Weekly Reading Insights: Parshaname 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Shmot

To be read on 20 Tevet 5765 (Jan.1)

Exodus 1:1-6:1  Haftorah: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23 (because its opening verse parallels Ex.1:1)

Sh'mot is the 1st Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 13th overall, and 18th out of 54 in overall length.

Sh'mot: 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:13-65/Sh'mot)

If mankind didn't have this knowledge, then there would be no difference between the spirit of man and the spirit of animals.

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:13-65/Sh'mot)

For someone who draws a picture [of a person] on paper cannot [at the same time] draw internal organs, such as the stomach, intestines, heart, liver, or spleen, while G-d does not only this but draws the form of another [person] inside the abdominal cavity, i.e. the embryo inside its mother's womb. And inside the embryo are more internal organs as well as its spirit.

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:13-65/Sh'mot)

The latter's 3 souls, i.e. the "lower" soul, life force Nefesh, was reincarnated in the body of the Egyptian who was slain by Moses. (Ex. 2:2) His "middle" soul, Ruach, was reincarnated in the body of Korach, whereas his "upper" soul, i.e. Neshama was reincarnated in the body of Jethro.

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


"She stretched out her hand and took it." (2:5)
This verse refers to Pharoah's daughter, who rescued Moses from the Nile. The word the Torah uses for "hand" is amata, because G-d made a miracle and caused her hand to stretch out many amot [cubits] to reach Moses. This teaches us an important lesson. Whenever we see a child in danger, whether physical or spiritual, we shouldn't stop to calculate whether or not we can rescue the child, but we must do our utmost to accomplish that goal, even if the situation appears helpless. If we since rely do all that is in our power, G-d will surely help us.
(Reb Bunim M'Pshischa) (from L'Chaim #502)

"Pharaoh said...I do not know G-d [the Tetragrammaton], nor will I let Israel go." (Ex. 5:2)
The Tetragrammaton, or four-letter, ineffable Name of G-d, refers to the level of G-dliness that transcends nature, whereas "Elokim" refers to G-dliness as it is enclothed in nature. (The numerical equivalent of the word "Elokim" is the same as "hateva" - nature.) When Pharaoh said he did not know G-d, he meant that G-d's transcendental aspect has no connection to the physical world. In truth, however, G-d's ineffable Name illuminates equally in all worlds, which Pharaoh only came to realize after a series of miracles: "And the Egyptians shall know that I am G-d."
(Torah Ohr) (from L'Chaim #653)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"I will send you to Pharaoh, and you will bring forth My people, the Children of Israel, out of Egypt." (3:10)

The physical presence of the redeemer does not necessarily signal the redemption itself, as Moses, the first redeemer of the Jews, was physically present in Egypt prior to the actual exodus. Likewise, Moshiach, the final redeemer of the Jewish people, will also arrive some time prior to the actual redemption and the ushering in of the Messianic Era.

(Sefat Emet)

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." (Ex. 5:22-23)

The harshness of the galut 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. We are not allowed to resign ourselves to our present situation of exile with the excuse that "such is the will of G-d."

(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:13-65/Sh'mot)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that while the book of Bereishis is mainly about our forefathers and the tribes, the book of Shmos is about the exodus from Mitzrayim and the giving of the Torah, the foundations for the birth of the Jewish people. If so, why does the narrative begin with the exile itself and the harshness that followed? Why doesn't it begin with the positive idea of the Exodus? The Rebbe explains that even though the focus is the birth of the Jewish people, Shmos begins, not with the Exodus or Mt Sinai, but rather specifically with the exile itself and the descent that it demanded; this is because the whole purpose of the Torah is to help us transform and elevate the world. Shmos, the second book of the Torah, must first begin with the true preparation for the Exodus, which was the servitude in Mitzrayim. This teaches us how Mitzrayim was able to be brought under the power of the Jewish people, going from impurity into holiness. And, also, since the book of Shmos is the paradigm for the future and final redemption, it is also teaching us how we must behave to hasten the coming of the Mashiah.

While the above idea is both logical and beautiful, it can also be sad and frustrating. The Torah is telling us, that we can only reach the good by investing all our strengths in the purifications and elevations that preceed it. But where will we get the strength? How will we overcome the obstacles?

In an old Chassidic book, entitled Choshva L'Tova, the following is written: When a Jew is found in a difficult predicament, stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, he or she has to remember and realign themselves with the knowledge that even if all else fails, they have a Jewish name. Our Jewish names are the conduit through which the strength of holiness pours into us. Even at this difficult time, the Shechina is within us. When we think about this, we can't help but feel joy and happiness!

This is what the first verse of the Torah portion (and the book) of Exodus hints to. "Ailu HaShmos", "These are the names (that empower) of the Jewish people". When do our Hebrew names shine forth to give us strength? To answer, the verse continues, "haba'im Mitzrayma", "when we enter Mitzrayim". The word "Mitzrayim", translated as "Egypt", is from the root tzar, or narrow, and refers to difficult places in general. The verse then continues, "And Yaacov", reminding us too that our forefathers, the spiritual giants, are still with us. Through this, the verse concludes, "each man and his household arrive", each family is enveloped in holiness and in the protective shade of our holy ancestors and will not be stopped by any obstacle.

Rabbi Bunim said it in a different way. "Atem Nitzavim", "All of you are standing before G-d", is the first verse of one of the last portions of the Torah. Not only does this mean that ALL of you, ALL of the Jewish people are standing before G-d, but also, all of YOU, the entire person, all of his or her 248 limbs and organs and 365 sinews, is standing before G-d, regardless of our past actions. ALL OF US are enveloped in holiness, standing with no separation before our Creator, one with the Almighty. We are sure to succeed if we always remember our Jewish name.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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