Friday, January 27, 2017

Parsha Va'eira, story and Rosh Chodesh Tov

Parsha Va'eira a proper translation on the plagues

Rabbi A.L. asked to add the following names: Zvi Yechezkel Ben Leah, Menashe Ben Golda, Pinchas Alta Ben Sima. Zahava Bas Sara.

Eliezer David HaCohain Ben Naomi passed away Motzei Shabbos please stop praying for him. Shmuel Tzvi Ben Ita perhaps needs something once a week for the next month. His third operation appears to be as successful as one could hope for.

Parsha Va’eira

Moshe came to Mitzrayim with great hopes that Pharaoh would let the people serve HASHEM. As last week’s Parsha ends, Moshe is in the Nadir of his career. He has gotten Pharaoh to impose harsh sanctions on the Bnei Yisrael and his people are turning against him. To say that he feels down an out is an understatement.

Our Pasha is going to cover the first seven of the Makkos (literally punches) but translated as Plagues. Whether you are a Hebrew Speaker seeing Pharaoh’s ears being boxed or an English Speaker seeing Egypt being plagued, it is great punishment.

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.

You know ME by the full true NAME. For to them MY Might was enough.

But [with] My name YHWH, I did not become known to them: It is not written here לֹא הוֹדַעְתִּי, “but My Name YHWH I did not make known to them,” but לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי, “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].

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.

The people are about to gain access to living in the land. It should have been in the generation of Moshe and then no exile would have taken place at all!

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.

Contrary to the hidden nature of their slavery, I have been there and have heard their prayers. Now I have come to redeem them through you as MY prophet.

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;

I will not only deliver you, but I will impose great judgements on the Egyptians for their extra harsh treatment of you and not giving you the minimum human dignity.

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.

When you recall MY NAME, you will remember that I am HE who brought you out of Egypt.

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.' …

I keep my promises to 100 or 1000 generations.

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?'

In case Moshe had gained a little confidence in the beginning now at the nadir, he had completely lost it.

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. … 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.

You are my spokesman and I will have Aaron be yours.

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.

You, Moshe, should know the following from the beginning. You will request from Pharaoh and be refused by Pharaoh to have the people sacrifice in the wilderness. Pharaoh will continue to be harsh with you. First on his own accord and then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart. You will signs (אֹֽתֹתַ֛י) and wonders (מֽוֹפְתַ֖י) [google translates it as exemplary]. We need the original Hebrew here for the translation might make people think of our modern discussion of Nissim (miracles) and Niflaos (wonders).

But I will harden: Since he [Pharaoh] behaved wickedly and defied Me, and I know full well that there is no delight among the nations to make a wholehearted attempt to repent, it is better for Me that his heart be hardened, so that [I can] increase My signs and My wonders in him, and you will recognize My mighty deeds, and so is the custom of the Holy One, blessed be He. He brings retribution on the nations so that Israel should hear and fear, as it is said: “I have cut off nations; their towers have become desolate… I said, ‘Surely you will fear Me, you will accept reproof’” (Zeph. 3:6, 7). Nevertheless, in the first five plagues, it does not say, “And the Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s heart,” but “Pharaoh’s heart remained steadfast.” -[from Exod. Rabbah 13:3, 11:6; Tanchuma Buber, Va’era 22; Yeb. 63a]

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.

You are to expect this and in the end I will lay MY hand on him. Rashi says in the next Pasuk “A real hand” and then I will wreak upon the Egyptians judgements.

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.

Despite their advancing age, Moshe and Aaron did the will of HASHEM with rigor. Perhaps as I am just slightly under 70, I can appreciate this more.

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.' …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.

They must have been snake charmers but their rods could not swallow his and become rods again. Still - 13 And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken.

For if I were Pharaoh, I might think that this is a neat and new trick. If one does not learn the Torah from every angle including Pharaoh’s perspective, one is not learning Pshat.

14 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuses to let the people go.

Is heavy: Heb. כָּבֵד. Its Aramaic translation is יַקִיר [heavy], and not אִתְיַקַר [has become heavy], because it is the name of a thing [an adjective and not a verb], as in for the matter is too heavy (כָבֵד) for you (Exod. 18:18).

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.

The Egyptians had a sign that when the dog star aka Sirius would rise on a certain day of the year and that would be a sign that the Nile floods for irrigation would come. (Archelogy of the Pyramids). Rashi and the Medrash speak about Pharaoh going to take care of his needs in the morning at a certain hour and Moshe knew this from his days in the castle but it seems. Sirius would rise early in the morning and that was the start of their new year. The story here is consistent with the Medrash that would place the first Plague in Sivan in the early morning for in Kislev Sirius rises in the evening. For the Medrash tells us that each Plague lasted 7 days and then after 23 days the next plague.

A brief summary of the first 7 plagues:
A hard heart by Rabbi Berel Wein Shlita
Posted on January 3, 2008 (5768) By Rabbi Berel Wein | Series:  Level: Beginner

Stubbornness can be a virtue or a terrible character defect. When it is a virtue we call it tenacity. When it is a defect it is just plain foolish and counterproductive. Pharaoh’s stubbornness, as exhibited in this week’s Parsha, is an example. His advisers inform him that Egypt is headed for disaster because of his stubbornness but he refuses to give in to the reality of the series of plagues that threaten to decimate Egyptian society.
Of course the Torah tells us that his tenacity was reinforced by the fact that God hardened his heart. The commentators, especially Maimonides, judge that to mean that the Lord gave him the courage of his convictions not to be influenced by the events transpiring in his country but to continue on his evil path to enslave the Jewish people.
Hardening his heart did not influence Pharaoh’s choices in the matter. It merely allowed him to transform what previously appeared to be tenacity into ultimate foolishness and disaster. Hitler, Stalin, Mao and other such leaders displayed this same reckless stubbornness over the past century, resulting in the destruction of societies and the deaths of tens of millions of people.

Because of his behavior, Pharaoh becomes the paradigm for the self- destructive trait of foolish stubbornness. The Jewish people are also characterized as being a stubborn people. This trait has served us as well when we were and are tenacious in preserving our values and traditions. It is a foolish trait when we continue the policies and misbegotten certainties that have always led to our tragedies and misfortunes.
Rashi and Midrash teach us the source of Pharaoh’s suicidal stubbornness. It lay in his belief in himself as a god – arrogant and convinced of his own infallibility. People who are never wrong never have to change their policies, beliefs or behavior.
I am reminded of a sign that I once saw on the desk of a prominent public figure that said: “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is already made up!” He was joking about it (I think) but that danger lurks in all of us. Once we are convinced of the absolute rectitude of our position, we not only are tenacious in maintaining it, we become downright blindly stubborn.

Moshe meets Pharaoh at the river’s edge where he went to perform his bodily functions. Pharaoh is exposed there – not as a god but only as a mortal man. Moshe means to teach Pharaoh that the justification for his stubbornness – his sham sense of infallibility – is itself false. A little humility on the part of Pharaoh would have saved himself and Egypt a great deal of grief. That is why the Torah stresses that the desired quality for true leadership is humility.

Moshe becomes the paradigm for humility just as Pharaoh – his arch- nemesis – is the paradigm for arrogant stubbornness. This lesson of wise tenacity versus foolish stubbornness exists in all areas of human life and society – family, community, national policy and personal development. May we be tenacious enough in life to avoid foolish moments of harmful stubbornness.

Shabbat shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at

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.'

At this point there was no reason from Pharaoh’s standpoint to listen to Moshe or believe him. There was a case where the river turned to blood and that was after Pharaoh’s daughter lifted baby Moshe out of the water.

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 … 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.
26 And the LORD spoke unto Moses: 'Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him: Thus saith 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 thine 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.' …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 LICE throughout all the land of Egypt.'

The 1917 translation, which is now free on-line often is a lousy translation. It is easy to work with for it is not embedded. But if you need both a good translation and the Rashi go to: This also changes around the perspective and the film from National Geographic which I mentioned in last week’s blog for it is not gnats but lice and the next plague is not flies but noxious beasts.

… 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.

You will always find among the King James Goyim and some poor Jews who still have the 1917 translation “Flies”. Here is the Chabad translation: 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.

18 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of ferrous beasts shall be there; to the end that thou may 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.' ... 28 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.

In the first five plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. He could have been let off without any more plagues but once the sixth one started, he was beyond repentance.

… 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.

This is what we call plague today.

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 belongeth to the children of Israel.' … 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. … 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.'

This time Pharaoh and the people are warned of the seventh plague and a solution for both man and beast beforehand. Pharaoh wanted the people outside to spite the Bnei Yisrael.

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 … 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. …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.

Next week’s Parsha will start off with the 8th Plague which is locusts and they will finish off these two crops.

… 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. 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.

People don’t know this about me but my district was just short of votes to win Congress. They wanted to run me when I turned 23 just enough to tip the Jewish vote into winning. But by that time, the Democrat decided to become more Conservative from a Liberty Lobby rating of close to zero to about a 96 and I moved to Israel. Here is another story which you may find of interesting about a non-Jewish Congressional Candidate who converted.

African American Republican Congressional Candidate Turned Yeshiva Student

For some people, fitting into the status quo is soothing, comforting, peaceful. Not for me. For me, seeking a life of truth, has brought me peace. Knowing truth exists is comforting, and experiencing virtues of truth has been soothing to my soul.
Today I am a yeshiva student studying Torah full time. Before this, I was a Republican candidate for Congress. Before that, I was an entertainment executive. And before that, I was a Christian who was born in a small farm town, raised by thoughtful, hard working spiritual seekers.
My life can be broken up into chapters. Every page written through Life’s Experiences becomes more authentic, more vulnerable, more transparent, more empowered. The current chapter of my life could be titled “as the Torah takes him to a place beyond his imagination, while everyone watches.” Five months ago, I started learning at a yeshiva in Jerusalem called Ohr Somayach.  Yeshiva life is really intense, it consists of learning 10 or more hours a day. Six of those hours are spent learning Gemara and Mishnah, ancient Jewish collections of laws, wisdom and commentary. The other four hours are spent learning the five books of Moses (the Torah) and its commentaries in depth.
The biggest challenge for me so far has been language acquisition. At Ohr Somayach there’s a big focus on learning directly from the text. Only using Hebrew and ancient Aramaic, no English allowed. The rabbis speak English in the classes, but the reading is all in Hebrew/Aramaic. The goal is to give students the intellectual tools to go directly into the Torah, Gemara, Mishnah etc. in the original language themselves to find answers without having to go through an intermediary or translation.. And that is the very reason why I became Jewish in the first place — to find answers about life, about God, my place in His creation, through his Torah.
Learning in yeshiva and living in Israel has probably been the most exciting series of experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The beauty of Jerusalem is unexplainable, the culture, the history, the innovation is something that can only be understood through experience.
Prior to coming to Israel, I worked pretty much my whole life as an entertainment executive partnering with companies like Warner Brothers, Sprite and Myspace; just to name a few.
In 2014, I decided to get involved in politics and became the chairman of Jewish outreach for the California Republican Assembly. In 2016, I was the Republican nominee for US Congress in the 37th District (As Shariff Hazan) Running for US Congress was challenging. Unfortunately, I lost in the Los Angeles primary by 0.9 percentage points.  
Growing up my mom was a social justice professor in education at UCLA. Through her experiences I was able to see many of the challenges faced specifically in the African-American and Latino communities, even though I grew up in what would be considered the upper-middle-class suburbs.
My family was successful because I had two hard working loving parents, my father was an entrepreneur and my mother a social justice educator. I see many of these values are exemplified in Republican ideology. I would consider my parents Conservative Democrats — even though they voted for Reagan during the ’80s. I embraced the Republican value system because of the party’s belief in: family values, less dependency on government programs, smaller government — which are virtues needed in the African-American and Latino communities across America.
Running for Congress as the Republican nominee in Los Angeles was a prime opportunity to bring new ideas into communities in desperate need of social innovation. I believe in the power of human potential, and I believe that the potential can only be expressed in environments supporting individuality within a collective, entrepreneurship & strong family values. These are the very principles I was raised by.
I was born on a small farm in Springfield Ohio, close by to the university my father was attending. When I was 2, my mother’s father passed away, so my parents decided to move to Los Angeles where my mother was from and had grown up.
My path to Judaism was greatly inspired by my non-Jewish parents, both of whom dedicated their lives to seeking spiritual truths and reaching their potential as individuals. Both of my parents grew up with strong Christian background but in their early years of marriage they practice Sufism. Eventually, progressing to the teachings of Kabbalah, studying  at the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles.
My personal path to Orthodox Judaism started while attending the Kabbalah Centre about to 12 years ago. For me and my family, the Kabbalah Centre was an amazing place. Teaching us how to connect, personal development to the law and practices of Torah Judaism without having to convert to Judaism.
Before the Kabbalah Centre, my parents believed greatly in personal development, seeking mentorship and even therapy. For us the teachings of Kabbalah brought everything full circle, putting God, on the top of the pendulum.
Although, I loved being at the Kabbalah Centre. My desire to want to learn more about Torah and the practices of Judaism independently inspired me to leave the Kabbalah Centre to forge my own path. This was the beginning of my journey to Orthodox Judaism. The teachers at the Kabbalah Center supported my decision to journey on my own path.
After meeting with many different rabbis in Los Angeles. I found my home at Daat Torah with Rabbi Moshe Hafuta. The conversion process to Orthodox Judaism was very difficult taking close to two years to complete. The process of conversion was more than just learning about Judaism, as it was more about transforming the way I lived, the way I saw the world, the way I saw myself in the world.
What will the next chapters bring? Although dating is extremely difficult in the frum world (Orthodox world) in comparison to the non-Jewish world, I have total confidence eventually I will meet the right person, get married and start a Jewish family.
My political career is just getting started. I see myself eventually winning the congressional seat in the 37th district Los Angeles as a Republican. My long-term political aspiration is to play a major role in the decision-making of America, possibly even running for American president.
Currently my focus is continue learning in Jerusalem at Ohr Somayach. Towards the end of this year, I’m going to enter Ohr Somayach Smicha/rabbinical program where I will obtain the credentials to be an Orthodox rabbi.

I said to myself, “What would have happened if one of Richard Nixon’s daughters converted and I had married her in 1968?” Let us not condemn Gerim or Baalei Teshuva so quickly:

I have always wondered if Avram was warned that his children would be enslaved had prayed hard against it – if it could have been prevented? Many times I hear about drug addicted children, or married to a child. Disease here and there. I wonder if an ounce of preventive prayer is worth 1000 Refuah Prayers afterwards?

From Valerie a miracle that saved two Jews.

Bris Mila prevents in some cases even HIV:

Israel Army Radio will now be part of the Defense Dept. I wonder if all the songs will be Ashkenazi like now or half Sephardi?,7340,L-4912613,00.html

Killer worse than terror – poor Israeli Road Conditions:

Inyanay Diyoma

Leftists brainwashing an Ed-Op by Ben Dror Yemeni:,7340,L-4909768,00.html

Russia wants to influence Syria and wants Iran out.

More “secure” information stolen.,7340,L-4911015,00.html

ISIS leader reported wounded but this is not the first time reports have immerged.

Back in the days, he was Assad’s friend now they are rivals:

If the UN vote didn’t show Obama’s true colors this did with the PLO funding.

Bennett suggest a plan for Yehuda and the Shomron which is realistic:

Comptroller’s report shows Yaalon and Netanyahu withheld information from Bennett and Lapid in the Cabinet:,7340,L-4912022,00.html

Israeli who fought ISIS arrested in an Arab Country gag order:

Londonstan: Traffic warden strikes Charedim with helmet and he is taken off his motor-bike.,7340,L-4909873,00.html

From Lenny: I am told that Trump approves this message by Bill Clinton:

Building freeze ends besides Yerushalayim 2500 houses to be built in the Shomron:

Defense Minister says: “Next war in Gaza will end with them raising the white flag”. He talks great but politician:

IDF came under fire from the north and south:

Magic Wand/David’s Sling long range Missile Defense System can hit Iranian Missiles from Hezballah quickly.

There are two problems here at this time. 1) Finding a new secure facility outside of East Yerushalayim where the Consulate is. 2) The negotiations carrot and stick that Trump wants to do.,7340,L-4911934,00.html

285 terror attacks from Yehuda and the Shomron:,7340,L-4913490,00.html

US-Israel ties should be strengthened:

Miami, with a large Hispanic Community, decides to comply with the Presidential Order on Sanctuary Cities:

Good Shabbos, Chodesh Tov stay warm dry and healthy,

Rachamim Pauli