Illuminations #108, Shvat 5777, Parshat Yitro

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Illuminations #108, Shvat 5777, Parshat Yitro

Torah Gems

“You saw that which I did to Egypt.” (Shmot 19:4)

The plagues in Egypt were intended for the purpose that Israel see them. Ultimately, all future generations of Israel will “see” the plagues through the eyes of the generation of eyewitnesses, by being transmitted father to son.

The statement of seeing the plagues of Egypt was a necessary preface to the receiving of the Torah. Israel may have accepted the Torah willingly even if the events of Egypt had not transpired, but there is an eternal message in this statement.

The world today is full of materialists and atheists who seek to ignore Hashem, but even in those early times all the nations worshipped deities. Israel alone believed in one God. However, the influence of the other nations was very difficult to resist and it is certain that some Jews had become tainted by the idol worship that surrounded them. Therefore, in order to guarantee the permanence of the Torah, it was essential to demonstrate that Hashem is the sole ruler over all forces of nature. By exclaiming, “You saw that which I did to Egypt,” the generations that followed would cling to the Torah and would resist the persecutions by the idolatrous nations, and they would persevere against the academicians and the materialists that deny Hashem.

Parsha Pearls

Goy Kadosh (Shmot 19:6)

The quality of holiness (Kedusha) is not only a concept which implies a mere relationship or connection with Hashem; it is a real component that is added to the physical object, and this component emanates from Hashem, Who is the source of Kedusha. The difference in physical composition can be compared to an object charged with electricity. It is physically different even though its appearance has not been altered. Likewise, hot water is seen identical to cold water, yet one can cause your hand to recoil in shock and the other causes no such reaction. Phenomena such as electronically transmitted sounds are not heard without the necessary apparatus. By performing Hashem’s Mitzvot, the Jew becomes more holy and transforms into a different being even though he will appear no different than others.

It has been aptly stated: “A Jew is not a goy with a Yarmulke.”

Glimpses of Greatness

One day, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zt”l, was walking in the city of Vilna. As usual, he was accompanied by several people seeking an opportunity to ask the busy Rav a question or discuss an important matter. Some were Talmidei Chachamim wishing to clarify a point in their learning.

As the group was walking, a man approached and asked for directions to a particular street. The person had a significant speech impediment. It was very difficult to understand what he was asking due to his stutter. He needed to repeat himself a number of times before the group could understand what he was saying. Instead of answering, the Rav quickly said, “Come, I’ll take you there.” Those walking with the Rav were shocked! Why is the busy Rav escorting this man all the way to a different part of town? Surely he can find it himself, or at least he could ask again for directions.

Upon seeing their new friend to his destination, the Rav turned to his entourage and explained, “You see, this man must feel terrible embarrassment each time he needs to speak to a stranger. If he would need to ask again for directions he would suffer all over again. That is why I walked him all the way instead of telling him the directions”.

Halacha Weekly

Q.When Is it permiitted for a Jew to remove his kippah for reasons of livelihood? I-9-239

A. Iggerot Moshe  (Orech Chaim, 4-2, R. Moshe Feinstein, Z”L) states regarding someone who needs to meet with an office manager, and it is a requirement that he sit without a head covering or else they will not accept them for the work, and there are no other alternatives for employment with employers who do not make this demand, that according to the majority of opinions covering one’s head is only an act of piety. If this is the case, then it is a case of doing a positive mitzvah, and the Ramah (OrechChaim 566-1) writes that no person is required to give up a large amount of money in order to perform a positive mitzvah,  and he is not required to give up more than one fifth. So we see from here that if he cannot receive a position for the needs of his livelihood, there will obviously be a loss greater than one fifth.  

Rav Moshe,Z”L, adds: ‘Even According to the TaZ (OrechChaim 8-3), who holds that an exposed head is prohibited because of Chukat Akum, (following in the idolatrous ways of the Nations) ‘.. in our countries it is clear that it is not because of a concern of following in the ways of the nations (ChukatAkum) that they sit with an exposed head, rather it is a matter of convenience and it is easier to sit with one’s head uncovered, therefore today the opinion of the Taz does not apply.’


This week’s illuminations is sponsored
in loving memory of Flory bat Zahra Benbaruk

By the Knafo Family