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Shmot 5772

Shmot (Exodus 1:1-6:1 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Have you ever wanted to pour out your heart to the Almighty -- express your pain, cry out for help?

A young man was in the hospital.  The doctor gathered his brothers and told them that they should prepare their mother because the young man would not live through the night.  The brothers were afraid to tell their mother.  They were afraid of what the shock would do to her own frail health, but they gently told her the prognosis.  "Says who?" demanded their mother.  "The doctor?  He's not God!  He doesn't know who will live and who will die!"  She then took her book of Tehillim (Psalms) and through the night recited the Psalms with heartfelt tears and trust in the Almighty.  In the morning the doctor came out of the intensive care ward and told the family, "It's a miracle!  I don't understand it, but he's going to live!"

What is Tehillim?  Literally, the translation is "praises."  King David compiled and wrote most of the Psalms -- from the depths of the soul, expressions of thoughts, emotions, yearnings and needs which we humans would wish to express, but perhaps can't articulate.  Throughout the world many Jews recite the Book of Psalms each week or each month.  It is common that a Book of Psalms will print the divisions if one wishes to recite equal portions to finish it in a week or in a month.  In times of trouble Jews get together and collectively recite Psalms so that on the merit of reciting Psalms the Almighty should grant a speedy healing for someone who is sick or grant mercy on Jews who are suffering or facing extinction.  When Jews were held hostage in Entebbe or when Israel is at war, Jews gather to recite Psalms and pour out their hearts to the Almighty for mercy.  Many yeshivot and synagogues recite Psalms (especially Psalms 20, 83, 121, 130, 142 -- you can download them for free from daily for the protection of Jews in Israel from terrorism.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin writes in the introduction of his book Growth Through Tehillim -- Exploring Psalms for Life Transforming Thoughts (available at, "In times of darkness and distress, verses of Tehillim are a light to our souls.  They are an antidote to discouragement and despair.  They console and give hope. They raise our sights.  Throughout the ages when our ancestors faced challenges, whether relatively minor ones or serious life-threatening challenges, the holy verses have been a source of encouragement and support.  They have provided inner strength in the past, and continue to do so in the present.

"Tehillim is the ultimate work that connects us experientially with our loving Father and All-powerful King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  We connect with our loving Eternal Father with our profound appreciation for all of His many kindnesses to us personally and to the entire world.

"In Tehillim we express many diverse needs: Needs for healing, for being saved from harm, for release from deep emotional pain and distress, and also the need to enrich our positive experiences by realizing that they are gifts from the Source of all Kindness.  Thanking Him for those gifts exponentially multiplies the value of those gifts.  They are no longer material and temporal.  They become spiritual assets that nourish our eternal soul.

"There are times in life when a person feels that 'nothing can be done' to change a dire situation.  But there is always something that we can do: we can connect with our Father and King in heartfelt prayer.  We can pray in our own words after we repeat the sublime, uplifting words that were Divinely inspired and sanctified in Tehillim.  Reciting Psalms elevates us and opens our hearts.  The personal prayers we say afterwards follow our greater awareness of our connection with the One Who can answer our prayers."

A young man learning in yeshiva (Talmudic academy) had the opportunity to meet with Rabbi Ya'akov Weinberg, of blessed memory, who was one of the great men of our generation.  The young man asked, "How does one create a stronger emotional connection to the Almighty?"  The rabbi replied, "Read Tehillim."  For the next year the young man religiously read Tehillim.  When he met with Rabbi Weinberg the following year, he expressed his dismay that he didn't feel that reading Tehillim was working.  The rabbi thought for a moment, smiled a kindly smile and said, "You know, you have to know what you're reading."   The Artscroll Tehillim by Rabbi Hillel Danzinger can help us gain a greater understanding of the Psalms and therefore, help us come closer to the Almighty!


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Torah Portion of the Week

This week's portion tells a story often repeated throughout history: The Jews become prominent and numerous.  There arises a new king in Egypt "who did not know Joseph" (meaning he chose not to know Joseph or recognize any debt of gratitude).  He proclaims slavery for the Jewish people "lest they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving (us) from the land."   (Anti-Semitism can thrive on any excuse; it need not be logical or real -- check out our online seminar "Why the Jews?" -- the seminar will transform the way you view yourself, your people and your history.  It's spectacular!)

Moshe (Moses) is born and immediately hidden because of the decree to kill all male Jewish babies.  Moses is saved by Pharaoh's daughter, grows up in the royal household, goes out to see the plight of his fellow Jews.  He kills an Egyptian who was beating a Jew, escapes to Midian when the deed becomes known, becomes a shepherd, and then is commanded by God at the Burning Bush to "bring My people out of Egypt."  Moses returns to Egypt, confronts Pharaoh who refuses to give permission for the Israelites to leave.  And then God says, "Now you will begin to see what I will do to Pharaoh!"

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Children of Israel increased in numbers in the land of Egypt.  A new leader arose over Egypt, and he announced to his people:

"Come, let us deal wisely with them (the Children of Israel), lest they multiply, and when there will be a war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, and go up from our land" (Exodus 1:10).

The Talmud (Sotah 11a) states that Pharaoh held a council with three people before he reached his decision to persecute the Israelites: Bilaam, Job and Jethro.  Bilaam, who advised Pharaoh to persecute them, was subsequently killed by the Israelites during a battle.  Job, who remained silent, was punished with great suffering.  Jethro, who fled, merited that his descendants were members of the Sanhedrin (highest rabbinical court of the Jewish people).

At first glance it seems difficult to understand why Job was punished. Since Pharaoh was antagonistic towards the Children of Israel, even if Job would have spoken on their behalf, nothing would have been accomplished. The proof is that Jethro was rewarded for running away in protest. If Pharaoh would have listened to him, he would not have been rewarded for running away.

The Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, offered a classic explanation.  True, Job knew that speaking out would not change Pharaoh's mind, but he should have protested nonetheless, as Jethro did by fleeing.  When something hurts, a person cries out.   If a person remains silent, it shows that he does not feel pain.  Job was taught this lesson.  He would suffer, and although crying out would not help, he would realize that when one suffers, one cries out.  Previously, he should have felt the suffering of others; now he would feel his own.  In the future, he will be more sensitive to other's pain and cry out on their behalf.


(or go to

Jerusalem 4:16
Guatemala 5:34 - Hong Kong 5:41 - Honolulu 5:51
J'Burg 6:47 - London 3:59 - Los Angeles 4:47
Melbourne 8:27 - Mexico City 5:59 - Miami 5:33
New York 4:33 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 4:45


We are masters of the unsaid words,
but slaves of those we let slip out
--  Winston Churchill


In Memory of My Father

Edward Menashe Erani

In Honor of My New Grandson

Chuck Erani

In Honor of His Parents

Eddie and Karen Erani

--  Chuck Erani


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