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Shmot 5779

Shmot (Exodus 1:1-6:1 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Are you a success in life? An Aish teacher (a real estate lawyer by day) was stuck in traffic with the zillionaire tycoon who headed his firm. He asked his boss to critique a class he was giving that night on how one measures success.

After all the stories and examples, the class boiled down to three points: 1) Define success. 2) Analyze your life to see how it measures up. 3) Make a plan to be successful.

The next day the real estate tycoon comes into the lawyer's office and asks if they can talk. The man relates that he decided to try the exercise. He defined success as "Enough wealth to have whatever I wanted." "I examined my life, listed the cars, the houses, the plane and concluded that I was a success. Then I wadded up the paper, aimed at the waste basket ... and saw the picture of my daughter and stopped. It hit me hard -- how can I say I am success? I don't have everything I want. I don't have a relationship my daughter! I have been too busy making deals and acquiring possessions to spend time with her."

The tycoon continues, "I moved on to point 3 and decided that the only way to have a relationship was to spend time with her. I immediately called her up. She was surprised to hear from me and asked if everything was OK. I assured her that it was. Then I asked her if she had any plans that weekend because I wanted to fly in to spend time with her. She responded, 'Are you and Mommy getting a divorce?' I assured her that all was good between her mother and me and that I just wanted to enjoy her company. I came in here to thank you."

Another Aish teacher, Marc Firestone (a successful insurance man by day) also recently gave a class on success (it must be that time of year...). After covering the 3 basics points above, he shares the secret to living a Jewishly successful life -- juggling 5 "balls". All of the balls are to bring one closer to the Almighty. Each one requires attention and must be kept in the air. Ignore a ball, things will get out of balance and you might lose control. Each ball must be moved with small, baby steps towards the ultimate goal. Any effort that is not simple and doable will not last; large undertakings will likely get dropped -- and that's not good for the juggler!


1) Body -- eat well, sleep well, exercise ... and get an annual physical. You can't do much with your life if your body isn't well. Rambam said this 1000 years ago. Take a small step for growth and improvement -- walk 20 minutes a day -- or park farther away and walk ... or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

2) Soul -- Rabbi Noah Weinberg taught, "The body gets hungry to teach you that the soul also gets hungry." The soul needs feeding. This includes Torah learning. A Jewish male is supposed to be learning Torah every morning and evening -- even 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. One needs thinking time, contemplation time. If you're too busy, the soul never gets spoken to. You need to schedule it. Jewish tradition is to do a daily accounting before going to sleep. Ask yourself, "What am I living for? What did I do towards my goal today? What did I do counter to my goal? What's a more important goal to live for?"

3) Family and Friends -- need real attention. You can't just call a friend on his birthday. Call your mother and father! Mothers like to be called even if you have nothing to say. Just call. Ask what's going on? What do dads enjoy? To give advice. It makes them feel important and respected. Your father has experience and knowledge -- ask him for his advice and benefit from it.

4) Career -- Business needs attention. If you are an employee or employer, how can you be better at business? This one ball could take 50+ hours per week, but then you'd be neglecting the other areas of your life.

5) World Repair -- In Hebrew, Tikun Olom which means taking personal responsibility for the world. In Pirke Avos 2:6 we are taught, "Where there are no men, be a man." If you look out and there's something not getting done, do it! Take on small things like visiting the sick or helping a neighbor and then more small things. If you're not doing something meaningful beyond yourself, you're not going to feel successful.

Life needs a goal and a plan. If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there...

Torah Portion of the week

Shemos, Exodus 1:1 - 6:1

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?" at -- 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 Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding Moses:

"And the lad grew up. And she (Miriam) brought him to the daughter of Pharaoh and he was to her as a son. And she called his name Moshe ... because he was drawn from the water" (Exodus 2:10).

Why was it necessary for Moses to grow up in Pharaoh's court?

The Ibn Ezra states that it is possible the Almighty had Moshe raised in the palace of the king in order for him to experience a royal behavior. He would see it firsthand and get into the habit of acting in this manner. We see how this training helped Moshe develop into a dynamic personality. He killed an Egyptian in order to defend a person who the Egyptian was attacking. He rescued the maidens in Midian and enabled them to water their flocks.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented on this that we see here a powerful lesson on the importance of learning and habit in the development of a person and in preparing him for greatness. Even someone with the inherent greatness of Moshe needed a total environmental learning experience of royalty to integrate the personality necessary to be a great leader. The attribute of dynamic leadership is not easy to acquire. One needs much effort and many learning experiences to obtain this attribute.

One's self-image is a key factor in one's behavior. Moshe's self-image was of a prince growing up in the palace of an absolute monarch. This allowed him to take any action necessary to do what was right.

The most precious gift you can bestow upon any child is a positive self-image. Constant criticism and fault-finding knocks away at one's self-esteem. A child growing up with inferiority feelings is handicapped. This will limit him in many ways. The key focus of anyone dealing with children must be, "How can I elevate this child's self-image?"


Candle Lighting Times

December 28
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:08
Guatemala 5:24 - Hong Kong 5:30 - Honolulu 5:41
J'Burg 6:45 - London 3:40 - Los Angeles 4:34
Melbourne 8:26 - Mexico City 5:46 - Miami 5;21
New York 4:18 - Singapore 6:50 - Toronto 4:30

Quote of the Week

Who you are tomorrow depends
on what you do today
--  Tim Fargo



In Honor of our son

Joshua's Bar Mitzvah

David & Natalie Wolf

Happy 85th Birthday

Dr. Lawrence Fishman
Reb Aryeh Leib




Happy 55th Anniversary!

Tom & Judy Raskin

With Deep Appreciation

Dr. Gretchen Serota



With Tremendous Thanks

Jon Kleineman

With Heartfelt Gratitude

Michael & Cec Lehrer


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