JANUARY 17-19 2003 15 SHEBAT 5763
"This is my G-d and I will adorn Him" (Shemot 15:2)
As the Jews crossed the Red Sea, they saw a clear perception of Hashem. As a matter of fact the Sages teach us that the maid-servant that crossed the Red Sea saw more of Hashem than the prophet Yehezkel. Rabbi Avigdor Miller writes that the word "this" denotes clarity of perception and true knowledge , as if they were viewing the Shechinah and pointing to it with their finger. This was the elevated level of knowledge of Hashem which they attained at that wondrous time of the splitting of the sea.
There is nothing like having a clear understanding of something. At times it takes a special talent to make an idea clear. Rabbi Yehudah Tzadkah, the Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef, had that special talent. One time he visited an elementary school in Israel and he wanted to convince them of the importance of going to a great yeshivah to study Torah. He asked them the following question: Suppose you were walking along a road near a river, and you saw two people drowning in the river. One is the king and one is a hacham. Who must you save first? The children called out, "The king!" Rabbi Tzadkah told them that is the wrong answer; you must save the hacham first! The Rosh Yeshivah continued, "Look! Look! My precious students! Look at what level you can reach. You can become more important than a king if only you will study hard, and study day and night, you can reach the highest level."
My friends, there is nothing like clarity. Rabbi Tzadkah was clear and he knew how to make it clear to his children. This is probably why he was so successful with so many children. The question remains, however, do we have it clear that there is nothing greater than becoming more important than a king? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
As we sit and eat our variety of fruits and delicacies this Shabbat, which is Tu Bishbat, we should take a moment and dwell on the significance of this day. The custom is to make berachot on different species of fruits and nuts, especially those which Eress Yisrael is noted for, such as grains, wine, etc. By doing so we cause Hashem to bless these items, which in turn produce more bounty.
When we say Boreh Nefashot, the after-blessing for many foods, the blessing encompasses two main categorties: Our necessities ("Boreh nefashot rabot vehesronan"), like bread and water, and all the luxury foods with which man could live without, but make life so enjoyable ("Al kol mah shebarata lehahayot bahem"). On both of these we thank Hashem in the Boreh Nefashot. During Tu Bishbat, when we see the vast abundance of special fruits and nuts that Hashem created for our enjoyment, we should be ever grateful that He gave us so many ways to enjoy this world.
Another lesson for Tu Bishbat is the following. It is freezing outside and all trees have shut down for the season. However, the Rabbis say that on Tu Bishbat the sap begins to rise in these dead-looking trees, getting ready for a new season. So too, we have to see people (and ourselves) in that vein. Even if it looks like they (or we) are not producing, the potential is there to start producing again. We have to let the "sap flow." Happy Tu Bishbat and Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Question: Why is Mizmor LeDavid Habu LaHashem benei eilim(Tehillim 29) read in Kabbalat Shabbat - even though there is no mention of Shabbat in it? Answer: 1) This psalm contains a reference to the giving of the Torah to the People of Israel - which took place on Shabbat. It states "Hashem oz le'amo yiten (Hashem gave strength [the Torah] to His people)".
2) In this psalm, the word kol (meaning voice, referring to the voice of Hashem) appears seven times, representing the seven days of the week which ends on Shabbat.
Note: This psalm is cited as the source of both the seven blessings in the amidah of Shabbat - since kol appears seven times; and of the 18 blessings in the weekday amidah - since the name of G-d is mentioned 18 times. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
The Splitting of the Red Sea was initiated by Moshe Rabenu when he stretched out his hand over the sea. Hashem then brought a strong east wind which divided the waters. One may ask, "Why did Hashem need to bring the strong wind? Why didn't He just split the sea without bringing the wind?" Even at times when Hashem is revealing His power to the world, He conceals it to some extent. This leaves room for the non-believers to doubt that Hashem was involved. Our job is to see Hashem's Hand in everything that happens in the world, and express our appreciation. However, if Hashem's involvement is so obvious that nobody can deny it, then it would be no great accomplishment for us to perceive His intervention. It is our duty to recognize the wisdom of Hashem as displayed by His actions, from "natural" occurrences to wondrous miracles.
Question: Can you name a few daily occurrences which demonstrate the hand of Hashem? How does thinking about Hashem's constant involvement in the smallest details of your life make you feel about your commitment to the misvot?
This week's Haftarah: Shoftim 5:1-31
Israel had been suffering greatly under the rule of Canaan. Hashem then sent the prophetess, Deborah to lead Israel to victory against the general Sisera of Canaan. This haftarah is the song of praise to Hashem that they sang after they defeated Sisera.
Similarly, in our perashah, Israel had been suffering under Pharaoh's rule until Hashem sent Moshe to bring them out. After they crossed the Yam Suf, they sang a song of praise. In commemoration of these two songs, this Shabbat is called Shabbat Shirah.
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