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Parshas Beshalach 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 4:36 pm
January, 9 2014
Volume 10 Issue 13
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Dvar Torah

Understanding Your Feelings


By Rabbi Yakir Schechter



The midrash in this week's parsha presents an enigmatic statement.  At the height of their redemption from Egypt, when Klal Yisrael sawthe demise of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, the pasuk says, "Vayar Yisrael es hayad hagedola asher asa Hashem b'mitztrayim vayir'u ha'am es Hashem vay'aminu baHashem uv'Moshe avdo." "And Yisrael saw the great hand of Hashem, what He did to Egypt, and the nation feared Hashem and believed in Moshe, His servant."   Commenting on the phrase, "vayir'u ha'am es Hashem" the midrash states "Until now they did not fear Hashem. From here on in they did fear Hashem."  At first glance this midrash is quite troubling.  How is it possible that only now did Klal Yisrael fear Hashem?  Had they not just witnessed the most awesome miracles, arguably, in the history of mankind?!  Certainly this would have instilled fear within them!



Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik, in his sefer Beis Halevi, offers a remarkable explanation.  The miracles that occurred in Egypt were fundamentally different from the miracles that occurred at the sea.  Aside from the fact that the time for their exodus had not yet arrived (they were supposed to be enslaved for 400 years and ended up in slavery for only 210 years), Chazal tell us that Klal Yisrael were not in great spiritual shape while they dwelled in Egypt.  Several midrashim tell us that large groups of Klal Yisrael worshipped idols and did not circumcise their sons.  It is well known that they were at the forty ninth level ofimpurity.  In sum, they had few merits that would warrant redemption on their own accord.  The exodus from Egypt was only brought about because of the wickedness of the Egyptians.  Hashem's conduct at that point was only through midas hadin - strict judgment.  Because of their unfounded cruelty towards the Jewish people, Hashem punished the Egyptians with the ten plagues, and only by default were the Jews liberated. 



But things changed once they reached the Yam Suf.  The miracles that took place were directly for the salvation of Klal Yisrael and not as a result of anything else.  Through the salvation of Klal Yisrael came the demise of the Egyptians.  What changed?  Klal Yisrael now had the merit of two great mitzvos, korban Pesach and bris milah.  Once Hashem saw that Klal Yisrael merited salvation, He changed his conduct to that of midas harachamim - merciful judgment. 



With this backdrop we can understand the midrash.  We see that the liberation of the Jews from Egypt was through two distinct aspects of Hashem, the midas hadin towards the Egyptians in Egypt and the midas harachamim towards Klal Yisrael at the sea.  At first glance it would seem that when one experiences Hashem's midas hadin it would engender fear of Heaven, and when one experiences Hashem's midas harachamim it would engender love of Heaven.  However, when Klal Yisrael saw how Hashem punished Egypt at the Sea through His middas harachamim, it instilled within them a feeling of fear.  Klal Yisrael learned a tremendous lesson then.  Hashem's midas hadin can invoke feelings of love and His midas harachamim can invoke feelings of fear.  Until this point at the Yam Suf, Klal Yisrael did not know that midas harachamim could invoke fear of Heaven.  The only thing that brought forth fear of Heaven was the experience of midas hadin.  That is what the midrash means when it says "Until now they did not fear Hashem" - through midas harachamim, "From here on in they did fear Hashem" - through midas harachamim.



Often we feel like we are experiencing midas hadin. However, when we look deeper we can see the tremendous midas harachmim of Hashem amidst the midas hadin. This, in turn, can bring us to a new heightened level of yirah.







Dvar Halacha


Halachos of Hagbah and Galilah      part 2



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



Ramban [Devarim 27:26] writes, that included in the mitzvas lo tza'tzai of "Arur asher lo yakum es divrei haTorah ha'zos la'asos osum" (Accursed is one who will not uphold the words of this Torah to perform them) is someone who performs hagbah and does not show the ke'sav (writing) to the congregation.  The Shulchan Aruch [134:2] rules like the Ramban that the mag'beah is required to show the writing of the Torah to the congregation standing to his right and to his left, and he should turn in front of him and behind him.  This mitzvah to see the ke'sav of the Torah applies to both men and women (Shulchan Aruch 134:2).  The Mishneh Berurah [88:7] rules that a woman who is a niddah should not look at the Torah during hagbah.



After one has lifted the Torah into the air, he should start turning towards his right side (Mishneh Berurah 134:9).  Lefties should also turn towards the right (Hilchos Itar Yad pg. 24).  There  are differing opinions whether it is preferable to first turn to the right and then turn back to the left (Shu"T Mishneh Halachos 11:150), or should one turn towards the right and then continue to make a full circle (Shu"T Shevet Halevi 9:26).



The Magen Avraham [134:3] writes, one should attempt to have [at least] 3 columns of the Sefer Torah visible.  The Mishneh Beruruah [134:8] rules this depends on how strong the person performing hagbah is.  There is a machlokes whether one must show from the reading of the Torah portion that was just read or not.  Either way seems fine (Halachically Speaking 2:pg 181).



There is a Kabbalistic idea that whoever gazes at the letters of the Sefer Torah properly will merit an ohr gadol (great light) (Magan Avrahama 134:3, Aruch Hashulchan 134:3, Mishneh Berurah 134:11).  The Mishneh Berurah explains that this means someone should be close enough to read the actual letters.  The Kaf Hachaim [134:13] adds from the Ben Ish Chai one should look at the letter that is the first letter in his name (e.g. if his name is Avraham he should look at the letter "Alef").


During hagbah, the congregation should say "V'zos hatorah asher sum Moshe lifnei bnei yisroel al pi Hashem b'yad Moshe" (Shulchan Aruch 134:2).  The Aruch Hashulchan [134:3] questions this minhag, because these are really parts of 2 separate pesukim [see Devarim 4:44 & Bamidbar 9:23].  However, the minhag seems to be to say these pesukim.



It is important to note, that one should only say these pesukim when one sees the actual k'sav (Mishneh Berurah 134:12).  The implication of the Mishneh Berurah is that in a situation where one cannot see the actual k'sav, he should not say these pesukim, even though he sees the Torah being lifted (Also see Shu"T Rivivos Ephraim 5:602:4 who paskins this way).



The congregation is required to stand during hagbah (Shaar Hatziyon 146:18) from the time the Sefer Torah is lifted off the bimah until the mag'biah has sat down (Halachically Speaking 2:pg. 183 quoting Shu"T Maharam Shik OC 65).  If one is already sitting and holding a Sefer Torah, he is not required to stand for a different hagbah (Halachically Speaking 2:pg. 183 & Piskei Teshuvos 134:ftnt. 30 quoting Shu"T Kinyan Torah 5:16).



After one has performed hagbah, one should hold the Torah in his right hand (Rama 134:2).  This applies to both righties and lefties (Mishneh Berurah 282:1 & 134:13).  If a left handed person is afraid he will drop the Torah if it remains in his weaker hand, he should hold it in his left (Hilchos Itar Yad pg. 24).


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