Illuminations #19, Shevat 5775, Parshat Beshalach

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Illuminations #19, Shevat 5775, Parshat Beshalach

Torah Gems

At the end of a long tiring day, you open the door of your house. You are greeted by a sense of calmness and tranquility. The house is in order, the kids are ready for bed, and a piping hot dinner is on the table. You look at your wife and want to express a sense of gratitude and affection for her hard work. Your mind is racing to think of a compliment when suddenly you remember the pasuk in שיר השירים which is full of expressions of love between Hashem and Klal Yisroel, and you tell her, “You remind me of the horses of Pharaoh.” What type of expression of love and appreciation is that? What can possibly be a proper explanation to this?
Rav Yaakov Galinsky offers an explanation. Rashi on the pasuk (15:1) “סוס ורכבו רמה בים” says that normally when an animal takes its rider with it into the water, the rider is thrown off. But here Hashem kept the rider on the horse the entire time as the rider did not separate from his saddle. There seems to be some kind of importance in stating they weren’t separated.

Why were the horses punished? They didn’t do anything wrong. Says Rav Galinsky, any person or being that is a partner and assists another in doing bad is considered part of it. They were used as a vehicle which enabled the Egyptians to destroy and humiliate us. Although these horses were doing their jobs, they were entitled to a punishment as well. For that reason they were strapped onto the Mitzrim as they suffered and ultimately drowned along with them.

In the above parable, the husband was expressing to his wife that they were partners. While he went out to learn, daven, and work, she received the rewards for all the actions as well because she stood behind him and enabled him to do them. We have to understand that we have to take part and become partners in helping others do the right thing. By doing so, we get the reward as well.

Parsha Pearls

” ויצמא שם העם למים וילן העם על משה ”

( יז,ג )

“The people thirsted there for water and complained against Moshe.”

Hashem took Klal Yisrael out of מצרים through great miracles. He split the sea for them and drowned all the מצריים. He provided them with a daily sustenance from heaven, ”מן”.

However, shortly after they got to “מרה”, He made them suffer from great thirst. Why didn’t He provide them with water before they get to that level of thirst and prevent the complaint before it arose? Additionally, how could Moshe Rabeinu sit silently and not take the initiative to daven and ask Hashem to provide them with water?

Says Ohr Hachim Hakadosh, Hashem taught Klal Yisrael a lesson to lift their eyes and daven to Him. That is a big principal in believing in Hashem and trusting in Him. As the G’mara  .עו  יומא points out, this is the reason why “מן” was given every single day rather than only once a year. This was all done in order for them to beg to their Creator until he heard their cries. Moshe Rabeinu realized Hashem’s intentions and purposely did not step forward to daven on their behalf, hoping that they would do so for themselves.

Halachah Weekly

Q: Is a giraffe a kosher animal?
A: According to the Torah, a kosher animal is identified by these signs:
     1) The fact that it has split hooves.
     2) It chews its cud.
     3) It lacks cutting teeth in its upper jaw.
Rabbi Saadya HaGaon writes that when the Torah talks about an animal called a “zemer”  it is referring to a giraffe, and a “zemer” is a kosher animal.   About 30 years ago an article appeared in a journal called “Kol Hamaor” which discussed whether a giraffe could be considered a kosher animal.  Some Torah authorities said that according to the Chazon Ish and other prominent rabbis, it is forbidden to eat any animal if a tradition does not exist to consume them. Therefore, these Torah authorities held that it is prohibited to eat giraffe since no tradition exists in association with eating giraffe.  Thus, for these authorities a giraffe is not a kosher animal.
It has also been proven that there are species of giraffe that do not carry kosher signs. Some are of the opinion that giraffe come from the same family as camels, which are also not kosher. Others hold that giraffe comes from the deer family.  There is a mistaken opinion that claims that giraffe are indeed kosher, but because their neck is so long and it is difficult to perform a proper shechita on them, they cannot be eaten. This claim is not true, because we do actually know the exact location where to shecht them in order to be kosher.
About four years ago in a Tel Aviv zoo there was a giraffe that died. A team of expert rabbis participated in the giraffe autopsy. Following the surgery, they determined without a trace of doubt that the giraffe was indeed a kosher animal. They also practiced a shechita on the giraffe since it was dead and discovered that there was no problem with shechting it.
As a practical note, even though a giraffe is a kosher animal, it is rather expensive to buy a pound of its meat, as it is about $100 /lb.   Also, because we do not have a tradition to eat giraffe and because it is considered an endangered species, it is prohibited according to national laws to shecht it.

Glimpses of Greatness

A Jew from the former Soviet Union  would attend a daf yomi shiur every night. Every night after the shiur began he would fall asleep, week in and week out throughout the whole shiur. One night the magid shiur asked him, “Why do you bother to come to the shiur? I understand it’s hard for you to stay awake, but why do you come as you are not gaining anything?” He responded:

“When I was a young boy, I was sitting around with friends and they would speak against the Government and the KGB. All of my friends were coming up with ideas of how they can sabotage them and how they will try to take over. One day, the KGB stormed into the room and we were all arrested. A few days later we were in court and stood in front of the judge. He read all our names in a loud tone, announced the crime we were guilty of committing, and listed our punishments. By every one of my friends he did just that, but at my name, all he said was my name and to go to Siberia. I immediately stood up and protested. I said to the judge, ‘You haven’t announced what I’m guilty of—all you said was that I’m going to Siberia! I haven’t said a bad word about the government in that room!’ The judge looked at me and answered: “az du zitz mitzey, bist du mitzey-if you sit with them, you are with them!”

I know I don’t always understand the shiur, however after a-hundred-and-twenty I will say, “I sat with them, I want to be counted as part of them!”


In loving memory of  אידה בת חנינה ע”ה by Jacques and Amy Elfersy