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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Shemot

Parshat Shemot

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Shemot                                                                                       Print Version
21st of Tevet, 5779 | December 29, 2018                                             Spanish Version

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Dr. Jack Cohen 
Deepest Depths, Highest Heights

Perek Shira, a compendium of verses ascribed to all aspects of creation which sing praises to Hashem, is full of wisdom and lessons. These verses do not merely bespeak the essence of each element in the world, though, but inspire us to sing to Hashem ourselves and reflect upon His greatness and grandeur. 

In specific, we read of the sheaf of wheat which proclaims, “Shir Ha’maalos mi’mamakim k’rasicha Hashem – A song for the Ascents. From the depths have I called You, Hashem” (Tehillim 130:1). You may be familiar with this Pasuk. It is the oft-recited chapter in Tehillim, said on behalf of one who is sick.

But, why of all things, is it the wheat which declares this verse? What relation does the wheat share to calling out to Hashem from the depths?

The life of a typical wheat stalk ends with being made into bread. Yet, the process of getting there is arduous. The wheat must be cut, threshed, winnowed, ground into fine flour, mixed with water, kneaded and baked into bread. The process involves numerous steps, all of which break down the wheat more and more. 

Now imagine you were the wheat stalk. How would you feel? You are cut with a sickle, threshed, winnowed and on and on. 

You feel broken, hurt and torn away from your previous source of life in the ground. It is this wheat stalk, amid such despairing tossing and turning, which “calls out to Hashem from the depths.” The wheat is crushed and broken, yet it turns to Hashem, doesn’t give up and places its trust in Him. 

The wheat may appear hopeless, but it is far from that. The wheat is not lost; it is being prepared and primed to turn into delicious bread.

In life, we often experience the same turbulence. We make attempt after attempt, and it doesn’t work out. We try meeting someone else, and it doesn’t get any further. We then try a different alternative and it progresses further… until it doesn’t work out again. We are crushed, forlorn and upset. Where are we now?

We are like the wheat. Cut, thrown up in the air, torn apart, kneaded. But, just as the wheat eventually reaches its final product of beautiful bread, you will too. The Gemara (Shabbos 73a) tells us of eleven steps in the bread-making process. It is not 1-2-3. It is much longer and involved than that. Yet, throughout it all, the wheat turns to Hashem and hopes and prays for a better time, a better life. And it does get that. And you will to. Just follow the direction of the wheat and turn to Hashem. It is hard and tiring. But Hashem will one day, just one day, lift you up and have you enjoy delicious bread. The break you are looking for will come. And when it does, just remember the lesson of the wheat. From crushed to crowned, from lost to loved and from the greatest depths to the greatest heights.

Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein 
Handling the Situation

ויאמר כי אהיה עמך

And Hashem said, “I shall be with you…” (Shemot 3:12)

Let me share with you an article from the Jerusalem Post entitled, “Flight from New York to Israel makes emergency stop in Athens,” August 15, 2013.

“An incoming El Al flight to Tel Aviv from New York landed in Athens on Thursday morning after a smoke detector alarm sounded, the company said. The flight, El Al 004 from John F. Kennedy Airport, contained 324 passengers and crew members on the Boeing-747 aircraft. After debarking the plane, passengers were sent to hotels within the city, while a team of El Al technicians left from Tel Aviv to Athens in order to evaluate the plane.

“El Al considers flight safety of paramount importance and is handling the subject with precision regarding every detail,” a statement from the company said.

That is one side of the story. Now, let me tell you the other. 

My brother-in-law, Meir, was on that flight to Israel. Yet, while most of the flight passengers viewed this stopover as both a disturbance and unpleasant delay, my brother-in-law couldn’t have been happier and more appreciative. Twenty minutes after the plane landed in Athens, Meir suffered a massive heart attack. Immediately, he was rushed to the hospital and attended to by nurses and doctors. Baruch Hashem, he survived and made it through healthily.

Athens is nearly a two-hour flight to Israel. Meir and my family shuddered to think what would have happened if the plane did not land in Athens and allow him to be treated in a hospital. Had that not been the case, who knows what the results would have been.

Now, reread that quote from the El Al representative one more time.

“El Al considers flight safety of paramount importance and is handling the subject with precision regarding every detail.”

The El Al representative was right that the situation was being handled with precision. But it was not the technicians’ professionalism, but Hashem’s. When reading about this story in the newspaper, one half of the story appears, but the other half is obscured. And that is often the case with many situations in life. Most of the time, we are not privy to knowing the other half of the story. But we would be wise to believe that indeed there is one.

We can never know for certain, but who knows if 323 people were inconvenienced for one person. Meir, living as someone who devotes his life to helping others, was perhaps the reason for this plane touching down in Athens. Yes indeed, there was Someone Above who was “handling the subject with precision.”

Rebbetzin Tzipora Harris 
Disconnected and Connected

והאמינו לקל האת האחרון

They will believe the voice of the latter sign (Shemot 4:8)

It seemed to be just another, normal workday for Leah Henkin. And in fact, it was. At least she thought so. Not until she arrived at work and turned her cellphone on did things change and the problems begin. Needing to connect her phone to the internet for work, she tried once, and then she tried a second time, and a third time. Nothing.

While one would have advised her to simply use a computer and do whatever she needed to do, there was one issue. Her phone had important information that she needed and could only be accessed from the phone itself. Understandably so, she was quite frustrated. Calling her service provider, she asked if they could help her. But that didn’t go too far. It still wasn’t working. And so, she was left with the last resort of actually driving to the store and having her phone fixed. But they too couldn’t help her at the moment. All that could now be seen on the phone was the image telling her that she was disconnected.

In a moment of desperation, she sat there wondering what else there was to do. Was there anything else possible? She began to imagine the word disconnected, and with that, her mind began to race. “Disconnected…” she thought. What else am I disconnected from?

Leah had always been a religious woman and such an incident only got her thinking one thing: I must be disconnected from G-d. I haven’t prayed this morning; maybe I should do so now and ask Hashem to help me. And so, without further delay, she did so. Davening slowly and with focus, she connected to Hashem for a few minutes in silent prayer.

And then she turned her phone back on. Connected.

For Leah, a moment of disconnection is what brought her to connection. We all experience moments like these in our life. Sometimes, it is a serious issue which we must overcome, and other times, it is a small, commonplace inconvenience. Why isn’t my phone working? And that is a good question; but there is good answer. It may not always seem apparent, but all that occurs to us is a message from our Provider Above. Yet all that we must do is reach out and plug ourselves in. And then oftentimes, quite quickly, we will come to realize that the connection we were looking for all along was right within our reach.

Rabbi Gil Freiman 
Three Hundred Dollars

והיה כי תלכון לא תלכו ריקם

When you go, you will not go empty-handed (Shemot 3:21)

Some time ago, I met a woman who founded a wonderful chesedorganization which takes care of orphaned kallahs. With numerous women networking together, these kallahs are provided all the houseware items needed to set up their home and start married life out on the right foot. One woman will donate pots, another various kitchen accessories, and so on.

In addition to setting up kallahs in terms of their home, the organization assists as well in another very important way. Each orphan is assigned a certain woman who, acting as a mother would to her daughter, accompanies her from store to store and helps her purchase whatever she needs. With the same excitement, love and attention a mother would express at this time, so do these woman. Their warmth and care goes beyond empathy. It provides these girls with the emotional and social support they need at this very important juncture and ensures that they happily walk down to the chuppah feeling supported and cared for and with all the wedding preparations covered.

On one occasion, a certain lady named Leah was taking a kallah to purchase some linen for her home. Having a prearranged deal with a certain store, as matters normally worked out, Leah would typically walk out of the store along with the kallah with new linen for free. And for this visit, she expected it to be no different. However, she was soon to learn otherwise.

Pulling up to the curbside in front of the store, she phoned the storeowner and mentioned the “key phrase” that she had a kallahwith her who needed to buy linen. While normal protocol had it that the store would grant free linen to the kallah, this time, the answer was a bit different. “Leah,” said the owner, “I am really sorry. While I usually give out to kallahs so freely and faithfully, lately, business has been difficult, and I cannot do so. I can, though, give you a discount at half price. Instead of the routine $600, I will only ask for $300.”

Listening to the given circumstances, Leah thanked the owner and hung up the phone. With the kallah sitting next to her in the passenger seat and oblivious to what just transpired over the phone, Leah remained unsure what to do. And so, she turned to Hashem. “Hashem, this is your daughter. I don’t have $300 to lay out for this kallah, but she doesn’t have a mother and she needs this linen. Please, help your daughter and grant her the money for what she needs.”

As soon as Leah finished whispering this silent prayer, she heard a honk. It had come from the car just next to her. Glancing over to the side, Leah noticed a man roll down his window, stick out his head from his white Rolls Royce and yell out, “Ma’am, I am in a big rush and I need a parking spot right now. I’ll give you $300 cash if you let me have your spot.”

And now you know the rest of the story.

That is what happens when you care for a fellow Jew like your own child. Everything can turn around with the blink of an eye. Or, as in this case, with the honk of a horn.

Rebbetzin Aviva Feiner 
Many Colors, One Light

The Gemara (Chagigah 16a) tells us, “He who does not pity the honor of Hashem will stare at a rainbow.” As implied by this statement of our Sages, the rainbow represents the glory of Hashem to such a degree that one who fails to appreciate such honor will look at the rainbow. Yet why, in fact, is the rainbow singled out? In what way does it, over any other magnificent part of nature, bespeak the greatness of Hashem? Why not choose any other grandeur of creation to highlight? Niagara Falls and the Swiss Alps are as well breathtaking sights. What is so unique about the rainbow as it relates to G-d’s honor in the world?

In truth though, explains Rav Gedalyah Schorr, true G-dliness manifests itself in none other than the beauty and colors of the rainbow. But not merely because of its spectacular array of colors, but what underlying science goes into their formation. In the creation of a rainbow, sunlight refracts in water droplets, resulting in a spectrum of beautifully arranged colors.

But herein lies the very point. The creation of the multi-colored rainbow results from one light, namely the sun. It is ultimately one light source which produces many different colors. And that is what we are meant to learn about the greatness and grandeur of Hashem. Many times in life it appears as if we are seeing many different colors, yet at the very root of it all, it is one color. One day may go great, another may be very bitter, another so-so and on and on. Our perception of our relationship with G-d and our life may seem to be multi-colored, but in truth, everything stems from one G-d. Sometimes we may need to see different colors in our life, but it all comes from one light, from one sun, from one G-d, the Rock of Klal Yisrael.

Hashem is well aware of what He is doing. He placed us into this world and gives us our very lives. All that we must do is inculcate the message of the rainbow and remind ourselves, “I know that Hashem is in charge, and if He is showing me blue today, then I need to react to blue. And if He is showing me purple, or red, or green, then I need to react to that specific color.”

The beauty of the rainbow is what lies behind it: the true source of light, our beloved Father in Heaven.

A Short Message From 
Mrs. Shandee Fuchs

Imagine, says the Chofetz Chaim, that you are traveling from one place to another. What happens if the sign which directs you to your destination falls down? How will you be able to navigate your route? All you must do is turn around and look at the sign which indicates your starting point. By knowing where you came from you will realize that the opposite way is towards your destination.

Along these lines, in one study conducted in South Africa, a group of children were asked if they knew the life story of their grandparents and great-grandparents. After following these children throughout school for some time, it was interestingly seen that those who knew more about their personal family history met greater success than those who had no idea about their family background. The same is true of our direction in life. If we wish to know where we are going, we must first and foremost know our point of origin.

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