Illuminations #190, Tevet, 5779, Parshat Bo

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Illuminations #190, Tevet, 5779, Parshat Bo

Torah Gems

When Pharaoh had enough of the plagues he told Moshe to take the people out of Egypt to go worship Hashem as he requested. He then asked: “Which ones are going?” He was surprised at the answer he got. Moshe replied: “With our youngsters and with our elders we will go…” (10:8-9)

Pharaoh’s surprise was because in his understanding only the elders worship their gods. The youngsters have no part in their religion. Moshe informed Pharaoh that the youngsters form an integral part of our religion. When a child can utter words the child is taught to recite the Shema. When he gets a little older he is taught to read and to pray. He is given a Jewish education.

When the children are Bar or Bat Mitzvah they assume full responsibilities of our faith. It is a religion for all ages. In a true Jewish home the training starts as soon as the child can speak. We have a special Mitzvah for parents of Chinuch – training or education. You cannot expect a child who grows up suddenly to have fcast upon it the obligations of Mitzvot without previous training. It is also noteworthy that in Judaism the obligation to learn never ends.

This was all strange to Pharaoh and he could not understand why Moshe insisted that even the children be allowed to go out of Egypt to worship Hashem.

Parsha Pearls

Bnei Israel finally merited to be delivered from the Egyptian bondage. The ten plaques were visited upon the Egyptians and they begrudgingly permitted the Israelites to leave the land. We are told: “And the people took their dough…upon their shoulders.” (12:34) We are informed a few verses later that they left with their flock and their herds and with very much cattle.

The Midrash Mechilta on this portion asks why they carried their food on their shoulders; why did they not put them on their animals? It answers that they loved observing the Mitzvah of leaving Egypt so much that they wanted to perform it with some physical act.

We all perform many Mitzvot daily. Unfortunately, some are performed perfunctorily without sincere devotion. The lesson the Torah here stresses, with the Midrashic explanation, is that when we do a Mitzvah it should be executed with full devotion and not merely as a form of habit.

Glimpses of Greatness

“And he turned and left Pharaoh’s presence.” (10:6) Many years ago there was a wicked King in Russia who abused his people, especially Jews. Evil people told the king that the Jews wanted to take revenge on him, the King was very angry and commanded to bring the Rabbi to explain what was happeningThe Rabbi proved to the King that everything was a lie, so the King said, “I’ll consult with the advisors and see what we’ll do.” From the moment the King and the advisors spoke, the Rabbi immediately left the roomThe King saw that he was not in the room and asked to return him. Then he said, “How do you dare leave without permission? You do not know that you are disrespecting the kingdom.” The Rabbi answered, “I heard that you do not speak Russian, but another language, and I do speak your language. So I immediately left the room for The King’s honor.” Then the King said, “If so, you and the Jews do not have to worry anymore.

Halacha Weekly

Q.  Is havdalah wine poured from the cup over which the berachah is said a form of Nichush? [1 YD 10-262-263]

A. One should not look for signs as an indication of how he should act because of the prohibition of Nichush (Divination). However, can one make a sign for the sake of a future action he desires to take that it should be with blessing?  Tefilah LeMoshe(3-19. R. Moshe Levi) writes that if he does make a sign (simon) in order to accustom his own action according to his own words, for example, a resolution to act a certain way, then  the  Ravad Z”L and Radak Z”L permit it.  However, the Rambam Z”L and the majority of Rishonim prohibit this also because of a concern with Nichush (Divination) and this is the essential ruling. In any event [however], if he does not conduct himself only according to the sign and acts by adding other reasons [for acting in accordance with the sign], then it is permitted [to act according to the sign].

What’s the case regarding pouring Havdalah wine from the cup over which the blessing is made during havdalah?  Is there in this practice a form of Nichush (Divination)? Ramah (OrechChaim 296-1) writes that there is a custom to pour wine from the havdalah cup. The reasons for the pouring is based on Chazal (The Sages), who say in Eruvin (65): ‘That every house which does not pour wine in it like water does not have a sign of blessing. And they do so {pouring havdalah wine from the cup} as a sign of blessing at the beginning of the week for the entire week to come.’ However, it remains to be seen why there is no prohibition of nichush (divination) in this practice.

Meiri (Horayot 12a)  explains [there was a custom when anointing Jewish kings],that when they anointed the king they did the anointing itself near a spring of water as a good sign. The sign was that his kingship should continue [forever, like a spring of water which is continually renewed with water].  That practice was not considered Nichush (Divination).  G-d forbid, [to consider it nichush], rather it [was intended] to arouse the king [himself at the time of his being anointed] so that he should conduct himself in the manner of an ever-renewing spring whose water is never deceitful.  He should accustom himself to act in a way that he is always available [as a leader] and that he should not act in a manner that is like a deceitful spring which does not produce water except after the time [it is needed]. For this reason the practice of pouring out some wine from the havdalah cup is not considered a form of nichush (Divination), since the custom is only performed to act in accordance with a statement of the Sages.