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VA-'EIRA' 5783

01/20/2023 01:29:06 PM


I observe yahrzeit for my father, Samuel White, Shmuel ben Menachem, this Tuesday, 2 Shevat.

Mariam Mintz and Stanley Goldstein observe for their mother, Chana bat Shalom HaKohen, this Thursday, 4 Shevat.

May their memories be for a blessing


Wow! Those Egyptians must have been very obtuse and/or evil. By the end of this week’s parasha, they have been beaten by 7 makkot, (blood, frogs, lice, mixed animals, plague, boils, and now hail,) yet they don’t give in. Except for one group of Egyptians: “Whoever among the servants of Pharoah feared the word of HaShem” brought his servants and animals inside, so that they were not smitten by the barad, the hail.

So, there were some good guys among the Egyptians. If so, now I understand the interesting interpretation of the great rabbi of Volzhin, R. Naftali Tsvi Yehuda Berlin, known by the acronym “the Netsiv.” [As you may remember, our dear Rabbi Joseph z”l was very fond of the Netsiv’s interpretations.]

Let me explain. The Torah told us, in last week’s parasha, that one day, Moshe saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. So, Moshe “turned here and there,” saw that there was no one, and he killed the Egyptian.  The usual interpretation is that Moshe looked all around, saw that there was absolutely no one in the street, and took advantage of that by killing the Egyptian.

But perhaps we could understand otherwise: the Netsiv suggested that there many have been other Egyptians around. But despite the high level of Egyptian culture, there was no one who would stand up for the downtrodden.  So Moshe had to take the law in his own hand. Unfortunately, culture and education do not always translate to ethical sensitivity.

Likewise, although there were at the time of the plague of hail, those servants of Pharoah who feared HaShem, their fear of Hashem did not lead them to lift a finger to help the beaten Israelites. We are all capable of thinking of many similar examples from throughout history. Often, some of the worst antisemites were the most religious and cultured.

My we hear only good news.

Shabbat shalom, Rabbi Menahem White

Sun, April 2 2023 11 Nisan 5783