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Beit Midrash Zichron Dov
23 Tevet 5773/January 6, 2013 Parshat Shemot
Sponsored by Howard and Roz English and Chuck and Lydia English in memory of Howard and Chuck's father, Moshe Michael ben Yaakov Yitzchak haCohen z"l
Vol.4 Num. 16
Heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue
One of Moshe's arguments against being sent to Pharaoh is that he is not "a man of words", for he is "heavy of mouth and of tongue". (Shemot 4:10) Moshe Rabbeinu's problem aroused some discussion among the commentators who tried to explain it. Some thought that Moshe had difficulty pronouncing the words, and some thought that Moshe had a problem with the Egyptian language. Ibn Ezra went further, saying that both defects existed: "heavy of mouth" meant a congenital pronunciation problem, and "heavy of tongue" stood for a language problem. However, the real question, as asked by the Ran, (Derashot Haran, 3) is not what Moshe's exact defect was. The real question is why Hashem did not heal him of it; why did Moshe not enjoy fluent speech and a perfect mastery of the language, as would be expected from G-d's prophet? Or in Rashbam's words, "Can it be that a prophet whom G-d knew face to face, and who received the Torah from HaKadosh Baruch Hu, will speak in a confused way?" It seems that this speaking defect of Moshe was not only an external problem; it was also a part of the very essence of Moshe. For some reason, Hashem, in His wisdom, saw this challenge as appropriate to Moshe. We will try to understand why. A first hint may be seen in the Ralbag's commentary. (Shemot 4:10) Ralbag explains that the source of the difficulty speaking was in Moshe's long periods of isolation and solitude, during which he speculated upon Divine truths. As Moshe became more and more attached to Hashem, he lost his ability to speak well. His mind and spirit had gone into realms where the mouth could not reach, where language falls silent – and that was the source of his problem. A different reason for this speaking defect is offered by Rabbeinu Bechayye (4:10), who quotes a popular passage from midrash. The passage tells us that when Moshe was growing up in Pharaoh's palace, he would take Pharaoh's crown. Pharaoh came to suspect that the little child was meant to take his throne. In order to test him, Pharaoh placed in front of him a bowl with a gem and an ember. If Moshe would take the gem, Pharaoh would kill him. The passage goes on to say that Moshe did want to take the gem, but an angel shifted his hand from the gem to the ember. The little boy took the hot ember into his mouth, and the damage rendered him heavy of tongue and mouth.
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
This passage is very different from the Ralbag's explanation, of course. Nonetheless, I think we can see one similarity between them. According to both, the speech defect was caused by the gap between truth, as Moshe knew it, and the practical world, in which he could not express it - whether for real reasons, as Ralbag holds, or for political reasons, as in the midrash. Moshe's difficulty speaking is, by itself, a symbol of the disparity between the spiritual and material worlds. As Rashbam explained, Moshe was the greatest of all prophets, speaking with G-d face to face, knowing G-d unlike anyone before or after. However, unlike Rashbam's approach, these spiritual achievements were not in spite of the speech problem, but rather they caused it. As the man of G-d finds that he must cover his face, for the light shining from him is too strong (Shemot 34:33-35), so his speech must be concealed by a veil of heaviness and deafness. This explanation for Moshe's defect can also shed light upon an interesting phenomenon. While our parshah says explicitly that Moshe was heavy of mouth and tongue, and the solution offered by Hashem is to let Aharon speak, this problem seems to disappear as we advance in the Torah. In Devarim, after Aharon has already passed on, Moshe gives fluent and articulate speeches, that to this very day are seen as examples for well-delivered sermons. In the end, Moshe, who once found it so hard to speak, does not only speak – he sings! According to what we have written, we can see this constant improvement in Moshe's speaking skills as a constant advance in Moshe's journey to bring the Torah to his people. What began in Egypt as garbled speech, which could not be understood, ultimately evolved into clear, sharp language. email@example.com We are grateful to Continental Press 905-660-0311
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In Generation to Generation: Personal Recollections of a Chassidic Legacy, Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, the noted psychiatrist and author, writes (pg. 46): I remember that as small children, when we lit the Chanuka candles, Mother would tell us that when she was a child of five, she stood near her grandfather, the first Rebbe of Bobov, when he kindled the Chanuka menorah. Greatgrandfather would sit in front of the gl owing wi ck s, immersed in profound meditation. Mother related that she asked him, “Zeide, what are you thinking of now?” Great-grandfather turned to the child and said, “I am praying that you have good children.” A few moments later Mother again interrupted the meditation. “Zeide,” she asked, “what are you thinking of now?” This time the response was, “I am praying that your children have good children.” At the age of five, Mother was commissioned with a task. Greatgrandfather died soon afterward, but had charged the child with a duty… Our Sages tell us that prayer alone can accomplish only half the task, and that man’s effort must complete the remainder. But the Zeide’s prayer was more than a supplication to G-d. It was also a message to Mother, then a child of five, that there were expectations of her.
There is a perennially raging debate between placing expectations on children, and letting them be carefree. Not only does Rabbi Dr. Twerski suggest that we should we place expectations on our children, but he also suggests placing “unreasonably high goals for our children,” because “who knows what undeveloped strengths and potential may lie in a dormant child.” When we bless our children on Friday night with the blessing, “May G-d m a k e y o u l i k e Ep h r a i m an d Menasheh,” we are communicating to our children that there are expectations on them - not just regular expectations, but “unreasonably high” expectations. We communicate to our children that we expect them to strive to achieve the accomplishments of Ephraim and Menasheh. We tell our children: Just as Ephraim and Menasheh thrived as Jews in an alien atmosphere, so too we expect you to thrive as religious Jews. Although the blessing to our children begins with “May G-d make you,” and seems like a prayer, as Rabbi Dr. Twerski points out, prayer is only fifty percent. The other fifty percent is a message to our children, that we expect them to reach greatness. Rabbi Dr. Twerski says, “Do not hesitate to expect accomplishments of your children… Have confidence and trust in their capacities to achieve.” Setting expectations for our children communicates that the child has goals to accomplish, and must work hard to accomplish those goals. Setting expectations may be the greatest gift that we can give to our children. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hitoriri: Jewish Spirituality
The Scrolls of Egypt
A midrash (Shemot Rabbah 5:18) comments that the Jewish people kept megillot, scrolls, with them in Egypt, and they would read from these scrolls on Shabbat. This practice gave the Jewish people faith that G-d would ultimately redeem them. The midrash continues to state that Pharaoh increased the workload of the Jewish people in order to stop them from reading these scrolls. Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky (Emet L’Yaakov Shemot 5:9) suggests that these scrolls contained Psalm 92, the shir shel yom (daily poem) for the day of Shabbat. This poem conveys a message of trust in G-d: "G-d is just, my Rock, who is without corruption." The Jews read this every Shabbat in order to maintain their emunah in G-d, trusting that they would ultimately be redeemed. Thus when Pharaoh deprived the Jews of the opportunity to read these scrolls, the Jewish people lost their faith that G -d would redeem them, and did not listen to Moshe. (Shemot 6:9) A person who makes time to introspect is able to think about his religious (as well as inter-personal) goals, and is also able to assess whether he is taking the proper steps to ensure that he will reach these goals. Making time to introspect is vital to maintaining our emunah. The Talmud (Berachot 14a) tells us that a person who does not have a dream for seven days is called a wicked person. The Vilna Gaon (Sdeh Eliyahu to Berachot 14a) explains that the gemara's point is not about a sleeping dream, but about a waking examination of one's place in this world, which is compared to a fleeting dream (as seen in the text of "U’netaneh tokef"). During the week, we are very busy, and we often lack time to introspect. On Shabbat, we have time to take stock of our lives. The gemara tells us that if a person does not do this on Shabbat, and goes seven days without introspection, then he is called a wicked person. We should recognize Shabbat as a time to slow down, to think about who we are, what our goals are, and the paths to achieve those goals. email@example.com
613 Mitzvot: #237
Do not stand by
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
We have already learned that one may not harm another, whether physically or financially. Mitzvah 237 requires that we take active steps to defend others, fulfilling the biblical instruction, "You shall not stand by your brother's blood." (Vayikra 19:16) This imperative requires that we provide all types of assistance physical, medical, and economic. The mitzvah even obligates us to invest our time on behalf of others, such as in the requirement for people to testify on behalf of litigants. There is some debate as to whether one is obligated to endanger himself in order to save others, though; see Bava Metzia 62a; Niddah 61a; Yerushalmi Terumot 8:4; Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Rotzeiach 7:8 and Radvaz 5:218 as good starting sources. According to Sefer haChinuch, all of this is based upon the Divine desire for the world to be settled; civilization requires that we trust others to come to our aid. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Biography: Rabbi Pinchas Zabichi Torah in Translation
R’ Mordechai Torczyner
This Week in Israeli History
Rabbi Pinchas Zabichi was born in Jerusalem in 1960, into a Persian family of rabbis and community leaders. The family was part of the Mashadi Jewish community, which was forced to convert to Islam in 1839 in order to save the 2,400 survivors of a Muslim pogrom. Ateret Paz I 3:Choshen Mishpat 4 The community maintained a Jewish Translated by R’ Mordechai Torczyner lifestyle in secret until the rise of the more tolerant Pahlavi dynasty in 1925, [Discussing the halachic standing of and throughout those decades the Holocaust-era laws which targeted Jews, in Zabichi family acted to preserve their terms of legal ownership of property claimed brethren's material and spiritual after the war:] wellbeing.
The Law of the Land
Rabbi Pinchas Zabichi
Tevet 29 1995 National Health Insurance
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Friday is the 29th of Tevet Israel has offered governmentsponsored health care since the state was established in 1948, but the system was overhauled in 1995 with the institution of the Chok Bituach Briut Mamlachti (National Health Insurance Law). Shoshana Netanyahu, a justice on Israel's Supreme Court and aunt of current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, headed a panel which proposed this restructuring in the late 1980's. The earlier version of Israel's healthcare system was complicated by membership rules instituted by the four nationwide insurance companies, and by variations between the levels and types of coverage offered by each one. The new law enabled members to switch providers every six months, encouraging competition between those institutions. Further, the new law empowered the government to mandate a minimum set of services which the institutions were required to provide; these institutions also offer their own supplementary packages. To pay for the enhanced services, the government issued a progressive health insurance tax, administered by Bituach Leumi. While some contend that the minimum services are inadequate and the tax is too high, Israel now ranks in the top five countries in the world in life expectancy. [Israel has been highly ranked for decades, but entry into the top tier is more recent; see www.gapminder.org for statistics and graphs.] Currently, there are concerns about Israeli graduating too few doctors each year. To combat this, the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption have launched a campaign to encourage immigration of doctors from abroad. email@example.com
However, regarding his statement that one could suggest that the accursed Germans, may their names be blotted out, acquire the property because "the law of the kingdom is the law," that since they decreed that all Jewish-owned property would become government property it would therefore be theirs: This is not so, and this should be buried and never stated. In truth, the Talmud (Bava Kama 113b) does record Shemuel's statement, "The law of the kingdom is the law," and Rava there said, "You know this, for they kill [privately owned] trees and make bridges and we cross them."… However, the Rambam wrote (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Gezeilah va'Aveidah 5:13-14), "However, if a king takes a yard or field of a citizen in a manner of violence, not according to the ordained laws, he is a thief, and the owners may take it from a person who receives it from the king. The rule is this: Where the king enacts a law for all, and not for an individual, it is not theft. Where the king takes from this man alone, against the known laws and only as violence, this is theft."…
After years of study in Jerusalem's prominent Yeshivat Porat Yosef, Rabbi Zabichi was ordained at a young age. He currently serves on the beit din of Rav Ovadia Yosef. Rabbi Zabichi's writings include his Ateret Paz series of responsa, a book on Birkat haChamah (the "blessing of the sun" which occurs every twenty-eight years), two books on the ketoret (incense), a text on the service performed by the kohen gadol in the Beit haMikdash on Yom Kippur, and numerous pamphlets on various areas of law. Many of his works are available on an independent website, http:// www.bsd-paz.org/. firstname.lastname@example.org
replied, "The Hebrews are not [treated] like the Egyptian women," meaning that the decree is not upon all citizens, and so the principle that the law of the kingdom is the law is irrelevant. Therefore, "Pharaoh instructed his entire nation," even the Egyptians, so that the decree would apply to the entire nation It is clear that if a particular law was only and therefore the law of the kingdom issued for Jews and not for other citizens, would be the law. the principle of "the law of the kingdom is the Here, too, in our case, the entire matter law" does not apply… of murdering Jews, may their blood be See Pninim Yekarim (Shemot), who used this avenged, and taking their property in the to explain Shemot 1:15-19, "And the king of lawlessness of the Shoah, was a matter Egypt told the Hebrew midwives… When you of wicked attacks. Their wickedness birth the Hebrews… If it is a boy, kill him… operated via laws and statutes… And the king of Egypt summoned the uniquely against Jews and against their midwives… And they said, 'For the Hebrews property, making harsh and cruel are not like the Egyptian women…' And decrees, abnormal and aberrant, to Pharaoh instructed his entire nation, saying, inflict harm upon them, to murder their 'Throw every boy born into the river.'" One bodies and to steal their property. They could explain this to mean as the Ketzot extended their impure hands primarily haChoshen wrote (in Shev Shemaata) in the against Jews, killing widow and stranger name of Rabbeinu Tam, that we don't say and murdering orphans, then spilling that the law of the kingdom is the law unless their blood as water… Certainly, the king applies his decree equally for all absolutely, "the law of the kingdom" is citizens. This is what is stated in these entirely irrelevant. It is the law of theft verses: Pharaoh asked the midwives, "Why do and violence of these accursed ones, may you keep the boys alive? The law of the their name and memory be blotted out. kingdom is the law!" To which the midwives
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Our Haftorah: Yeshayah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23
Who is the prophet of our haftorah? Yeshayah (Isaiah) was a prophet in the period leading up to the exile of the ten northern tribes of Yisrael by the Assyrians. He lived in the southern k i n gd om of Ye h ud a h , a n d he prophesied during the reigns of Kings Uziahu, Yotam, Achaz and Chizkiyahu. According to the Talmud (Sotah 10a), he was a descendant of Yehudah and Tamar. The prophecies of Yeshayah may be classified in two categories, Rebuke and Redemption; the former dominates the early chapters of the book, while the latter occupies the latter portion. The split is not clean, though; portions of the former include redemption, and portions of the latter include rebuke. What is the message of our haftorah? Our haftorah can be divided into two essentially different parts. The first part, from 27:6 to 27:13, is a prophecy of consolation. The second part, from 28:1 to 28:13, is a prophecy of rebuke. Two verses of comfort from Chapter 29 (29:22-23) were annexed to the second part, in order to create a 'happy ending', as is done in many other haftorot. In the first part of the haftorah, Yeshayah tells us that even in exile, when the Jewish people are defeated, Hashem will always ensure that some remnant is spared. When the time comes and the enemy 'dries up' and loses his vitality, this remaining seed will spring forth and fill the land. On that day, the scattered people of Israel will be gathered from their places of exile – Assyria and Egypt - and return to Yerushalayim, where they will all bow in front of G-d. The second half of the haftorah is a bitter rebuke of the hedonistic lifestyle of the Shomron's high society. The people are described by Yeshayah as an arrogant mob, awash in desires and lust. They refuse to hear the prophet, mocking his teachings as appropriate for children, not mature and realistic adults. With whom do you think you are speaking, they ask him – 'To those who were just weaned from milk?' (28:9) Yeshayah's answer is that they are correct; to them, the prophecy does sound distorted and foreign. However, they are to be blamed; they refused to heed to G-d's commands, to 'give rest to the weary,' (28:12) thereby preventing themselves from being able to receive and accept G-d's words as they are. What is the connection to our parshah? As we have seen on other occasions, the connection to the parshah manifests in two layers. Explicitly, the verse in the end of the first half of the haftorah
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
promises that those who are 'lost in the land of Egypt… shall worship Hashem at the holy mountain in Jerusalem.' (27:13) However, there is another, implicit layer of connection between the haftorah and our parshah. It seems to me that the duality in the haftorah, with Yeshayah swinging from an elevated vision of redemption into a despairing reality of people who do not want to hear him, describes perfectly the situation in which Moshe finds himself at the end of our parshah. However, in our parshah the people are not open to hearing Moshe because they are immersed in hard labour imposed on them by the Egyptians. In our haftorah, the people of Shomron are not able to understand Yeshayah because they are slaves of themselves. This striking contrast, with its sharp lesson for our days, is, in my opinion, the main message that our sages wished to teach us by assigning this particular haftorah to our parshah. email@example.com
Highlights for January 5 – 11 / 23 Tevet - 29 Tevet
Shabbat, January 5 7:45 AM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Reasons for mitzvot and the parshah, Or Chaim not this week 10:20 AM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Parshah, Clanton Park 3:45 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Daf Yomi, BAYT After minchah R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Gemara Avodah Zarah: Talmudic Medicine III, BAYT 6:30 PM Yair Manas, Parent-Child Learning: Loving your neighbour, Shaarei Shomayim Sunday, January 6 9:15 AM Hillel Horovitz, Parshah Preview, Zichron Yisroel, Hebrew (Shacharit 8:30 AM) After maariv R’ Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, Clanton Park, men 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, 4 Tillingham Keep, mixed Monday, January 7 8 PM Monday night Beit Midrash at Clanton Park 8 PM Monday night Beit Midrash at Bnai Torah 8 PM Hillel Horovitz, Sefer Melachim, Week 1, Bnai Torah 8 PM R’ Ezra Goldschmiedt, Mesilat Yesharim, Bnai Torah, high school students 9 PM Hillel Horovitz, Rav Kook’s Ein Ayah, Bnai Torah Tuesday, January 8 1:30 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Daniel: Introduction, Shaarei Shomayim, Mekorot 8 PM Yair Manas, Chaburah: Sanhedrin, 33 Meadowbrook 8 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Compromise in Marriage and Parenting I of II, 26 Meadowbrook #7, women 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Rambam’s Laws of Kings, Shomrai Shabbos, men Wednesday, January 9 8 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Israel 2013 I: Anti-Zionism, Forest Hill Jewish Centre, Mediterranean refreshments, Fee Thursday, January 10 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Sotah, Clanton Park not this week
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