‘The Exiting from Egypt’ or ‘The Taking Out Egypt’ – Breaking a Mentality or Mindset

Featured

The commonly accepted translation of the Hebrew words Yetziat Mitzrayim – is ‘The Exiting from Egypt’. But let’s analyze a bit. Yetziah means ‘going out’. To make it ‘the going out of‘ we replace the letter Hei with a Tav. It thus becomes ‘The Going out of’ Mitzrayim means Egypt. The Going out of Egypt. Thus it could mean people are going out of Egypt or Egypt is going out of people.

The Jews were in Egypt for 210 years. They were subjected to slavery, torture, killing of babies, psychological torment and cruel and unusual punishment. They were about to adopt a “Slave Mentality” – to save the Jews from this Mentality – Hash-m had to take them out of Egypt within 18 minutes. They were freed and Left just in time to escape that mentality.

It took them 40 years of wandering in the desert to remove this mentality properly.

They became the servants of Hash-m / G-d – when they accepted the Torah about 50 days after leaving Egypt.

If so when were they ever free? They went from being servants to the Pharaoh to the Servants of G-d.

The Answer: By the Jews accepting the Yolk of Hash-m and to Observe the Torah – that is what gave them freedom. A person can by physically free – yet a servant to their desires, temptation, habits, mindset, mentality. Torah Observance breaks all those shackles.

A person might think themselves completely free or independent but they are still the subject of their society, their upbringing, and the media they consult.

Hash-m is the only completely independent Being. His commands are the best possible commands that a person can follow. These commands make a person free. If a person follows their desires – they are a servant of their desires.

Once a person, after the army, decided to go tour the Amazon forest. He was confident – “I don’t need a guide – I hiked many forests and was able to navigate out of them.” He entered the forest and lost his way. He was lost for about 2 weeks searching for the exit. He met an old man. He asked him the way out. The man replied “I have been here for 20 years and can’t tell you the way out – but I can tell you which ways not to go. Going this and this way will bring you to a dead end. Going this way you are stopped by a river.” – The young man was completely free to do what he wanted – yet he was a prisoner of the forest.

Having the directions of the old man helped him to be slightly more free because he had more hope of getting out.

Removing the ‘Egypt’ from us

A person can break a mentality. A person can gain confidence. A person can change – but they need directions. The directions of the Torah helps him to free himself.

Let’s say a person is overweight – he or she is being addicted to food. So going on a diet will help them. But some go too far and become anorexic – that they are psychologically convinced to remain thin. So they are also controlled by their mindset of being thin. (Obviously both should seek proper help).

The Torah mentality is to follow the middle path. The Middle path is complete. This is stated by the Rambam – Maimonides in His Mishne Torah – on Human Dispositions.

As for us, we are charged to walk in these middle-paths, which are the good and straight paths, even as it is said: “And thou shalt walk in His ways” (Deut. 28 9).

Torah is the word of Hash-m / G-d who wants the complete best for us. Following his ways does not only allow us to live a better life – but allows us to be free – like it says in Pirkei Avot 6:1:

“And the tablets were the work of G-d and the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved (charuth) upon the tablets.” Read it not “charuth,” but “cheiruth” (freedom), for no one is free but him who studies Torah. For whoever studies Torah is exalted, as it is written (Numbers 21:19): “And from Matanah (the gift [of Torah]), Nachliel (‘the inheritance of the L rd’); and from Nachliel, Bamoth (‘the high mount’).”

The Smart Phone & Tolerance – Where Are You Holding Spiritually?

Featured

In a Beit Midrash / house of Torah study in Brooklyn, someone asked me to use my phone. I said “sure”. When I pulled out a Smartphone – he said “Oh, no thank you.” I wanted to help him but he didn’t want to use a Smartphone – because it is an object of temptation and wasting time. I respected him for that. I now use a flip phone for personal use.

Someone I know stopped using a Smartphone. His rabbi told him to stop. He listened. Once a Jew with a knitted Kippah in Israel asked him to take a picture of him with his smartphone. The young man replied in a nice way “sorry, I try to stay away from smartphones.” The man replied in Hebrew “Ashreicha” / “Happy are you” [meaning that’s a great thing].

Others would not react so kindly. The question is why do we react a particular way to people with higher Torah standard than us? Some react to one who proposed something that is above their standards by accepting, being positively envious and aspiring to also do the same. Others may react by yelling and insulting the person. It happened to me several times.

Can You Handle Truth?

Knowing how we would react to higher Torah standards indicates what spiritual level we are on. Are we envious of people with higher spiritual Torah aspirations in a positive way – by wanting to emulate them now or in the future or envious in a negative sense – by degrading or looking down upon them?

What is Our Level of Spiritual Aspirations?

Torah is truth. Torah is Hash-m’s / G-d’s word. G-d knows all and does only good. We are limited beings. Our objective is to emulate the kindness of G-d. Thus it is important to know where are we holding spiritually. 

So – it is helpful to ask ourselves are we willing to go all out to do the utmost to accept those who have higher Torah standards or are we going to put the others down because we feel uncomfortable that we are not on their level? Or worse – G-d forbid – change what we think the Torah says because we want to feel comfortable?

I once had a conversation with someone in college – a secular Jew. I explained that it is better to accept G-d’s word – the Torah and say – I accept that the Torah is G-d’s word – but I am currently not on the level – than to say I am on the level – and  think of rejecting the Torah or try to change what they think that the Torah says.

It’s a challenge. But this is true Tolerance – to accept the people’s actions – whose actions are on a higher level than yours. That’s true Tolerance. Even greater is wishing & aspiring to also be on that higher level.

On the negative side – Tolerance is not accepting the actions of others that go against Torah. That is decadence. Real Tolerance is being respectful to others regardless of what they do. That does not mean to condone their actions. Hold people accountable for their actions but act respectful when dealing with them.

Deep down a person wants to do good. Every Jew has a spark of the Divinely given soul that wants do do the Will of G-d. The question is how will the situation that causes spiritual cognitive dissonance be expressed emotionally? Positively or negatively. A person can always grow. At times a person can react negatively at first way and after learning the importance of the mitzvah will change and react positively. This happens through learning works of mussar / Jewish Ethics and halacha / Jewish Law.

The Torah is the divine work that G-d / Hash-m gave the Jews to become closer to Him. A person who wants to become closer to Hash-m tries to find ways to become closer – by accepting Mitzvot. Even greater is trying to bring other’s closer to Hash-m. Like it says in Pirkei Avot  / Ethics of the Fathers 1:12

“Love Peace & Pursue Peace – Love the creations and draw them closer to Torah.”

In the Sefer / Book “Or La’amim / A Light unto the Nations” (p. 17) Rabbi Yoel Schwartz explains Bringing people closer to Torah & Hashem is a Mitzvah D’Oraita (A Torah Based Commandment). He brings accountability of Jewish people to teach the 7 Noahide commandments to all people in  Midrash Vayikra Rabba 6:5 (on Leviticus 5:1 & Deut 4:39) and the Positive Commandment to do so in Rambam (Maimonides) in his “Book of Commandments” (Positive Comandment 3) quoting Sifri Devarim 32:2

explaining the Verse in the Shema Yisrael:

You are to love Adonoy, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions. (Devarim / Deut 6:5)

 

“We have already explained that this commandment (love of Hash-m/ G-d (Devarim 6:5)) involves calling upon all mankind to worship Him and to believe in Him”

Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Shidduchim / Matchmaking

This Sefer from Artscroll Publishers clarifies Daat Torah / the Torah Opinion on Shidduchim / Matchmaking. A person who has questions about a whether accepting a shidduch / potential match suggestion or not may be better off consulting Daat Torah from a Gadol / great Rabbi than relying on one’s own preferences. I heard many stories of people who listened to Daat Torah – over their own preferences – and they ended up in a happy marriage. May it be the will of Hash-m to help all those searching for their Bashert / destined one or Zivug / match find the right mate soon. Amen.

==

We mourn the loss of Gadol HaDor / Great Rabbi of the Generation Rav Chaim Kanievsky. We are at a loss of the words for the tremendous loss to the Jewish people as a whole and the individual families of Klal Yisrael. He was a source of Daat Torah, Wisdom, Beauty & Kindness. We will surely miss him.

The Secret Parallels in the Megillah of Esther

I Listen to a Rabbi named Rabbi Shaked Bohdana / הרב שקד בוהדנה.

Everything is accounted for in life. What goes around comes around is a Jewish concept. It is called Midah Keneged Midah / measure for measure. You are kind – the kindness comes back.

There is reward and punishment. There is a second chance. G-d allows us to do teshuva (repent).

Rabbi Bohdana says that the Ariz”l says that Mordechai was the Gilgul / reincarnation of Yaakov Avinu. Haman was the Gilgul of Esav – Yaakov’s Brother.

Yaakov erred in bowing to Esav. He bowed to Esav 7 times. His 4 wives followed his action and bowed to Esav. Each of the 11 sons of Yaakov also bowed. Yaakov caused 22 bowings to Esav. In the story of Purim Mordechai – refused to bow to Haman. He repaired the error he made. We read the word “BeOmram” as “KeOmram”. One is written with Bet. The other with a Kaf. The values of each are 2 and 20 respectively. Added together is 22.

Yaakov bought the Birthright from Esav. Esav had animosity because of this. Mordechai bought Haman as a slave. Haman had animosity because of this.

It uses the word “VaYibez” when Esav denigrated the Birthright in Bereshit / Genesis.

It uses the word “VaYibez” when Haman denigrated that it would not be proper to destroy Mordechai – because it would look like a personal vendetta.

Another Parallel is – the 10 sons of Haman are hung. In the Megillah Esther asks the King to Hang the sons of Haman again Tomorrow. When it says “The King” in the Megillah – it also refers to Hashem. She asked Hashem to kill the sons of Haman / Amalek again.

In the Megillah – the Book of Esther (9:6-10), where the 10 sons of evil Haman are killed, three Hebrew letters are written smaller than the rest. These letters [Taf (400), Shin (300), Zayin (7)] when added to 5000 (Hay”), add up to 5707. This is the Hebrew year (1946-1947 C.E.) when 10 Nazi war criminals were hung in Nuremberg, Germany (October 16, 1946) for their atrocious crimes against humanity.

Gaining Emuna in Hash-m / G-d

Faith / Emuna in G-d takes time. A person lives a more fulfilling life with Hash-m than without. He or she sees the hand of G-d. He or She is never alone. They always have Hash-m to turn to for problems, concerns or prayer.

A great book on the subject is “Living Emuna” by Rabbi David Ashear. He tells stories and gives Torah guidance on how to gain emuna.

I was recently listening to a Shiur / Lecture on the subject by Rabbi David Ichay in French. He told the following story:

Once someone asked the Hazon Ish – a Great Sage of the past generation – how can one gain emuna. He said “When you go out to buy shoes – ask Hash-m to help you find the right store. Ask Him to help you find the right pair. Ask Him to help them to have your size.” As Jews we don’t just turn to G-d when we are in desparate need – but even for the small matters as well. This is how we build belief – this is how we build a relationship.

If we put our trust in Hash-m we can overcome any concern.

What is Torah View of Russian Attack of Ukraine?

The Vilna Gaon – the Genius of Vilna / Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, an 18th-century rabbinic sage – said that the Jewish people need to wear Shabbat clothes when the Messiah is about to arrive.

Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, of Yeshiva (seminary) Gedolah Zichron Moshe of South Fallsburg, New York donned Shabbat (Sabbath) clothing recently when he heard of Russian warships moving through the Dardanelles River. His based on the Zohar whose Kabbalistic teachings reveal that when the Russians will cross the Dardanelles River, it will trigger the start of a series of events before the Messiah comes.

18TH CENTURY PROPHECY: RUSSIA SAILING THROUGH GALLIPOLI

In an article of ADAM ELIYAHU BERKOWITZ he mentions that the Vilna Gaon, singled out Russian aggression as a precursor to the Messiah. Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, a great-grandson of the Vilna Gaon, shared the full prophecy publicly for the first time during the holiday of Purim in 2014 – after being held as “a closely guarded secret” for over 200 years.

The text of prophecy was reported by Rabbi Lazer Brody, an American-born Hasidic rabbi from Ashdod. “When you hear that the Russians have captured the city of Crimea, you should know that the times of the Messiah have started, that his steps are being heard,” the Vilna Gaon told his followers just before his death in 1797.

“And when you hear that the Russians have reached the city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), you should put on your Shabbat clothes and don’t take them off, because it means that the Messiah is about to come any minute.”

The Vilna Gaon’s student, Rav Chaim of Volozhin, added, “When the ships of the kingdom of Russia cross the Dardanelles you should dress in Shabbat clothes because this means the arrival of the Moshiach is close.”

The Prophet Ezekiel hinted at Russia as being a leader in the Gog and Magog War, even though Russia did not exist in Biblical times.

O mortal, turn your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him. Ezekiel 38:2

In this verse, the Hebrew word for ‘chief’ is רֹאשׁ (Rosh), which clearly hints at ‘Russia.’

“Purim is a time when secrets are revealed,” The holiday of Purim will take place this year on March 16.

Rabbi Elya Ber recently told one of his students, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for 70 years.”

In August of last year Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson, a renowned expert in Torah codes, – who uses special software to find hidden clues in equidistant letters in the Torah in order to reveal hints that help understand current events – found an allusion that Gog will start a war in this year.   Rabbi Glazerson discovered this graph contained within the first few lines of one chapter of Genesis. Chapter ten of Genesis lists the 70 sons of Shem Ham and Japeth who were born after the flood of Noah. The subject of the graph was detailed in the second line of the chapter:

The descendants of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Media, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. Genesis 10:2

So what to do to Survive World War III?

Teshuva (Repentance) Prayer to Hash-m / G-d, Mitzvot, Learning Torah, Teaching Torah, Aligning Oneself with Torah through attitudes and deeds and acts of loving Kindness. Gentiles – should learn and observe the 7 Noahide laws from the Torah. See also Choose Life – Surviving World War III – the War of Gog u Magog.

The Language Experiment of King James IV – The Twins on the Island

King James IV of Scotland was enamored by languages. He studied them and their origins. He knew how to speak many. He watched how people speak.

Curious about if there was a central language ingrained in people – he concocted an experiment. He took a set of twins and placed them on an island with a mute nurse – entrusted with their care. As she was mute – she did not speak with them.

And when they grew up, they started talking to each other in syllables that over time became Hebrew words.

A similar story is told of Federico king of Sicily who had the same experience in the thirteenth century, and came to the same results).

In light of this, a seemingly puzzling story quoted in the words of Chazal (our sages of blessed memory) about Avraham Avinu (Abraham, Our Forefather) will be understood. Abraham was hidden as a child, because of King Nimrod who sought to kill him, without talking to anyone until the age of thirteen. When he came out he spoke the Holy Tongue of Hebrew This is because the very ability to speak is a miracle that stems from the spiritual soul. And it is inherently connected to this language which is part of the spiritual nature embedded in creation.

Rabbi Yaakov Emdin also wrote in his book “Migdal Oz”: “And they said that if the child grows up and does not hear other languages, he will begin to speak the language himself, without learning… and in a wise baby whose soul is hewn from a high source [will speak Hebrew].

The Separate Wedding – Do Good for Yourself & the Dead

A Kosher phone. Kosher food. Kosher thoughts.

In Torah we – are careful what we ingest. Vegans & Vegetarians are careful because they don’t want to hurt animals. We eat Kosher – that is careful not to hurt animals – in the sense that animals are slaughtered without feeling pain. But in Kosher food – we also refrain from hurting our souls.

We do not eat non-kosher not because it is not healthy. Non kosher food may be very healthy. We do not eat it because we are concerned with our souls. Non-kosher food is detrimental to our souls. The Torah wants us to be refined. Eating an unrefined animal may cause us to acquire some of the unrefined characteristics of that animal.

When we have a wedding we make sure the food is Kosher for the guests. But more than that we are careful to not to cause things detrimental to the soul of others. In Torah-observant weddings there is music, dancing, food and holiness.

The bride and groom are entering into holy matrimony. One of the ways we keep this wedding holy is to separate the men and the women. We hold dancing separately as to not cause promiscuity and incite improper thoughts among the guests.

The sages say that having a separate-dancing wedding helps the couple. It brings holiness to the couple’s relationship. It prevents them from having problems later in life.

If you think of it it makes sense having separate dancing at a wedding & Bar Mitzvah. For the bar mitzvah – we celebrate the boy becoming a man – being responsible to observe the Mitzvot of Hash-m. Yes dance. But to dance mixed is to turn a meaningful event into a disco. That’s inappropriate. The same applies to the wedding. Why turn a holy event into a cheap discotheque?

Torah says that the departed relatives of the bride and the groom attend a kosher wedding. Let them enjoy the wedding.

Accounting Time. Did You Gain?

People have budgets. I want to spend this for my rent, for my transportation, for my car, for my vacation.

We do good. We do bad. Judaism makes it easier – it tells us what is good & what is wrong. (Jews may see the Code of Jewish Law / Shulchan Aruch /) (Gentiles may see the 7 Noahide Laws) It helps us remove ourselves from doubt.

The reason why we follow after evil is because we feel we gain.

But the question is – did we ever do the accounting of what we gained from the pleasures we pursued. The question is : What did I gain? Did I become better? Did I get a reward? Did my life become easier or harder after the deeds?

Personally I noticed after following after desires – I noticed difficulties follow. Perhaps the reason to follow the good path should not be because of fear of punishment – but because one realizes that Hash-m does good. That we missed the mark.

Regretting, correction & Teshuva always helps.

 

Got to Have Paaaatience

I am pulling out of Airport. Many empty toll lanes to pay for parking . Obviously I go behind the one with the car – I don’t know why. Apparently the guy in front of me is searching for his ticket or money.

I start getting impatient. I think – wow – this is a good time to exercise my patience. Everything that happens to us – is an opportunity to improve. Hash-m / G-d sends us these opportunities regularly – to help us better ourselves. Knowing that in itself helps us calm down. So when I encounter such a situation – I may think “This is a Test” or “This is an opportunity.”

So I talk with my passenger. “You know some Rabbis used to take a tangled string and untangle it in order to exercise their patience.” “Really” they reply. “I guess this now is a good exercise to exercise my patience” I say with a smile.

A couple moments pass. Their car then passes the toll gate.