Illuminations #58, Tevet 5776, Parshat Shemot

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Illuminations #58, Tevet 5776, Parshat Shemot

Torah Gems

Hashem told Moshe: “ Go and gather the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Hashem, the God of your forefathers, has appeared to me saying’… “I shall bring you up from the affliction of Egypt’” (Shemos 3:15). In contrast, when Moshe spoke to Pharaoh, he told him: “Thus Hashem, the God of Israel, said, ‘Send out my people…’” (Shemos 5:1). When speaking to the elders, Moshe mentioned the “God of your forefathers,” whereas when he spoke to Pharaoh, he said the “God of Israel.” What is the significance of this change in phraseology?

Avraham had a prophecy that his children would be enslaved for 400 years. Hashem in His great compassion redeemed them after 210 years. There are two types of compassion: justified and unjustified. Time off for good behavior is justified compassion. But to grant an early release to a prisoner who misbehaves is unjustified compassion.

The mercy Hashem showed to klal Yisrael was unjustified, undeserved mercy. It was “unjustified” because the Jews in Egypt worshiped idols.

Therefore, Moshe told the elders, “The God of your forefathers has appeared to me,” meaning, it is only in the merit of your forefathers that you are being freed after 210 years. Whereas when speaking to Pharaoh, He did not want to reveal that klal Yisrael lacked merit. Therefore, he said the “God of Israel.”

Klal Yisrael was not violating some small subtlety of law; they were denying the very essence of Judaism, the belief in the One, eternal, non-material Creator. Nevertheless, despite the spiritual deprivation of His people, Hashem chose to show mercy. Regardless of how distant our generation is from the ways of Torah, there is always hope that Hashem will awaken compassion and redeem His people. (Based on Even Yisrael of Rav Yisrael Salanter)

Parsha Pearls

Suppose someone promises to do a favor for his friend in the future. When the time comes to perform the task, his enthusiasm has somewhat diminished. Ultimately he does the favor more out of a sense of duty than a feeling of benevolence.

In contrast, when God makes a promise to do something, He continuously anticipates and waits for the opportunity to fulfill His word. He delights in performing kindness.

God revealed to Avraham that in the future He would rescue klal Yisrael from the Egyptian bondage. For 210 years God looked forward, with intense longing, to the night when He would redeem His beloved people.

Yet if God loved the Jewish people so dearly, why did He wait? If He loves us,and has the desire and power to redeem us, let Him intercede immediately on our behalf!

After the promise, the dynamics of divine intervention required that a waiting period precede the redemption. In fact, without this delay, redemption would not occur. The purpose of this lapse of time was to test the durability of our faith. Would we continue to be strong in our trust despite the delay?

Remarkably, the blossoming of our redemption depends on the faith of klal Yisrael. When Hashem told Avraham about the ultimate deliverance from Egypt, Avraham trusted that this would take place. God valued this steadfast faith of Avraham. This righteousness of Avraham was the merit needed for the promise to be fulfilled. It is the same with us today. Our faith is the water that germinates the seeds of the final redemption.

Glimpses of Greatness

When R’ Shach came to visit R’ Chaim Friedlander, who was very sick, he urged him to take advantage of every moment of life. At that point, R’ Chaim could no longer utter even a word, so intense were the pains he was experiencing. R’ Shach sat down next to R’ Chaim’s bed and pointed outside the window, where trees and flowers were growing, and said, “Look, R’ Chaim, at all the beautiful things blossoming in this world that Hashem created, and strengthen your mind with thoughts of emunah about the power of the Creator, about His great wisdom, about His control over all of existence, and about His desire to do good for His creations. Even these flowers we see outside the window were created for the benefit and pleasure of man.”

Halacha Weekly

Q: On Shabbat does one require Lechem Mishneh (Two Challah Loaves) for every meal?

A: On Shabbat and Yom Tov one should have two whole loaves of bread in order to make the blessing of HaMotzi (before eating the bread). This requirement applies equally to both men and women.

For Seudah Shlishit (the 3rd meal) one should also have two whole loaves of bread– lechem mishneh– but there are some Ashkenazim that do not make the HaMotzi blessing on lechem mishneh for Seudah Shlishit.  However, even during this meal one should try to have lechem mishneh.

Even if one has more than three meals, every meal should have lechem mishneh. Only in a situation which is BeSha’at HaDachak (when there is nothing else available) is one whole roll or whole loaf enough.



In Honor of the Rabbis of Kollel Ner Hamizrach

by Ron and Karyn Bruck