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Pesach 5771

Passover (first day) (Exodus 12:21-51 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Until I was 22 years old and started to learn in a yeshiva, I always thought that there were only 10 Commandments. I was surprised to find out that there are actually 613 commandments in the Torah. There are 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments (prohibitions).

There are some mitzvot (commandments) in which we are obligated once a year (i.e. blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah), mitzvot which are once a week (Shabbat) and mitzvot which are daily (prayer). There are also six mitzvot in which we are obligated every moment of the day.

In Hebrew, these are called The Six Mitzvot Temidiot - The Six Constant Mitzvot. I highly recommend the Aish Foundation Series in Spirituality - - for depth and breadth. If you prefer a book, read Sefer HaChinuch which elucidates all of the mitzvot of the Torah, available in English from your local Jewish book store, or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. For an advance course, sign up at

While you are waiting in lines or waiting for an appointment, the Six Constant Commandments give you something to think about! After each mitzvah is its source in the Torah and its number in the Sefer HaChinuch.



I. Know There is a God (Exodus 20:2) #25

  1. He is the Creator, Sustainer and Supervisor of the Universe,
  2. He created the world from nothing and it is all for our pleasure.
  3. He sustains the world - it is constantly dependent on His will.
  4. He supervises the world; there are no accidents. Everything is meaningful.

II. Don't Believe in Any Other "gods" (Exodus 20:3) #26

  1. There are no other powers other than God; it is futile to rely upon any other power.
  2. Saying "I can't" is a form of idol worship (if God would help you, could you?)

III. Know That God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4) #417

  1. He transcends time and space.
  2. He has no components.
  3. He is totally unique.
  4. There is one Source for everything that happens .

IV. Love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) #418

  1. God is the greatest pleasure a person can have.
  2. You're longing for it.
  3. This is all that you ever wanted, want, or will want.

V. Fear God (Deuteronomy 10:20) #432

  1. There are consequences for your actions - the choice is yours - the reward is great.
  2. Stand in awe of the Almighty and His Creation.

VI. Do Not Follow After Your Desires (Numbers 15:29) #387

- Stay focused on your goal; don't be distracted by your desires.

For more on "6 Constant Mitzvot" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach
(Shabbat of the intermediate Days of Passover)
Exodus 33:12 - 34:26
(We also read Shir HaShirim, King Solomon's Song of Songs)

Moses pleads with the Almighty not to send an angel in His place, but to accompany the Jewish people Himself through the trek in the wilderness even though they had sinned with the Golden Calf. Moses asks the Almighty to reveal how He interacts with the universe (it is a mystical interchange). Then the Almighty commands Moses to carve two stone tablets and to ascend Mt. Sinai so that He can engrave the replacement tablets for the set that Moses broke at the transgression with the Golden Calf.

The Almighty reveals his Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:5) which we repeat on Yom Kippur and other times of seeking the Almighty's mercy. Moses asks the Almighty to forgive the Jewish people. The Almighty renews the Covenant with the Jewish people commanding us not to enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, not make molten gods, to observe the Festival of Matzos, laws of first born issue, to keep the Shabbat, celebrate Shavuot and Sukkot and ends with assorted laws of offerings.

* * *

Dvar Torah

In the story of the Exodus of Egypt, the Almighty commands Moshe to request a 3 day retreat to the desert for the Jewish people, though the intent was to leave Egypt permanently. The Almighty is not a trickster nor a liar. Why was it done in this manner?

The Vilna Gaon comments that there are two other times where the Almighty used deception - in Jacob's dealings with his father-in-law, Lavan, and during the Purim story. The Almighty enabled Jacob to use deception to to receive his fair wages. The flocks produced offspring with the coloring - that according to Jacob's agreement with Lavan -would belong to Jacob. In the Purim story, the Midrash tell us that the Almighty sent angels dressed as servants to malign Haman so that Achashverosh would not cool off from his anger at Haman for wanting to kill Esther and her people.

The Almighty is always sending us messages for us to recognize our mistakes and be able to correct them. With regards to Pharaoh, Lavan and Haman - each one used deception. Pharaoh enslaved the Jews by having a "National Work Day" where the Jews volunteered their labor -and then he kept them as slaves. Lavan substituted Leah for Rachel thus deceiving Jacob. Haman deceived Achashverosh about the people he wished to exterminate. Thus, the Almighty returned measure for measure so that each could learn his lesson.


(or go to

Jerusalem 6:37
Guatemala 5:59 - Hong Kong 6:28 - Honolulu 6:35
J'Burg 5:27 - London 7:50 - Los Angeles 7:11
Melbourne 5:27 - Mexico City 7:38 - Miami 7:29
New York 7:24 - Singapore 6:50 - Toronto 7:50


The important thing is this:
To be able at any moment
to sacrifice what we are
for what we could become.
--  Charles DuBois


With Deep Appreciation to

Moshe & Robin Pamensky



With Special Thanks to

Bernardo & Sarita Coiffman

Miami Beach



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