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Parshas Shemos 5774
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December 20, 2013
Volume 10 Issue 10
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Dvar Torah

Our Ticket to Freedom


By Rabbi Yosef Prupas


In this week's parsha, Moshe smites the Egyptian beating a Jewish slave without mercy, using the sacred Name of Hashem. Moshe was under the impression that he had performed the act unobserved. Some time after this incident, Moshe sees one Jew running after another Jew, trying to hit him. Moshe called out to the pursuer, "Rasha (wicked one) why are you trying to hit you friend?" The assailant responded, "are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?" The pasuk tells us that Moshe was immediately frightened and said, "achein nodah hadavar," "indeed the matter is known." Rashi explains that Moshe now understood why the Jewish Nation was condemned to exile, for they were bearers of lashon hara. The question is what is the correlation between lashon hara and exile?


The Maharal addresses the above in his commentary Gur Aryeh on Rashi with the following: The Jewish nation specifically was designated with the purpose of preserving a certain level of inner sanctity. They are supposed to be, by nature, private people. By definition, maintaining privacy means confidence in oneself, not being dependant on the approval of others. The result is an individual that is truly "free." The same is applicable on a national level.


The other nations of the world, on the other hand, were not expected to such conduct. The Gemarah in Chullin tells us that a non-Jew is not consciences about limiting excessive speech. A non-Jew who talks too much doesn't go into exile as a punishment, because that is his nature.  The Jew deserves exile for he is going against his G-d-given nature or purpose. By not having the strength of character to be in control and preserve a level of inner sanctity, he is prone to follow the crowd, thereby displaying a lack of self-determination. Such an individual deserves exile. This explains how Moshe now understood why specifically the Jews were being punished as opposed to the nations of the world who are equally guilty in having that negative attribute.


The Maharal says that this is alluded to in the wording of the verse "achein noda hadava," "indeed the matter is known." The root of the word "achein," is "chein." The numerical value of "chein" (spelled with a "chaf" and a "nun") is 70, representing the seventy nations of the world. The letter "alef," attached to "chein," has a numerical value of 1, representing the Jewish Nation. Additionally, the letter "alef" represents the hidden for it is very common to have the letter "alef" in a word and not pronounced. This represents the nature of the Jewish Nation. On the other hand, "chein" implies the obvious, like "v'chein hu," "and so it is," representing the nature of the other nations.   The word "achein," is showing us that when the "alef" (the Jewish nation attaches itself to the "chein," (the seventy nations) you have a recipe for exile.


May we always be conscious of what comes out of our mouths and maintain our inner pride and dignity, and, as a result, merit the redemption speedily in our day.



Dvar Halacha


Shenayim Mikra      part 1 



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


There is a well-known allusion in the beginning of this week's parshah to the mitzvah me'derabbanan (Rabbinical commandment) of Shenayim mikra v'echad targum (reading the Torah twice and commentary once). The Torah [Shemos 1:1] states, "V'eileh Shemos B'nei Yisroel," which has the roshei teivos (acronym- vav, alef, lamed, hey, shin, mem, vav, taf) of V'chaiyuv Adom Likros Ha'parshah Shenaiyim Mikra V'eched Targum, V'zeh Chai'yavin Kol Bnei Yisroel (a person is obligated to read the weekly Torah portion: two times mikra, one time targum, and all of the Jewish people are obligated)(Levush O.C. 285 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:1. Also see Baal Haturim [Shemos 1:1] that has a slightly different allusion).


The source of this halachah is a Gemara [Brachos 8a- b] Rav Huna bar Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav Ami, a person should always complete the Torah portion with the congregation, reading the mikra (text of the Torah) two times and the targum (translation) one time.  The Gemara continues that anyone who completes shenaiyim mikra v'eched targum, his days and years will be extended.  Some explain this to mean that since a person "takes off time" in order  to learn shenaiyim mikra and, as result, does not have as much time to learn other limudim [e.g. Gemara], Hashem gives him additional life to learn other parts of Torah (Sefer Bekurei Chaim pg. 224 quoting Bnei Yissuschar).


The reason for this mitzvah is in order that each person become experts in the Torah (Levush O.C. 285).  In addition to the communal reading of the parshah, Chazal instituted that each individual learns the parshah to become more familiar with its basic meaning.  By reading the translation, one becomes more familiar with what is written.


Even people who are learning Torah all day are still obligated in this mitzvah (Igros Moshe OC 5:19).  Women are not obligated because they are exempt from krias hatorah (Shemiras Shabbos Ke'hilchasa 42:ftnt. 231).  Boys who have reached the age of chinuch, should be taught to perform this mitzvah (Kovietz Halachos Shabbos 1:19: 3 based on Magen Avraham 343:2).  As an aside, Harav Ovadia Yosef, zt"l, writes, that from an halachic standpoint it is more important for fathers to educate their sons in this mitzvah than teaching them how to lein in shul at their bar mitzvah (Shu"T Yechaveh Daas 2:37).  Someone who does not know how to read is not obligated in this mitzvah (Sefer Bekurei Chaim 8:1).


The Poskim unanimously hold that "targum" is referring to Targum Onkelos, since his translation captures the correct translation the way the Torah was given at Har Sinai (Mishneh Berurah 285:5 & Aruch Hashulchan 285:12).  Even if one does not fully understand the meaning of the targum, he is nevertheless required to read it (Sefer Bekurei Chaim 1:4 quoting Shu"T Yechaveh Daas 2:37).


There is an opinion that holds that one should learn Rashi's explanationin place of TargumOnkelos, since Rashi generally explains more than Onkelos (Shulchan Aruch 285:2).  If one is learning Rashi as his "targum," then by a Posuk that does not have Rashi's explanation, one should read that Posuk an additional time [i.e. for a total of 3 times] (Mishneh Berurah 285:5).


As mentioned above, the point of this mitzvah is for one to become fluent in Torah.  Therefore, there seems to be room to learn in the language that one is familiar with [e.g. English which is a reputable translation] as targum.  Additionally, if one is has difficulty learning the entire parshah [e.g. someone who is learning how to read Hebrew], there also may be room to strive to "master the Torah" over the course of a few years [and learn part of each parshah each year].  If applicable, one should discuss their personal situation with a competent halachic authority.





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