Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Beshalach

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This week we read the Torah portion Beshalach. It tells us of the incredible miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea. The Jewish nation had left Egypt a week earlier, and Pharaoh had a change of heart. He decided to capture the Jews and restore them to their former status as slaves. The Egyptian troops were coming closer to the Jews from behind; all they could see was the sea in front of them. It seemed hopeless. What did the Nation of Israel do?

The Torah tells us that[1] “Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold! The Egyptians were coming after them. They were terrified, and they cried out to Hashem.” Rashi, explaining this verse, tells us why they cried to Hashem. “They grasped hold of their ancestor’s trade (meaning that they prayed).” Rashi then gives examples to demonstrate that each of our forefathers prayed.

We have discussed several times how precise Rashi is with his language. Why would he refer to prayer as a trade? One is regularly engaged in his trade. On the other hand, prayer, a request for one’s needs, would seem to apply only when one has a need. This instance is a perfect example. The Jews felt that they were facing certain death, so of course, they prayed!

The explanation is that our perception of prayer is not entirely correct. We think of worship solely as a request for our needs, which implies that the purpose of prayer is for the individual’s benefit. One needs something; G-d supplies his need.

However, the fact is that Tefillah – Prayer is not merely for the individual’s needs. The Rambam writes that[2] “the positive commandment to pray is to serve Hashem every day through praying.”

The Rambam’s description of prayer teaches us that Tefillah is much more than a way of receiving our needs. Instead, it is a way to serve G-d, thereby coming closer to Him.

This is why Rashi specifically uses the word “trade” to describe prayer. We must continuously pray because we need to draw ourselves closer to Hashem. It is not merely something we do to obtain our requirements; it is one of the most important ways to connect to Hashem.

Prayer also serves the purpose of reminding ourselves that the only One Who can supply our needs is Hashem. One constant need that we all have is the coming of Moshiach and our redemption from this exile. We should all pray for this, and Hashem will undoubtedly answer our prayers.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 11, Page 52


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 14:10.

[2]. See the heading to the Rambam’s Laws of Prayer. It is. known that he wrote the headings himself.

This week we read the Torah portion Beshalach. It tells us of the incredible miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea. The Jewish nation had left Egypt a week earlier, and Pharaoh had a change of heart. He decided to capture the Jews and restore them to their former status as slaves. The Egyptian troops were coming closer to the Jews from behind; all they could see was the sea in front of them. It seemed hopeless. What did the Nation of Israel do?

The Torah tells us that[1] “Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold! The Egyptians were coming after them. They were terrified, and they cried out to Hashem.” Rashi, explaining this verse, tells us why they cried to Hashem. “They grasped hold of their ancestor’s trade (meaning that they prayed).” Rashi then gives examples to demonstrate that each of our forefathers prayed.

We have discussed several times how precise Rashi is with his language. Why would he refer to prayer as a trade? One is regularly engaged in his trade. On the other hand, prayer, a request for one’s needs, would seem to apply only when one has a need. This instance is a perfect example. The Jews felt that they were facing certain death, so of course, they prayed!

The explanation is that our perception of prayer is not entirely correct. We think of worship solely as a request for our needs, which implies that the purpose of prayer is for the individual’s benefit. One needs something; G-d supplies his need.

However, the fact is that Tefillah – Prayer is not merely for the individual’s needs. The Rambam writes that[2] “the positive commandment to pray is to serve Hashem every day through praying.”

The Rambam’s description of prayer teaches us that Tefillah is much more than a way of receiving our needs. Instead, it is a way to serve G-d, thereby coming closer to Him.

This is why Rashi specifically uses the word “trade” to describe prayer. We must continuously pray because we need to draw ourselves closer to Hashem. It is not merely something we do to obtain our requirements; it is one of the most important ways to connect to Hashem.

Prayer also serves the purpose of reminding ourselves that the only One Who can supply our needs is Hashem. One constant need that we all have is the coming of Moshiach and our redemption from this exile. We should all pray for this, and Hashem will undoubtedly answer our prayers.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 11, Page 52


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 14:10.

[2]. See the heading to the Rambam’s Laws of Prayer. It is. known that he wrote the headings himself.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Bo II

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In our Parshah, Bo, we learn of the exodus from Egypt. The Torah tells us that[1] “It will happen when your son asks you tomorrow, saying, ‘What is this?’ you will say to him, ‘With a mighty hand Hashem take us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’” The Torah uses the Hebrew word “מחר – Mochor,” which we usually translate as tomorrow. However, Rashi cites the words from the verse “if your son asks you tomorrow,” and explains that “sometimes the Hebrew word ‘מָחָר – Mochor’ means ‘now.’ Sometimes the word ‘מָחָר – Mochor’ means ‘at a later time,’ such as it does here.”

Rashi teaches us an important lesson by saying that we do not always understand the word “Mochor” literally. Each child is “Mochor,” i.e., from the next generation. With some children, we can say that “sometimes the Hebrew word מָחָר – Mochor means now.” He is indeed a child; he is a member of the next generation. However, he is living the life of now, the same sort of life that his father does. His essence is that of Torah and Mitzvos, and he is a direct continuation of his father. We must strive to answer his questions, and only through answering his questions can he maintain his service of Hashem with joy.

However, there is also a child that is in the category which Rashi refers to as “sometimes the Hebrew word מָחָר – Mochor means at a later time.” He is part of a new generation, a new era, and his questions do not merely stem from a lack of knowledge. A life of Torah and Mitzvos is strange to him. and such a life is not suited to how he is currently living.

Rashi teaches us that we must also answer this child’s questions because he is your child! It is both your responsibility and your merit to answer his questions. We must draw the generation that lives “at a later time” under the Shechinah’s wings[2].

As a result of busying ourselves with all Jewish children, we will merit establishing Hashem’s army[3]. We will merit now to the complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

I wish you a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 31, Page 61ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 13:14.

[2]. See Midrash Tehillim Chapters 46 and 110.

[3]. Our Parshah, Shemos 12:41.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Bo I

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This week we read the Torah portion Bo. The Parshah begins with Hashem’s command to Moshe[1], “… Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, so that I may place My signs among his nation.” Rashi explains why Hashem commanded Moshe to come to Pharaoh with the words “and warn him.” In other words, Hashem commanded Moshe to come to Pharaoh to warn him of the consequences of not listening to Hashem.

We need to understand this; in the very same verse where Hashem tells Moshe to come to Pharaoh to warn him against his negative actions, the Torah tells us that Hashem has hardened his heart. It would seem that the purpose of warning him is to change his attitude and do Teshuvah for his past misdeeds. However, if Hashem hardened his heart, how could he possibly do Teshuvah?

The explanation is based on a teaching in Tanya[2]. There are several instances regarding which the Sages say that one is not given the opportunity to do Teshuvah[3]. The Sages are particular with their language. They do not say that he is prevented from doing Teshuvah; they do not say that the power of Teshuvah is withheld from them. Instead, they say that he is not granted the opportunity to repent. “However, if he pressed forcefully and overpowered his evil impulse and did repent, his Teshuvah is accepted.”

Although Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart, he still had the free will to strengthen himself and do Teshuvah. By writing that Moshe’s purpose of coming to Pharaoh was to “warn him,” Rashi teaches us that even Pharaoh could do Teshuvah; after all, the reason for warning someone is so that he heeds the warning.

This teaches us that one must never feel too far gone to return to Hashem. Pharaoh, the wicked king of Egypt who enslaved the Jews and refused to listen to Hashem and allow the Jews to leave, was able to repent, i.e., return to G-d. How much more so is this true of every one of us. The Rambam tells us[4] that when the Jews do Teshuvah, they will immediately be redeemed. So may we see the immediate redemption now.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 6, Page 65


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 10:1.

[2]. For the following, see Igerres Hateshuvah, end of Chapter 11.

[3]. See Talmud Yoma 85, b.

[4]. Laws of Teshuvah, Chapter 7, Paragraph 5.

פניני רש”י: פרשת וארא

בפרשת השבוע שלנו, וארא, אנו קוראים שה’ ציווה את משה לדבר עם פרעה. משה טען שהוא לא הבחירה הטובה ביותר[1]. “הן אני ערל שפתיים (אני לא יכול לדבר ברור), ואיך ישמע אלי פרעה?” ה’ השיב לטענה זו באומרו , [2]“ראה, נתתיך אלקים לפרעה, ואהרן אחיך יהיה נביאך”. רש”י מסביר ש”אלקים לפרעה” פירושו שמשה יהיה “שופט ורודה לרדותו במכות ויסורין”.

כל מילה בתורה מלמדת אותנו הוראה לכל זמן ומקום. איזה לקח אפשר ללמוד מזה?

למה מתכוון רש”י כשהוא אומר שמשה יהיה “שופט ורודה לרדותו במכות ויסורין”? מוסבר בספרי חסידות[3]  שיש כוחות של רשע בעולם, המכונים קליפות[4]. הם אינם חס ושלום בלתי תלויים בה’. הכול תלוי בו! עם זאת, ה’ נותן להם כמות מוגבלת של חיות כדי לשרת את מטרתם, כלומר לספק לנו בחירה חופשית, ולאפשר לנו לשבור אותן. אולם, בכל פעם (חס וחלילה) שאחד מאיתנו נכנע לפיתוי, קליפות אלו שואבות חיוניות נוספת. מגיע השלב שהם הופכים לחזקים עד כדי כך שאפילו צדיק חסר אונים נגדם.

בכל דור, יש אדם אחד שיכול להרוס אותם; ה”משה” שבדור, מנהיג כל דור. זאת המשמעות של “ראה (קריאה של תדהמה)! עשיתי אותך אדון על פרעה”. אף על פי שפרעה היה במלוא כוחו, רק משה היה מסוגל להיות שופט שלו ומיסר ולייסר אותו במכות ובייסורים. אם רק אהרן דיבר עם פרעה, למה משה צריך להיות שם? כי רק משה הצליח לנצח אותו.

כשם שזכינו לגאולה ממצרים, כך גם נוכל לזכות לגאולה מגלותנו הנוכחית.

אני מאחל לכם שבת נפלאה!

רבי שמואל מנדלסון

עיבוד מתוך ליקוטי שיחות כרך 16, עמוד 60 ואילך.


[1] פרשתנו ו’, ל’

[2] שם ז’, א’

[3] ראה אור התורה על פרשתנו, עמ’ 231. ראה גם מאמר חסידי ד”ה “ראה כי עשיתי אותך”, מהשנים תשמ”א, תשנ”ז ותשמ”ה. כך מבואר גם בצורה כזאת בפלח הרימון. על פרשתנו עמ’ 64.

[4] המשמעות של השם הזה היא שהם חוסמים את האור היצירתי האלוקי שנמצא בתוך העולם.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eiro II

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This week’s Torah portion, Vo’eiro, begins the discussion of the ten plagues which Hashem brought upon Egypt.

Hashem told Moshe to deliver His message to Pharaoh. Moshe responded, “… I am of closed lips[1]; how will Paroh listen to me?” Hashem responded that[2] “You will speak all that I command you, and Aharon, your brother, will speak to Pharaoh …” Rashi cites the words “you will speak” and explains as follows. “You will speak “each message once, as you have heard it from My mouth. Then Aharon, your brother, will interpret it and explain it in Pharaoh’s ears.”

Rashi’s words imply that Moshe was present with his brother Aharon when they approached Pharaoh. However, Moshe repeated Hashem’s words once, verbatim in Hebrew; Aharon translated Moshe’s words and explained them clearly.

We see from Rashi’s words that Aharon translated Hashem’s words from Hebrew to Egyptian. Rashi uses the expression that “Aharon, your brother, will interpret it and explain it in Pharaoh’s ears.” The Hebrew word interpret is “ימליצנו – Yamlitzenu.” We find elsewhere that the same word with the meaning of “an interpreter.” Yosef’s brothers came to Egypt to request food from their brother, who they thought was the Egyptian ruler. They spoke Hebrew among themselves, assuming that the ruler would not understand them. The Torah says that[3] “They did not know that Yosef understood them, because the interpreter (המליץ – Hamailitz; from the same root as Yamlitzenu) was between them.”

Rashi writes that Aharon needed to explain Moshe’s words. A simple explanation was not enough. Rashi says that Aharon’s words should reach “in Pharaoh’s ears.” What does this strange expression mean? We found earlier that Yehudah approached Yosef to speak with him, and he said that his words should reach[4] “into my master’s ears.” Rashi explains there that “my words should enter into your ears.” In other words, Aharon’s words had to finally persuade Pharaoh to let the Jews leave exile.

We must all reach out to all those around us. However, our words must reach “into their ears.” We must speak to others in a way that penetrates their core. Then we will succeed in persuading them of the urgency to bring Moshiach now!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 16, Page 82


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. I have a speech impediment.

[2]. Our Parshah, Shemos 7:2.

[3]. Parshas Mikeitz, Bereishis 42:23.

[4]. Parshas Vayigash, Bereishis 44:18.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eiro I

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In our weekly Parshah, Vo’eiro, we read that Hashem commanded Moshe to speak to Pharaoh. Moshe claimed that he was not the best choice[1]; “I am of closed lips, (I cannot speak clearly), so how will Pharaoh listen to me?” Hashem responded to this claim by saying[2], “See! I have made you a lord over Pharaoh, and Aharon, your brother, will be your speaker.” Rashi explains that “a lord over Pharaoh” means that Moshe would be “a judge and a chastiser, to chastise him with plagues and torments.”

Every word in Torah teaches us a lesson for all times and places. What lesson can we learn from this?

What does Rashi mean when he says that Moshe would be “a judge and a chastiser, to chastise him (Pharaoh) with plagues and torments?” Chassidic Philosophy[3] explains that there are forces of evil in the world, referred to as husks or shells[4]. They are not Chas Veshalom independent of G-d; nothing is! However, Hashem gives them a limited amount of vitality to serve their purpose: to provide us with free will and enable us to “just say no” to them. However, whenever (G-d forbid) one of us gives in to temptation, these husks derive additional vitality. There comes the point that they become so powerful that even a Tzaddik is powerless against them.

In each generation, there is one person who can destroy them; the “Moshe,” the leader of each generation. That is the meaning of “See (an exclamation of astonishment)! I have made you a lord over Pharaoh.” Although Pharaoh was in his full power, only Moshe could be his judge and a chastiser and chastise him with plagues and torments.

If only Aharon spoke to Pharaoh, why did Moshe need to be there? Because only Moshe was able to defeat him.

Just as we merited redemption from Mitzrayim, so too may we merit redemption from our present exile.

I wish you a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 16, Page 60ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 6:30.

[2]. Ibid, ibid. 7:1.

[3]. See Ohr Hatorah on our Parshah, Page 231. See also the Chassidic discourse beginning with the words “See that I have made you,” from the years 5631, 5777, and 5715. It is also explained in this manner in the work Pelach Harimon on our Parshah, Page 64.

[4]. The meaning of this name is that they block the G-dly creative light which is within the world.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Shemos

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This week we read Parshas Shemos, which is the beginning of the second book of the Torah. The Parshah begins with the following words1. “These are the names of the sons of Yisroel who came to Egypt with Yaakov; each man and his household came.” Rashi cites the words, “And these are the names of the sons of Yisroel.”He comments that Although Hashem counted them in their lifetime by their names2, He counted them again after their death. Why did He do that? To let us know how precious they are. They are comparable to the stars which He takes out and brings in by number and by name, as it says3, ‘who takes out their host by number; all of them He calls by name.’”

Rashi is telling us that Hashem counted us by both number and name. Why were both necessary?

The explanation is that both reflect a unique characteristic of the Jewish people. In general, counting something expresses the common denominator between all things counted. Each item is equal. We measure each as a single unit, no more, and no less4. Conversely, calling them by name, demonstrates the individuality of each item.

We find both aspects in every Jew. Every one of us has what is called a “Pintele Yid,” meaning a spark of Judaism. The essence of G-d Almighty Himself is bound with the innermost part of every Jew. Counting us expresses this idea; each of us is equal, neither more nor less than any other.

Each of us also has qualities that no other Jew possesses. We all possess unique qualities. Calling us by name brings this out.

Therefore, when the Torah describes how precious each Jew is to Hashem, it specifies both name and number. That is why Rashi points out that “who takes out their host by number; all of them He calls by name.”

If we all fulfill our potential both in name and number, we will undoubtedly bring Moshiach Now!

I wish you a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 6, Page 7ff.

DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
Dr. Mindel Rivka (Muriel) bas Reb Menachem Mendel Shlomo ע”ה Stitt
Passed away on Shabbat Parshas Lech Lecha, 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5782
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life

IN HONOR OF 
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris 
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS 
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

1. Our Parshah, Shemos 1:1.

2. See Parshas Vayigash, Bereishis 46:8-27.

3. Yeshaya 40:26.

4. This is the reason for the Halachah that is counted can never be nullified in a mixture of food, no matter how large it is.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vayechi II

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We are told the following at the end of this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi[1]. “Yosef saw a third generation born to (his son) Ephraim. Also, the sons of Mochir who was the son of Menasheh were born ‘on Yosef’s knees.'”

What is the meaning of being born “on Yosef’s knees?” Rashi explains that “as Targum Onkelus translates the words – he (Yosef) raised them between his knees.”

In the Alter Rebbe’s[2] Shulchan Aruch[3], it says that the time of a baby boy’s Bris is the beginning of the entrance of his Divine soul into his body. Based on this, we can understand the explanation given by Targum Yonoson. He explains the meaning of “they were born on Yosef’s knees,” After they were born, Yosef circumcised them. The fact that the Bris was on Yosef’s knees means that it was their spiritual birth, i.e., the entrance of their G-dly soul.

This teaches us a great lesson, according to both Rashi and Onkelus. One is obligated to teach Torah to his children and his grandchildren. However, as far as great-grandchildren are concerned, he has no obligation to teach them as long as there are more qualified teachers than him. Nevertheless, from both Rashi and Onkelus, we see that Yosef taught his great-grandchildren, “he raised them between his knees.” This is even though Yosef had no obligation to teach them. Yehudah had founded and headed a Yeshiva full time before the arrival of all of the Jews in Egypt. Therefore, he may have been a greater scholar than Yosef. Yosef governed all of Egypt (including his family).

Consequently, he had the law of one who was “occupied with the needs of the community.” This would exempt him from the obligation of teaching. Nevertheless, we see that according to Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, there is an obligation to teach one’s great-grandchildren.

From this, we can learn a tremendous lesson. If one merits having great-grandchildren, he must teach them Torah, and if he is not capable, he must support the Torah institution where they study.  

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel MendelsohnAdapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 20, Page 243-249

DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 50:23.

[2]. The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (1745 – 1812), was the founder of Chabad Lubavitch.

[3]. The Shulchan Aruch is the Code of Jewish Law. Despite the fact that a Shulchan Aruch existed prior to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, at the behest of his teacher, he wrote a more up-to-date version. Additionally, the Alter Rebbe writes the reasons behind each law.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vayechi

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, we are told of the passing of Yaakov, our Patriarch. He spent his last seventeen years in Egypt together with his progeny. Once he knew that there was not much time left, he asked his son Yosef to make sure not to bury him in Egypt; he wanted to be buried in Israel together with our other patriarchs and matriarchs. He went so far as to make Yosef swear that he would do so[1]. He then blessed Yosef’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, and all of his children.

Once the time came, his children brought him to the Me’oras Hamachpelah, the burial place of his ancestors. The Torah tells us that[2] “his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and they buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Avrohom bought for burial property from Ephron the Chiti ….”

Rashi makes several comments on this verse. Among them is that Yaakov ordered that “… Levi[3] shall not carry it because he will carry the Aron of Hashem …”

We need to understand Rashi’s words. Carrying the Ark was something that Levi’s tribe would not do until the distant future. Even then, Levi would not carry it; his descendants, many generations later, would. Why should he lose the Mitzvah of carrying his father’s coffin and bringing him to rest? 

The explanation is as follows. The servitude in Egypt did not begin until the passing of Yaakov. Rashi says at the beginning of our Parshah[4]. “As soon as our father Yaakov passed away, the eyes and the heart of Israel were “closed.” This was due to the misery of slavery, and that was when they, the Egyptians, began to enslave them.” Bringing Yaakov out of Mitzraim to Israel marked the beginning of exile and slavery.

This is why Levi did not carry Yaakov’s coffin. Yaakov’s passing marked the beginning of exile and slavery. Levi had no connection with exile, and he and his tribe transcended exile. Levi was the only tribe never enslaved in Egypt, and their only master was Hashem.

Just as was the case with Levi, each of us can raise ourselves above the limitations of exile[5]. All one must do is “set himself aside and stand before G-d to serve Him, minister to Him, and know Him. He must justly proceed as Hashem commanded him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek.”

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel MendelsohnAdapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 20, Page 235


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1] Our Parshah, Bereishis 47:31.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 50:13.

[3]. Meaning his tribe; his descendants.

[4]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 47:28.

[5]. See Rambam, Laws of Shemittah, Chapter 13, Paragraph 13.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vayigash II

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This week’s Parshah, Vayigash, continues the ongoing saga of Yosef’s encounters with his brothers. The brothers had no idea who he was, and all that they knew was that he was the ruler of Egypt. Hence, they went to him seeking food during the years of famine.

Finally, Yosef could no longer stand the charade and revealed himself to his brothers[1]. It was a tearful reunion. Yosef told them to hurry back to Israel and let their father know that he was alive; they should also tell Yaakov that he was the leader of Egypt. The entire family should return to Egypt, where they would live in Goshen, the best part of the land. Yosef would personally take care of them.

Yosef gave presents to all of his brothers. “And to his father he sent the following; ten he donkeys carrying of the choicest products of Egypt, ten she donkeys carrying grain, bread, and other food ….[2]

What is meant by “the choicest products of Egypt?” What was it that Yosef sent to his father? Rashi offers two explanations. According to the Gemorah, the first is that it refers to aged wine[3]. He then cites an explanation that “according to the Midrash Aggadah[4], this (the choicest produce of Egypt) refers to pounded beans.” We need to understand this. Of everything that Egypt produced, why were beans mainly considered the best?

One explanation is as follows. Yosef knew that when his brothers would tell Yaakov that he was still alive, they would have to say that they sold him, thereby causing Yaakov great anguish.

Therefore, he sent his father pounded beans, also known as Egyptian beans. One would think that something that one pounds lose quality. Nevertheless, it is precisely these smashed beans, which are called the choicest of Mitzraim. Even though the Tribes of Israel had been pounded, this made them more substantial than ever. This was true to the extent that Yosef told his brothers that his being sold was beneficial. “It was to preserve life that Hashem sent me before you[5].”

There are many lessons that we can learn from this explanation. One is always to be careful that our actions and words positively affect those around us. Another is never to assume that something is not good; Hashem runs the world after all. And another is to judge everyone favorably.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel MendelsohnAdapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 10, Page 151


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 45:1-3.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 45:23.

[3]. Tractate Megillah 16, b.

[4]. Bereishis Rabbah 94:2.

[5]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 45:5.