpleasant and pleasant experience (How many adults remember with horror their childhood piano lessons?) and a fascinating journey into the child's inner kingdom.
The essential ingredient here is respect for the child's inner world. An adult has much to learn from it. This kingdom consists of the child's life experiences, feelings, worldview, strengths and weaknesses, values, self-image, past traumas, places that need to heal, and, of course, his soul. When tapping into a student's inner reservoir, the teacher continually discovers what direction the child needs to take with his or her music not only in order to learn new skills, but also to create, grow, heal, and become transformed. Since life and human beings are always changing, teachers need to continually re-tune into their students' inner world.
When the teacher enters the student's inner world, without judgment, the child then learns how to safely enter this sacred world by him/herself. Once this occurs, the child can explore limitlessly and grow in multiple directions by engaging in the creative process.
In this way, Spiritual Piano Lessons are life lessons. This article originally appeared in © Mishpacha Magazine 2006
Shoshannah is a composer pianist, educator, therapist, and recording artist whose work has led her from concert halls to multi-media events such as dance, theater, TV, radio and film. Her mission is to bring spiritual unity, peace, and compassion to the world through music.
A recognized child prodigy, Shoshannah began composing and improvising on the piano at age six. By the time she was nine, Shoshannah was winning piano competitions and solo performing continually, including several performances at Carnegie Hall, Camay Hall, and Steinway Hall. Shoshannah went on to win major piano competitions for seven consecutive years, and seemed destined to become a serious concert pianist. Unknown to her teacher, however, Shoshannah had never stopped composing and improvising her own music. Her irrepressible creativity and diverse musical interests would soon inspire her to follow a unique musical path. That path would lead Shoshannah to the California Institute of the Arts, where she studied with Leonid Hambro, Mel Powell, Morton Sobotnik, and other highly acclaimed composers and pianists such as Aaron Copeland, Steve Reich, Earle Brown, and Bill Douglas. At the university, Shoshannah immersed herself in classical, world, and Avant Garde music, and further developed her improvisational technique.
While still a student, she pioneered Cal Art's Creative Improvisation Piano Program, and was given charge of the Secondary Piano department. Today, Shoshannah has a revolutionary Music Therapy and Piano Teaching approach that she presently offers in Jerusalem and New York.
After college, Shoshannah began touring extensively throughout Israel, Switzerland, and the United States, exploring her love of different musical traditions. Performing on piano, synthesizer, and percussion, she appeared and played with a wide range of masterful musicians, including Reb Shlomo Carlebach, Giora Feidman, Glen Velez, Laraaji, David Darling, Salieu Suso, Suru Ekeh, Sayyd, Ladji Camara, and Baba Olitunji.
Settling in New York City, Shoshannah continued to compose, perform, teach piano, and produce commissioned works for dance, theater and film. She appeared in concert at such well-known venues as Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Hall, and the Jerusalem Theatre. Shoshannah created her first piano solo release, "Sanctuary," a deeply evocative and healing solo piano work that explores the full range of human emotion with sweeping power and delicacy. Shoshannah's piano is both powerful and sublime, passionate and reflective. "Sanctuary" blends New Age, Classical, and Middle Eastern rhythms into such themes as hope, forgiveness, and compassion. These compositions are focused, highly visual, melodic and healing.
A couple of years later, Shoshannah moved to Jerusalem and experienced a profound spiritual opening that transformed both her life and music. From that point on, G-d became the singular inspiration and focus of her creativity. She became the vessel through which Divine love flowed through as music. Effortlessly, Shoshannah's music began to change. It became simple and pure, flowing with a grace and gentleness filled with light. Her second piano album, "Gifts From Heaven," fills the listener with a mystical sweetness that opens the heart to receive Heaven's loving gifts for each one of us. The solo piano CD was inspired by the composer's experience in the Holy Land and its healing ancient melodies. Year after year, "Gifts from Heaven" is considered by fans as Jerusalem's most popular spiritual healing CD. "Tzaddik's Deli" located within Jerusalem's Old City Walls, continuously plays Shoshannah's music as thousands of tourists daily approach the famous steps that lead down to the Holy Western Wall / Kotel.
Shoshannah's third piano release, "Soul Journey," is recorded live "in the moment" from a spontaneous outpouring of the soul. Nine inspired piano expressions reveal a rich spectrum of musical styles and moods, illuminating the spirit. Each piano improvisation expresses a unique story of the human soul journey. Bill Binkelman of New Age Reporter gave Soul Journey a 2006 honorable mention.
"Deep heart Awakening," a 2009 piano solo release and fifth to date, is described as Spiritual Cinematic Solo Piano. Each piano composition portrays an ancient sacred or historical experience, and brings it fully to life. "Deep heart" conveys spiritual messages from the ancient past with themes of hope, liberation, transformation, and redemption. Shoshannah's technically dazzling original piano ranges from uplifting and passionate dance rhythms to delicate and sublime melodies that soothe the soul" - Kay Gardner. "Deep heart Awakening" musical themes include Manna from Heaven, the Sea that Split, Clouds of Glory, and Hope.
Shoshannah's up-coming 2010 CD Eternal Love is a truly loving and compassionate listen. David Darling, improvisational cellist and 2010 grammy award winner for best CD joins up with Shoshannah's improvisational piano.
Shoshannah's up-coming piano release, "Rivers Of Light," has been described as "rhapsodic, joyous and flowing, like an unending river of life force." Its gentle, uplifting momentum invites the listener to become a partner in creation, revealing the Divine Presence in our every action and relationship. Shoshannah's enchanting piano compositions personify the flowing of water through eternal light, bringing ultimate healing, peace and harmony to a world that was once broken.
Today, Shoshannah shares her time between Jerusalem and New York. She has successfully produced four original piano recordings, and three new titles are planned within the coming year. Her diverse musical style combines a sacred tapestry of New Age, World, Classical, and a dash of Jazz that is deeply healing, heartful and uplifting. Shoshannah's piano compositions were chosen for the top 50 "Whisperings Piano Artists" of 2007.
Shoshannah teaches piano lessons to children and adults, using an original approach that is creative, therapeutic and spiritual. She originated "Piano Therapy" and is currently writing a book on her therapeutic music learning approach called "Creative ImproviZation". Her piano lessons and piano therapy promote self-acceptance, inner confidence and creative process through soul connection.
Shoshannah has a private practice in healing therapies to heal a wide range of emotional and physical maladies. Her therapeutic practice includes progressive mind body tools such as TAT and EFT energy therapies, emotional release work, Piano Therapy TM, and Dr. John Sarno's TMS mind body education. For the past several years, Shoshannah has regularly volunteered her trauma healing services and has donated her healing piano music to Terror Victim Organizations in Israel. See also: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/shoshannah/id4122905
their numbers 1-5 and letters A-G. Dee works closely with parents on individual student needs, addressing both musical instruction and issues involving behavior and anxiety as well as weak muscle tone and short attention span. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls4fl4QLv7E&feature=player_embedded
The Jews of the Amazon http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/jews_of_the_amazon/?lang=en
In the 19th century, the rubber boom in South America brought about a social and economic transformation of the Amazon region. Thousands of immigrants from the other side of the Atlantic, including numerous young Moroccan Jews, made their way to South America searching for better opportunities. Initially, they didn’t intend to stay, but many of them eventually married local women and settled in the area. Nonetheless, the young Moroccans Jews instilled their descendants with a strong sense of Jewish identity.
Many of their descendants continue to bear typically Moroccan Jewish family names such as Cohen, Ben-Zaken or Ben-Shimon, while their external appearance is remarkably local. In recent years, a growing number of these Jews of the Amazon have begun to reconnect with their heritage, leading several hundred to make Aliyah.
The first exclusive rundown on US, Saudi and Israeli war preparations against Iran is offered in the coming DEBKA-Net-Weekly out next Friday. This issue also studies the points of consensus and dispute among the three on goals and priorities: The US and Saudi Arabia are set to unblock the Strait of Hormuz, whereas the US and Israel focus on curtailing Iran's work on a nuclear bomb. Military coordination is marred by mistrust. So Riyadh and Jerusalem are capable of going it alone.
Thank you for contacting the OU. Halacha is extremely sensitive to matters of health, to the extent that chamira sakanta meisura (life-threatening health concerns generally take precedence over Halachic restrictions). Nonetheless, as a kashrus agency, the expertise of the OU is limited to the domain of kosher supervision, and the evaluation of the health status of a product is beyond the scope of the OU’s mandate. There are government agencies that are entrusted with the responsibility of insuring the safety of food items, and the OU certifies products that meet the criteria of public health and safety requirements. Please do not hesitate to contact us again should you have any further questions.
Sincerely, The Web(be) Rebbe Orthodox Union Kashruth Division Visit us online at: www.oukosher.org
The question is the temperature at which the pork or chicken is poured on to the lettuce and if it can accidentally be eat as shown in the film and the waxy color on corn etc.
US, Israel in open rift over Iran: Big joint military drill cancelled http://www.debka.com/article/21652/
Good Shabbos Everyone. Anyone wishing to see proof of the existence of Hashem, need only lookat the Jewish people. We are a nation that by all estimates, should havebeen destroyed long ago. We are small among the nations. However, after years of persecutions, banishments, burnings, gassings, torturing and exterminations, Am Yisroel is alive and well.
We read about the indestructibility of the Jewish nation in our Torahportion this week Shemos. The Torah tells us about how Moshe Rabeinu (our teacher) saw a prophetic vision in the form of a burning bush. The verse tells us"…behold! The bush was burning in the fire but the bush was not consumed." (Shemos 3:2) The Midrash tells us that the bush symbolizes Yisroel. Although the nations may try to destroy us, we are not consumed… we will never be consumed.(Midrash Rabbah, Shemos [Margolios] 2,14) We are the eternal nation.
The Jewish Nation has ridden the storm of many generations of persecution. Unfortunately, some Jews have fallen away, by intermarrying and assimilating. However, no matter how far a Jew may stray, he still retains his membership in the eternal nation. The following amazing true story describes one Jew's return.
Vietnam in the late 1960’s was a dangerous place. Especially for a Robert Silverman, a Jew from Bayside, New York. As Robert lay in the jungle on that hot and humid night in Vietnam, many thoughts raced through his mind. The real question just now was, should he do netilas yadayim or not? There was a stream about 800 feet away; he could get water there. Then again, the enemy, the Vietcong weren't far away either. Crawling even that far could cost him his life. As Robert weighed the options, he began to wonder how he had ended up in such a bizarre situation. Until shortly before being drafted into the army, Robert had heard neither of Vietnam nor of netilas yadayim.
As he looked up into the Southeast Asian sky, he thought back to Bayside and his childhood. He had attended public school, and three times a week went for "Hebrew instruction" at the local Conservative Hebrew School. The main purpose was simply to learn enough Hebrew to read his “half-Torah” which he eventually learned from a tape recorder. Graduation from Hebrew School and his Bar Mitzvah marked the end of his involvement with Judaism.
He never set foot in a shul again until his grandfather passed away. Then his father, by no means a religious man, suddenly started going to minyan every day. When Robert questioned his father about his sudden resurgence of interest in religion, his father replied, "I'm saying Kaddish for my father. His soul won't get rest unless I say Kaddish every day for him.” Robert figured that his father would abandon this ritual after a week or two. To his astonishment he was mistaken. His father took the responsibility quite seriously and made sure to go to shul every day. A few times Robert accompanied his father. Overall, Robert was impressed that his father took on such consistency for 11 months.d
In the fall of 1965 Robert left for college in Oneonta, New York. The summer following his graduation, Robert was hit with misfortune: his father's sudden heart attack. Robert rushed from his job to the hospital. Looking down at his father who lay in bed, Robert knew the condition was serious. He took a seat at his father's right. "Dad. I'm here. Can you hear me?"
Mustering the little strength left in his body Mr. Silverman responded in barely audible tones, "Bobby, Thank G-d you're here. I..." The strain of talking seemed too much for him. Yet like so many times before, he persevered: "I want you to make one promise to me. You're my only son. Say Kaddish for me if I don't make it this time.” Through his tears, Robert said he hoped the occasion wouldn't arise for many years to come. But he knew he could not refuse the request, and finally choked out, "I promise.” His father seemed suddenly at peace, and closed his eyes in easy sleep.
Unfortunately his Kaddish duty took effect only a few days later. Robert felt the loss, and also remembered the promise he had made. Just as his father had, following the shiv'ah he went to synagogue to say Kaddish. He found that the only shul in his neighborhood which had daily services was the local Orthodox shul, Ahavas Torah.
Rabbi Jacobs, the rav of the shul, immediately took a liking to the young man who struggled so hard with his Kaddish, and seemed so intent on keeping his father's last wishes. During Shacharis the young man seemed lost, only catching himself when it came time for Kaddish. He even needed signals from Rabbi Jacobs to know when to start, and thankfully, the Rabbi willingly gave them.
Little by little, with Rabbi Jacobs encouragement, Robert became more active in the shul. He first attended a few of the Rabbi's classes, then began accepting Shabbos invitations. Had there been a baal-teshuvah yeshiva at the time, Robert would have been a prime candidate. This was ten years too soon, however, and America was busy waging war in Vietnam. Soon after, Robert received his draft notice.
Shortly following his eleven months of Kaddish, Robert knocked on Rabbi Jacobs' door. "Rabbi, I just came to say goodbye. It looks like the [military] will be shipping me to South Carolina soon for basic training. It's going to be real hard for me to keep any of the 613 mitzvahs. So tell me, Rabbi - pick one for me. Which one of the mitzvahs should I keep no matter what?"
The Rabbi thought for a while. Who could answer such a question? Too difficult an assignment would end in failure. Shabbos? Kashrus? Tefillin? Robert clearly wasn't ready to tackle these. Suddenly the Rabbi's face lit up. "Robert, I have just the right one. Make sure you do netilas yadayim every time you eat bread, even if you don't say the blessings over the food, even if you don't bench, and even if the bread is not kosher.”
“Netilas yadayim?" said Robert with trepidation. “Yes. It's a mitzvah that won't put undue pressure on you, since nobody will think twice about your washing your hands before eating. Keep that one mitzvah as well as you can, and remember, any mitzvah will protect you even in the direst circumstances. Best of luck to you, and write me when you get the chance.”
During basic training, and even when he was shipped out to the base in Vietnam, Robert had little difficulty in performing this mitzvah. Nobody noticed anything strange about his desire to wash his hands before eating bread. But finally about six months after being stationed in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the first real difficulty developed.
One night, the platoon was sent for a late-night raid on the fringes of the enemy lines. It wasn't long before the shooting began, and it soon developed into a full-scale battle. A few of his comrades had dropped and the remainder of the unit was trapped behind enemy lines.
After a few hours' lapse in the fighting, some of the soldiers recalled their hunger: in fact, they hadn't eaten for the major part of the day. They began to take out their combat rations of oranges, sardines, and bread. Robert was about to join a few of his colleagues when he remembered netilas yadayim!”
He quickly and quietly broke from the camp, to his destination, a small stream he had seen about 800 feet away. It didn't matter that this excursion was insanely dangerous; no argument could convince Robert to abandon it. He had promised the Rabbi, and it was in memory of his father, too. That was that.
He slipped, silent and alone, towards the stream. Crawling on the ground like a snake slithering through the forest, Robert quickly reached his destination. He poured water over his hands, delighted that even in this combat situation he was able to keep his mitzvah. It was just after he finished pouring the cup of water over his other hand when he heard the gunfire. There was the rapid-fire of machine guns, piercing the stillness of the jungle in a long barrage of thunderous noise. For what seemed like hours, Robert remained hidden in the grass, long after the last sounds of the bullets had faded. Mustering up his strength, he slowly slithered back to his unit to find not one of them alive...(The Monsey-Kiryas Sefer Express, R.Z. Roth. p.124 names have been changed) Good Shabbos Everyone. sponsored by Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah