JANUARY 10-11, 2002 8 SHEBAT 5763
"And you shall safeguard the matzot" (Shemot 12:17)
The Jews in Egypt were given the misvah of baking and eating matzahs. The plain meaning of the verse, "safeguard the matzot," means that the Jew must be careful when he makes the matzah. Any delay or moisture can cause the grain, flour or dough to become leavened - hamess. Since the word “matzot” can be vowelized to read “misvot”, which would mean, "safeguard the commandments," the Sages apply this rule to all the misvot. If a misvah comes to your hand, do not allow it to become "leavened" by delaying its performance. Do it right away.
It is interesting that the Sages described the delayed misvah as hamess. Do not allow the misvah to become hamess. The reason might be that a delay in the dough-making can cause the creation of something totally different. If it is done quickly it is matzah, if it is delayed it is bread. The same applies to the misvah. A delayed misvah is not just a misvah that is done late; it is a totally different quality of a misvah, like the difference between matzah and bread. The book Maskil Ledavid adds the following insight: Just as the Jews in Egypt were in such a state of spiritual decline that even a slight delay might have rendered the redemption impossible, so the performance of a single misvah without delay may be necessary for the salvation of an individual Jew at any moment. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And the blood shall serve as a sign on the houses in which you are." (Shemot 12:13)
This verse refers to the smearing of the blood from the Korban Pesah on the doorway of each Jewish home. Rashi explains that this sign shall be for you and not for others. Hence we may derive that the blood was smeared on the inside of the doorway. An important lesson may be learned here. Often we attempt to help others in the fulfillment of Torah and misvot, even at great sacrifice to ourselves. This may sometimes be at the expense of our own families. We are ready to sacrifice our time and energy for others, but are we finding time for our own personal study and self-development? The Torah enjoins us to establish in our homes Torah sessions for ourselves. We must be aware of our responsibilities to our own children, to guide and encourage them ourselves, not by proxy through tutors. We are obliged to do for ourselves and for our families that which we so readily do for others. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
As we know, Pharaoh and the Egyptians were hit with ten plagues, seven in last week's perashah and three in this week's perashah. A recurring theme throughout the plagues is Pharaoh's consent during each plague to let B'nei Yisrael go, and his change of heart as soon as the plague ended. Whenever he felt like he was in danger, he asked Moshe to pray to Hashem to remove the plague. However, when his suffering was alleviated, he reverted to his wicked ways and refused to let B'nei Yisrael go.
This reaction is not uncommon. Very often, a person who is ill or needs Divine assistance resolves to improve himself in some way. Unfortunately, we often neglect to follow through on our promises when the danger passes. We should try to remember that the reason we needed assistance in the first place may have been because Hashem wanted us to pray to him and improve our ways. Our failure to make good on our commitments may, G-d forbid, cause us to be put in danger once again.
Question: What promises and commitments have you made when you were in a time of need? Did you fulfill them or were they forgotten as the pain subsided?
Question: Why do we read Hashem Malach Ge'ut Labesh in Minhah on Fridays? Answer: This chapter (Tehillim 91) states: "Hashem reigned - He has worn grandeur." Once the Creator completed the creation (on Friday), His grandeur was established. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28.
In this haftarah, the prophet Yirmiyahu is sent by Hashem to tell Nebuchadnessar, king of Babylon, to attack Egypt. He then describes the complete devastation of Egypt, similar to the theme of this week's perashah. The haftarah ends with Hashem's assurance that he will save Israel from all their enemies, and although he will punish Israel with justice, he will never wipe them out.
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