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Parshas Shemos 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 4:35 pm
January 9, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 9
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Dvar Torah


 "It's Yours, But Only If You Ask"
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi 


When Hashem instructed MosheRabbeinu to speak to Pharaoh, Moshe responded, "I am not a man of words, even since yesterday, the day before, or even since You first spoke to Your servant, for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of speech." Hashem replied, "Who makes a mouth for man, is it not I, Hashem? So now, go! I shall be with your mouth and teach you what you should say." (Shemos 4:10-12).


The commentators ask, what was Moshe'spoint in mentioning that he had a speech impediment from the time he was a young boy? Essentially his argument is he is unfit to speak to Pharaohnow. Why does he need to mention the history of his speech defect?

Ramban explains, Moshe,because of his humility had no interest in speaking to Pharaoh. He sought exemption by stating, 'I am not the right person for the job; I cannot speak properly. I have had this issue since my youth, and it has only worsened now that I am older.' Moshe felt, in his physically limited state, it would be inappropriate for him to be the representative of Hashem. Since he did not want the job, he never davened to be cured. Ramban continues with an eye opening novelty. Hashem did not cure Moshe even though it would have been more beneficial to have a master orator represent Him, because Moshe never asked. Rather, Hashem's response was, "I will help you articulate your words, but I will not heal you."


We learn from this Ramban an essential lesson. There are many things each and every one of us need from Hashemthroughout the course of our lives. Sometimes Hashem is prepared to give us what we desire, only He is waiting for us to ask. It is up to us. Harav Shimshon Pincus, zt"l, after bringing out this idea from other sources writes, "prayer is the gate and door to the treasures of Hashem. Even if a person is entitled by virtue of his good deeds or by Hashem's great kindness to receive certain blessings or salvation, it will come to him only through tefillah. This is true even if the goodness is ready and waiting for him. Tefillah is the gate through which everything comes, and nothing can actualize without it. This reality applies equally to spiritual and material matters."


Ramban explains why Hashem established the world this way. In Parshas Bo, Ramban writes that the purpose of creation is that people should acknowledge Hashem's presence. The reason why we daven b'tzibbur (communal praying) and why we daven out loud, is to acknowledge as a group and proclaim, "We are Your creations!" The BaaleiMussar explain, we see from this the purpose of prayer is for a person to realize that he is a creation, not a creator. Similarly, we can explain the reason we have to ask for what we need is to make the realization that we are creations more real.


We see it is incumbent upon each person to realize how vital tefillah is to his success. How unfortunate it is for a person to go through life without this knowledge. The key to his success is in his hands. It is important to note, tefillah is referred to as an "avodah," which literally means work. To master the art of davening takes work. It is impossible to get there instantly. May we all make it our goal to acquire the skill!


Dvar Halacha
Halachos of Netilas Yadayim 


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



Upon waking up in the morning from a shinas kevah (sound sleep), one is required to wash his hands. After washing we recite the blessing; Baruch Ateh Hashem Elokainu Melech Ha'olam Asher Kidishanu B'Mitzvosav V'tzivanu Al Netilas Ya'dayim (Blessed are You Hashem our G-d the King of the World, Who has sanctified us with His laws, and commanded us regarding the washing of the hands) (see Shulchan Aruch 4:1). Chazal (Gemara Shabbos 62b) warn that anyone who disgraces netilas yadayim will become poor. The implication of the above Gemara seems to be referring to all types of netilas yadayim, bothwashing in the morning and also before eating bread. It is important to keep in mind the words of the Rambam [Hil' Mikvaos 11:12], "It is clear and known that laws of tumos v'taharos (ritual purity and impurity) are a gezairas hakasuv.  They are not things that the mind of a person understands and they are included in chukim (laws that we do not know the reason)."  In other words, although we do not understand the reason behind these halachos, we are commanded to keep them nevertheless.


Both men and women are required to wash. Even though minors are not required to wash netilas yadayim, one should try to make sure that minors wash as well (Mishneh Berurah 4:10). The Chazon Ish includes washing even a newborn baby's hands as a segulah for yiras shamayam (With Hearts Full of Love, Artscroll/ Mesorah pg. 94).


As mentioned, one is required to wash his or her hands when they wake up from a sound sleep that they slept on a bed. There is a machlokes (dispute) amongst the Poskim how long is considered a sound sleep: 3 hours, a little more than 30 minutes, or a little less than 3 minutes (Be'ur Halachah 4:16). Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l and ybl"c Harav Chaim Kaneivsky, shlit"a, rule like the opinion if one sleeps in his bed for 30 minutes (see Laws of Daily Living chap. 1, ftnt. 6).


There is a difference of opinion as to why one is required to wash netilas yadayim. The Rosh [Brachos 9:23 & Shu"T 61] maintains that it is in order to purify unclean hands. A person's hands move while he's sleeping, touching parts of the body that are unclean and sweaty. The Mishneh Berurah [4:60] adds that this applies even if one sleeps with clothing, since the neck area is exposed and he probably touched a sweaty place. The Rashba (Shu"T 1:191) explains the reason one has to wash is because every morning a person is a new creation. This is based on the Posuk [Eicha 3:23], "each morning, created anew." Therefore, the same way that the Kohanim had to wash their hands every morning before they served in the Bais Hamikdash, so too we have to wash our hands before we serve Hashem.


It is important to note that only if the reasons of both the Rosh and the Rashba are met do we wash our hands with a brachah. In cases where only one of the reasons apply we require washing without saying a brachah (Shulchan Aruch 4:13 and Mishneh Berurah 4:1). For example, if one was awake the entire night [e.g. Shavuos] according to the Rashba he would be required to wash netilas yadayim [because each morning we are a new creation, regardless whether we slept or not]. However according to the Rosh, since while he is awake he has control over his hands, his hands are not unclean and therefore would not have to wash netilas yadayim. As an aside, the Mishneh Berurah [4:30] quotes Rabbi Akiva Eiger, that if one was awake the entire night and relieves himself in the morning, he should say the brachah of al netilas yadayim in the morning. [This is what many people do on Shavuous morning]. Another case one would wash without reciting a brachah is if one slept for 30 minutes during the day. According to the Rosh, he would have to wash netilas yadayim, since his hands touched normally covered parts of his body. However according to the Rashba, since he did not become a new creation during the day, he would not have to wash netilas yadayim.







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