Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Vayikra 5777

Torah Portion of "Vayikra" 


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


"Vayikra el Moshe..." (in English: "And He called to Moshe") (Vayikra 1:1)


The word "Vayikra" (in English: "And He called") is written with a small letter Aleph at the end of the word.  And it is written in the Ba'al HaTurim that the reason was because Moshe Rabeinu wanted that it should be written "Vayikar el Moshe" (in English: "And He chanced upon Moshe"), similarly to how it was written regarding Bilaam [in Bamidbar (23:4), "Vayikar Elokim el Bilaam"  which in English is translated as: "And G-d chanced upon Bilaam"].  For the Holy One Blessed Be He revealed Himself to Bilaam only as if by chance, and Moshe Rabeinu in his great humility didn't want it to be written "Vayikra", "And He called", which has the implication that He appeared to Moshe always (but that it should be written "Vayikar" - "And He chanced", without the letter Aleph at the end of the word).  And the Holy One Blessed Be He said to also write the Aleph,  and Moshe because of his great humility, responded again that it should not be written unless it is smaller than the other letter "Alephs" that are written in the Torah, and he wrote it small. And in the commentary of the R"osh on the Torah, it is written that Moshe said before the Holy One Blessed Be He, please, I have a request from You, that You should do something so that the generations to come will recognize and know that it is difficult for me this "Calling".  The Holy One Blessed Be He said, I will make the "Aleph" small, because you have made yourself small (because of Moshe's great humility).

"And He called to Moshe..." (Vayikra 1:1)


Rashi says that this (the use of the term "calling") is a language of love, the language which the angels of service use, as it is said "And one (angel) will call  to the other and say" (Yeshayahu 6:3).  It can be asked, what kind of a proof is this, that since the angels of service use the term "calling" that this is a language of love?  But the explanation is, as the Chatam Sofer says: behold the verse "And one (angel) will call to the other" is translated (to Aramaic) in the Tirgum Yonatan by "And they receive one from another".  And on the face of things, what is the connection between a language of "receiving" to a language of "calling"?  But we see that by means of the angel calling to the angel who is smaller than he is, the smaller angel is given additional strength so that he can sanctify Hashem and say "Holy holy holy..."  (Yeshayahu 6:3).   And we thus find that the "calling" of the angels causes "receiving".  And that is why the Torah specifies also regarding the speech of Hashem to Moshe the language of "calling", to teach us that by means of this "calling", Moshe was given additional strength to receive the flow of prophesy and holiness,  and if so, it's simple that this is a language of love.  

"A man if he offers from you an offering to Hashem" (Vayikra 1:2) 


The Holy books write that there is a hint here, that if a man wants to bring himself close to the Divine service of Hashem, he needs to negate all of his identity, to submit himself to Hashem entirely, and to negate his "I", his ego. And that is the intention of saying "A man if he offers 'from you'"; that is to say, if he is prepared to sacrifice "from you", his identity, then he is worthy to be an offering to  Hashem.

"A man if he offers from you an offering to Hashem, from the cattle" (Vayikra 1:2) 


The Holy Alshich wrote, that the main point of the service of bringing an offering to Hashem is, that he should think in his heart, that according strict justice, it would be appropriate to have done to himself that which is done to the cattle, to burn his limbs and dash his blood on the altar, G-d forbid, because of the sins which he has committed. And it is only because of the great mercy and kindness of Hashem, that the animal has exchanged places with the man.
And this is the intention of saying "A man if he offers from you", that is, the man needs to offer himself, but the sacrifice to Hashem is from the cattle, since the animal is in place of him.

"...from the animals -- from the cattle and from the flocks..."  (Vayikra 1:2)


Rashi says, one might be able to think wild animals are also included; to teach otherwise  the Torah says "cattle and flocks".  In the book "Eidut B'yosef" it is brought in the name of the Gaon Rav Ziskind M'Rotenberg z"l that behold, the early scholars found three reasons why we don't bring sacrifices from wild animals: 1) The Holy One Blessed Be He said not to bother you to go out to forests.  The explanation of this is that domestic animals are found amongst people but wild animals are found only in forests and places which are distant so that the hand of man cannot easily obtain them.  2) Hashem requests the pursued and the domestic animals are always pursued by the wild animals that want to tear them apart.  3) The wild animal has pride and a conceited spirit, but the domestic animal is humble and its spirit is as low as the earth, and the Holy One Blessed Be He hates pride and a conceited spirit.  According to this, in the future to come, when it will be as it is written (Yeshayahu 11:7) "A lion like cattle will eat straw together in one trough and a small lad will lead them", it will be found then that wild animals will be easy to obtain, and also there will be peace between the domestic animal and the wild animal so the domestic animal will no longer be pursued.  Thus, it will only because of the third reason, a conceited spirit (that we would bring only domestic animals for an offering).  And this is the explanation of the verse in Tehillim (51:19), "The offerings to G-d are a broken spirit", that the sacrifices are only from domestic animals who have a broken spirit.  And it is thereby demonstrated that "a broken and humble heart, G-d, You will not despise" (Tehillim 51:19).  But if you will say that this is not important but rather the first two reasons given above, on this the verse says "Do good as You see fit to Tzion...Then You will desire the sacrifices of righteousness" (Tehillim 51:20-21).  That is to say, that then in the future to come, there will not be domestic animals who are pursued and also wild animals will be easily obtained, but even so, only "bulls will then be offered  on Your altar" (Tehillim 51:21).  And it is thereby demonstrated that the main reason is because "a broken heart You will not despise".  (Tehillim 51:21).

"...to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting he shall bring it, in accordance with his will..." (Vayikra 1:3)


The Torah hints to us, that when a person brings a sacrificial offering to Hashem, it's possible that he might have a thought that he has already reached perfection and rectified everything, and has arrived at very highly elevated state.  Therefore the Torah says "to the entrance of the tent of meeting..." -- he needs to know that he is still standing at the entrance, at the beginning of serving Hashem, and is still far from perfection.  And also it is brought in the Gemara,  someone who has a broken heart, is regarded in the holy texts as if he has brought all of the sacrificial offerings, as it says "the sacrifices to G-d are a broken spirit..." (Tehillim 51:19). The main point of bringing a sacrificial offering is that one's heart should be broken within him, as he thinks to himself about far away he is from serving the Creator.  In addition, the continuation of the verse  states "in accordance with his will" (Vayikra 1:3); this shows us that the most important aspect of bringing a sacrificial offering is that one should bring his will closer to the true service of Hashem.

"...and he shall perform Melika (in English: pinching off its head) ..." (Vayikra 1:15)


It is written in the Sefer HaChinuch, what is the reason that when an "olah" (burnt-offering) of a bird is brought, they perform Melika (pinching off its head), and not like the rest of the sacrificial offerings which require Shechita (ritual slaughtering)?  The reason is that the children of Israel are compared to a dove, and the children of Israel are referred to in the Torah as a stiff-necked (i.e. stubborn) people.  Therefore they perform Melika (pinching off the bird's head), which entails cutting at the neck, to hint that it is necessary to remove the stiff-necked stubbornness from the  children of Israel (who are symbolized by the dove).  In addition, there are those who explain that the reason that an "olah" (burnt-offering) of a bird is Kosher even if it has a defect, is because it is written about the children of Israel "He perceived no iniquity in Yaakov" (Bamidbar 23:21) -- the Holy One Blessed Be He disregards the lacks and defects of the children of Israel.  And therefore, also the dove whom the children of Israel are compared to, is Kosher even if it has a defect.  Only if it has a great defect, such as if it is lacking a limb, is it considered invalid.

"...for any leaven, nor any honey, you shall not burn of it an offering made by fire to Hashem" (Vayikra  2:11)


The Baal HaTurim  says the reason for this is that leaven is symbolic of the Evil Inclination, and therefore the verse also warns about honey to hint to us that the Evil Inclination seems as sweet to a person as honey. 

Why are the Chatat (sin offering), the Asham (guilt offering), and also the Minchah (meal offering) considered to be Kodshei Kodashim (the most holy kinds of offerings)?


The Abarbanel wrote that the reason that the Chatat (sin offering) and Asham (guilt offering) are considered to be the most holy kinds of offerings, is that they come from a man who wants to repent and return to Hashem.   And that is very dear to Hashem, and therefore they are entirely holy to Hashem. And also, the Minchah (meal offering) is an offering made by a poor person, who has a lowly soul, and also he is very dear to Hashem, and therefore his offering is considered to be one of the most holy kinds of offerings.

The Torah Portion of "Vayikra" has 111 verses. There are 11 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments.The Haftorah is: "Am Zu Yatzarti" (Yeshayahu 43)


We say Borchi Nafshi


In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we are to be redeemed in the future.


May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Vayakheil & Pekudei & HaChodesh 5777


Torah Portion of "Vayakheil Pekudei HaChodesh"  


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov

The Torah Portion of Vayahkeil


"And Moshe assembled..." (Shemot 35:1) 


Rashi says that this occurred on the day after Yom Kippur.  It is customary for people to appease their friends on the day before Yom Kippur, but also on the day after Yom Kippur we should take care to continue to assemble together and to live in peace and brotherhood. And that was the intention of what Rashi says "And Moshe assembled - on the day after Yom Kippur".

"You shall not light fire in any of your dwellings on the day of Shabbat" (Shemot 35:3) 


It is brought in the holy books that even though the fire of Gehinnom is extinguished on Shabbat, for someone who desecrates Shabbat the fires of Gehinnom are kindled especially for him to punish him.  And this is what the Torah is warning us, that one should be careful not to desecrate Shabbat since that would cause the fires of Gehinnom to be lit up for him.  Also, the Sages said that the sin of desecrating Shabbat causes fires, G-d forbid.  And this is what the Torah is hinting to us, that you shouldn't cause fires to flare up in your dwelling places, because of desecration of  Shabbat, G-d forbid.  Similarly, if we are careful not to  desecrate Shabbat, then as a result there will not be any fires in our houses.   In addition, it is hinted in the holy books, that on the holy Sabbath,  one needs to be especially careful to prevent the kindling of the fire of divisive argumentation (Machloket).  On Shabbat people are present in the Bait Knesset and are not busy with their weekday work, so the evil inclination finds an opportunity precisely on this holy day to incite people to have disagreements and arguments.  And that is why the Torah says "You shall not light fire...on the day of Shabbat".

"Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur" (Shemot 35:30)


Why does the Torah, when it is telling the ancestry of Betzalel, also mention his connection to his grandfather Chur?  Rashi explains, because Chur was the son of Miriam the Prophetess, and therefore Betzalel merited to make the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  And there are those that say, that the reason Betzalel merited to do this, was because of his grandfather Chur who gave up his life during the episode of the Golden Calf, when he refused to make the Golden Calf, and they (the rabble-rousers) killed him. And also, this is to teach us, that by means of the act of the setting up of the Mishkan which was made by the grandson of Chur, that was a sign that Israel was granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf.  For if that was not the case, Betzalel could not have made the Mishkan, since he was the grandson of Chur who was killed in the episode of the Golden Calf, and someone who is a Katigor (acting, as it were, as attorney on the side of the prosecution in the Heavenly Courts) cannot be a Sanigor (an attorney of the side of the defense in the Heavenly Courts).  And also, Mesirut Nefesh (the devotion of one's soul) needs to be done without investigations and over-intellectualization, since the hesitance involved in such investigations will delay one's internal will to give up his life for the sanctification of Hashem Yitbarach, as the Chassid Yavetz states, and Nachshon Ben Aminadav who was the Prince of the tribe of Yehudah, devoted himself at the Sea with Mesirut Nefesh, and also Chur devoted himself at the episode of the Golden Calf.  And therefore, he (the Chassid Yavetz) said that since they didn't investigate or over-intellectualize too much, therefore Betzalel was filled with the spirit of G-d with wisdom and knowledge, etc., and that is why it is written "son of Chur of the tribe of Yehuda" (Shemot 35:30)  (from the Meshech Chachma) 

The Torah Portion of Pekudei 


"These are the accountings of the Mishkan...which were counted at the word of Moshe."  (Shemot 38:21)


The Holy Zohar asks, isn't it so that the blessing is not to be found except in something which is hidden from the eye, so why did they count all the silver?  And the answer is that regarding the silver which was counted by Moshe Rabbeinu, that the blessing rests upon it even if it is counted and not hidden from the eye.  And that is the explanation of the verse "these are the accountings of the Mishkan...which were counted at the word of Moshe" --  because they were counted by Moshe there was no damage or lack caused by the counting of the sum of the donations for the Mishkan, and on the contrary because of the power of Moshe's greatness and righteousness, there was no reason to prevent the blessing.

"...a hundred sockets (in Hebrew: "Adanim") for a hundred kikar..."  (Shemot 38:27)


The Baal HaTurim wrote that in parallel to the hundred sockets they established to say a hundred blessings every day.  And the Chidushei HaRim says that just as the sockets are the basis of the Mishkan, so also the blessings are the basis of the holiness of every man of Israel, and by means of the blessings he testifies that Hashem, may He be blessed, is the Master of all of Creation.    The Kli Yakar says that a Socket (in Hebrew: Aden) is from the same root as Master  (in Hebrew: Adon), and he says that someone holds himself to be lowly like a Socket, is a  Master, and as in the language of the Zohar, someone who regards himself as lowly, is great.

"...and Moshe blessed them." (Shemot 39:43)


Rashi states that Moshe said to them "May it be Hashem's will that the Shechina (the Divine Presence) should dwell within the work of your hands".  And the explanation of this is, that in all the activities that a person is occupied with, also in matters of physicality and earning a livelihood, it needs to be recognizable within that activity that he is serving the Creator and that the Shechina is present.  And that is the meaning of saying that "the Shechina should dwell within the work of your hands."

"...as Hashem had commanded Moshe."  (Shemot 40:19 and other places)


There are 18 times in this Torah Portion that it is mentioned "as Hashem had commanded Moshe", and it is brought in the Talmud Yerushalmi that in parallel to this there were 18 blessings established in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer.  And this is also to show us that in every act that a person does, he needs to know if that is in accord with the commandment of Hashem.

Why is the Torah repetitive?


Why did the Torah repeat separately the service in the Mishkan, and the commandments about the Mishkan, and the making of the Mishkan, and the setting up of the Mishkan, with all the details each and every time?  It is because the Holy One Blessed Be He desires very much to have His Shechina dwell within Israel.

The Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev.


The Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev, but Hashem said to set it up on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, since that is the month in which Yitzchak Avinu was born, and he was a Korban (sacrificial offering), and the Mishkan was the place to bring sacrificial offerings.  The month of Kislev came with a complaint, "why are they waiting till the month of Nissan?" So Hashem said, it is incumbent upon me to "pay" Kislev with the holiday of Chanukah.  (from the Sages)

The Siman (Mnemonic Sign) at the end of every Torah Portion.


At the end of every Torah Portion appears the sum of the number of verses in the Torah Portion, together with a corresponding mnemonic sign, except for the Torah Portion of Pekudei.  There is no mnemonic sign for the sum of the number of verses.  And it has been explained in the name of one of the Tzaddikim (Righteous Men), that in his opinion, that was just an omission of the printer.  And it is possible that it was written "Bli Kol Siman" (In English: "without any mnemonic sign") --- that is to say, the "Siman" (in Engish: "mnemomic sign" ) was "Bli Kol" (in English: "without any")  which has the Gematia (numerical value of the letters) of 92, which is the number of verses in the Torah Portion.   And the printer came and understood it in a simple manner, that there was no mnemomic sign, and therefore left it out...(from Otzar HaChaim, as brought in the book "Torat HaParshah"). 

The Torah Portion of HaChodesh:


The reason for this reading is to sanctify and declare the month of Nissan, because of the importance of this month, for so it is written in the Torah: "This month will be to you the head of the months; it is the first for you of the months of the year". (Shemot 12:2) It is the head of the months and of the festivals. (Practically speaking, this is not the actual sanctification of the month but rather just an addition of holiness.)

Another reason for this reading: to announce to the people that Passover is coming soon, so that they should prepare themselves to come up to Jerusalem for the festival. The Mitzvah of coming up to Jerusalem for Passover is more stringent than for the the other festivals, because of the "Korban Pesach" (Passover offering), which is a positive commandment that has the punishment of
Korait (cutting off) if not fulfilled.

10 Crowns that were taken by Rosh Chodesh Nissan:

1) The first for the act of creation
2) The first for the princes; the princes began to bring sacrificial offerings
3) The first for the priests (the Kohanim); the priests began to do their service
4) The first for the service; the sacrifices of the community began to be offered
5) The first for the coming down of fire upon the sacrificial altar
6) The first for eating of the holy offerings, according to their statutory laws
7) The first for the indwelling of the Divine Presence
8) The first time for the Kohanim to bless the people of Israel
9) The first time when it became forbidden to offer sacrifices on Bamot, so that they would be offered only in the Mishkan
10) The first of the months of the year

On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Moshe blessed Israel, May it be His will that the Divine Presence will dwell in the acts of your hands.

It is customary from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the 13th of the month to say each day the Torah verses about one of the princes from the dedication of the sacrificial altar. On the the first day, we begin with "Vayihi Biyom Kalot Moshe"; on the 12th day we complete the Torah portion of Naso; and on the 13th
day we say the Torah portion of Baaloticha until "Et Hamenorah". (A Kohen or a Levi should not say the Yehi Ratzon.) (from Mishna Berura, Siman 429)

We bless "Chazak" at the end of the Torah Portion of Pekudei, which is the end of the book of Shemot.

The Torah Portion of "Vayakheil" has 122 verses. It has 1 negative commandment.  The Torah Portion of "Pekudei" has 92 verses. It has 4 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments. Two Torah Scrolls are taken out: 1) for the weekly Torah portion 2) for the Torah Portion of "Bo", from "Vyomar Hashem... HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem" until "Tochlu Matzot". The Haftorah is "Kol HaAm HaAretz" (Yechezkel 45)


This week is Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Nissan.  Rosh Chodesh Nisan is on Yom Shlishi (Tuesday).  The Molad is Ohr L'Yom Shlishi at the hour 7:04 with 10 Chalakim.


We say Borchi Nafshi


May you have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ki Tisa & Para 5777

The Torah Portion of "Ki Tisa - Para "  


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov



"This is what they shall give..." (Shemot 30:13)


Rashi explained that the Holy One Blessed Be He showed Moshe a sort of coin of fire and told him: "Something like this is what they shall give".  The coin of fire hints that fire is able to be beneficial and also to cause damage.  Fire is able to burn, G-d forbid, but it is also able to cook and to heat and to give light, and the like.  Similarly, the coin, if it is used for Tzedaka (charity) and acts of kindness, then it has great benefit; but if we use money when it isn't for the purpose of fulfilling a Mitzvah, it can burn and cause damage, G-d forbid. (from Noam Elimelech)

The Coin of Fire


The coin of fire also hints that just as fire is able to give enjoyment to several people simultaneously and the fire does not get used up any faster because of that, so too someone who gives (tzedaka) does not diminish his property and won't be lacking anything.  The coin of fire also hints that even for a poor person who is only able to give a little bit and a small amount, if his giving is done with the enthusiasm of fire then even the small amount that he gives is thought of as a great donation, and it is also able to be an atonement for his soul like a great donation.

"...half of the shekel..." (Shemot 30:13)


And why not a whole one?  Because a man needs to regard himself as a half, and not as a complete person.

"...half of the shekel..."  (in Hebrew:  "Mechatzit HaShekel") (Shemot 30:13)


In the Hebrew word "Mechatzit" (in English: "Half of"), the first letter is "Mem" and the last letter is "Tav", which together spell the Hebrew word "Mait" (in English, that means "Dead"), the second letter and the letter next to the last are the letters "Chet" and "Yud", which together form the Hebrew word "Chai" (in English, that means "Alive"). In the middle of the word is the letter "Tzaddi", (which is the first letter of the Hebrew word for "Tzedaka" -- in English, "Charity").  This comes to hint to us that someone who gives Tzedaka (charity) is saved from death to life, as it is written "and Tzedakah will save from death" (in the verses Mishlei 10:2 and Mishlei 11:4).



"... and into the heart of all who are wise of heart I have put wisdom..." (Shemot 31:6)


The Sages, may their memory be blessed, say that Hashem gives wisdom to the wise.  It can be asked, how did they get their original wisdom?  There are those who explain that the intention of this verse is that Hashem gives wisdom to those who have fear of Heaven, which is called wisdom, as it is written "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem" (Tehillim 111:10). And there are those who explain that Hashem gives wisdom to those who want the wisdom and know to appreciate it.

"...Only (in Hebrew: "Ach") observe my Sabbaths..."  (Shemot 31:13)


The Hebrew word "Ach" is a language of limitation and exclusion, as when it is used in the context of  Hagalat Kailim (Kashering pots).  The verse about Kashering pots states: "...Only  (in Hebrew: "Ach") the gold and the silver..." (Bamidbar 31:22).  And the Sages derived from that verse, that the word "Ach" comes to exclude the rust and the tarnish. Therefore one needs to clean the rust off before Kashering the pots.  Similarly it is possible to derive from the current verse (in which the Hebrew word "Ach" is also used) that before Shabbat one needs to clean the "rust" off one's body, and to purify himself by doing repentance in preparation for Shabbat, in order to enter Shabbat when he is clean.  And then he will be able to receive the Shabbat with perfection.  (from the Sefat Emet)

"...it is a sign forever..." (Shemot 31:17) 


The Shabbat is like a sign.  Just as in the case of a store, even if it is closed, all the time that the sign is hanging at the entrance, it's an indication that the store will be open in the future.  But if the sign is taken down it's an indication that the store will never open again.  Similarly, regarding the Shabbat, if it happens that G-d forbid a Jew stumbles in a sin, all the time that he still observes the Shabbat it's an indication and evidence that he is a Jew who has a connection in his heart to the Holy One Blessed Be He.  But if he doesn't observe the Shabbat, the sign is removed and it's evidence that he doesn't have any connection to the Holy One Blessed Be He and the Torah.  (from the Chafetz Chaim)

"...and he put on his face a mask."  (Shemot 34:33)


The Kli Yakar says that Moshe was a very humble and shy person, and that everyone looked at him, and therefore he put a mask on his face because he felt embarrassed.  But when he came to learn Torah from Hashem he took off the mask because (as it says in Pirkei Avot Chapter 2) "the bashful person cannot learn". 

"...Carve for yourself..."  (Shemot 34:1)


Rashi says about this verse, "the chips shall be yours".  And from the point of view of Mussar (Ethics), when you see on yourself something which is "chipped" or defective in any way, you should not blame this on other people, but reallize that "all the chips are yours", you are responsible for all of it.  

"...the chips shall be yours.  From this Moshe became wealthy..." (Rashi on Shemot 34:1)


Another explanation of Rashi's comment that "the chips shall be yours", is that the chips are a reference to the little bits of free time that a person doesn't usually pay attention to.  But if a person would take advantage of those small bits of free time that seem to crumble into nothing because of their briefness, he will be able to merit to great wealth. If he will gather up those small time segments (and use them for learning Torah), they will add up to many hours and he will merit to be rich in his Torah knowledge because of them.

"You shall not make yourselves molten gods." (Shemot 34:17)


Immediately after this verse it is written: "You shall observe the Festival of Matzot".  (Shemot 34:18) Why are these verses next to each other, and what is the connection between the two of them?  The reason is that on Erev Pesach (the time before Passover), because of much distress and the pressure of the work, it is possible G-d forbid to become angry.  And behold, "everyone who is angry it is as if he is worshipping idols" (Gemara Shabbat 105b).  And that is the reason for the juxtaposition of the Festival of Matzot next to the sin of idol worship.  Similarly the Be'er Haitev brings in the name of the Rokach, that a person should not say ""how much hardship there is in this Pesach", because that is the statement of the Rasha (the wicked one of the four sons discussed in the Passover Hagaddah) who said "What is this work to you?"

THE TORAH PORTION OF PARA 


The reason for the reading of the Torah Portion of Para (the Red Heifer) is that at the time when the Temple existed and they could sacrifice the Passover offering, someone who was impure because of contact with a dead person was not able to bring the offering unless he became purified beforehand by means of the ashes of the red heifer.  It was necessary to remind and announce to everyone who had become impure from contact with a dead person to purify himself from that impurity, so that he could bring the Passover offering at the right time. 

Therefore  they began early to encourage people about it before the month of Nissan, so that those who lived far away from Jerusalem would already start to leave their cities on Rosh Chodesh Nissan in order to go up to Jerusalem, and while the people were still at home in their cities, they would remind them that if someone had become impure from contact with a dead person, he first needed to purify himself.  And even though, in our many sins, the Temple has been destroyed and we don't have the bringing of the Passover offering and don't have impurity from a dead person which we need to be purified from beforehand, in any event we learn about these commandments and laws and pray before Hashem, may His name be blessed, that also upon us will be cast the purifying waters, in the near future.  And by means of learning these laws may it be considered as if we have purified ourselves from our impurity.

There are those that say that also the reading of the Torah Portion of Para is a Mitzvah D'Oraita (a commandment from the Torah), but the opinion of most of the Halachic authorities is that this reading is a Mitzvah D'Rabanan (a commandment from the Rabbis).  In the Sefer Aruch HaShulchan, and in the Sefer Dovev Meisharim, there are sources brought about this.  And it is written in the Mishna Brura (Section 685, small section 15) that even for a Mitzvah D'Rabanan (a commandment from the Rabbis), it is also necessary to have intention to fulfill the Mitzvah.

"...And they shall take to you..." (Bamidbar 19:2)


The Holy One Blessed Be He said to Moshe that only "to you" I am revealing the reason for the Para Adumah (Red Heifer), and not to anyone else.  And even Shlomo HaMelech that Scriptures says about him that he was wiser than all the people, and he was expert in all kinds of wisdom, did not grasp the secret of the Para Adumah, and that is why he said: "I said that I would become wise, but it is distant from me" (Kohelet Chapter 7).  That is to say, I thought in my heart that I would become wise and succeed to understand the secret of the Para Adumah, and behold, it is distant from me.  The words "it is distant" in Hebrew have the same Gematria (numerical value) as "Para Adumah".

The Torah Portion of "Ki Tisa" has 139 verses, 4 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments.  


Two Torah Scrolls are taken out: 1) for the weekly Torah portion and 2) for the Torah portion of Para, from the beginning of the Torah Portion of Chukat until the words "ad haerev" (in English: until the evening).

The Haftorah is "Vayehi Devar Hashem" (Yechezkel 36)


We say Borchi Nafshi


May you have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Purim 5777

Purim - Megillat Esther 


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


The entire story of the miracle of Megillat Esther took place over a period of nine years.  It began in the third year of the reign of King Achashveirosh, at the time  when they killed Vashti.  In the seventh year of the reign of King Achashveirosh he took Esther as a wife, and in the twelfth year of his reign was the decree of Haman.  And at the time when they killed Vashti, not a single Jew foresaw that there would be a connection between that event and the salvation of Israel.  It was only afterwards when Achashveirosh took Esther that they began to understand a little bit that there might be a connection.  And it was only after nine years when the decree of Haman occurred, and by means of Esther the decree was cancelled, that they understood the preceding events. They saw that all those events had been connected together in order to save them from the decree of being destroyed and killed.  And so it will be in the future to come when the Holy One Blessed Be He reveals Himself in His great Compassion and Kindness, at that time all of us will understand that all the events that occurred throughout all the years have been connected together for the purpose of the future redemption, may it occur speedily in our days, Amen.

"And he raised (in Hebrew: "Omen") Hadassah..." (Megillat Esther 2:7)


The Hebrew word "Omen" has the same root as the Hebrew word "Emunah" (in English: Faith).  The meaning of this is that Mordechai the Tzaddik trained Esther to have faith that everything that happens to her is all  a result of Divine Providence.

Why is the name of the holiday called Purim?


There are those who ask why the name of the holiday is called "Purim" (based on the Hebrew word "Pur", meaning "lottery"), shouldn't it have been called "Yom HaHatzala", the day of salvation?  The explanation is that when Achashveirosh said to Haman "..and the people to do with it as is good in your eyes" (Megillat Esther 3:11), he should have immediately gone to battle to kill Israel, but it came up in his mind that it would be better to do a lottery and not to begin immediately.  Therefore there was more time to pray and within four days of the decree they hanged Haman on the tree.  The decree was on the 13th of Nisan and they hanged him on the 16th of Nissan.  From this we see the power of prayer.

"...and fast for me, and don't eat and don't drink for three days.." (Megillat Esther 4:16)


There is a difficulty in this verse, for there seems to be an unnecessary repetition; since it said "fast for me", isn't it obvious that they aren't eating and drinking?  And the explanation is, that during those three days was also the first day of Passover, and there is a requirement from the Torah to eat Matzah and drink the four cups of wine.  And that is what Esther was saying, "fast for me", and even though the Yom Tov of Passover comes out during those days, in any event don't eat Matzah.  And don't drink the four cups of wine.  And Esther's intention in this was that if they didn't fulfill the Mitzvot of the holiday of Passover, this would show the Heavens how the world would look without the people of Israel.  Just as now they are not fulfilling the Mitzvot of the night of the Seder, so it would be if G-d forbid there would be a decree of destruction, and by means of this Mercy would be aroused in the Heavens to cancel the decree.

"For the Jews there was Light and Happiness and Rejoicing and Honor." (Megillat Esther 8:16) 


In the Gemara "Megillah", it says that Light means Torah, Happiness means Yom Tov, Rejoicing means Mila (Circumcision) and Honor means Tefillin (Phylacteries).  The question is, why are these written only as a hint, it could have been written explicitly "Torah, Yom Tov, Mila, and Tefillin"?  But the explanation is that Israel rose at that time to such a great level that they felt that the Torah was their light, that Yom Tov was their happiness, that Mila was their rejoicing, and that Tefillin was their most precious, honored object. (from the Sefat Emet)

Purim Sameach!  (Happy Purim!)


L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Tetzaveh & Parshat Zachor 5777

Torah Portion of "Tetzaveh & Parshat Zachor"  


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov



"And you will command..."  (Shemot 27:20)


The word "command" linguistically indicates encouragement, and apparently this presents a difficulty.  Why is this language of encouragement used in the Torah Portion of Tetzaveh, whereas in the Torah Portion of T'rumah in which the main donations for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) were discussed, this language of encouragement was not used at all?  The explanation is that it is easier to give a lot at one time, than to give even a little bit but on a regular, daily basis.  Therefore, the lighting of the Menorah which was done on a regular, daily basis, requires encouragement.  (from the Gaon HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz) 

"...crushed for illumination..." (Shemot 27:20) 


Rashi explains, that the olives are crushed for illumination but not crushed for "Menachot" (meal-offerings).  A person needs to be "crushed", that is broken in his own eyes, but only on condition that this will be for the purpose of "illumination", and that he doesn't come because of that to sadness and bitterness, G-d forbid.  That is to say, that he does not come because of this to "Menachot" (meal offerings), which in Hebrew is linguistically related to weakness.

"Tarshish and Shoham and Yashfeh" (Shemot 28:20)  [Translator's note: These are names in Hebrew of three of the precious stones on the Choshen (breastplate) of the Kohen HaGadol.]  


The Yashfeh was the stone of the tribe of Benyamin, and the Ba'al HaTurim says this is hinted at by the Gematria (numerical value of the Hebrew letters of the words).  The Gematria  of Yashfeh with the Kollel (one more for the word itself) is equal to the Gematria of Benyamin son of Yaakov. In the Gemara there is a story told about Dama Ben Netina. The Jews came to buy from him a Yashfeh stone for the Choshen (breastplate), but since his father was sleeping at that time on top of the chest in which the Yashfeh was stored, he didn't want to wake him up.  He honored his father, even though he lost a lot of money because of it.  In reward for this, he received a reward from Heaven that made him wealthy after that.  His cow gave birth to a Para Adumah (Red Heifer), and the children of Israel bought it from him for a great amount of money.  The Meshech Chachma clarifies why the stone from Benyamin had been lost.  All of the tribes caused sorrow to their father in the sale of Yosef, and even Yosef caused him sorrow about it because he didn't notify his father that he was in Egypt because he was afraid of the Cherem.  (His brothers had imposed a condition of Cherem, ex-communication, on anyone who told their father about the sale.)  But Benyamin honored his father (since he didn't participate in causing him sorrow through the sale of Yosef), and therefore the Shechina dwelled in his portion.  Therefore when the stone of Benyamin was lost, the Holy One Blessed Be He showed them the greatness of the Mitzvah of honoring one's father through Dama Ben Netina, and this was precisely with the stone of Benyamin, because Binyamin had honored his father. 

"... and the Choshen (breastplate) will not be loosened from upon the Ephod."  (Shemot 28:28)


Why did the Torah emphasize the importance of the attachment of the Choshen and the Ephod to each other at all times?  The "Chatam Sofer" says that the Sages said that the Choshen atones for the perversion of justice and the Ephod atones for idolatry.  And these transgressions are connected to one another, for behold, the Sages said (in Sanhedrin) that anyone who appoints a judge who is not appropriate, it is as if he planted an Asheira (a tree which was worshipped as an idol) next the the Mizbeach (the sacrificial altar).  Therefore, the Torah said to join the Choshen to the Ephod in order to teach us that these transgressions are equivalent to one another.

"And you shall make the Me'il...the opening of its head shall be folded over within it, its opening shall have a border all around...a golden bell and a pomegranate" (Shemot 28:31-34) 


The Sages say that the Me'il (the robe of the Kohen HaGadol) atones for the sin of Lashon Hara (evil speech).  The reason is, that there ought to be something that has a sound in order to atone for Lashon Hara, which occurs through sound, and the Me'il has a sound emanating from its bells. In addition, the Me'il was folded over at its top opening, to hint that one needs to greatly guard himself in order to keep his mouth closed.  And also "a golden bell and a pomegranate" comes to hint to us that on the one hand, one needs to keep his mouth closed like a pomegranate and not speak forbidden speech, for the pomegranate is like an egg which is sealed and doesn't have a mouth.  And on the other hand, when one's speech is for a holy purpose he shouldn't keep quiet but rather open his mouth, like the bells that made a sound for the purpose of holiness, as it is written "its sound shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary" (Shemot 28:35), meaning that when it comes to a matter of holiness the sound of one's voice should be heard (for example, when praying or learning Torah).  In addition the Chafetz Chaim writes that if one does so (that is, closes his mouth to avoid forbidden speech, but makes his voice heard  for the purpose of holiness), "his voice will be heard when he enters the Sanctuary", that is to say, that his prayers will be accepted.

All the Clothing of the Kohen HaGadol serves as an Atonement


These are the things that the clothing of the Kohen HaGadol atones for: The Mitznefet (mitre) atones for having a coarse spirit.  The Tzitz (golden plate on the mitre) atones for brazenness, and for blood that was dashed or fat that was burned (in the Temple) in a state of impurity.  The Choshen (breastplate) atones for the perversion of justice.  The Me'il (robe) atones for Lashon Hara (evil speech).  The Ephod (apron) atones for idolatry.  The Avnet (girdle) atones for improper thoughts.  The K'tonet (tunic) atones for bloodshed.  The Michnesayim (breeches) atones for immorality.

"And I will dwell among the children of Israel" (Shemot 29:45) 


It is told about one of the early Tzadikim (Righteous Men), that when he was still a little boy,  his father said to him: "If you tell me where the Holy One Blessed Be He is, I will give you one gold coin".  The little one answered: "If you tell me where he can't be found, I will give you two gold coins, because the Holy One Blessed Be He fills the whole world with His Glory".

The Mitzvah of Reading "Zachor"


The Rambam writes in the Sefer HaMitzvot, that we were commanded to remember what the Amalek did to us, that he hurried up to do evil to us, and that this will be stated year after year, so that we arouse our souls by means of the words in these passages to fight him and the people are encouraged to hate him until the Mitzvah will not ever be forgotten and and the hatred of Amalek will not be removed from the souls of the people with the passage of time...Behold, you see that Shmuel HaNavi, when he began to do this Mitzvah, how he did it.  First he remembered Amalek's evil deeds, and then he commanded to kill them.  And thus, it is brought that the Chafetz Chaim, ztzk"l would fill himself with hatred and anger against Amalek at the time when he heard the reading of "Zachor".

The Fast of Esther, Purim, and the Remembrance of the Half Shekel


On Thursday, the 11th of Adar, is the Fast of Esther, which is held early (because the 13th of Adar falls on Shabbat).  After Mincha, the unwalled cities give a remembrance for the half shekel.  On Sunday, the 14th of Adar, is Purim in the unwalled cities, and the walled cities give a remembrance for the half shekel after Mincha. Monday the 15th of Adar is Purim in the walled cities. One needs to be careful, at the time when he gives the remembrance for the half shekel, that he shouldn't say "this is for the half a shekel", because it is not appropriate at this time (since we don't have the Temple).   Rather, he should say it's a "Zacher l'mechatzit hashekel" (remembrance for the half shekel). 

The Torah Portion of "Tetzaveh" has 101 verses, 4 positive commandments and 4 negative commandments.  


We take our two Torah Scrolls.  In the first we read the weekly Torah Portion, and in the second we read for the Maftir in the Torah Portion of Ki Teitze, "Zachor".  The Haftorah is: "Ko Amar Hashem Pakaditi" (Sh'muel Aleph 15)


We say Borchi Nafshi.


"M'shenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha"
"When Adar begins Happiness Increases"
May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yitro 5777

The Torah Portion of "Yitro"  


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


"And Yitro heard..." (Shemot 18:1)


Rashi says that Yitro was called by seven names, and tells us that the reason why he was called by the name "Yeter" (which is word which implies something additional) is because one section of the Torah was added because of him: "And you shall see..." (Shemot 18:21).  It has been asked, why does Rashi cite only "And you shall see..." (Shemot 18:21); aren't the words of Yitro also recorded in several verses prior to that?  And the explanation is that the main point is the advice that Yitro gave to Moshe (to appoint judges to assist him), and what that was written before that were only questions to Moshe, such as (Shemot 18:14): "Why are you sitting alone?"


"And Yitro heard..." (Shemot 18:1) (in Hebrew: "Vayishma Yitro")


Rashi explains, and what was the report that he heard and came?  The splitting of the Sea of Reeds (Yam Suf) and the war against Amalek.  The Hebrew word "Vayishma" (which means "And he heard")  is spelled with the letters: Vuv Yud Shin Mem Ayin.  These letters are Roshei Teivot (initial letters) for the words: "Sh'ma M'ilchemet A'malek V'kriat Y'am Suf, which means "He heard the war of Amalek and the splitting of the Sea (of Reeds).  And it is necessary to explain, why was it precisely these two miracles which caused Yitro to come?  But the answer is, that after there were so many miracles for Israel and the whole world knew about it, like what the Sages said on the verse "and the waters split" (Shemot 14:21), that all the waters in the world split (and not just Yam Suf), and in spite of all that, Amalek had the brazenness to come and wage war with Israel.  Therefore, Yitro said, if there is so much evil in the nations (such as Amalek that still wanted to wage war against Israel after all those miracles), it is necessary to separate from them, and that is the explanation of "he heard and came".


"And her two sons, of whom the name of one was Gershom, for he had said, 'I was a sojourner in a strange land'. and the name of  (the other) one was Eliezer, 'for the G-d of my father came to my aid and saved me from the sword of Pharoah'" (Shemot 18:3-4)


Apparently, it would have been appropriate for the first son to be called Eliezer, because the miracle of the sword of Pharoah had already happened before Moshe came to Midian, so why did he give the name "Eliezer" only when he had his second son? And in addition, what kind of benefit was it to give a name to a son based on the concept that "I was a sojourner in a strange land"?  In answer to these questions, the Chofetz Chaim says that at the time that Moshe came to Yitro, Yitro had not yet converted to Judaism, and Moshe was afraid that they (he and his family) might learn from Yitro's deeds.  Therefore Moshe made haste to call his first son Gershom, for he said "I was a sojourner", for by means of this Moshe requested to establish that here in the land (of Midian) he is only in situation of being a sojourner in a strange land, and that it is not a place which is appropriate for serving Hashem.  And there are those that say that behold, it is written in the Mechilta that Yitro said to Moshe that he is giving him his daughter Tzippora on condition that his first son participate in Avodah Zara (idol worship), and that was before Yitro converted to Judaism, and Moshe agreed with him.  And there are those that question this, because how is it possible that he agreed?  And the Baal HaTurim gives an explanation that Moshe knew that in the end he would certainly cause Yitro to return to the proper path and he would change his opinion.  And since Moshe had agreed with Yitro (about the condition that this son would participate in idol worship), he didn't want to give the name "Eliezer" (which has a reference to  one of the names of Hashem) to the first son. 


"...the name of one was Gershom...and the name of one was Eliezer..." (Shemot 18:3-4)


It has been asked, why is it written the second time also "and the name of one", rather than saying "and the name of the second"?   And the explanation that the Sages say it that when Moshe went up to the Heavens he heard the Holy One Blessed Be He say "Rabbi Eliezer My son says that the Red Heifer is at the age of two years", and Moshe said -- if only that would be a descendent of mine!  And that was Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol who descended from Eliezer (Moshe's son).  And that was the meaning of the verse saying "and the name of one was Eliezer", that is, it was a reference to the one that was special, and this is Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol who was the teacher of Rebbe Akiva.


"And Yitro rejoiced..." (Shemot 18:9) 


The explanation is that he was happy, and according to the Midrash the explanation is that his flesh became prickly and he developed gooseflesh, because he was aggrieved over the destruction of Egypt. (from Rashi)  [Translator's Note: The basis of Rashi's explanation is that the word in Hebrew  "Vayichad" can be simply translated as "rejoiced", but it also has the same root letters as the Hebrew word for "prickly".] The Mashgiach HaRav HaTzaddik R' Yechezkel Levenshtein said to the students at the Mir Yeshiva in Shanghai during the frightful days of the Holocaust, that we see from this verse that it is natural that when someone hears of the sufferings of his people, even if he is disconnected from them for ten generations, he will nevetheless have his flesh become prickly.  And if we currently hear about the sufferings of our fellow Jews and we don't feel anything and our flesh does not become prickly, this must only be because our sins and transgressions have caused our hearts to become stupid and our nature has changed (for the worse).  Another explanation is that Yitro thought he was coming to the desert to live a life of sorrow and suffering in order to bring himself to the acceptance of the Torah.  Now that he came to the desert and saw that they had everything good, he was aggrieved because the Torah was not being received in suffering, because the Sages say that we are given reward for one Mitzvah done in suffering more than for a hundred Mitzvot that are done easily. 


"And Yitro took ... and Aharon came and all the elders of Israel to eat bread with the father-in-law of Moshe before G-d" (Shemot 18:12)


The Ramban say that this was a festive meal for the celebration of a Brit (circumcision), because Yitro became a convert and was circumcised on that day.


Yitro's Advice


Yitro's advice was that there would be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. There were 600 rulers of thousands, 6,000 rulers of hundreds, 12,000 rulers of fifties and 60,000 rulers of tens.   The sum total of all the judges was 78,600.  The judges needed to have four qualities: that they would be men of strength (that is, they needed to be wealthy), men with fear of Heaven, men of truth, and that they would hate financial gain (that is, that they would find bribery repugnant).


"...every great matter they shall bring to you..." (Shemot 18:22)


Why was it stated in the advice of Yitro to Moshe that "every great matter they shall bring to you..." (Shemot 18:22), and afterwards when Moshe chose the judges it was stated: "the dificult matter they will bring to Moshe" (Shemot 18:26)?    And the explanation is that Yitro who was a convert to Judaism thought that a legal Torah case involving a lot of money needed to be brought to a greater judge, which is how it is done by the other nations.  Moshe said to him that for Israel, that is not the case; a judgement involving a small amount is the same as a judgment involving a larger amount. If a case is complicated and difficult, even if it only involves a small amount, it needs to be brought before a greater judge; and a judgment of a simple case, even if it involves a lot of money, the smaller judges can decide it. 


"In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt), on this day they arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai. (Shemot 19:1)


On this day -- refers to Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month of Sivan), and Moshe did not go up on this day to the heights, since all of his ascendings at Mount Sinai were early in the morning.  Therefore it is not possible to say that on the day that they came, he went up on Mount Sinai. On the second of Sivan, Moshe went up to the heights. Hashem said to him that if they would accept the Torah they would become "a kingdom of priests (that is to say rulers), and a holy people" (Shemot 19:6); and the congregation of Israel answered "we will do it" (Shemot 19:8). On the third of Sivan, Moshe said to Hashem that the congregration of Israel said  "we will do it", and Hashem said to him that he would speak only with Moshe, and the rest of the people would hear in their homes.  On the fourth of Sivan, Moshe went up to the heights and said to Hashem that they say that our will is to see our King, because there is a big difference between someone who hears from the mouth of a messenger and someone who hears directly from the mouth of the King.  Hashem said to him, if so, they need to prepare themselves  for three days, separating from their wives and setting boundaries around the mountain.  


"They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the desert of Sinai and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness); and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2)  


There are 3 preparations for receiving the Torah: 1) "They journeyed from Rephidim...",  means that they left the trait of having weakness of hands, which is laziness. [Translator's Note: The basis for this interpretation is that although the word Rephidim is a place name, it is also similar to the Hebrew word "Refayon", which means weakness.] 2) "...and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness)", each one needs to regard himself as if he is a desert (or wilderness) in order to abandon his physical lusts and to humble himself. 3) "...and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain", means that all of Israel were together in unity. (from the Ohr HaChaim)


"They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the desert of Sinai and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness); and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2)  


The Hebrew word for "encamped" is not written in the plural, as are the other verbs in this verse, to say that they came to Mount Sinai "as one man, with one heart", for the Torah cannot be acquired unless there is unity.


"...and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2) 



The word for encamped  in Hebrew ["vayichan"] is similar to the word for "grace" or "favor" in Hebrew ["chein"].  And "opposite the mountain" is a hint about opposing the Evil Inclination.  The Sages say that the Evil Inclination is similar to a mountain, and if everyone will find favor (or grace) in the eyes of his fellow, that is the greatest weapon we can have against the mountain which is the Evil Inclination.  


"So shall you say to the house of Yaakov and tell to the children of Israel" (Shemot 19:3)



The "house of Yaakov" refers to the women, and the "children of Israel" refers to the men.  It is written in the Midrash, why did the giving of the Torah begin with the women?  Because the commandment about the Tree of Knowledge was said by Hashem to Adam, so that he would tell Chava, and that commandment ended up being broken.  Therefore in the giving of the Torah Hashem said "I will start to tell the women first" and that will be successful.


"So shall you say to the house of Yaakov and tell to the children of Israel" (Shemot 19:3)



The Maharsha explains, that "So shall you say to the house of Yaakov" refers to the women, "and tell to the children of Israel" -- they, the women, will tell to the children of Israel who are the males, because it is the way of the woman to be present all day in the home and she educates the children of Israel when they are little.


"...Go to the people and you will sanctify them today and tomorrow" (Shemot 19:10)



The Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination), when he sees that someone is beginning to serve Hashem, he tells him to begin from tomorrow.  And the advice for dealing with this is to answer the Yetzer Hara that you agree with him, on the condition that "you will sanctify ... today and tomorrow", also today and also tomorrow.  And regarding Amalek, it is written, "go out to fight with Amalek, tomorrow" (Shemot 17:9), for it is known that Amalek represents the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination); you should fight with him on what that he tells you all the time to begin tomorrow.


"All of Israel are guarantors [in Hebrew "aravin"] one for another".  (Masechet Shavuot 39a)



There is an explanation that each one needs to be sweet to the other one, because although the Hebrew word "aravin" means guarantors (of loans) it is also is similar to a word in Hebrew which means sweetness.


"...when the ram's horn sounds a long, drawn out blast, they may ascend the mountain." (Shemot 19:13)



When was that?  According to Rashi, that was at the time of the construction of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, and according to Tosefot it was on the day of Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah).  (Masechet Beitza 5b)


The Shofar at Matan Torah (the Ram's Horn at the Giving of the Torah)



The Shofar at Matan Torah was from the ram of Yitzchak, from the left side, and also that was the Shofar in the Battle of Yericho.  And the Shofar from the right side of the ram will be in the future to come (i.e., at the Geula HaShleima, the complete redemption).


"And G-d spoke all these words, saying" (Shemot 20:1)



Rashi explains that the word "saying" means that on every single one of the statements of the Ten Commandments, Israel said "yes" to a positive commandment and "no" to a negative commandment.  But, "I am Hashem your G-d ..." and "You shall have no other gods..." (Shemot 20:2-3) were said simultaneously (according to the Zohar Chadash at the end of the Torah Portion of Yitro).  This is what is meant when it says in the Tehillim (62:12): "G-d spoke one thing, I heard  two (Gematriot of Rav Y. HaChassid on the Torah Portion of Va'etchanan). And behold, at the time that the children of Israel heard the first two Commandments simultaneously, they were frightened and confused and didn't know what to answer.  For if they would say "yes", it would be possible to misunderstand their words and think that G-d forbid they were saying "yes" on the prohibition of "You shall have no other gods before Me", and if they would say "no" it would be possible to misunderstand their words and think that they said "no" to the statement "I am Hashem your G-d...", and that they don't want to accept the Kingship and Oneness of His Blessed Name, G-d forbid.  And regarding this problem they took advice from within their inner souls, and they all shouted as one voice "Hashem is Our G-d Hashem is One", and this statement was a good answer for both of the Commandments.  For as is known, one needs to have intention at the time of reading the first verse of Sh'ma, "Sh'ma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad"  (Hear Oh Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One).   When one says "Hashem Elokeinu" ("Hashem is Our G-d"), that is a reference to the first  of the Ten Commandments, "I am Hashem your G-d".  When one says "Hashem Echad" ("Hashem is One"), that is a reference to the Second of the Ten Commandments, "You shall have no other gods...".  And this is what is hinted at when we say in the Zemirot (Songs) for Shabbat, "And everyone came in a covenant together, we will do and we will hear, were said in unity and they began and answered "Hashem is One".  (from the Rav Sholom of Belz, may his memory protect us)


"Do not take the name of Hashem your G-d in vain.." (Shemot 20:7)



It is appropriate to avoid swearing even about something that is true. The Hebrew word for "in vain" is L''shav, which is spelled Lamed Shin Vuv Aleph.  These letters are the Roshei Teivot (first letters) of the words in the Hebrew phrase "L'o Sh'eker V'lo E'met", which means "Not Falsehood and Not Truth".


"You shall not covet your fellow man's house...nor anything that belongs to your fellow man" (Shemot 20:14) 



It can be asked, why was it stated "your fellow man's house", isn't that included in "anything that belongs to your fellow man?"  And the answer that is given (tongue in cheek) is that if a person covets what another has because he has a nice house or other nice things,  he is told to take into account that it's a package deal and if you get everything that belongs to your fellow man that also includes all the sorrows, obligations, and other difficulties.




The Torah Portion  of Yitro has 72 verses. The Torah Portion of Yitro has within it 3 positive commandments, 14 negative commandments.The Haftorah is "B'sh'nat Mot Hamelech Uziahu" (Yeshayahu 6)


We say Borchi Nafshi.

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beshalach & Shabbat Shira & Tu B'shvat

The Torah Portion of "Beshalach" 


Shabbat Shira and Tu B'shvat 


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov

Please note: If printed out, please dispose of in a respectful manner.


"...And Hashem did not lead them by the way of the land..." (Shemot 13:17).  


Hashem did not lead Israel according to the natural way of the world, in which the drinking water arrives from above and the food arrives from below, but in the desert it was reversed; food came from above (the manna) and drinking water came from below (Miriam's well).

"...And the children of Israel were armed..." (Shemot 13:18).  


[Translator's Note: The word "armed" in Hebrew has the same root letters as the word "five".] Rashi explains that one out of five came out and the rest died in the plague of darkness, and the Targum Yonatan explains that each one had five children.  The B'air Yosef asks, how is it possible that each one had exactly five children? He explains that since four out of five died in the plague of darkness and those that remained accepted upon themselves the responsibility to care for the orphans of the 4/5 that died, therefore each one had five families.  In the merit of this kindness there were miracles done for them, and the Targum Yerushalmi adds that it was in the merit of good deeds.  Also there is a verse that says "and I remembered for you the kindness of your youth" (Yirmiyahu 2:2).

"...And Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him..." (Shemot 13:19)  


The Sages say regarding Moshe "A wise heart will take Mitzvot..."  (Mishlei 10:8), for everyone was busy with silver and gold while Moshe was busy with the bones of Yosef.  The Sages say: "After a man's death silver and gold do not accompany him, only Torah and good deeds" (Pirkei Avot 6:9).  That is what is meant by saying that he "took the bones of Yosef with him'" (Shemot 13:19), because to the upper realms [in the Next World] we take only Mitzvot. (from Kli Yakar)

"...Before Baal Tzefon..." (Shemot 14:2) 


The Daat Zekainim asks how is it that Hashem said to return and gave them a road-mark to do so before Baal Tzefon?  Isn't it forbidden to use a location of idol worship as a road-mark, as it says "...And you shall not mention the names of other gods" (Shemot 23:13)?  His answer is, that this was because it was before the giving of the Torah.

"...And Pharoah said to the children of Israel..." (Shemot 14:3)  


Rashi explains that this means "...And Pharoah said about the children of Israel".  Another explanation is given by  the Targum Yonatan, who says that Pharoah spoke to Datan and Aviram who remained in Egypt.  It is asked, if they were wicked [and therefore wanted to stay in Egypt], shouldn't they have died in the plague of darkness?  The answer is, they in truth did want to leave  Egypt, and therefore didn't die in the plague of darkness.  But they thought that since it was only for three days, it wasn't worthwhile to go out and afterwards to return.  The secret that the Jews were going out and not returning was not told to them since they were  Malshinim (Slanderers) who would have told Pharoah.

"...And Egypt will know that I am Hashem..." (Shemot 14:4)  


The Gaon HaRav A.M. Shach ztzvk"l explains, for how much time did Egypt know Hashem?  For just a moment before death, for until the very last moment they wanted to make war against Israel.  From this we see how significant is the one moment that "they knew Hashem", for all the miracles and wonders were worthwhile just so that the Egyptians would know Hashem for one moment.  All the moreso, the miracles and wonders were worthwhile for the sake of the children of Israel, who were meant to serve Hashem for all time [and not just for one moment].

"And Pharoah drew close..." (Shemot 14:10)  


[Translator's Note: The word for "drew close" in Hebrew is "hikriv", which can also be translated as "to bring a sacrifice".] There are three explanations: 1) Pharoah went first to the war, 2) Pharoah offered a sacrifice to Ba'al Tzefon,  and 3) Pharoah brought the Jews close to our Father in Heaven, since because of him Israel repented (did Teshuvah).

"Hashem will fight for you and you shall remain silent." (Shemot 14:14)  


When they were leaving Egypt, why did the Jews need merits such as the blood of the Passover offering and the blood of circumcision, and here [at the splitting of the sea] it was said to them "you shall remain silent"? The explanation is that Hashem knew beforehand that here they would risk their lives in complete devotion to Hashem (Mesirut Nefesh), for example in the case of Nachshon [who entered the sea before it split], and where there is complete devotion to Hashem that is the greatest of all merits. (from Avnei Nezer)  Similarly, it is asked, why didn't they build the Temple on Har Sinai where the Torah was given? The answer is that Har Hamoriah was a place where a Jew (Yitzchak) exposed his neck to be slaughtered for  Hashem's honor, and therefore it was suitable to build the Temple there, since there is no other place which has a greater honor than that.

Before Kriat Yam Suf (the splitting of the Reed Sea)


Before the splitting of the sea at Yam Suf the children of Israel were divided into four groups. One group said we should shout against the Egyptians; the second said we should make war against them; the third said we should return to Egypt; and the fourth said we should fall into the sea, for it is preferable to die in the sea rather than dying by the sword.  Moshe answered to each of the four groups in an appropriate way.  To the group that said we should fall into the sea, he said "...do not be afraid, stand still and see the salvation of Hashem..." (Shemot 14:13).  To the group that said we should return to Egypt he said "...for whereas you have seen the Egyptians today, you shall not see them ever again" (Shemot 14:13).  To the group which said to fight with the Egyptians, he said "Hashem will fight for you..." (Shemot 14:14).  To the group which said we should shout against them, he said "...and you shall remain silent" (Shemot 14:14).  (from Yonatan been Uziel)

"Hashem will fight for you and you shall remain silent." (Shemot 14:14) 


If Israel will guard themselves not to speak in the Bait Haknesset and remain silent, then the Holy One Blessed Be He will fight for them. (from the Zohar Hakodesh)


"...and the waters were split." (Shemot 14:21)  


Rashi says all the waters in the world were split, and on a simple level this was in order to publicize the miracles throughout all the world.  There are those that explain that this was in order to cause the Egyptians to err.  Pharoah was a great king and had many wise counselors, so how could it be that they saw the waters splitting for Israel and were not afraid to enter?  If they were seeing an open miracle for Israel how could they think that they could be saved?  The answer is, that they saw that all the waters in the world were being split, and they said that this was not connected to Israel but was just a natural event.   This is what the Targum means when it translates "the waters were piled up"  (Shemot 15:8) as "the waters were intelligent"; the waters did something intelligent and cunning in order to cause Pharoah to err.  But it can be asked, how did the waters do something that they weren't commanded to do?  And also, why did the Egyptians deserve a punishment?  Weren't they fulfilling the command of Hashem who said to Avraham "and they will enslave them and they will oppress them"? (Breisheet 15:13) However, it is because the Egyptians went beyond  the decree of enslavement.  Hashem didn't tell them to throw the boys into the Nile river, or to put the children into the walls.  If so, the waters said, just as the Egyptians went beyond Hashem's decree, we also will go beyond what Hashem decreed.  Also, with regards to the plague of darkness it says in the Psalms that "He sent darkness and it became dark" (Psalms 105:28), and the Sages explained, it became even more dark, "and they [the forces that increased the darkness] didn't rebel against His word" (Psalms 105:28).  Why wasn't it considered a rebellion?  Just as the Egyptians went beyond the  decree of slavery, so it was permissible for the darkness to increase itself. (from B'air Yosef)

"...and the water was a wall for them..."  (Shemot 14:22 and Shemot 14:29)


One time the word for "wall" in Hebrew is written "Choma" (in the verse Shemot 14:22 it is spelled fully, Chet-Vuv-Mem-Hey), containing the letter "Vuv",  and a second time it is written "Choma" (in the verse Shemot 14:29 it is spelled Chet-Mem-Hey), without the letter "Vuv", so even though it is still pronounced "Choma", it visually looks like the Hebrew word "Chayma", which means "anger" in English.  The Sages say that the tribe of Dan carried the idol of Micah with them, and because of that it is written "Chayma" (anger).  Another explanation of why the word for wall is written two different ways, is that the first group entered into the sea and after that it became dry land, as it is written "and the children of Israel came within the sea on dry land" (Shemot 14:22), and they risked their lives with complete devotion to Hashem (Mesirut Nefesh), and regarding that group the word for wall is written "Choma" with a "Vuv".  And afterwards, the second group entered the water, and regarding them it is written "and the children of Israel walked on the dry land in the midst of the sea" (Shemot 14:29), since they waited until it was dry and afterwards entered the water, and regarding them the word for wall is written like "Chayma" without a "Vuv", which indicates that there was "anger" because they didn't risk their lives to devote themselves to Hashem. (from the Gr"a)

"The sea saw and fled..." (Tehillim 114:3)


What did it see?  The coffin of Yosef.  Also by Yosef it is written "...and he fled outside." (Breisheet 39:13)  The Holy One Blessed Be He said, the sea will flee before someone who fled from sinning. (from Midrash Tehillim)

"...And Israel saw the great hand..." (Shemot 14:31)  


What caused Nachshon to hurry and enter the water?  "The great hand" of the daughter of Pharoah that stretched out her hand and Hashem lengthened her arm.  Nachshon said, I will enter the sea and Hashem will help, and that is what is meant by "...And Israel saw the great hand...".

SHABBAT SHIRA:


"Then sang..." (Shemot 15:1)


The word for "sang"  is written in Hebrew "Yashir" (which is actually in the future tense).  The Baal HaTurim says, that this word "Yashir"  consists of the letter "Yud" (which has the numerical value of 10) followed by the word "Shir" (which means "song").  There are 10 Songs:  1) the Song of the Sea, 2) The Song of the Well, 3) the Song of Ha'azinu, 4) the Song of Yehoshua, 5) the Song of Devorah, 6) the Song of Channah, 7) the Song of David, 8) the Song of Shlomo, 9) the Song of Chizkiyahu, and 10) the Song of the Future to Come -- may it come speedily in our days, Amen. Therefore it is not written "Az Shar" (in English: "Then sang"), but "Az Yashir" (in English: "Then will sing"), because in the future to come we will sing again, speedily in our days, Amen.

The Merit of Saying Songs of Praise


Rav Yisrael Ben Levi says that everyone that says songs of praise (Shira) in this world merits to say songs of praise in the Next World (from Sanhedrin 91).  Everyone who says the song of the sea with great happiness, has all his sins forgiven. (from Midrash Tehillim 18)

"This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him..." (Shemot 15:2)  


The Sages say, be glorious before him with Mitzvot - a beautiful Tallit, a beautiful Succah, etc.  And it is necessary to understand why the explanation about beautifying the Mitzvot  is connected to the Torah Portion of Shira (the Song of the Sea), for it should have been appropriate to reveal this concept in one of the Torah Portions which speaks of the fulfillment of the Mitzvot, such Tzitzit, Succah, etc.  The explanation is that besides enabling Israel  to pass through the Sea, Hashem added many more miracles in the Sea, as is explained in the Midrash: many kinds of fruits grew, and there were many kinds of plants, spices, sweet water, and windows within the walls of the sea, etc.  Since Hashem added miracles for us much more than what was necessary, we should certainly add to the Mitzvot much more than what is required by law by making each Mitzvah beautiful and glorious as much as possible. (from Oznaim L'Torah)  In addition, there are those that explain that if we look at Rashi in the Torah Portion Vayeitzei (29:35), he wrote "This time I will thank because I have taken more than my portion, and from now on I need to thank".  [with regards to Leah when she bore more than 1/4 of Yaakov's children]  It is clarified that the concept of thankfulness comes into play especially in response to recognition that we are getting more than we deserve. Therefore at the Sea we come to the expression of thankfulness by means of beautifying the Mitzvot because of the recognition and acknowledgement that we have received more than we deserved from the Holy One Blessed Be He.  In response to that, we express our will to serve Hashem more than we are commanded to and required to.  And there are those that say that the reason  that Israel accepted upon themselves to beautify the Mitzvot, was that the fifth miracle which was done at the Sea (look at the Rav Ovadia Bartenura in Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 5 Mishne 4) was that the waters that "froze" on the floors of the Sea were not all in one piece but were like building blocks that were interlocked, and that certainly was in order to make it beautiful for Israel.

"Moshe caused Israel to journey from Yam Suf (in English: "the Sea of Reeds"...) (Shemot 15:22)


Rashi says that the Children of Israel wanted to remain more time there in order to gather up silver and gold, and after that they came to Marah and they didn't have water, because the Holy One Blessed Be He wanted to show them that money (that is, silver and gold) isn't worth anything. For behold, they had a lot of money and they didn't have what to drink.  Is it possible to drink silver and gold?  (from Baalei Mussar -- The Masters of Ethical Teachings)

"...and Moshe became angry with them."  (Shemot 16:20)


About what did he get angry with them?  The Meshech Chachma explains that until they left over the Mannah and it became infested with worms,  we can see that there was an amazing amount of Bitachon  (trust) by Israel, that even though they were in a desolate wilderness and the Mannah appeared each day and was going to vanish, they didn't take more than what was necessary for that single day, and this was a constant test of their faith every day.  But, when they left it over and it became infested with worms and stank, after that they saw that even if they attempted to store it up for the future, it would become infested with worms and stink, so the test of their faith was over with, and their high level of trust, and therefore, Moshe got angry with them.

Commandments regarding the Mannah


1. One Omer per person.
2. Not to leave any over till tomorrow (Datan and Aviram didn't fulfill this)
3. To prepare from the Mannah that appeared on Friday for Shabbat.
4. Not to try to gather it on Shabbat (Datan and Aviram didn't fulfill this)
5. To store a container of the Mannah, the next year, when they erected the Mishkan.

Miracles of the Mannah


They didn't take more and they didn't take less (than an Omer per person). It had all the tastes in the world except for garlic, onion, zucchini, melon, and eggplant, for these are not good for the nursing of babies (see Rashi in Beha'alotcha).  On Friday, it was a doubled portion, and also on Erev Chag (the day before a Yom Tov) and Erev Yom Kippur (the day before Yom Kippur).   On Shabbat the taste was different so that it tasted better than on the weekdays.  On the day of Shabbat, it did not become infested with worms (even though it was left over from that which was the double portion gathered on Friday).  At the end of 40 years from the 7th of Adar until the 16th of Nissan, it remained in their vessels and did not get wormy.  It told everyone what his situation was, as it is said "K'zera Gad" (in English "like a coriander seed".  In addition, the word "Gad" in Hebrew is similar to the Hebrew word "Magid", which means "to tell" in English).

"...go out to do battle with Amalek, tomorrow..."  (Shemot 17:8)


Amalek hints at the Evil Inclination.  The way of the Evil Inclination is to always postpone things till tomorrow.  When the Evil Inclincation sees that someone is arousing himself to serve Hashem, it says to him "start tomorrow", in order to cool him off.  And that is why it says in the verse "... go out to do battle with Amalek, tomorrow...".  You should battle against it (the Evil Inclination) when it tells you "tomorrow", and not listen to it.

HAFTORAH: 


"He asked for water (in Hebrew: "Mayim"), she gave him milk (in Hebrew: "Chalav")" (Shoftim 5:25)


The letters which spell  the Hebrew word for water ("Mayim") are "Mem", "Yud", and "Mem".  These are the initial letters of the words in the question: "Matai Yavo Mashiach" (in English: "When will Mashiach come?").  The letters which spell the Hebrew word for milk ("Chalav") are "Chet", "Lamed", "Beit".  These are the initial letters of the words which give the answer to that question: "Chayavim Lahzor Betshuvah" (in English: "We are required to return in repentance").  


TU B'SHVAT:


On Tu B'Shvat, there is a custom to eat different kinds of fruit from trees, and especially from the fruit of the Land of Israel, in order to fulfill the idea of making symbols for ourselves and to show that this day is the New Year for the Trees (in regards to the matter of Trumot and Maaserot, etc.).  And it is customary to pray also for a beautiful Etrog.

The Torah Portion Beshalach has 116 verses. The Torah Portion Beshalach has within it 1 negative commandment.The Haftorah is "V'Devora Isha Naviah" (Shoftim 4)

We say Borchi Nafshi.


May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772