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  The Lidrosh Torah Audio Blog 

Author: Rabbi Elazar Meisels Created: 1/17/2007 5:01 PM
A place for quick thoughts on the Parshah, Hashkafah, Holidays and more from Rabbi Meisels.

What Will It Take To Convince You?

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/31/2007 1:29 PM

“Moses said [to Pharaoh] ‘So said Hashem, Around midnight, I will go out in the midst of Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die…’” 11:4-5

  • Our Sages explained that Moshe used a word which implies at about midnight, either slightly before or after, and he did not say at midnight, lest Pharaoh's stargazers make a mistake [in calculating the exact time] and say, "Moshe is a liar!" But Hashem, who knows exact times and moments, actually said, "At midnight." - Rashi

Moshe knew the Egyptians and their capacity to deny the obvious all too well. Therefore, he deliberately left the exact time of the Plague of the Firstborn slightly vague, knowing that the Egyptians might well attribute the sudden passing of every firstborn in Egypt[!] to a mere coincidence. T ...

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Who Was Really Behind the Plot to Sell Yosef into Slavery

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/30/2007 3:35 PM

“Then Yosef said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me,"...And he said, "I am your brother Yosef, whom you sold into Egypt. But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to be a provider that God sent me ahead of you.” 45-4,5

  • When Yosef saw his brothers shrink away from him in shame, he comforted them by saying that their selling him was part of God’s plan: “It was to be a provider that God sent me ahead of you. ” . That we would descend to Egypt was non negotiable: it was part of God’s plan that He earlier conveyed to Abraham. We could have gone to Egypt in iron chains, but instead He sent me here to prepare the way for an honorable descent… – Medrash Tanchumah VaYigash 5
  • In a remarkable display of sensitivity and emunah, Yosef refused to gloat ove ...

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    Jewish Education Must Be Our Priority

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/30/2007 3:33 PM

    “He sent Yehudah ahead of him to Yosef, to prepare for him in Goshen, and they came to the region of Goshen.” 46:28

  • “ The Aggadic interpretation of ‘to prepare’ is that there should be teaching: to establish for him a house of study, from which teaching would emanate.” Rashi quoting Tanchuma Vayigash 11
  • Mindful as he was of the imperative to descend to Egypt in order to survive, Yaakov refused to do so until he had first established a yeshivah. His actions demonstrated his firm conviction that in order for the Jewish people to spiritually endure in exile, Jewish education must be their priority. The correctness of this view was borne out repeatedly throughout our long existence in exile. Wherever the communities invested in strong educational institutions, the population remained steadfast and loyal to Jewish traditions. Those communities whic ...

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    The Reality of Magic

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/25/2007 11:06 AM

    “Pharaoh summoned his scholars and magicians. The necromancers were able to do the same thing with their magic tricks.” 7:11

    • There is no such thing as magic. It is sleight of hand, something only foolish people believe in. – Rambam Hil. Avodas Kochavim 11:16, Moreh Nevuchim 3:37
    • These were his astrologers. – Targum Yonasan 7:22
    • It is possible for people to harness heavenly forces for profane purposes and override the laws of nature. This is how the Egyptians magicians and others whose feats are recorded in scripture, as well the false Jewish prophets, were able to deceive their followers into believing in the power of idols. – Ramban Devarim 18:9

    Regardless of whether magic is real or not, its practice is strictly forbidden by the Torah [Shmos 22:7, Devarim 18:10] and was one of the primary reasons ...

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    The Objective of the Ten Plagues

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/23/2007 9:55 PM

    “…And I shall multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.” 7:3

    The plagues served a purpose greater than just to punish Egypt. As the epicenter of culture, idolatry, and philosophy in the ancient world, Egypt was the ideal location for G-d to demonstrate His power and dominion over the universe. Each of the plagues was uniquely designed to demonstrate a specific facet of G-d’s control over nature. It is to symbolize their dual purpose that the plagues are referred to in the Torah not only as plagues, but also as signs and wonders.


    Salvation and Punishment Presented Simultaneously

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/21/2007 3:05 PM

    “On that day, Hashem rescued Israel from the hand of Egypt and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. The Israelites saw the great power that Hashem had unleashed against Egypt, and the people were in awe of God and they had faith in Hashem and in his servant Moses.” 14:30-31

      • And Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore< ...
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    Refusing To Remove The Blinders

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/21/2007 2:57 PM

    “Hashem said to Moshe, 'Stretch your hand over the sea. The waters will come back over the Egyptians, covering their chariot and cavalry.' Toward morning, Moshe extended his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal condition. The waters came back and covered the cavalry and chariots. Of all Pharaoh's army that had followed [the Jews] into the sea, not a single one remained.” 14:26-28

     

    One would have expected that the plagues would have sufficiently convinced the Egyptians to recognize that their cause was a lost one and Hashem was on our side. When even that failed, one would have imagined that watching the entire Jewish nation traverse the S ...

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    How Well Did You Fulfill Your Mission?

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/18/2007 4:23 PM

    “This was the Moshe and Aaron, to whom G-d said, 'Bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt in organized groups” 6:26

  • There are places where Aaron’s name precedes Moshe’s, and there are places where Moshe’s name precedes Aaron’s. This is to teach us that they were both equally great. – Rashi
  • Although the Torah teaches us that in the level of his prophecy Moshe was undoubtedly greater than Aaron, the Torah still describes Aaron as Moshe’s equal. This is because although he wasn’t endowed with the same spiritual gifts as Moshe, he achieved the absolute maximum of his potential, just as Moshe did. How well one fulfilled his potential is the yardstick by which G-d measures us.


    Maintaining a Low Profile in Exile

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/17/2007 12:40 PM

    “Yaakov saw that food was being sold in Egypt. Yaakov said to his sons, Why would you have everyone gazing at you? He said, Behold, I have heard that there is food for sale in Egypt. Go down there and buy for us from there, so that we will live and not die.” 42:1-2

    • Why would you have everyone gazing at you? Why do you show yourselves before the Yishmaelites and Children of Eisov as though you are well-fed? For at that time they still had grain - Rashi

    Yaakov recognized that if his children gave the appearance of being well off while the rest of the population hungered for food, they would be the envy of their neighbors. Therefore, he implored his children to maintain a low profile and not flaunt their wealth. This attitude has been echoed by Torah sages throughout our long years in exile in an effort to avoid stirring up latent feelings of anti-Semitism.


    How Soon They Forget

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 1/10/2007 5:26 PM

    And a new king arose in Egypt who did not know Yosef. 1-8 --Rav and Shmuel [disagree over this point.] One said that he was a new king in the literal sense and the other said that he enacted new decrees as if he did not know of Yosef [and what he done to save Egypt.] - Rashi --

    Both of these opinions are valid since he was born while Yosef was in prison and therefore was only a child during Yosefs reign and did not know much about him. Rabbeinu Bachya For any Egyptian, much less the Pharaoh himself, to forget Yosef and his enormous contributions to Egypt, defies all logic.

    Yet, those familiar with Jewish history recognize this pattern all too well. First the Jews are greatly appreciated for their contributions to society and the economy, and then fear and jealousy sets in and they are viewed as dangerous subversives. There was no more loyal citizen than Yosef, yet in the end, it was all forgotten by the Egyptians. Only by retaining their Jewish identity did ...

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