Weekly Reading Insights: Shmot 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Shmot

To be read on 23 Tevet 5764 (Jan.17 )

Shmot is the 1st Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 13th overall, and 18th out of 54 in overall length.
Exodus 1:1-6:1  Haftorah: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23 (because its opening verse parallels Ex.1:1)
Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

The Egyptians afflicted the Jews with forced physical labor, and decreed drowning all Jewish newborn males. Moshe was born. His mother hid him in a basket in the Nile, where he was discovered and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter. One day, when already adult, Moshe killed and buried an Egyptian supervisor who beat a Jew. The next day, realizing his deed was public knowledge, Moshe fled to Midian where he married one of Yisro's daughters, Tzipporah, and they had a son, Gershom. The Jews cried to G-d because of the slavery. G-d's angel appeared to Moshe in the form of a burning bush. G-d told Moshe that he would redeem the Jews, and that Moshe should relay this to Pharaoh and to the Jews, even though Pharaoh would not agree to let the Jews go.

Moshe begged G-d to appoint a messenger besides himself. G-d decided that Aharon, Moshe's brother, should be Moshe's spokesman. Moshe began his return journey to Egypt with his wife and sons. Tzipporah circumcised their second son, Eliezer, when stopping at an inn. In Egypt, the Jewish elders listened to Moshe, saw the signs, and believed in G-d's promise to free them. But after approaching Pharaoh, Moshe and Aharon were rebuked and thrown out of the palace. Pharaoh instructed to harden the Jews' labor. The foremen blamed Moshe for the Jews' misfortune. Moshe told G-d that the situation had worsened. G-d answered that in the end, Pharaoh would force the Jews to leave his land.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:12-64/Vayechi )

So it is written [about the war of Gog and Magog]: "Thus will I magnify Myself and sanctify Myself; and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am G-d." (Ezek. 38:23).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:13-64/Shmot )

After [these two incarnations,] they had to be purified. For as I have already told you (Likutei Torah in the writings of the Arizal on Ezekiel), they were holy and powerful souls, but evil's grasp of them spoiled them. Once they would be purified and be rid of the sickness of impurity, they would be manifest as holy souls. As you also know, it is specifically the holiest souls that evil attempts to grasp.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:13-64/Shmot )

Since this kelipa, unfortunately, has grown and expanded further and further, this name cannot be pronounced even when Israel is on its own land, except within the confines of the Holy Temple. This is so because the universe will not again be purified until the advent of the Mashiach, when the state of the earth will correspond to the original desire of its Creator.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"An angel of G-d appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of the thorn bush; and he looked, and behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not consumed." (3:2)
Man is likened to a tree of the field: the Torah Sage is a fruit- bearing tree, whereas the simple Jew is likened to a tree that does not give fruit. Nonetheless, the "flame of fire" burns precisely in the humble "thorn bush" -- in the simple and unlearned Jew.
A Jew who prays and recites Psalms with simple faith in G-d possesses a fire of holiness derived from purity of heart, even if he does not understand the words. Furthermore, the "thorn bush is not consumed." The burning flame of the simple Jew can never be extinguished, as he is perpetually thirsty for Torah and mitzvot -- unlike his more learned counterpart, who is able to quench his thirst with the waters of Torah.
(The Baal Shem Tov)

"Moses returned to G-d and said, L-rd! Why have You mistreated this people? Since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, he made things worse... You have not saved this people at all." (5:22-23)
We are not allowed to resign ourselves to our present situation of exile with the excuse that "such is the will of G-d." The harshness of the exile is a sign that the Redemption is near, yet it is still bitter and painful. Therefore, even while reaffirming our absolute faith in the principle that "The ways of G-d are just," we are also to express our anguish with the prayerful outcry "Ad Masai?" -- "How much longer?" and ask for the immediate coming of Moshiach.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:13-64/Shmot)

The transition between the books of Bereishit (Genesis) and Shmot (Exodus) has always seemed sad to me. The entire book of Bereishit is so alive. From Adam and Chava to Yaacov's children and grandchildren, there is a depth and development to each character that opens a world of teachings about the human psyche, giving us an insight into our own inner selves. All the fundamentals about how to serve G-d are at our fingertips.
Shmot, on the other hand is different. It is hard to take a personal example from Moshe, who was on such a high level, and there is very little in detailed descriptions of Miriam and Aharon. We have heard the story a hundred times and it seems a struggle each year to find something subtle and interesting.

All this was until I read an idea from Rabbi Yitzchok Meir of Gur. 'Silly,' he says, "How can you compare Bereishit and Shmot? Bereishit talks about people and life in the world. Shmot begins the discussion of the redemption! We are being told to reset ourselves, it is time to march to a different rhythm. It is incumbent upon us to learn, to delve as much as we can, in fulfilling the Torah statement that in every generation, a person is obliged to see himself as though he went out of Egypt. Through our annual efforts in studying these texts of how we were redeemed, we will bring the days of Mashiach, to the true and final freedom."

To prove this, Rabbi Yitzchok Meir gave a very interesting explanation from the Haggadah of Passover. The verse says, 'In order for you to remember the day you left Egypt all the days of your life'. Isn't the word 'all' unnecessary? The Rabbis explain that the words, 'days of your life' are brought to include this world. 'ALL' is added to include the future days of Mashiach, meaning that you will remember leaving Egypt even after Mashiach arrives. Rabbi Yitzchok Meir suggests a different reading. "If you make an effort to learn these Torah portions diligently 'all the days of your life', then you will BRING-hasten-the 'days of Mashiach'."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once cited a well-known story as a simple illustration of how to hasten Mashiach. When still a child, a famous Torah scholar asked his father for an apple. When the father refused, the little boy cleverly outsmarted him by saying the blessing anyway, forcing the father to fulfill his request so that the blessing would not be in vain. We must do the same, says the Rebbe. If the Jewish people were even now to be joyful about the redemption, certain that G-d will send us Mashiach at any moment, this happiness will force our Father in Heaven to bring the redemption now. Nor does this violate the principle of not trying to force the redemption, since we are speaking only of adding an extra measure of joy to serving G-d.

Despite knowing we must be joyful to bring Mashiach, sometimes the hard realities of life distract us from this goal. In response to this, the elder chosid Reb Michael Dvorkin told this story: Once during a war, a group of chassidim were sitting with one of the Tzemach Tzedek's sons, Chaim Shneur Zalman. They spoke about the difficulty of the times. "Disastrous decrees one after another! This is the third drafting of Jewish boys for the Russian army in one year!" Then one of the participants said, "It must be the times of Mashiach." Sometime during the discussion, the Tzemach Tzedek himself joined the group and said, "We know nothing about darkness! We only know about light. And since, when Mashiach comes there will shine an incredibly great light, don't bother to think about the great darkness that will precede the arrival of this great light."

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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