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SHABBAT BO
Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

JANUARY 22-23, 2010 8 SHEBAT 5770

RABBIS' MESSAGES

"Moshe said, 'You have spoken well. I will see your face again no more." (Shemot 10:29)

After the ninth plague, Moshe once again demands the emancipation of the Jews from Egypt. Not only does Pharaoh deny the request but he tells Moshe he cannot come back or face a death penalty. Moshe responds that Pharaoh will not be able to see Moshe again. As a result of Moshe's declaration, Hashem was forced to appear to Moshe while he was still in the palace, before Moshe left, in order to declare the tenth plague. This way Moshe was able to warn Pharaoh of that plague before he left, and not be forced to come back again. Hashem appeared to Moshe in the palace of Pharaoh, which was filled with idols. Hashem normally would not appear in such surroundings, but for the honor of Moshe, Hashem did it.

Rabbi A. Henoch Leibowitz asks, why did Moshe respond to Pharaoh, "I will see your face no more," forcing Hashem to appear to him in an impure place? If Moshe would have kept silent it would have allowed Hashem the honor to appear elsewhere. The answer is that every decision we make is judged by one criterion, which choice will cause more honor to Hashem. Moshe's response was not because he was personally insulted. Moshe Rabenu was the most humble person; he had no ego. Moshe's response was a purely intellectual decision. He knew that the dignity of the Jewish people, especially of its leaders, is a reflection of Hashem's dignity. Even though it meant that the Divine Presence would have to reveal itself amongst idols, Moshe decided that the greatest honor for Hashem would be to preserve the respect of Jewish leadership. It was not an easy decision, but Moshe understood what he represented and responded accordingly.

We should remember this and treat our Torah leaders with the same respect. Try to hear their Torah messages and gain from them. Our children need to see how we respect these leaders, which will in turn cause them to respect them. Giving honor to Torah leaders gives honor to Hashem. Even more importantly, how do we view ourselves? Do we see ourselves as the bearers of the flag of Torah? Well, the non-observant Jew is watching us to see our honesty and integrity. We are Hashem's representatives in this world. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And the blood shall be a sign for you on [the doorposts of] the houses." (Shemot 12:13)

The Jewish people were commanded to slaughter the sheep as the Korban Pesah and put its blood on the doorposts of their houses. In that way G-d would see the blood and pass over their houses during the plague of the Destruction of the Firstborn. We would therefore assume that the blood should be put on the outside of their homes. Rashi tells us that in fact they were to put the blood on the inside, where they themselves could see it, and it should be a sign for them.

The message we can derive from here is that putting the blood was not just an arbitrary act which would protect them. By slaughtering the sheep, which was worshipped by the Egyptians, they showed that they were breaking their ties to any idol-worship that they might have had. In order to reinforce this, they put the blood on the inside of the doorposts so that they themselves could see it and be strengthened in their resolve to abandon idol-worship. Although a person can make a resolution to become better, when he sees a constant reminder of his resolve, this gives him the strength to go even further. Hashem saw this zechut (merit) of the blood and therefore passed over their houses to protect them, since He saw their commitment to serve Hashem exclusively. We would do well to apply this to our own lives and try to reinforce our acceptance of certain positive traits by seeing how the negative traits are not good for us. This will help us serve Hashem better. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

TRAVEL PLANS

"He said to them, 'Go and serve G-d your Lord; which ones are going?' Moshe said, 'With our young and with our old shall we go.'"(Shemot 10:8-9)

Moshe's request to Pharaoh was very explicit: "Let my people go!" Why now, after receiving seven plagues, did Pharaoh ask, "Which ones are going?"

The words "mi vami haholchim" have the numerical value of 216, the same as "Kaleb uBin Nun." Pharaoh was telling Moshe, "I know your ultimate plan is to bring the Jews to Eress Yisrael, but you should know that you are wasting your time, because they will all die in the wilderness and only Kaleb and Bin Nun (Yehoshua) will live to reach Eress Yisrael."

Moshe replied, "Binareinu ubizkenenu nelech - Do not worry, all those who are now under twenty or over sixty will also survive the wilderness and come to Eress Yisrael. (Vedibarta Bam)

ANOTHER LINK IN THE CHAIN

"And in order that you relate in the ears of your son and your son's sonůso that you may perceive that I am Hashem." (Shemot 10:2)

The Torah explicitly states the purpose of the Exodus from Egypt. The entire purpose was the transmittal of this event to future generations. Since the Exodus, Divine revelation, and the giving of the Torah are the foundation of our belief, it is mandatory that we relate these events to future generations. Relating these events to the next generation, gives them the opportunity to identify with the previous generation, thereby establishing another link in the chain of our national heritage.

Why the necessity to relate this to our children and our children's children? If every father is obliged to teach his son, will not his son ultimately pass this on to his own son? Why involve the grandfather? The responsibility to relate the story of the Exodus is to do so with such intensity and feeling that one's child will be compelled to relate it to his own children. The grandfather is expected to teach his children in such a way that they will in turn teach their own children. The litmus test of education consists of its ability to continue to the third generation.

In this manner we may explain the pasuk in Tehillim (128:6): "And may you see the children of your children peace on Yisrael"; when you sufficiently impress your children so that they teach their children then there is peace and perfection for Klal Yisrael. The obligation to forge a link in the chain of our national heritage spans generations. (Peninim on the Torah)

NEXT IN LINE

"There was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead." (Shemot 12:30)

Even in a home where there were no firstborn, the eldest of the household perished (Rashi). Why did Moshe only warn that the firstborn would die without warning about the eldest of the house?

Some Egyptians thought they could outsmart Hashem and Moshe. Warned of the upcoming plague, they took their firstborn and placed them into Jewish homes. Hashem killed those firstborn and also the eldest of the household from which each firstborn originated. Had Moshe warned them of this, they would have kept the firstborn home, and thus the eldest in the household would have survived.

Moshe intentionally did not warn them, so that their punishment would be twofold. The firstborn were killed to punish the Egyptians for not listening to Hashem to free the Jews, and the eldest because the Egyptians tried to outsmart Hashem. (Vedibarta Bam)

HARD TIMES

Negative financial news strikes fear in the hearts of common men.

How low can it go?

What steps must be taken to survive?

Smiling faces are replaced by concerned countenances, and friendly greetings are few and far between. People begin to give serious thought to the lifestyle changes they must make to avoid falling deeply into debt. It is not a pleasant situation, to say the least.

It is sad that when people are under pressure and cannot think clearly, they may miss time-proven methods for bettering their situation. However, it often happens that someone who can only see gloom and doom consults with a helpful outsider and finds a simple solution that he or she would not have found alone.

Two steps taken by many people when the going gets rough are said by our Sages to be counterproductive.

The first is cutting back on charitable contributions. There are those who feel that the appropriate initial step to take when experiencing concern about their future financial well-being is to reduce the amount of money they give to sedakah. Yet this move can really reduce the possibility of turning the situation around. The Torah teaches that those who give are blessed; furthermore, we are challenged by Hashem to "test me with this" (Malachi 3:10). The verse means that Hashem promised "give and you will get" - and you have the right to test His promise!

The second counterproductive action taken by some is cutting out time from their Torah learning schedule in order to devote more time to business. True, their business may need more hands-on attention, but they must find that necessary time without decreasing the time already dedicated to learning and self-improvement. The Torah, says the Gemara, protects and saves (Sotah 21a), and so reducing the time spent learning reduces their protection and security.

If you are in the unfortunate situation of being forced to consider making changes in order to deal with hard times, include the advice of our wise predecessors in your calculations. Give and you will get. Torah protects and saves. These are simple solutions for complex problems. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email kol18@attglobal.net (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.


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