From The Editor – Parsha Beshalach – The Language Of Free Will

Beshalach is the culmination of Pharoh’s directive to let Bnei Yisroel leave Mitzraim. It must be noted that the Torah identifies this as a leaving by means of “shelach,” a term of free will as in the Parsha of the meraglim, when G-d says to Moshe “shlach lecha,” denoting that the sending of the spies was a “free will” decision on Moshe’s part. So too Pharoh reached a level of “shlach,” letting Bnei Yisroel leave out of his own voluntary free will.

Up until Beshalach, Pharoh uses the language of “lechu” when he tells Bnei Yisroel to temporarily leave Mitzraim and serve their G-d. Lechu is a forced directive as we find by Avraham where G-d commands him “lech lecha.” Similarly, in this case, Pharoh was doing this out of forced will and not free will.

Though G-d still hardens Pharoh’s heart in the last instance when he pursues the nation of Israel to the sea, we do nevertheless see an act of free will by Pharoh in being meshalech Bnei Yisroel from Egypt. This could be a frame of reference to understand his capacity of doing teshuva, and ultimately, in his final rule, leading Ninveh to do teshuva.

 

Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Parsha Bo – Why The Dogs Were Silent

It says in Shemos 11:7; “But against all the Children of Yisroel, no dog shall sharpen his tongue, neither against man nor beast, so that you should know that Hashem differentiates between Mitzrayim and between Yisroel.” The Gemara Bava Kama (60B) tells us that when Eliyahu comes to a city the dogs frolic, but when the Angel of Death comes, the dogs whimper.

The Chasam Sofer then asks why were the dogs not whimpering during the Slaying of the Firstborn?

The Chasam Sofer answers that the rule did not apply to the night of Pesach for the Slaying of the Firstborn was administered by Hashem Himself, not through the agency of the Angel of Death as it is written in Shemos 12:12; “And all the Gods of Mitzrayim I will carry out a sentence, I am Hashem.” Rashi explains that what this means is that it was Hashem Himself that carried it out and not through a Shliach.

The fact that the dogs were silent is testimony that it was Hashem who Slayed the Firstborn of Mitzrayim and it was only Hashem that could differentiate between Mitzrayim and Klal Yisroel.

According to the Zera Shimshon the fact that the dogs were silent the night that Hashem Slayed the Firstborns of Mitzrayim gives testimony that Klal Yisroel have been forgiven of their Aveiros and were now indeed worthy of being redeemed.

It says in Shemos Rabbah 1:35 that when Moshe Rabbeinu was a young man and he left the palace for the first time and went out to see Klal Yisroel, Moshe wondered what Klal Yisroel’s Aveira was and why they, out of all the nations of world, had been sentenced to forced labor. Moshe Rabbeinu realized the reason why Klal Yisroel had to suffer such imaginable cruelty is because Dasan and Aviram told Pharaoh that Moshe killed an Egyptian which caused  Moshe to flee for his very life. Moshe realized that Klal Yisroel speaks Loshan Hara and therefore, how will Hashem be able to redeem them.

Moshe was in fact very correct to wonder at this point, as the Gemara Makkos (23A) says that anyone who speaks Loshan Hara deserves to be thrown to the dogs.

It says in Devarim Rabbah 2:14 that Klal Yisroel were redeemed from Mitzrayim in the merit of Klal Yisroel doing Teshuvah on speaking Loshan Hara. The proof to this is that the dogs did not chase or bark at Klal Yisroel when they were leaving Mitzrayim. From this it is crystal clear that Klal Yisroel truly did Teshuvah and that they no longer engaged in this terrible Aveirah of Loshan Hara thereby meriting a genuine and honest redemption.

The lesson we must learn out from here is that all of Klal Yisroel is still in Galus because we still speak Loshan Hara about one another. If we all truly want to see and merit the building of the Third and Final Beis HaMikdash, we must cease this behavior. Speaking positively about one another and avoiding speaking Loshan can bring all of Klal Yisroel together as one. Loshan Hara is one thing that counteracts Achdus, but not speaking Loshan Hara and speaking positive things about someone is a true way to do Teshuva for this horrible Aveira and bring a sense of Achdus for all of  Klal Yisroel. With this may all Klal Yisroel truly merit the Genuine and honest Final Geulah.

Aleeza Ben Shalom – 49 Blessings To internalize While You’re Searching For The One

Being single may sound like more of a curse than a blessing, but while you’re working on finding the right one let’s focus on blessings.

  1. May you answer the door when opportunity knocks.
  2. May you love your life.
  3. May you soon gain something you’ve always wanted.
  4. May you know when to hold on and not be afraid when it’s time to let go.
  5. May inspiration strike at just the right moment.
  6. May you be satisfied with being perfectly imperfect.
  7. May you explore new options and open yourself to new possibilities.
  8. May the challenges you face strengthen your core.
  9. May your false beliefs evaporate and may you replace them with words of truth.
  10. May you have time in your week to visit someone in need.
  11. May you wear your smile, no matter how difficult today seems.
  12. May your mind be filled with great ideas.
  13. May you let go of something you no longer need.
  14. May you overcome what is holding you back.
  15. May your failures lead to success.
  16. May you embrace and loving accept your body.
  17. May you schedule your time wisely.
  18. May you invite someone new into your world.
  19. May you increase your confidence and boost your self-esteem.
  20. May you laugh easily and often.
  21. May you have the strength to put forth enough effort to get what you want.
  22. May you be blessed with an abundance of love.
  23. May you manifest your future by living as if it is already your reality.
  24. May you receive encouraging words that elevate you.
  25. May you be motivated to set and reach a new goal.
  26. May your life be infused with meaning and purpose.
  27. May you have strength, courage and wisdom to do the right thing at the right time.
  28. May you be free of financial burdens.
  29. May you hear what others say and more importantly understand what they mean.
  30. May you redirect angry energy and use it as fuel towards something positive.
  31. May you see clearly what you are meant to see and turn away from things not meant for your eyes.
  32. May you know the right questions to ask and may you be open to receiving the answers.
  33. May your words, actions or presence bring comfort to someone who is struggling.
  34. May your eyes be wide open and may you clearly see the messages that are before you.
  35. May you see clearly the obstacles that are before you and may you steer clear of any challenges.
  36. May you strengthen yourself, both body and soul.
  37. May you carry your physical and spiritual loads gracefully.
  38. May you find something wonderful to do this year that inspires you and connects you to great people.
  39. May many singles find their soul mate and be satisfied with their choice.
  40. May those in need of healing recover completely, mind, body and soul.
  41. May your senses be awakened by a pleasing surprise.
  42. May you find the perfect place to call home.
  43. May you visit exceptional places.
  44. May you be satisfied in being uniquely you.
  45. May the efforts you make yield the results you desire.
  46. May you have a good today and a better tomorrow.
  47. May you find your purpose in the world and pursue it with passion.
  48. May you harness the wonderful power within you.
  49. May you have a huge breakthrough!

Originally published on Aish.com

Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Rosh Yeshiva – PTI – Passaic Torah Institute – Parsha Bo – Externals Matter

Someone once wrote a letter to the great Rav Moshe Feinstein, asking him if individuals should remove their yarmulkes when walking into places of questionable repute. Rav Moshe replied “no” — the whole reason the Eabbis instituted wearing a yarmulke is to remind us that Hashem is constantly watching our actions. It’s been said that the word “yarmulke” is a hybrid of the words yarei malka – fear of the King. In today’s age in particular, it’s important to want to wear the yarmulke to remind ourselves not to walk into inappropriate places.

Let’s remember that our way of dressing had a big impact on Klal Yisrael in Mitzrayim. The Midrash tells us the Jews were saved because of four merits: not changing their names, their language, their clothing and keeping harmony – there were no informers. Yet, we’re told the Jews worshipped idols and were on the forty-ninth level of defilement! What type of merit was their outer garb when inwardly they were in such a low place?

The Gemara Brachos (4a) draws a parallel between the redemption from Egypt and the redemption from Babylonia. When they left Babylonia, there were no open miracles. Why? Because while they did keep most of the laws of the Torah, they had changed their names, language, clothing and had intermarried.

Clearly, there is something special about being careful with the externals, but what does it entail?

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk gives a deeply penetrating explanation. Hashem told Yitzchak He was granting him Eretz Yisrael and all the blessings promised to Avraham because Avraham “observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs.” (Toldos 26:5) Here, the safeguards are referring to Rabbinic prohibitions instituted to protect us from violating any mitzvos. For example, they expanded the circle of relatives one may not marry and put in many rabbinic safeguards regarding the laws of Shabbos.

We see now that the promise that Hashem granted to Avraham and the Bnei Yisroel was specifically for creating a safeguard. When something is precious in our eyes, we take steps to protect it. The halacha illustrates this point in the following case: Someone paid a person to guard an attaché case stated to contain ten thousand dollars. Alas, the guard was negligent, and the case was stolen. If the owner would then inform the guard that actually, there was one hundred thousand dollars in the case, the guard would still only be responsible for ten thousand dollars, since he could claim he would have been much more vigilant regarding this larger sum of money.

Our precautions, the steps we take to protect, are proportionate to how precious the item is to us.

Clothing matters. Externals matter. They communicate how much we value what’s inside. The Jews in Egypt walked, talked and looked like Jews by their manner of dress, even if their actions were lacking. It showed they identified as Jews and wanted to protect their kedusha (holiness.) They had challenges and blunders, but they valued their Judaism.

The opposite was true of the Jews in Bavel. The Jews dropped their unique outer appearance because they wanted to mix with the other nations. This demonstrated that they did not value their Judaism, even while still performing most mitzvos!

The coming week will be vacation time for many Yeshivos. Many call it “Yeshiva week.” To me, it’s a contradiction. It’s really “No yeshiva week!” Yet, the name sticks and perhaps for good reason! The name Yeshiva week reminds those of us who attend yeshiva, to act like people who attend yeshiva, even while we are not in a yeshiva. To maintain proper outer attire reminds us that we are bnei yeshiva and a “light unto the nations.” Our clothes and presentation on vacation — or in the workplace — constitutes our safeguard for our Jewish identity.

For example, placing filters on our computers and phones for the internet is not because we are weak, but because we are strong and value what we have. We don’t want to take any risks or chances with our precious souls.

Wearing a yarmulke is not one of the 613 mitzvos. It was added by the rabbis because they knew we need an ongoing reminder of who we really are. More importantly, it demonstrates that we want to remember to be on a level that demonstrates how a person should behave. Our outer garb demonstrates that we value and cherish our connection to Hashem and want to keep that strong.

Wherever we are — at home, at work, at play, on vacation — let our modest outer garb for both boys and girls, men and women, remind us of our commitment to Hashem and his mitzvos, and help us in our multitude of activities, to reflect a person who cherishes his relationship with Hashem.