Sunday, January 28, 2018

Parshas Beshalach Messages 5778

Parshas Beshalach:

The Sages Say:

And Amalek came and waged war with Yisroel in Rephidim.’ (Shemos 17:8)

[Rashi HaKadosh brings from Mechilta and Gemara Sanhedrin 56b that we were given in Marah three Rules to learn and keep.] But when the Jews were in Rephidim, they loosened their grip from the Torah which they received in Marah, and as a punishment for this, Amalek (YM”S) came and waged war on them.  Because for the sin of wasting time instead of learning Torah (bitul Torah), troubles come to the world.

(Mechilta; Gemara Bechoros; quoted by Rabbeinu Bachya zt”l)


A Helpful Hint:

Then Moshe sang (lit. ‘then Moshe will sing’ -- אז ישיר משה)…’ (Shemos 15:1)

Our Rabbis said:  From here [we see] a hint to the Techiyas HaMeisim (Revival of the Dead) from the Torah [i.e. because of the fact that אז ישיר משה is in the future tense, ‘then Moshe will sing’ ~~ Sifsei Chachamim HaShaleim].

(Mechilta; Gemara Sanhedrin 91b; brought by Rashi HaKadosh)


A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

And it was when Paroah sent out the People [of Yisroel], and G-d did not lead them the way of the land of the Plishtim for it was close (see Rashi HaKadosh), for G-d said; “Lest the People will reconsider [leaving Egypt] when they see a war, and they will return to Egypt.”(Shemos 13:17)

Says Rabbeinu Bachya {ben Asher} zt”l:  Rabbeinu Chananel zt”l writes that Hashem led them the way of the Wilderness to multiply His Signs and Wonders, because if He had led them the way of the land of the Plishtim -- the close one -- and He had put in their heart that He would give them permission to cross over the way of their land, and He did not delay them at all, it would have “only” been a “light” Sign. [It would have been a “less dangerous” way, in some manner].  And therefore, Hashem’s Wisdom dictated that they go in a circuitous manner by way of the Wilderness to make the great and many Signs -- the Mon, the Quail, and the bringing of Water out from the Rock [all of which would help them to achieve faith in Him]…

And know, Rabbeinu Bachya explains, that all the topics of Yisroel [the Jews] and their happenings in the Wilderness -- they were a complete test in order to make their Souls greater; the intellect of the levels of Bitachon (trust in Hashem), which is the root of Emunah (faith in Hashem), in order that they would be fit to receive the Torah:  The Splitting of the Sea, the waters of Marah, the Mon -- which fell daily as much as was needed for each day, etc.  All these things were a complete test, in order to root in their Souls the trait of Bitachon… for the trait of Bitachon is a great main thing (ikkar) and Foundation of the Torah.

(Originally, the Jews would have turned back if they had seen a war -- that, in a way, was a lack of faith in Hashem.  With the proper trust in Him, however, they wouldn’t have been afraid.Hashem saw this in us, and He understood that He needed to lead us through the Wilderness in order to root Bitachon in our hearts.)  


Chassidishe Vort:

And they [the Jews] came to Marah, and they were not able to drink the water from Marah, because it was bitter (lit. ‘they were bitter’ -- כי מרים הם)…’ (Shemos 15:23)

There is a very famous Chassidishe Vort on this (usually quoted in the name of the Baal Shem Tov zt”l, but I have seen it in the name of the Kotkzer Rebbe -- Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk zt”l):  

What does it mean that ‘they were bitter’?  That the Jews were bitter -- that is why the waters tasted bitter.  Because when a person is bitter, everything seems bitter to them…


Mussar Message:

And the Bnei Yisroel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.’ (Shemos 15:19)

Says the Noam Elimelech {Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk zt”l}:  People are inspired only when they see revealed [i.e. clear] Miracles.  They don’t understand, though, that “nature” is itself one big Miracle in which we can regularly see the greatness of the Creator and be inspired from it.  

However, when we see a clear Miracle, we begin to believe that also just in “natural and simple life” there is a Supervision and intervention from Above and wondrous Miracles occur, but we are just used to them and so we don’t notice them…

Explains the Rebbe Reb Meilech zt”l; this is what the Torah is saying (in the verse quoted above):  ‘And the Bnei Yisroel’ -- since the Jews saw a clear and revealed Miracle, that they were walking on dry land in the middle of the sea, they came to an overall recognition that ‘[they] went on dry land in the midst of the sea’ -- that even when they are going on solid dry land, this is a wondrous Miracle, as if they are going in the middle of the sea…

(Quoted in Maayanah Shel Torah)


Chazak V’ematz:

And the Bnei Yisroel were going out with a high hand.’ (Shemos 14:8)

In any and every trouble and difficult situation, we are not alone.  Hashem is there with us.  And not only that, but He stretches down His Hand, so to speak, waiting for us to just reach a bit upwards and “grab onto it,” and let Him help to pull us out.  

So it was in Egypt -- a very challenging and harsh time, where the Jews had also sunken to a low level:  Hashem never abandoned us.  Just the opposite:  He “stretched down His Hand” for us to grab onto.  And indeed, as the verse tells us, we went out with a ‘high hand,’ i.e. we did reach upwards and grab Hashem’s outstretched Hand.  And He pulled us out of Egypt.

(Tal U’Matar)


Maaseh B’Rabbi…

For I am Hashem, your Healer.’ (Shemos 15:26)

A very ill chossid once came to Rebbe Mordechai of Neschiz zt”l:  He had already consulted many doctors, but they hadn’t been able to help him -- and now he came to the the Rebbe for a blessing and advice.  The Rebbe told him to go to a special doctor in the town of Anipoli.  He would be able to cure him.  

It was a long and harsh trip, but the chossid undertook it, and, Baruch Hashem, made it there safely.  And now he began to ask the villagers about the special doctor who lived there.  But they told him that they didn’t even have a doctor there!  The ill chossid, very sad, journeyed back to the Rebbe, and told him what had transpired.  

Then what do these people do, Rebbe Mordechai asked, if, Chas V’Shalom, someone would fall sick?  The chossid replied that what could they do?  They just would have to have faith in Hashem and ask Him to heal them.

This was exactly the thing which the Rebbe had wanted him to understand, and he told him that He (Hashem) is the doctor Whom he had been referring to.  And He Who helps the people of Anipoli would heal him as well.  And so it was.

(Related in Sippurei Chassidim)


A Gut Voch to all!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Amazing Shidduch Story!

The following story is related on the blog momof14:  

A 25 year old yeshiva bachur was still not married. Usually, yeshiva bachurim get married at ages 22, 23, not older than that.  So a 25 year old boy is considered old if he is not married by then.  This boy went out with girls and after the first date, none of the girls wanted to continue going out with him.  He had a scar on his cheek that looked like a cut which didn't look so good to the eye. He was an amazing boy, good middos, Yiras Shamayim, he was a really great boy. But every girl would go out with him on a date, she would see his scar, and there would be no second date after that.  Therefore, he got to the age of 25 and he was still not married.  So he went to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a and he tells him "Kvod HaRav I don't know what to do.  I want to get married.  My friends are all married and I am still in yeshiva." And he told him that he thinks that it's because of his scar.

Rav Kanievsky told him "The next time you meet a girl, talk to her about your scar on the date and tell her the story about what caused you to have this scar".  He didn't understand what difference it would make by him telling his story since he knew that if the girl does not like his scar then it doesn't matter what caused it. 

One or two months passed by and a girl was suggested to him.  He looked into her, and he hears that she is a very special girl with Yiras Shamayim, and exceptional middos. He asks what she looks like and he is told that she looks good.  This made him feel worried because he prefers that she is not going to be so good-looking because he knew that if she was really beautiful then she definitely won't be interested in him.  So he thought to himself "Maybe she doesn't look as good as people say; nobody ever says about another person that she doesn't look good even if she is not so attractive." So he decided to go out with her.  

On the way to the date he was very nervous.  He was hoping that she wasn't so good-looking.  He was hoping that maybe something would come out of it.  When he got there, he saw that not only did she look good, she looked stunning.  She was gorgeous! He was very disappointed because he knew that a girl that looks like this would never want him.  He went over to her and they started talking.  He noticed her looking at his scar.  As they were getting into a deeper conversation he saw how everything that he heard about her was really true.  She had good middos, Yiras Shamayim, she was truly a special girl.  As hard as it was for him, he decided that since Rav Kanievsky told him that he should tell his story about his scar then he is going to do it.  So he told her "I am sure you realized the scar that I have on my cheek.  Rav Kanievsky told me to tell my story about this scar on the first date so I am going to tell it to you." 

He told her that 5 years ago, when he was 20 years old, he came back from Yeshiva in Jerusalem.  He was learning in Mir Yeshiva and when he left it was late at night and it was very dark and deserted.  All of a sudden, he heard a young Jewish lady screaming. He saw an Arab man running after her and trying to catch her.  

He immedietly caught the Arab man, and he held him back from hurting the lady.  He screamed out for help and the neighbors came out of 
their houses to see what was going on and the young lady was able to run away 
before the Arab was able to do anything bad to her.  He (the bachur who is telling the story) saved her, but before he himself could run away, the Arab man took out a knife and cut his face. He was taken to the hospital and, Baruch Hashem, he was alright and healed.  He told her that this is why he has this scar on his face until today.

The girl lowered her eyes and when she lifted them back again to look at him, he saw saw that she had tears in her eyes.  She told him, "For years I have been looking for the guy who saved me from that Arab man on that day."

They got married to each other and, Baruch Hashem today they are happily married and they built a bayis ne'eman b'yisrael together.

A person that is close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, trusts in Him. You never know what Hashem plans for you and why He sends you certain challenges.  You may not understand why it's taking so long for you to find your zivug and why it doesn't work out for you with anyone.  But, whenever you find your zivug, everything will be clear to you.

Kol Tuv, everyone.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Parshas Bo Messages 5778

Parshas Bo:

This edition of Shabbos Sparks is dedicated as a merit for a Refuah Shleimah sent very swiftly to my dear friend, Chaya Shaina Chana bas Itcha.  She is in need of Mercy from Hashem.  Please Daven and/or say Tehillim, etc. for her.  Thank you so much, everyone.

The Sages Say:

This month shall be for you the head of months; first it shall be for the months of the year to you… (Shemos 12:2)

The Rabbis taught: [The Mishnah had said] ‘on the first of Nissan is the New Year for months…’

[The first of Nissan being the New Year] for months -- from where [do we know this]?  For it is written [Shemos 12:2 -- the verse quoted above]: ‘This month shall be for you the head of months; first it shall be for the months of the year to you…’

And it is [also] written [Devarim 16:1]: ‘Guard the month of the springtime [alt. first-ripening fruits]’.  Which month has in it the first-ripening fruits?  You should [i.e. must] say that this is Nissan, and it is called ‘first’.  

(Gemara Rosh Hashanah 7a)


A Helpful Hint:

Matzos shall be eaten for the seven days [of Pesach], and it shall not be seen to you [in your possession] chametz, and it shall not be seen to you leaven in all your borders.  And you shall tell to your son on that day, saying:  It is because of this (בעבור זה) Hashem did [acted] for me when I went out of Egypt. (Shemos 13:7-8)

Perhaps, suggests the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh {HaRav Chaim ben Attar zt”l}, the word זה -- ‘this’ alludes to the twelve marks of the Festival of Pesach (because it has the numerical value of 12):  Pesach, Matzah, Marror, the seven days of the Festival (which count as 7), and Kiddush for the two days of Yontiff (which count as 2).  This comes out to the number 12.  And this is what it says; ‘it is because of this [זה -- i.e. all these 12 things] Hashem did for me…


A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

And Hashem to Moshe: “One further Plague I will bring upon Paroah and upon Egypt; after so, he will send you out from this -- when he sends you out, he will completely drive you out from this.  Speak please, in the ears of the People, and they should borrow, [each] man from his neighbor and [each] woman from her neighbor, vessels of silver and vessels of gold.(Shemos 11:1-2)

We are told that the Jews really didn’t end up returning these articles to the Egyptians, so truthfully, how is it possible that the word ‘borrow’ was used in this context, when they were not merely borrowing these things?  What was going on?

Explains the Vilna Gaon {HaRav Eliyahu Kramer zt”l}:  The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 5:18) tells us that originally in the enslavement, Paroah set the example by joining the labors himself and further encouraged the Jews to high production quotas by offering big incentives.  Then he demanded that these quotas be met on a regular basis.  

With this in mind, we now have the answer to our question:  The persecution of the Jews was conducted with trickery, such as the plan for the midwives to kill the infants and claim that they were stillborn (which, Baruch Hashem, was foiled).  

Therefore, Hashem -- Who punishes measure for measure -- decreed that the downfall of the Egyptians would be through trickery as well, for how they had drawn the Jews into servitude through trickery.

(Brought in Talelei Oros)


Chassidishe Vort:

And Moshe said: “With our youths and with our elders we will go; with our sons and with our daughters, with our flock and with our cattle we will go, because it is a Festival of Hashem for us.  And he [Paroah] said to them [Moshe and Aharon]... “Let the men go now and serve Hashem, because that is what you are seeking…” (Shemos 10:9-11)

In the sefer L’Hisaneig Bi’Saanugim, the author tells that he heard to explain on this, that the main debate between Moshe Rabbeinu and Paroah was the attitude towards the Service of Hashem:  Paroah’s attitude towards Service of Hashem was just like towards mundane work (meaning that it was like a burden).  And if they were talking about that, then it was only applicable for the men, and not for the women and children.  

Said to him Moshe Rabbeinu; ‘With our youths and with our elders we will go; with our sons and with our daughters, with our flock and with our cattle we will go, because it is a Festival of Hashem for us’ -- what you see as work, as a yoke and a heavy burden, we view as a Festival; it is a Simcha (joy) for us!  And when you celebrate on a festival, (it isn’t only the men,) it is also for women, children and elders -- all of them are participants in the celebration.


Mussar Message:

And you shall guard the Matzos -- ושמרתם את המצות’ (Shemos 12:17)

Brings Rashi HaKadosh from Mechilta:  Rabbi Yoshiya [zt”l] says:  Do not read it [המצות] ‘haMatzos’, rather ‘haMitzvos’.  Like the way that we cannot let the Matzah leaven, so too, we cannot let a Mitzvah “leaven” [i.e. wait too long to perform it], rather, if it comes to your hand, do it immediately [with alacrity].  


Chazak V’ematz:

And I [Hashem] will pass in the land of Egypt on this night… (Shemos 12:12)

From this verse, the Sages derive (see the Haggadah) that Hashem personally carried out the Plague of the Firstborn, and did not dispatch an Angel or emissary to do so.

Says the Maharal of Prague {HaRav Yehuda ben Betzalel zt”l}:  From the foundation of the Jews as a Nation, Hashem’s relationship to us was direct and personal, without an intermediary.  When it was time to seal His Covenant with His People by freeing them from the land of their enslavement, Hashem did not delegate the task to any other.

(Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash)

Indeed, HaKadosh Baruch Hu is still personally involved in all of our lives and He Himself is always available to us…


Maaseh B’Rabbi…

And you shall guard the Matzos -- ושמרתם את המצות’ (Shemos 12:17)

There is a famous story told about the legendary founder of the Mussar Movement that connects to this verse:  

Before Pesach, HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt”l was once unable to be present at the baking of his shmurah Matzah, in which he was very careful.  The task was delegated to his Talmidim (students), and they asked him for directions.

Rav Yisroel instructed them to be very careful how they treated the widow who kneaded the dough.  For if they were to upset her, it would be a transgression of the Commandment to not oppress a widow.  relate

In his wonderful way, Rav Yisroel added that the Kashrus of the Matzos was not complete with only keeping the laws of Pesach in a nice way; but also with meticulous observance of the laws governing behavior between people.

(See Mussar Message for what Rashi HaKadosh brings on the quoted verse, and the above story connects beautifully with it:  For, while ‘guarding the Matzos’, we must still be careful to ‘guard the [rest of the] Mitzvos’).


A Gut Shabbos to all!