In this week’s Torah portion, Shemos, we begin reading the second book of the Torah. There is a clear difference between these first two books. The first, Bereishis, tell us of the lives of our forefathers and their children, the twelve tribes of Israel. They were the foundation of the Jewish Nation. The second book, Shemos, tells of our exodus from Egyptian exile. It then tells how we received the Torah directly from Hashem, and then built the Tabernacle.
Based on this, we need to understand why the book of Shemos begins by telling us of our Egyptian bondage. One would have thought that it should have begun with our freedom from oppression; our exodus from Egypt.
The explanation is, that like everything else in Torah, it comes to teach us an important lesson. At times, we may feel as if we’re going through a difficulty. We are having a hard time serving Hashem. The truth is, as we see here, that the difficulty is the beginning of our salvation. Just as one takes a step back in order to begin running, so too must one overcome obstacles in order to race to redemption.
The Parshah begins with the words “these are the names of the children of Yisroel who came to Egypt together with Yaakov. Each one came together with his household.”
The Torah goes on to count and list the Jews. This is surpassing, because the Jews were already listed by name and counted two weeks ago, in Parshas Vayigash. Rashi explains this, by telling us that “Even though Hashem counted them in their lifetime by their names, He counted them again after their death. He did this in order to demonstrate how precious they are, because they are compared to the stars, which He takes out and brings in by number and by name …”
The nature of counting something expresses what they have in common. Each object is counted as one, no more and no less. On the other hand, calling something by name expresses how each one is unique; no two have the same name. Why does Rashi write that “he counted them by their names?” The two seem to contradict each other!
The explanation is that both are true. Each one of us has a “spark of Jewishness,” a part of the soul which is G-d’s essence. In this respect we are all one. At the same time, each of us has unique qualities, which we must use to bring Moshiach now!
Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 6, Page 7
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו
. Our Parshah, Shemos 1:1.
. Parshas Vayigash, Bereishis 46:8-27.