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Parshas Bo 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 30 pm
January, 3 2014
Volume 10 Issue 12
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Dvar Torah

The Road to Independence


By Rabbi Yerachmiel Lichtman


This week's Parsha introduces us to the very first mitzvah of the Torah, the mitzvah of kiddush hachodesh,sanctification of the new moon. This mitzvah is followed by the commandment of korbon Pesach. There must be something significant for us to learn from the fact that kiddush hachodesh is the first mitzvah of the Torah. Also, what is the connection between kiddush hachodesh and korban Pesach?


Rav Yosef Salant, in his sefer Be'er Yosef explains, based on a medrash in Devarim. The pasuk says, (Devarim 34:4) "Oh Hanisah Elokim Lavoh Lakachas Lo Goy Mikerev Goy." "Has G-d ever performed miracles to take for Himself a nation amidst a nation?" The medrash asks what does the phrase "a nation amidst a nation" allude to? The medrash explains that the Jewish nation, while in the land of Egypt, is comparable to a baby in utero. Just as a baby is connected to its mother while in the womb, so too klal Yisroel were attached to their host nation, Egypt. They had sunk so low spiritually that they were now connected to the Egyptians by virtue of being on the same level. Oursages prove this point by the fact that the angels asked Hashem, "Why should the Jewish nation be spared? Did they not serve idols just like the Egyptians?" The medrash explains that according to the laws of nature, a baby cannot begin the birth process until it initiates the separation of itself from its mother. (On a scientific note,this process begins with a series of chemical messages from the baby's brain that tells its mother's body to begin the contractions which lead to childbirth.)  So too, klal Yisroel could not come out of Egypt while still connected with the Egyptians. We had to first begin the process of separation in order to merit our exodus from the land of Egypt.


Chazal tell us that Hashem gave the Jewish people two mitzvos prior to the exodus, namely bris milah (circumcision) and korban Pesach. The purpose of these mitzvos was to disconnect the Jews from the Egyptians. The mitzvah of bris milah creates an obvious physical distinction between Jews and all other nations. The second mitzvah, korban Pesach, separated the Jewish people from the Egyptians in many ways. The korban Pesach is a sheep, which was an Egyptian god. This devalued the Egyptians in klal Yisroels' eyes, since the Egyptian god was slaughtered in their presence. Additionally, the Egyptians were unlikely to join in this sacrifice, thus causing them to be further alienated. On top of all this, the smearing of the korbanPesach's blood on the door posts, and the pungent smell of their "god" roasting furthered the Jewish withdrawal from their host society. Symbolic of this was the commandment to remain in their houses all night, to keep from coming in contact with the Egyptians while performing this mitzvah.

A similar lesson can be learned from the mitzvah of kiddush hachodesh. The further the moon is from the sun the more light we receive. In this sense we are comparable to the moon. It is important for us to recognize, that the further we distance ourselves from the nations of the world and their influences which are contrary to Torah, the brighter we will shine and the closer we can come to Hashem. This is one reason kiddush hachodesh was chosen as the first mitzvah. "The more we disconnect, the more we can connect!"






Dvar Halacha


Halachos of Hagbah and Galilah      part 1



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


The Gemara [Megillah 32a] says "If 10 people have read from the Torah, the greatest one of them should receive the honor to be go'lel (roll) the Sefer Torah".  The Gemara continues "the person who rolled the Sefer Torah is mi'kabel sechar keneged kulum (receives reward equal to [the reward of] all them").  Tosfos [ibid s.v. gadol] explains that since the greatest reward is received for performing gelilah [i.e. it is the most honored part of krias hatorah], it is therefore befitting that the most honored person receive this honor.


There is a machlokes as to what exactly the Gemara is referring to when it writes "ha'golel".  Some opinions hold that it is referring to the galilah before the Torah reading [i.e. the one who rolls the Torah to the proper place], and others understand it is referring to what we know as [hagbah and/or] galilah (see Sefer Tehillah L'Yonah Megillah pg. 399).


The Mishneh Berurah [147:5] understands the Gemara is referring only to the person who does the hagbah [but not galilah].  However, the Chazon Ish zt"l and ybl"c Reb Chaim Kaneivsky, shlit"a, understand that it is referring to both the person who performs hagbahand the person who performs galilah (Orchos Rabbeinu 3:pg. 216).


The Aruch Hashulchan [147:8-9] asks why should one who performs gelilah receive so much reward; what was "so great" about what he did?  He suggests that perhaps the reason is since he closed the Sefer Torah, thereby avoiding the Torah being left open.


The Shulchan Aruch [147:1] paskins the greatest person in the minyan should receive hagbah.   However, the Mishneh Berurah [147:7] writes that nowadays the minhag is not this way; rather we give hagbah to different people etc. because of darkei shalom (keeping peace).  The Mishneh Berurah continues, someone who physically finds it difficult to do hagbah [and will not be able to lift the Torah for a long enough time], the gabbai should not offer the honor to him, and if he is offered he should not accept it.  As an aside, the implication of the Mishneh Berurahis that unless one has physical difficulty etc. lifting the Torah, one should not refuse this special opportunity.


Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch [147:1] paskins the greatest person present in the congregation should get the honor of galilah.  The Mishneh Berurah [147:7] explains that this is only m'ikar ha'din, however the minhag is to give galilah even to ketanim who are old enough to understand the importance of devarim she'bikedusha, in order to educate them how to perform mitzvos.  However, one should not give the honor of galilah exclusively to ketanim, for it diminishes the importance of the mitzvah (Halachically Speaking 2: pg. 185 quoting Siach Tefillah 13:2:2).


The Gemara [Shabbos 14a & Megillah 32a] teaches, whoever touches a Sefer Torah with his bare hands loses the reward of the mitzvah he performed.  This is even if one washed netilas yadayim beforehand (Rama 141:1).  The Levush [OC 147] explains, the reason why is it shows a level of disgrace and light headiness in front of a Sefer Torah.  Practically, if one touched the parchment while performing galilah, he would not receive reward (Mishneh Berurah 147:1).


It is permitted to touch the parchment of a Sefer Torah for the purpose of the SeferTorah if it is impossible to accomplish what needs to be done without touching [e.g. fixing a ripped Sefer Torah] (Mishneh Berurah 147:1).  However, since gelilah one can use a tallis [to lift up the drooping parchment], one needs to be careful not to touch it directly (Mishneh Berurah 147:3).  One may touch the handles of a Sefer Torah directly (Mishneh Berurah 147:2).








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