Friday, January 26, 2007

The First Jewish Holocaust

Parsha for the Table
Volume 2 Issue 14

פרשת בא: לעלוי נשמת עטל בת יצחק משה

“The First Jewish Holocaust”

The act of slaughtering the Pesach lamb, which was at that time one of the Egyptian gods, required tremendous mesiras nefesh. Imagine all the Jews walking into the Catholic Churches, taking down the statues and crosses and burning them for Lag B’Omer.
But there is an aspect of this deed that I have not seen discussed. Rashi tells us (10:22) that during the first three days of darkness there were many evil Jews who died. Rashi in parshas Beshalach (13:18) tells us that the number that died was 4/5 of clal Yisrael.
So let’s do some simple math.
We know there were 600,000 men between the ages of 20 and 60 that left Egypt. That would mean that 2.4 million men of the same age died during the darkness. Add in women and the elderly, it would certainly not be unimaginable to assume that around 6 million Jews perished during that three day period.
Now, imagine what it would take, after watching most of your friends and family perish, to now go and risk your lives to listen to the words of Hashem to make the korban Pesach.
It’s not a wonder that we celebrate this night for the next 3000 years.
“Mi C’Amcha Yisrael?”
Have a great Shabbas.
Rabbi Bader

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Friday, January 19, 2007

"Go Ahead...MAKE MY DAY" (Dirty Harry)

Parsha for the Table
Volume 2 Issue 13
Parshas Vaera

The movie and video game culture that we live in has taught us that the one who wins the fight is the one who has the better one-liner when he pulls the trigger. Nowadays, it would almost be unthinkable to create a hero that doesn't talk down his opponents. We look up to sports players who know how to show up the other team. Clal Yisroel has a different way.
In the beginning of the Parsha, Hashem makes a seemingly strange command to Moshe and Ahron. He tells them to deal with Clal Yisroel pleasantly and with patience, and to treat Pharoah with respect (6:13, Rashi).
You might think that when trying to get people to listen to you, you need to have all the options of speech available; to speak softly, or to speak harshly, as situations demand. Especially when dealing with a man like Pharoah, who bathed in babies blood, it wouldn't matter how to speak to him.
If this is how we're supposed to save Clal Yisroel and punish Pharoah, with soft spoken words and patience, how much more so should we use these same attributes when speaking with our friends and family?
Sorry for last week, have a great Shabbas, Rabbi Bader.

Friday, January 5, 2007

“The Saddest Conversation Ever”

Parsha for the Table
Vol 2 Issue 12
Parshas Vayechi

“The Saddest Conversation Ever”

In my mind, it has to be the last few psukim of Sefer Breishis.

When Yaacov Avinu dies, Yosaif’s brothers come to him to plea for their lives. They still thought he would kill them. So they invented a story that Yaacov had commanded him not to harm them. Yosaif then proceeds to pacify them and convince them that even if he wanted to he couldn’t harm them. (Look in Rashi there.)
We, the readers of the Chumash, could just start crying. This is just one big lack of communication!! Imagine a scene where the Chofetz Chaim is trying to convince R’ Chaim Kanievsky, R’ Mattisyahu Solomon, R’ Moshe Feinstein, Rebbi David Abuchatzeira, and Harav Nebenzahl Shlita that he truly loves them and won’t have them killed. What a sad way to end Breishis!
How can we have peace in Klal Yisrael if the great sons of Yaacov couldn’t unite?

Maybe after all of the building of the foundation of our nation that the Avos did, Hashem saw a hole in our unity that needed to be fixed. Perhaps this is one of the purposes of the torture and slavery of Golus Mitzraim, to bring us together in a way that only adversity can. And if so, this is the proper prelude for Sefer Shmos, explaining how Hashem Yisborach is truly looking to help us reach our potential in this world. Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazeik. Have courage; G-d is looking out for us.

Have a great Shabbos
Rabbi Bader