Friday, January 22, 2010

Do We Stand For Or Against ?

The Ramban comments that there is a lesson to be learned from the specific animal that Hashem chose to be sacrificed in eternal commemoration of the exodus from Mitzrayim. The Egyptians worshiped the sheep. Moreover, the very constellation that reigns high in the sky during the month of Nissan is the sheep (or Aries). The act of slaughtering the sheep for our korban Pesach displays our belief that the gods of Egypt are empty gods, and also that the exodus was not "fated by the stars". It wasn't the act of any given power or constellation that plucked the Jewish nation from bondage - but Hashem, and only Hashem.
While it is important to always know what you stand for. It is equally important to demonstrate, quite clearly at times, what you stand against. Were we to simply trumpet the role of the Almighty in the exodus without specifically renouncing the "power of the stars", later generations may have come to the erroneous conclusion that they are both responsible for the salvation !
In today's age of pluralism and globalism this lesson is perhaps all the more poignant. I must know what I believe is true - but no less important is what I believe is false.

What ideas do you stand against ?

Hatzlacha !!

Friday, January 08, 2010

By What Name Does Redemption Go ?

Two quick thoughts :

1. The Parasha and Sefer that details the descent into exile is known as Shemos. Why does the Torah emphasize that the names of Bnei Yisrael were important ?

Because the names and the keeping of them were a pivotal factor in the maintenance of Jewish self identity that les the yidden to be redeemed. Hashem always, but always, prepares the salve before inflicting the wound.

Secondly, the sefer is referred to by the Ramban as the sefer of the galus and the geulah. A quick look at the Parshios of Shemos shows us the the Ramban is teaching us that the building of a Mishkan to house the shechina within our camp is the final redemption from an exile so spiritually depraved as mitzrayim.

By this token we can ask ourselves - in what exile are we currently languishing ?

What will symbolize our redemption ?

What are we doing about it ?

Hatzlacha !!

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

Yaakov Avinu instructs his son Yosef in the art of Jewish warfare. He mentions that he took the city of Shechem with his sword and bow [see bereishis 48:22]. The targum Onkelos transalates this to mean "with my prayers and [heavenward] requests".

Why does Yaakov Avinu refer to his teffilos as instruments of war ?

Because when a Jew steps up before his Maker to offer up words of praise or request it is the most powerful force in the universe - as such the yetzer hara is constantly trying to de-rail his concentration. In battle we never lose focus of the enemy - in davening we should never lose focus of He before whom we stand.

In another, deeper analogy, we may understand two types of prayers.
Teffila is an outpouring of praise and thanks to Hashem - and like the sword that Yaakov represents it with - the more effort you put into the strike - the deeper it will go. But the bow of requests is another story - in order to make the arrow fly farther - I must pull the bow further towards myself ( in fact - towards my heart). The more I internalize the truth that without Hashem granting me my requests, no force on earth ( or above it) will make them come true - the greater distance towards heaven my requests will fly.

Hatzlacha !!