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by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
I. The exodus from Egypt will eternally remain the springtime of the entire world.
II. If the Holy One, blessed be He, had not brought our forefathers out of Egypt to eternal freedom--that is, to the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai--the entire world and the entire path of human life would have remained frozen, without the ability to change.
III. "Today you are leaving, in the month of spring." This day is unique in its spiritual nature, prepared for the exodus of Israel from Egypt, in the season of spring, when blossoming and life are renewed in all of nature.
The effect of this exodus is one that penetrates all of existence and nature, and transcends nature.
IV. The intent of the pollution of Egypt was to obstruct the flow of life of the divine light, so that it would never shine.
It was necessary to lay a road for the illumination of the light of a life of holiness and to open the gate until its full illumination would rectify the world.
V. The basis of the exodus from Egypt was to battle the pollution of Egypt--the gross nature of life that immerses us into the depths of secular existence--and to transform the great power within such a secular, gross life into the power of a life that is sublime and magnificent in its holiness. Moadei Harayah, pp. 287-88
a Yiddish tale translated by Shoshana Berg
An awe-inspiring tale that occurred in Lemberg, which was inscribed in the community register--in which, according to the ancient custom, every wondrous matter was recorded
There was once a tailor in Lemberg who, being inexperienced, couldn't earn a livelihood. He therefore allowed his evil inclination to sway him, and he became a fool enticed into the courts of the Polish landlords.
He knew witticisms, and one day, when he came to the courtyard of a landlord in a village near Lemberg, he began reciting his witticisms to the landlord and his household. The landlord's entire family laughed and had a great deal of pleasure from his jokes. They invited him to eat with them, and gave him food and drink.
And in this way, the tailor ate non-kosher food.
One sin draws another after it--and so at last, the tailor violated the entire Torah--heaven help us!
Altogether, he was no longer a Jew. For many days and weeks, he didn't come home to sleep. And when he would come home and his pious wife would rebuke him for his evil ways, he would hit and curse her without stop.
One day, the tailor was taking a stroll around the landlord's courtyard. Facing the courtyard stood the village inn. The tailor saw three Jews ride toward one of the inn's cabins, and saw them go inside, taking their things with them. The tailor understood that a "good Jew"--that is to say, a rebbe- -had come to stay here with his assistants.
The tailor begged the landowner and his wife to give him a note for the innkeeper, requesting that the inn host him for Shabbos. Because the tailor was so wicked, no one wanted to have anything to do with him--everyone stayed away from him. The tailor knew that without a note, the innkeeper would not let him in.
The landowner asked the tailor why he wanted to go to the inn for Shabbos. He had the best where he was.
The tailor replied, "A good Jew and his assistants are staying at the inn. I want to be there on Shabbos so that I can later tell the landowner and his wife all the ridiculous things I saw there. You will enjoy that very much."
The landlord and his wife liked that idea. And so they issued the tailor a note requesting that the innkeeper host the tailor for Shabbos. The tailor brought the note to the innkeeper, who had to host him for Shabbos, even though it was against his will.
Indeed, a "good Jew" had really come to the inn for Shabbos, together with his assistants. They recited the evening prayer there with a minyan, and then sat down to eat the Friday night meal.
It was the innkeeper's custom that, after kiddush, he would direct the guests where to sit. And so he sat the tailor at the foot of the table, as far as possible from the good Jew, who sat at the head of the table.
When the good Jew took a close look at the tailor, he recognized that the tailor was a great sinner. The good Jew began to teach Torah at the table. Instead of discussing the weekly Torah portion, he talked about sin--and the tailor felt ashamed.
Meanwhile, all the guests were wondering why the rebbe did not speak on the Torah portion, but about other matters.
The next morning, when they were again sitting at the table, the same thing took place. The rebbe only talked about sins-- light and severe--and nothing else. And the same thing occurred at the late afternoon meal--shalosh seudos.
Then the men recited the grace after meals, prayed the evening prayer and made Havdalah, marking the end of Shabbos. The rebbe went to his private room, and everyone else went home.
But the tailor remained. He did not return to the landlord's court, as he had planned. The rebbe's words had had a good effect on him, and awakened his remorse and penance.
Immediately, the tailor went to the rebbe's room. He groaned and cried before him. He said, "Holy rebbe, I know quite well that everything the rebbe said during all three meals was only about me. I have committed all the sins of the Torah--not just once, but many times."
He confessed his sins over and over again, and requested some way of repenting. Whatever it would be, he would accept it with love.
When the rebbe heard exactly what severe sins the tailor had committed, he couldn't believe that the tailor really wanted to return to good, since he was obviously sunken into sin. And so the rebbe issued him an easy penance: to fast a few days a week.
Hearing this, the tailor burst into a wail and requested that the rebbe give him a more difficult penance to atone for his severe sins.
And so the rebbe told the tailor: "Before, I didn't believe that you truly mean to repent. Only now do I realize that you really do. And so this is your penance. Accept the obligation to fast an entire week at a time, eating only on Shabbos. Do not cease fasting until you are informed to do so from heaven. As long as you are not informed from heaven to stop fasting, continue your fasts. If you will fulfill all this, your sins will be forgiven."
And so it really was.
The tailor took it upon himself to carry this out with all his heart.
By the next morning, he had become an entirely different person. He did not return to the courtyard to tell the landlord the jokes and mockery that he had promised.
He accepted upon himself to fast from Shabbos to Shabbos. Having no particular place to do this, he thought the matter over and went to the Lemberg shul. There he prayed the morning prayers and remained in shul longer than anyone else, because had no intentions of going home. The shammash came to him and told him to finish his prayers, so that the shammash could lock up, as was his custom.
The tailor confided to the shammash that he had accepted upon himself a weekly fast. He wanted to stay here the entire time, because he had no other place to go. And, in order that no one else may know of this, he asked that the shammash leave him in the room near the bimah. In the evening, after the evening prayers, the shammash should let him back into the shul, where he would be able to sleep. And in the morning, when the shammash would return to open the shul, he would then return to the room next to the bimah.
The tailor asked the shammash to do this until Friday night. On Friday night, right after the prayers, when everyone would go home, the shammash should open the door of that room, and he too would go home.
And the shammash agreed to this.
to be continued...
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
I. There are two conditions for redemption. One is physical freedom from all outside subjugation, from all subjugation that oppresses the image of G-d within us, from all subjugation to any force that suppresses our worth.
The other is the freedom of the soul, the freedom of the spirit, from whatever takes it away from its true and strong path.
True freedom is that elevated spirit that lifts the individual and the entire nation to be faithful to the inner core, to the image of G-d within.
II. What was the purpose of sending the signs and wonders "against Pharaoh and all his servants" (Tehillim 135:9)?
Pharaoh was the king of Egypt, compared to a great serpent, a self-declared god who stated, "The Nile is mine, for I have created it." His servants constituted a nation of physicality, a nation "whose flesh is the flesh of horses" (Ezek.).
The signs and wonders inform all generations that the foreskin of the heart of man--whether its cause is a purposeful wickedness that stems from ego, or a closed heart and wildness that stem from ignorance--will not obstruct the divine light, will not impede its appearance in the world.
III. Recalling the exodus from Egypt lifts the Jewish soul and sanctifies it in its own holy light.
The remembrance of the great light of the exodus from Egypt-
-the appearance of the miracles and wonders which are the nucleus
of the coming forth of the wondrous, divine nation in its
wondrous birth--itself presses its seal, the seal of holiness,
into the midst of every one of us and into the depth of our
by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
Not long before Rabbi Nachman passed away, he requested his hasidim to tell him news. They did not know what to say to him.
Rabbi Nachman said, "Un nayes ken ich nisht lebn! Without
news--without newness--I cannot live!"
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Were they coils of snakes?
All translations and original material. Copyright 1998