Shemot | שמות | “Names ” – Neshama – soul, spells the word Shem – name!
–Please, my Lord, send by the hand of he whom you will send – means by the hand of Messiah, who is destined to be revealed.
–Moses only brought Israel alone to the service of G-d may he be blessed with new miracles, and he (Messiah) will bring all the nations to serve G-d blessed is he.
Shemot (שמות) is the title of the first Torah portion and Shemot means “names.” The Hebrew title for the book comes from the opening verse of the book: “Now these are the names (Shemot) of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob” –Exodus 1:1.
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. – Exodus 1:1-4
- The new king of Egypt makes slaves of the hebrews and orders their male children to be drowned in the Nile River. –Exodus 1:1-22
- A Levite woman places her son, where he is found by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised in Pharaoh’s house. -Exodus 2:1-10
- Moses flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian. -Exodus 2:11-15
- Moses marries the priest of Midian’s daughter, Zipporah. -Exodus 2:16-22
- G-d calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to free the Israelites from Egypt. -Exodus 3:1-4:17
- Moses and Aaron requested from Pharaoh for the Israelites to celebrate a festival in the wilderness. -Exodus 5:1-23
Zohar Writings: “These are the names of the children of Israel” Exodus 1:1. “The tribes of the children of Yisrael” (Joshua 4:5),“Speak to the children of Yisrael.” And HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying… “And these are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt with Jacob, every man came with his household” (Shemot 1:1). “And they who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever” ( Daniel 12:3 ). “And they who are wise,” are those who observe the secret of wisdom; “shall shine,” means they illuminate and sparkle with the shine of supernal Chochmah(Wisdom); and “as the brightness,” MEANS the brightness and sparkle of the river that emanates from Eden.
As the Midrash (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 48) teaches: Three merits allowed the Benei Yisrael to be redeemed from Egypt:
- They did not change their names – they retained their Hebrew names
- They did not change their language from the Holy Tongue to Egyptian
- They did not speak slander or gossip
Additionally, the conjunctive prefixו (vav) of the word וְאֵלֶּה (“and” these are), indicates a connection between the subject of the previous narrative, “And Yosef died…” (Bereishit 50:26), and our verse, “And these are the names…”, namely, he [Yosef] commanded the Benei Yisrael not to change their names. Although the Egyptians changed his name to Tzafenat-paneach (Bereishit 41:45), he nevertheless told them, “You should not change your names.” (Peirush HaRokeach).
“Ehyeh Asher-Ehyeh”,- I Shall be As I Shall Be
A man who grew up as an Egyptian, and lived a non-Hebrew life among the Gentiles all his life – now called on to go and rescue the nation of his birth in the Name of the G-d of their forefathers.
Moses said to G-d, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And G-d said to Moses, “Ehyeh Asher-Ehyeh”, He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’
Moses was commanded to answer the Israelites as follows: “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Eh-yeh sent me to you.’” The tetragrammaton or holy name of G-d combines four letters which include the forms of the verb h-y-h, “to be,” in the past, present and future: hayah, hoveh, yi-hi-yeh. In G-d’s first revelation to him, Moses was told that the Holy One, blessed be He, had decided to switch the course of Israelite history, turning it in a new direction: His relationship toward them would now follow the trait embodied in the name Eh-yeh (“I shall be”) based on the future tense: no more of the dreadful past, rather a future bearing the hope of liberation.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that “it was clear to Moses that his mission was two-fold. One mission was to Pharaoh, to deliver the people, and the other – his primary and inestimably more difficult mission – was to the Israelites: to prepare them … to become the Lord’s people.” Immediately after the exodus, the Israelites were to receive the Torah. That being the case, Moses was faced with a mission no less important than the people’s physical redemption from bondage to Egypt: preparing them to receive the Torah by teaching them the basic principles of Israelite theology. These principles are learned by knowing the names of the Holy One, blessed be He, as expressing the way the Lord acts in the world, as we are told in homiletic literature (Exodus Rabbah 3): “I am called according to My deeds.”
According to the Sages (and following them, Rashi) the meaning of this name is that the Holy One, blessed be He, delivers the people of Israel from all their woes, both in the present and the future: “The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Go tell them, the Israelites: I was with you during this bondage, and I shall be with you during the bondage to other kingdoms” (Berakhot 9b). Thus this name can be explained as follows: I, the Lord, shall deliver you from this bondage, and similarly I shall deliver you in the future from any adversity that befalls you. It is as if the Lord were presenting Himself here as none other than the Redeemer of the people of Israel.
Moses Mendelsohn, based on the midrash (Exodus Rabbah 3): “G-d said to Moses: ‘Tell them that I am now what I always was and always will be’; for this reason is the word ehyeh written three times.” In Guide for the Perplexed (1.63), Maimonides explains the name as follows: The first noun which is to be described is ehyeh: the second, by which the first is described, is likewise ehyeh, the identical word, as if to show that the object which is to be described and the attribute by which it is described are in this case necessarily identical. This is, therefore, the expression of the idea that G-d exists, but not in the ordinary sense of the term: or, in other words He is “the existing Being which is the existing Being,” that is to say, the Being whose existence is absolute.
Four-Letter and Forty Two Letter’s Holy Name:
As scripture states: G-d said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.- Exodus 3:14
We find that the emanation of G-d represented by the forty-two letter Name.
The example of 42 letters Name discussed in early commentators that the forty-two letters are a combination of the first forty-two letters of the Torah. The Name may also be associated with the phrase G-d used to reply to Moses, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh”, (“I Am that I Am”), which comes out to 42 in gematria .
Talmud – Mas. Kiddushin 71a – The forty-two lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober, and not insistent on his rights. And he who knows it, is heedful thereof, and observes it in purity, is beloved above and popular below, feared by man, and inherits two worlds, this world and the future world.
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 30a – AND THE EARTH WAS VOID AND WITHOUT FORM. This describes the original state-as it were, the dregs of ink clinging to the point of the pen-in which there was no subsistence, until the world was graven with forty-two letters, all of which are the ornamentation of the Holy Name.
Forty-two heavenly attendants: Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 5a – Said R. Simeon: ‘When the Shekinah went down to Egypt, a celestial “living being” (Hayah, cf.Ezek. 1, 5), called “Israel”, in form like the patriarch Jacob, went down with Her, accompanied by forty-two heavenly attendants, each of whom bore a letter belonging to the Holy Name. They all descended with Jacob to Egypt, and hence it says “and these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt… with Jacob”.’ … When R. Isaac was once studying with R. Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon, he asked him: ‘Did the Shekinah go down to Egypt with Jacob?’ Said R. Eleazar: ‘Surely! Did not G-d say to Jacob, “I will go down with thee into Egypt” (Gen. XLVI, 4)?’
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD( i.e heavenly attendants) went out from the land of Egypt. – Exodus 12:40-41
When G-d appeared to Moshe at the Burning Bush, He called him saying, “Moshe, Moshe.” The Zohar – Kabbala explains that he was called twice by his name to represent that he was complete both in the spiritual and physical realm. The Ramban – Nachmanidies explains that it is a special and beloved gesture by G-d to repeatedly call his cherished ones by their names.
Noach’s righteous son was given an interesting name, Shem – which means, name! The Sfas Emes explains that the name Shem represents his good name, for through his good deeds he led others to recognize G-d. Avraham was a descendant of Shem and Shem studied with and had great influence on our forefathers.
The Midrash tells us that earlier generations who were granted Ruach Hakodesh – Divine Inspiration – would give names according to events. However, we give our children names of our ancestors. There is a spiritual connection between the name of an individual and his soul, and interestingly the middle letters of the Hebrew word Neshama – soul, spells the word Shem – name!
Names, just as any word are created by combining letters, and when the Hebrew letters are used to write those names, we are using the blocks of creation.
That’s the main topic in the Sefer Yetzirah, which states that G-d created the world with 32 paths of Wisdom (represented in the 32 times the word Elokim appears in the 1st chapter of Genesis): the 10 Sefirot (represented in the 10 sayings; cf. Avot 5:1) and the 22 foundation letters of the Hebrew Alphabet (the other 22 times the word: “Elokim” appears) (cf. Yetzirah 1:1-2; cf. Pardes Rimonim 12:1). In Hebrew 32 represents the word: Lev (heart – לב) [the first letter in the Torah is the Beit and the last letter is the Lamed, thus forming the word Lev, or the number 32].
In order to understand this, a very simplistic explanation would be that in order to Say: “Let there be Light” – ‘Yehi Ohr’, first of all it was necessary to combine the letters that form those words, then create those words, and then pronounce them. This is why the Hebrew language is called Lashon haKodesh – the Holy Tongue. Our sages teach that Hebrew is the language of the Upper worlds; this is the secret in the proverb: “Ministering angels [of the people of G-d] only speak Hebrew” (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 24; cf. Hagiga 16a & Sotah 33a).
How we use the Hebrew letters constructs our world and our reality. G-d saw necessary to change the name of Abram into ‘Abraham’, even though the difference was just one letter. [ אברם – אברהם ]
“And called his name Noah ( נח – rest, quietness, comfort), saying, he will comfort us (or give us rest) – yeNakhemenu – ינחמנו ” -(Genesis 5:29).
But then the Holy One favours a different etymology for that name, as it’s written: “’Noah’ is found ‘Hen’ (grace, charm) in the eyes of HaShem” -Genesis 6:8; cf. Zohar I:58b
Interestingly, Moses is a common name in Egypt, and means ‘born’ or ‘son.’ R’ Ari Kahn comments,“Therefore we see that not only does Moses have an Egyptian name, but his name is steeped with idolatrous connotations.
Midrash Rabbah comments on this passage, “Was then Moses an Egyptian? No, he was a Hebrew but his dress was Egyptian.” -Exodus Rabbah 1:32, Soncino Press Edition
“And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moshe, and said: ‘Because I drew him out of the water” -Exodus 2:10
In Egyptian, ‘Moshe’ means “Child” or “Son”, Following the Phrase: “And he became her son”. Pharaoh’s daughter made a pun on Moshe’s name, ‘knowing that the boy was Hebrew’ (Exodus 2:6).
The word “Moshe” – משה means: “drawing out”, a metaphor for “rescue”.
It’s Moshe who ‘rescues’ or draws the people of Israel out of Egypt. It’s a task clearly connected with the etymology of his name. Basically, when we say: ‘Moshe’ we are calling him a “rescuer”.
By calling him with an Egyptian name, but favouring the Hebrew meaning over the Egyptian, the daughter of Pharaoh connected Moshe spiritually to his people. So the next thing we read is that ‘when Moshe was grown up, he went to his brethren’ (Exodus 2:11). Not only that, but even though his physical mother named him with other name, “it was because of this kindness that the name by which Moses is known throughout the Bible is the one that Batiah, Pharaoh’s daughter, called him, and even G-d called him by no other name” (cf. Shemot Rabbah).
Like Moshe, Yosef HaTzadik, was also named by an Egyptian, “Pharaoh called Yosef’s name Tzofnat-Paneach…” -Genesis 41:45
In the same manner, Moses changed Hosea‘s name into ‘Yehoshua’ (Numbers 13:16), and again, the difference was just one letter. [ הושע – יהושע ]
The extra letters in these two cases are letters that belong to the Sacred Name [Yod – Hei – Vav – Hei]. In Abraham’s case, G-d added the letter Hei. In Hoshea’s case, Moses added the Yod.In other cases, the father gives a name to his child, so that his name will determine his destiny as it was the case of Noah (cf. Berakhot 7b).
In Kabbalah, this is the secret of how our teacher Moses plays the role of mediator or bridge between G-d (the Father – Abbah, Keter, Hokhma & Binah) and the people (Nukva– Malkhut). So later we read: “You speak with us and we will hear, but don’t let G-d speak to us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:16 ). And as Moses represents the heart of the Ladder path, namely Zeir Anpin (the little face, the Son, Hesed to Yesod) we see him taking the role of Messianic figure (specifically in the Sefirah of Tiferet). We see him ascending to the Mount of fire and darkness to bring down the Torah. As we read: “HaShem called Moses to the top of the Mountain, and Moses went up” (Exodus 19:20), and then: “You have seen that I talk to you from Heaven” (Exodus 20:19 ).
Thus our sages tell of Moses something that belongs to the role of “Son” (ie. Zeir Anpin): “Moshe went up to Heaven to receive the Torah and brought it down to the people”. Moses is the heart of the Ladder between Yakov (ie. Israel) and G-d, as seen in Yakov’s dream (ie. Moshe = Tiferet with a deep connection in Yesod). Moses is the first redeemer, Messiah – ie. the Prophet like Moses – is the last redeemer.
The Son is the radiance of G-d’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. -Hebrews 1:3
Yeshua (the divine heavenly Tzaddik), is specifically called “Son of the Living G-d,” by His Talmidim: – And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living G-d. -Matthew 16:16
Moses in the role of mediator. After the first meeting with Pharaoh, the children of Israel instead of deliverance falls in a greater slavery. Moses enters in intercession with G-d, and speaks in the name of Israel, saying: “Why do you afflict this people? Why did you send me?… you haven’t delivered your people at all!” (Exodus 5:23). Here Moses is interceding for Israel, trying to bring Kindness to his people.
…..who is at the right hand of G-d, who indeed is interceding for us. – Romans 8 : 34
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to G-d through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. – Hebrews 7 : 25
In Rabbinic literature, “Edom” is a term for Christianity. Mashiach is hidden in Christianity, like Yosef and Moshe were concealed in Egypt.
The Crying Child:
This teaches us that the daughter of Pharaoh represents the attribute of Justice (cf. Zohar, Shemot) against a nation that got used to be in Egypt and forgot their G-d. But then we read , “And she opened, and saw a child and behold, the boy was crying, and she had compassion on him” (Exodus 2:6)
This boy is Moses, who represents Israel, who in the middle of the judgment was saved because of tears. This teaches us the meaning of Repentance. One who sheds tears during prayer receives compassion. “This is one of the Hebrews”, meaning, this one is not like those pagan idolaters, meaning, when repentance comes not only with tears, but also with deeds, the “difficult decrees are removed from him” (cf. Zohar shemot).
“And the maid went and called the child’s mother” (Exodus 2:8). Because the child was weeping, the child’s mother was summoned. This is in reference to Rachel, who cryies together with her child, for it’s said: “A voice in the height is heard, lamentation of bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children” (Jeremiah 31:15).
“Out of Egypt I have called my son” – Matthew 2:15
This is an example of a Remez – the Messiah and Israel, as both are called “G-d’s son.”He takes this allegorical concept of Israel being the Son of G-d and says Messiah is literally the first born Son of G-d.
“A voice was heard in Ramah …” – Matthew 2:18
Just as Rachel from her tomb in Ramah grieves for those lost lives, so the women of Beit-Lechem mourn for their slain infants. where Rachel is compared to the Shekinah (G-d’s presence in this world) who grieves for her children of Israel.
The Redemption of Israel depends on Israel’s ability to repent with lament, as it’s written: “They will come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them” (Jeremiah 31:9).
So we later read: “They cried out because of their slavery, and their plea went up before G-d. G-d heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Yitshak and Yakov.” –(Exodus 2:23-25)
We know that everything is under Divine Providence, but Redemption will not come if we do nothing. The coming of Messiah doesn’t happen by simply waiting to see how the world ends and saying, one day Messiah will come. The Gemara cites an opinion that “All the appointed times for Messiah to come ‘in its time’ have already passed and everything depends now on repentance” (Sanh 97b). Redemption comes when we start to realize what we are. We all are children of G-d exiled in this world of oppression (the meaning of Egypt – Mitzraim is oppression). If we don’t cry out and start doing our part in the redemption, we all are gonna die exiled. This is hinted in the words: “He looked this way and that way, and he saw no man [who helped his brother]” (Exodus 2:12).
Notice how the king of Egypt decrees the death of the Boys, but of the girls he decrees to make them live. They are an aspect of Messiah ben Yosef’s soul who is killed bearing the sins of his people and takes upon himself the chastisement of Israel (cf. Zohar II:212a ; cf. Sanh 98b). The death of the righteous affords atonement (cf. Moed Katan 28a).
Moshe’s soul, as a bridge between G-d and the people of Israel, has the duty to represent the whole nation in front of G-d (cf. Mekhilta Yitro 1:1) as it’s written: “Be you [Moses] for people before G-d” –(Exodus 18:19).
The King commanded to slay every “son” casting them into the river. We read the “daughter of Pharaoh descended to bathe in the river” (Exodus 2:5). This is, the same river where all the male children were being killed. In a Midrashic interpretation, she was bathing in the blood of the righteous of Israel.
Of this the Prophet says: “Because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, I have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her”
But if Israel is worthy, Messiah comes with the clouds (cf. Sanh 98b). This is, when the nation turned to Heaven with tears, as it’s written: ‘The cry of the children of Israel is come to me’ (Exodus 3:9).
This is our time to cry out: For Redemption of Our Souls and We need Mashiach. Amein!
Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23
The Book of Genesis closes with the deaths of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt. Now, at the start of the second book of the Torah, we find their descendants, the people of Israel, still in Egypt, where they will be enslaved, and eventually, redeemed. Moses feared that he would not be recognized as a hebrew, as did his wife-to-be, Zipporah, daughter of a Midianite priest, when she and her sisters told their father that they had met ‘an Egyptian’ ( Exodus 2:15 ). He would not be seen as sharing the ancient Hebrew culture, because he spent all his life among Gentiles. He grew up as a child and lived in the household of an Egyptian Pharaoh. After he killed an Egyptian soldier for beating a he brew slave, he had a very bad experience when, in trying to make peace between two fellows fighting, that one turned on him for killing the Egyptian soldier. He realized that his life was now in danger and he fled to the land of Midian where he spent the next 60 years among Gentiles, even marrying into a Gentile family, and now – this Calling by G-d.
‘These are the names the descendants of Israel that enter[ed] Egypt with Jacob; every man and his household. […Every soul that emerged out of the loins of Jacob…]’ –Exodus 1:1,5
And thus, we may interpret what is written, [namely] ‘These are the names of the descendants of Israel’ (Exodus 1:1) – which [represent] the soul’s (neshamah’s) powers, for just as in the body there are 248 limbs and 365 sinews, so too in the soul (neshamah) itself, and these are the soul’s powers ‘that enter Egypt’. ‘With Jacob’ – for they enter into the child while it is still a foetus within its mother’s womb, with Jacob, which [represents] the inclination towards good.
And it says ‘that enter’ rather than saying that they had already ‘entered,’ because the Blessed One ‘forms a person’s spirit (ruach) within him,’ (Zechariah 12:1) as explained in the Zohar (III, 42a), for as long as a person continues to grow, the soul (neshamah) continues to enter into him.
And similarly [the phrase] ‘There is none holy like G-D’ (I Samuel 2:2) . For even though Israel are holy, they are not holy of themselves; rather, the Blessed One makes them holy. This is the mystical meaning of ‘For there is none beside You’ (I Samuel 2:2) – [G-d’s] holiness does not [derive] from others, but the Blessed One is holy alone, and the holiness of Israel is nothing without You.
Therefore, it says: ‘who enter Egypt’ because the soul’s powers enter little by little. Then, at the moment of birth, it is already a person (‘ish); then ‘every man (‘ish) and his household entered’ (Exodus 1:1), for the body is the soul’s house. Then clearly all the powers of the body are ‘entering.’ ‘Come near to my soul; redeem it,’ ( Psalm 69:19), that before one prays for the general redemption, one must pray for the particular redemption – for one’s own soul… ‘I will set redemption (pedut) between My people and your people.’ –Exodus 8:19.
Rabbi Shalom of Belz (d. 1855) said: The word pedut, redemption finds in the scriptures: in Psalm 111:9 – ‘[G-d] sends redemption to [G-d’s] people,’ and in Psalm 130:7 – ‘With [G-d] [literally, him] there is much redemption.’ These are the promises of redemption correspond to three types of exile.
The first type: Jews in exile among foreign nations and lands. Hence the first promise [reads] ‘I will set redemption between My people and your people‘ (Exodus 8:19).
More severe than this is the exile of Jews amongst [their fellow] Jews: A holy people whose children tread on its head, brothers that dominate one another, brothers that oppress one another. G-d’s children that have been given over to the oppression of their brothers, [G-d] will bring out of oppression into redemption.
About this [type] it says ‘With him’ – with the person themselves – ‘there is much redemption’ (Psalm 130:7) When a person tries and exerts themselves to leave this exile, -od helps and strengthens their hand, and ‘[G-d] will redeem Israel from all its transgressions’ (Psalm 130:8).
Angel of HaShem:
Kol HaTor identifies as the “Mashiach ben Yosef from above”, – “The Angel of HaShem appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush . He looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” -Exodus 3:2
However, why would the Angel of HaShem appear in a thorn bush? Thorns are related to the curse upon Adam,“To Adam he said, Because you have listened to your wifes voice, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” -Genesis 3:17
Would it not be more appropriate to appear in the midst of a towering Cedar of Lebanon? Rashi explains,“And the angel of G-d appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a thornbush ” Why in a thorn bush and not some other tree? In order to demonstrate that “I am with them in their affliction.” -Rashi
Isaiah says,“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” -Isaiah 63:9
Mashiach wore a crown of thorns, “They braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.” -Matthew 27:29-30
FACE to FACE:
Exodus speaks of the amazing level of Moshe in his relationship with HaShem, “HaShem spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…”
The Torah distinguishes Moshe from other prophets,“He said, Hear now my words. If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so. He is faithful in all my house. With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see the LORDs form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?” -Numbers 12:6-8
The Talmud comments, “All the prophets looked into a dim glass (dark mirror) , but Moses looked through a clear glass (shiny mirror).”
-Talmud, Yevamoth 49b, Soncino Press Edition
Deuteronomy says, “There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom HaShem knew face to face…” -Deuteronomy 34:10
Rabbi Shaul Says of the ultimate revelation of the Redeemer, when all will see through a clear mirror,“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain–these three. The greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-8,12-13
Solomon says,“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.” -Song of Solomon 1:2
“Come, eat some of my bread, drink some of the wine which I have mixed!”
-Proverbs 9:5, cf. Genesis 14:18
R’ Yitzchok Wagshul comments, “Revelation of this Great Love is accomplished through study of the Torah, which is compared to wine. This is the inner significance of the Talmudic saying “When wine [referring to Torah] enters a person, the secret [referring to the longing of their soul for G-d] comes out”…When the “wine” of Torah enters a person’s system, when he or she makes Torah the object of his or her soul’s thought and speech – through study and teaching of Torah – and actions – through actual performance of mitzvot – this stimulates the soul itself and brings its Great Love to the fore…Our verse, too, referring to “eyes bloodshot from wine”, is speaking of the degree of Delightful Love which results after one has succeeded, through the wine of Torah, in bringing out the Great Love “hidden” within one’s soul.”
One of the signs by which G-d convinces Moses, and by which He introduces Himself to Pharaoh is the transformation of Moses’ staff into a Snake.
“And he [Moses] threw it [the staff] to the ground and it became a snake [Nakhash].Moshe ran away from it. G-d told Moses, ‘Reach out and grab it by its tail’. He reached out and grabbed it, and it became a staff in his hand” (Exodus 4:3-4).
The Staff by which Aaron and Moses made miracles was a ‘Snake’. Not an evil Snake, but a “Holy Snake”. The Dominion of Pharaoh comes from the side of The Wicked Snake, as it’s written: “I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, great dragon that lies in the midst of his rivers” (Ezekiel 29:3); therefore his judgment started with a Snake (cf. Zohar Vaera).
The Symbol of the Snake is very important. It was through the poison (spiritual impurity) of a Wicked Snake that Samael brought “Death to humankind” (cf. Zohar I:35b). Therefore, since a Snake exiled us from Gan Eden, the redemption of humanity would come through another ‘Snake’; G-d’s judgments are measure for measure (eye for an eye); and this ‘Holy Snake’ is Messiah. In Gematria ‘Messiah’ (Mashiakh) equals Snake (Nakhash).
G-d commands Moses to take the “Snake” by the “Tail” – that is: the hindmost part – because the Moshe-Messiah is the final redeemer. And it became a staff, because the staff represents the attribute of Justice and severity, it’s the way the cattle is put in order. So we find that G-d is telling Moses that Pharaoh’s judgment and the people’s deliverance is through an aspect of the Soul of Messiah. As it’s written: ‘he [Messiah] will smite the land with the rod of his mouth and… slay the Wicked’ (Is 11:4). Who is the Wicked one? Samael (cf. Bahir 200), the Wicked Snake.
So from one side of the staff comes deliverance (mercy, life) and from the other side judgment (severity, death). In our portion we see how this staff is good when is a rod, but dangerous when is in the form of a Snake – as Moses fled from it (Exodus 4:3).
In Kabbalah, this balance between the left and the right side is the balance found in “Tiferet”; the Parzuf (personification of the Sefirot) called: ‘Zeir Anpin’. In the angelic world this belongs to “Metatron” – the so called: ‘Angel of HaShem’, as it’s written: ‘the staff of G-d is in my hand’ (Exodus 17:9) (cf. Zohar I:27a). Metatron is the Mediator of all that comes from heaven down to the earth, or from the earth up to heaven (Zohar II:51). This is another aspect of Messiah ben Yosef, as explained in three teachings of the Vilna Gaon: Yosef as well as the angel Metatron (cf. Hagiga 14) are spiritually rooted in the level of Adam’s collective soul, called: ‘the Uppermost Light’ (זהירא עילאה). So Messiah ben Yosef also receives his spiritual energy and vitality from this level and utilizes it in fulfilment of his mission.
Moses & Messiah’s Donkey:
The message of redemption occurs in the book of Genesis : “Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which G-d had told him.” -Genesis 22:3
“On the donkey. The particular donkey. It is the donkey that Abraham saddled for the binding of Isaac, and it is the one that Messiah, the King, is destined to be revealed upon, as it says, “a humble man, riding on a donkey.”
Rashi to Exodus 4:20, Mesorah Publishers pg. 37, cf. Pirkei de-Rebbi Eliezer 31
Moshe’s return to Israel is connected with a donkey, “And Moses said to G-d: “Who am I, that I might go to Pharaoh, and that I might take the children of Israel out of Egypt? . . . Please, my Lord, send by the hand of he whom you will send” (Exodus 3:11, 4:13).
“Send by the hand of he whom you will send— means by the hand of Messiah, who is destined to be revealed” -(Midrash Lekach Tov).
“And Moses took his wife and children, set them upon the donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt” -(Exodus 4:20).
Moshe went to deliver his people, on ‘The Donkey’. Why the text sees necessary to emphasise the importance of the donkey? This is a Remez (allusion) to something else (cf. Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 31).This is the same Donkey of Abraham, when he received the mission to offer his son in sacrifice, as it’s written: “Abraham rose early in the morning and readied his Donkey” -(Genesis 22:3).
Seven generations later, when Moses receives the mission to rescue Israel, it’s this Donkey who carry his wife and children.
In the time of Messiah, Messiah himself will ride this donkey, as stated: ‘Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant, victorious, humble, and riding upon a Donkey’ (Zechariah 9:9).
The Talmud comments,“R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee . . . ] lowly, and riding upon an donkey! If they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an donkey.” -Sanhedrin 98a, Soncino Press Edition
Kol HaTor comments,“A lowly person, riding on a donkey” – Mashiach ben Yosef is a lowly person ….“I was brought low, and he saved me.” His lowliness protects him from death.” –Kol HaTor 2.114, translated by R’ Yechiel Bar Lev and K. Skaist
Since Messiah is described as “greater than Abraham and higher than Moses – and even loftier than the supernal angels” (Yalkut Shimoni on Isaiah 52:13).
Messiah is called “Aniy” – עני, normally translated as “Humble”. It also means: “poor”. Messiah is called “poor” because he has nothing of his own, he is compared to the holy moon above, which has no light of her own, but is a reflection of the Sun’s light. So Messiah is called “poor” because his Light is a reflection of G-d’s Light above (cf. Zohar I:238a).
The term Aniy – poor, refers an aspect of Messiah ben Yosef, who by being “poor” is considered a “dead person”, for a poor man is accounted as dead (cf. Nedarim 64b; cf. Rashi on Exodus 4:19), thus satisfying the attribute of Justice, for the job of redemption demands his very life (cf. Kol haTor 2:114).
The Donkey symbolizes the presence of the Soul of Messiah, the Messianic process of Redemption, the force that fixes the world. The Donkey of Messiah was created before the Sun (Yalkut Devarim 86a). The Donkey of Messiah represents the Spiritual controlling the material world.
In the same manner, Hamor represents our physical being, which must be controlled by the force of the Soul of Messiah (cf. Baal Shem Tov, haYom Yom, Shvat 28). As the Baal Shem Tov taught, in each and every one there’s a spark of Messiah’s Soul. It is fundamental to rise the Messiah on top of materiality (= the donkey) and take control over it. The force from above (Messiah) influences the many shades of our matter (Homer) until finally our donkey is whitened – material world is purified – thus Messiah’s Donkey is popularly known as the “White Donkey”.
The donkey and its link to ‘Shiloh’ is mentioned in Genesis 49,“Binding his foal to the vine, his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he has washed his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.” -Genesis 49:11
The donkey has been historically linked with Redemption. Samson fought the battles of HaShem with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:15), and King David went to face Goliath of Gath with a donkey,“Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a young goat, and sent them by David his son to Saul.” -1 Samuel 16:20
The Maharal, R’ Judah Loew ben Betzalel (1520 CE – 1609 CE) comments on this passage in connection with the donkey (chamor), “It is reasonable to ask how this donkey is different from others – why does the Torah single this one out? A donkey is a donkey! The midrash points out that this donkey was created at twilight; it is the donkey that Moshe rode, and it is the one that will ultimately be ridden by the son of David. . . the rabbis wanted to juxtapose Avraham, Moshe and Mashiach, who had what no other creations had – a special exalted status. . . As for the Mashiach, the prophet says, “Behold my servant shall succeed, he will be exalted and become high and exceedingly lofty” [Isaiah 52:13]. The midrash interprets: “exalted” – more than Avraham; ‘high’ – even more than Moshe; and ‘exceedingly lofty’ – more than the ministering angels [Tanchuma, Toldot 14]. Only these three are loftier than time, space and the universe…The donkey is the only non-kosher animal specified forth performance of a commandment – its firstborn must be redeemed. Chamor [donkey] gets its name from chomri [physical, material]…Kings reign over the material world, which is symbolically represented by the image of a man riding an animal. These three spiritual kings – Avraham, Moshe and Mashiach – who ascend to the highest levels of spirituality, symbolically ride the donkey, which represents the material world. A horse would, as a rule, be more fitting for a king, but these are spiritual kings…”
Maharal of Prague, Gur Arye, on Exodus and Leviticus, translated by Moshe David Kuhr, Gefen Publishers, pgs. 34-35
The Midrash Rabbah says, “R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Isaac: As the first redeemer was, so shall the latter Redeemer be. What is stated of the former redeemer? And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass (Ex. IV, 20). Similarly will it be with the latter Redeemer, as it is stated, Lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9). As the former redeemer caused manna to descend, as it is stated, Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you (Ex. XVI, 4), so will the latter Redeemer cause manna to descend, as it is stated. May he be as a rich cornfield4 in the land (Ps. LXXII, 16). As the former redeemer made a well to rise,5 so will the latter Redeemer bring up water, as it is stated, And a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim (Joel IV, 18).” –Kohelet Rabbah 1:28, Soncino Press Edition
Joseph Klausner comments,“. . . Just as Moses brought redemption to his people, so also will Messiah bring redemption. . . Just as Moses, after revealing himself to his brethren in Egypt and announcing to them that deliverance was near, was forced to go into hiding for a time, so also will be Messiah be forced to hide himself after the first revelations, just as Moses crossed from Midian to Egypt riding on a donkey (Exodus 4:20), so also will Messiah come riding on a donkey; just as Moses caused manna to rain from the sky, so will Messiah bring forth different kinds of food in a miraculous way; and just as Moses gave to the children of Israel wells and springs of water in the wilderness, so also will Messiah make streams of water flow in the desert. Not only this, but the acceptance of suffering because of the iniquities of others, which late Jewish legend attributes to the Messiah…is also attributed to our master Moses.
Joseph Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, pages 17-18, 1927
The Maharal is linking the donkey to this mitzvah : “Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons.” -Exodus 13:13
The Zohar comments on the link between the lamb and the donkey, “The donkey and the lamb symbolize the evil and the good inclinations. The very evil can be turned into good by repentance: the “donkey” must be redeemed by a “lamb”. In other words, even if a man is an “donkey”, a spiritual ignoramus, he can be redeemed from the exile of darkness and be included in the redemption of Israel, “the scattered sheep” (Jeremiah. 50:17). But if he does not repent, ‘thou shalt break his neck’, meaning, he belongs to the stiffnecked ones who will be blotted out from the Book of Life, for concerning such unrepentant sinners it is written: ‘Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book’ (Exodus. 22:33).” -Zohar, Ra’aya Mehemna, 43a, Soncino Press Edition
Yeshua as a heavenly Tzaddik- as the Lamb of G-d, riding upon the donkey into Jerusalem,“When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethsphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, ‘Go your way into the village that is opposite you. Immediately as you enter into it, you will find a young donkey tied, on which no one has sat. Untie him, and bring him. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Say, ‘The Lord needs him.’ and immediately he will send him back here.’ They went away, and found a young donkey tied at the door outside in the open street, and they untied him. Some of those who stood there asked them, ‘What are you doing, untying the young donkey?’ They said to them just as Yeshua had said, and they let them go. They brought the young donkey to Yeshua, and threw their garments on it, and Yeshua sat on it. Many spread their garments on the way, and others were cutting down branches from the trees, and spreading them on the road. Those who went in front, and those who followed, cried out, ‘Hoshia’na! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the L-rd! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming in the name of the Lord! Hoshia’na in the highest!” -Mark 11:1-10
The Ralbag, R’ Levi ben Gershon (1288 CE – 1344 CE), comments: “‘There will not arise a prophet like Moses’ (Deutronomy 34.10) who was a prophet in Israel only, but there will be a prophet from this people for the nations and this is the King Messiah, as it says in the Midrash, “Behold my servant will prosper” that he will be greater than Moses. And it is explained that the miracles he will do will be greater than Moses. Moses only brought Israel alone to the service of G-d may he be blessed with new miracles, and he (Messiah) will bring all the nations to serve G-d blessed is he. As it says, ‘Then will all the nations be turned to a pure speech, they will all call on the name of G-d.’ (Zephaniah. 3.9) This faith will come about due to the wondrous miracles that will be seen to all ends of the world by all the nations, and this is the resurrection of the dead” -Ralbag on Deuteronomy 34:10, translated by Moshe Shulman
Moses was explicitly thought of as a shepherd, as in Isaiah 63:11, “Where is He that brought them up out of the sea, with the shepherds of His flock?” and Psalms 77:21: “You led Your people like a flock in the care of Moses and Aaron.”
We are told that “Saul was just coming from the field driving the cattle” (I Sam. 11:5ff), and David started out as a shepherd, as we read in I Samuel 16:19 and 17:15. Indeed, in II Samuel 7:8 the Lord says to David, “I took you from the pasture, from following the flock.” Elisha plowed with twelve yoke of oxen before being appointed Elijah’s successor (I Kings 19:19-21), and Amos said, “the Lord took me away from behind the flock” (Amos. 7:15).
Exodus Rabbah 2.2 (Shinan ed., pp. 105-106) explains that through shepherding the flock the Lord establishes whether a person is worthy to be chosen for a special task in the life of the people: “The Lord seeks out the righteous man” (Psalms. 11:5). How so? In shepherding the flock. He tested David with the sheep, and found him a good shepherd, as it is said, (“He chose David, His servant,) and took him from the sheepfolds” (ibid., 78:70). David used to hold back the older sheep, and take out the youngest ones first to graze so that they would have the tender grass; then he would take the little ones out to graze next so that they could graze on the medium grass, and after them he would take out the bigger ones to eat the grass of the field (another version: hard grass). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: A person who knows to tend the flock, caring for each according to his abilities, shall come and be the shepherd of my people. That is the meaning of Psalms 78:71: “He brought him from minding the nursing ewes to tend His people Jacob, Israel His inheritance.”
Jeremiah accuses the kings of Judah of causing dispersal of the people (compared to sheep), and compares G-d to a shepherd who will gather the dispersed people together and provide them faithful shepherds (Jeremiah. 23:1-4). Likewise, Ezekiel speaks of the shepherds of Israel who ignored the people’s suffering, abandoning them and causing them to be “scattered for want of anyone to tend them” (Ezekiel. 34:5). The prophet promises that in the future G-d will tend the people “in good grazing land” (v. 14), i.e., will gather Israel in from exile.
Moses and David Shepherds: Both Moses and David are referred to as “the man of G-d” (Deut. 33:1; Neh. 12:24, 36; II Chron. 8:14); both Moses and David led the people for forty years (Sam. 7:7; Deut. 31:2; 34:7; I Kings 2:11); David’s preparations for building the Temple call to mind Moses’ preparations for erecting the Tabernacle (cf. Ex. 35:4-29 and I Chron. 28:11ff).
Rabbienu Yeshua Words: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” – Matthew 15: 24
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep ( i.e lost sheep of israel) that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd -John 10:15-16
UNIVERSAL TORAH: SHEMOS – By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
Torah Reading: SHEMOS Exodus 1:1-6:1; Haftara: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23 (Sephardi ritual: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3).
“AND THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL”:
ISRAEL ON THE WORLD STAGE
With the beginning of the book of SHEMOS, “Exodus”, Israel enters the world stage as a people. Pharaoh himself, their oppressor, recognizes them as “the PEOPLE of the Children of Israel, many and mighty.” (Ex. 1:9). Their servitude in Egypt is in fulfillment of the promise given to their founding father, Abraham: “Surely KNOW that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and they will serve them and they will oppress them. And also the people that they will serve I will judge, and afterwards they will go forth with great wealth” (Gen. 15:13-14).
The Exodus of the People of Israel from Egypt is the pivotal event in the history of mankind, paradigm of all true freedom and liberation, the eternal proof that G-d is not only the Creator of the natural world but also directs and controls all aspects of human affairs with HASHGACHAH PRATIS – “providence in every detail” – for good.
For the sake of G-d’s self-revelation to the world, it is not sufficient that He should be known privately to a select few. The climax of G-d’s revelation is when “the earth will be full of the KNOWLEDGE of G-d like the waters cover the seas” (Isaiah 11:9). Even those who are turned away from G-d, even those who resist knowing Him, must be forced to admit — even against their will — that G-d is King of the whole world.
Thus when Moses first calls on Pharaoh in the name of G-d to release His People, “…and Pharaoh said, ‘Who is HaShem that I should listen to His voice. I do not KNOW HaShem.” (Ex. 5:2). But in the end Pharaoh himself was forced to send them away: “Go, serve HaShem as YOU said” (12:31); “And Egypt said, let me flee from Israel, for HaShem is fighting for them against Egypt” (14:25).
In Egypt the Children of Israel, G-d’s emissaries, were in an upside-down world. “There is an evil that I have seen beneath the sun like a mistake that went forth from before the Ruler: folly is put in many high places while the wealthy [=Israel, Rashi] sit in the low place. I have seen slaves on horses while princes walk like slaves on the ground” (Koheles 10:5-7). Noah cursed the nations of Ham to be “a servant of servants to his brothers” (Gen. 10:25). But now Ham’s second-born, MITZRAIM (Gen. 10:6) — Egypt — were lording it over the choicest of the line of Shem. It looked as though Pharaoh was the “first-born”. G-d’s revelation to the world depended upon showing that “My son, My first-born is Israel” (Ex. 4:22). Even the Egyptians saw this when G-d smote all their first-born while saving all the Israelite first-born.
Even the Egyptians had to come to KNOW. Even Jethro — who tried every religion in the world — had to admit in the end: “Now I KNOW that HaShem is greater than all the gods.” (Ex. 18:11). More than anyone, the Israelites — who in slavery fell into the false consciousness imposed on them by their oppressors — had to learn the lesson on their own flesh. The Exodus from Egypt is the pivotal event in the history of the People of Israel, the very brith of the nation. The climax was to come at Mount Sinai, when the entire nation, together and in unity, witnessed G-d’s revelation. The revelation at Sinai was a “mass conversion”: the Rabbis point out that the three acts associated with conversion — circumcision, immersion in the Mikveh [the Torah root of “baptism”] and [in Temple times,] a sacrificial offering, were all observed at Sinai.
After introducing us to the “upside-down” world of Egypt in the first chapter of Exodus, our parshah of SHEMOS immediately moves to the concepts of revelation and conversion. When Moses was born, “the whole house was filled with light” (Rashi on Ex. 2:2 “and she saw him THAT HE WAS GOOD” corresponding to “and G-d saw the light THAT IT WAS GOOD” Gen. 1:4). Immediately afterwards, “And Pharaoh’s daughter went down to wash by the river” — “she changed her religion and went to convert” (Baal HaTurim ibid.) In the merit of Batya’s compassion for the baby Moses and her act of saving him, she was worthy of being one of the greatest ever converts. Batya’s predecessor, Hagar, daughter of the Pharaoh of Abraham’s days and mother of Ishmael, “went astray” (Gen. 21:14). But Batya married into the princely tribe of Judah (Sanhedrin 19b on Chronicles I, 4:18). The other prominent convert introduced in our parshah is Jethro.
THE CONSTRICTION OF THE THROAT
In the upside-down world of Egypt it looks as though not G-d is running the world but Pharaoh. As discussed in the commentaries on Genesis, PhaRaOh is the embodiment of the OrePh, the “back of the neck” of the Creation as opposed to its inner face. Pharaoh is the epitome of worldly power and control, “the great crocodile squatting in his rivers who says ‘the river is mine and I made myself’ ” (Ezekiel 29:3, Haftarah of next week’s parshah when not Rosh Chodesh).
Pharaoh “does not know” HaShem: he resists knowing. Thus MITRAYIM is related to the root MEITZAR, the “narrow strait”, a place of constriction. In kabbalistic literature, Pharaoh is called “the constriction of the throat” (MEITZAR HAGARON). Through the neck run three narrow channels that are vital to survival: the windpipe, the gullet and the jugular veins (corresponding to Pharaoh’s three “officers”, the Butler, the Baker and the Captain of the Guard). Life depends upon the free flow of gases, fluids and solids through these channels from the head down into the body, while all our functioning is governed through the most heavily protected channel of all: the spinal column, which extends down from the brainstem into the body via the neck.
The book of Genesis is the “head” of the Torah: BEREISHIS, “at the head”. The first word and first verse of Genesis contain the entire creation “in a nutshell” (King Solomon’s “garden of nuts”). The first book of the Torah is the head and brain in the sense that it introduces us to all the fundamentals of true religion. The rest of the Torah is the “body”. Exodus is the “arms” (“for with a mighty HAND G-d took you out of Egypt” Ex. 13:9). Leviticus is the middle and heart of the Torah: “You shall be holy, for I HaShem your G-d am holy” — “and love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus ch. 19 v. 2 and v. 18). The Book of Numbers is the “legs”: the Children of Israel are on the move through the wilderness — “these are the journeys of the Children of Israel” (Numbers 33:1). Finally Deuteronomy is the “feet” — Malchus, the lowest level: “the END of the matter, when all has been heard: fear G-d and observe His commandments, for that is the Whole Man” (Koheles 12:13).
With the opening of the book of Exodus, we are at the beginning of the transition from “the head”, Genesis, to the “body”, the rest of the Torah. We are at the “neck”. This is why we must now encounter Pharaoh, the “back of the neck” — the real Pharaoh, no longer Joseph’s “friendly” patron but a wicked tyrant who, to perpetuate his own rule, is hell-bent on keeping the world from KNOWING G-D.
Pharaoh’s scheme is to constrict the passage of DAAS from the head and brain down into the body. Whereas the nervous system connects the body with the brain, bringing sensation, awareness and consciousness to all parts, Pharaoh’s officers work to constrict the flow of awareness. The Butler and the Baker make us want to eat and involve ourselves in the material world, but our material involvements, although vital for our survival, often tend to distract and separate us from the life of the spirit. We fall into false consciousness, and the battle for physical survival and material gratification becomes paramount. We spend our lives building “store cities for Pharaoh” (Ex. 1:11).
The role of Moses is to bring DAAS, spiritual knowledge and awareness from the “head” down into the “body”. It is not enough to know that there is a G-d in our minds. We have to bring that knowledge down into our actual lives and daily activities. “And you shall KNOW TODAY and BRING DOWN INTO YOUR HEART that HaShem is G-d in the heaven above and on the earth below, there is none other” (Deut. 4:39).
THE KEY IS SHABBOS
Adam was created for the highest mission, to “fill the earth and conquer it and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and every living being swarming on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But Adam fell from his mission, and instead of “tending and guarding” the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15), he was driven out to become slave to the earth: “With the sweat of your brow you will eat bread.” (Gen. 3:19).
The only way for the Children of Adam to escape this servitude is through the Shabbos, which each week releases man from slavery to the material world and the battle for survival, lifting him above it to the world of DAAS, the knowledge and awareness of G-d.
Thus when Moses first went into Pharaoh, his initial request was that the Children of Israel should have a holiday from their slavery: “Let us please go for a journey of three days into the wilderness, and there we will sacrifice to HaShem our G-d” (Ex. 5:3).
Pharaoh’s immediate reaction was to resist the idea: “Why are you disturbing the people from their labors, go back to your tasks. You are causing them to cease from their tasks” (Ex. 5:5). The Hebrew for “you are disturbing” is taPhRiyOO, containing the word PHARAOH — as if Moses and Aaron are the tyrants. The Hebrew for “You are causing them to cease” is ve-hiSHBATem, containing the word SHABBOS. Pharaoh’s scheme for preventing DAAS spreading from the head, Moses, to the Children of Israel, the body, was to make the Children of Israel so busy with this-worldliness that they would not have TIME to be aware of G-d. And indeed the Children of Israel became so wearied by their intensified servitude on the threshold of redemption that “they did not listen to Moses because of shortness of spirit and hard work” (Gen. 6:9).
Moses had to legislate the Shabbos because there is a wicked force in man — Pharaoh — that will not allow him to rest from the world until he must by law! Shabbos was the first commandment given to the Children of Israel directly after their entry into the wilderness following the crossing of the Red Sea (Rashi on Ex. 15:25). Shabbos — SHEVITA, the willful cessation of and resting from MELACHAH, deliberate, manipulative labor — is the very key to man’s freedom from the tyranny of this world.
* * *
THE RIGHTEOUS WOMEN
“In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, Israel were redeemed from Egypt” (Sotah 11b).
The Midrashim give many examples of the heroism and self-sacrifice of the women of the period of exile and slavery in Egypt in lifting their husbands’ spirits and breeding new generations for a better future.
While our parshah introduces the Savior of Israel — Moses — who was a man, it is striking that the most decisive roles are played by women. In Genesis we saw a succession of great women turning and shaping history on their own initiative, such as Sarah, Rebeccah, Rachel, Leah and Tamar. In our parshah this is a recurring phenomenon: four outstanding women take decisive action on their own initiative to bring about redemption: Jochebed, Miriam, Batya and Tziporah.
Thus when Pharaoh wanted to kill the Israelite boys, it was the two midwives, “Shifra” and “Pu’ah” (= Jochebed and Miriam) who cleverly frustrated his plans. When Amram “took the daughter of Levi (=Jochebed)” (Ex. 2:1) from whom he had separated because he did not want to breed children who would be killed, it was on the initiative of Miriam that he relented (see Rashi ad loc.). By drawing Moses out of the water, Batya saved the entire world. The dauntless Miriam went straight up to the king’s daughter offering to bring someone to take care of the rescued baby. Batya had the good sense to understood the crucial importance of good nurturing. Jethro’s daughters were perhaps too modest to invite Moses home until their father told them — after all, they thought he was an Egyptian (Ex. 2:19-20). However, Tziporah showed no hesitation when she saw an angel consuming her husband Moses for failing to circumcise Eliezer: she took a flint and performed the bloody circumcision herself, showing that as a true righteous convert, her heart was circumcised to G-d.
In all these cases, examples, the heroism and initiative of these women is bound up with breeding and rearing future generations to know and serve G-d.
Shabbat Shalom! – Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
Haftarat (Shemot – ‘Names’ ) – Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23
The haftarah this week is linked to this week’s Torah portion because it begins with a remembrance of the descendants of Jacob. G-d remembers His promises. He will never cast off His people, whom He foreknew. Our reading from the Prophets begins this way:
Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. – Isaiah 27:6
Compare this to the promise that G-d made to Abraham regarding his offspring:
Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” -Genesis 15:5
Therefore thus says HaShem, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My Name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the G-d of Israel.” -Isaiah 29:22-23
As it is written:You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.- Deuteronomy 6:7, 11: 19
O, Awesome Creator! You are the Most Holy One of Israel and Your Holy Name will be gloried.
And Place these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul; bind them for a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes.
Teach them to your children, to discuss them, while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise.
And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. In order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the ground that Most High has sworn to your ancestors to give them, like the days of the heaven on the earth.
May His Holy Name be blessed
We will see that the children of Israel return to Most High and Torah of Mashiach, And will hug in the Holy Land, and by obeying and listening the “VOICE of Most Ancient Holy One of Israel”, will bring offerings in a righteous way on the holy mountain and also bring the Ark of the covenant with pure heart in the right place ( i.e In Har HaBayit, on the foundation Stone) .
We will Welcome the son of David on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
[ Ha Khadosh Baruch Hu – Baruch HaBa B’Shem Adonai ] – Gaddi, President, BetYisrael International.
Gaddi – President