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Parshas Vayigash 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 4:23 pm
December 25, 2014
Volume 11 Issue 8
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Dvar Torah


By Rabbi Yakir Schechter 


In the beginning of this week's Parsha, after Yosef rules that Binyomin was doomed to remain in Egypt, we are told of the brothers' dramatic attempt to save Binyomin. Yehuda steps forward, and in a desperate plea says, "If you please, my lord, may your servant speak a word in my lord's ear and let not your anger flare up at your servant." His statement "let not your anger flare up at your servant" implies that his words were indeed worthy of an angry response. Rashi comments that Yehuda spoke with a harsh tone towards Yosef, a way of speech inappropriate when speaking to royalty.   But what is especially strange is the stark contrast to the way Yehuda speaks now and how he spoke to Yosef a bit earlier. In last week's Parsha, upon finding Yosef's goblet in Binyomin's sack, Yehuda pleads with Yosef, "What can we say to my lord? How can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves?" Here Yehuda speaks in a lowly, needy and desperate fashion, in a way befitting of a commoner pleading with royalty. Why, then, does Yehuda's tone become harsh and demanding?


Rav Shimon Schwab says that from here we learn the power of responsibility. We know that Yaakov was not fond, to say the least, of sending Binyomin down to Egypt. It was Yehuda who stepped forward and convinced his father to send Binyomin. Yehuda took personal responsibility for Binyomin's safety and welfare, as he says, "Send the child [Binyomin] with me . . . I will personally guarantee him, etc." This sense of responsibility for Binyomin's safety is what pushed Yehuda to speak to Yosef in a more forceful tone. When Yehuda saw that his first, respectful attempt to rescue Binyomin from Mitzrayim was futile, he knew that he needed a different approach. As the adage goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Yehuda was given siyata diShmaya, Heavenly assistance, to muster up the courage to speak the way he did despite the risk of jeopardizing himself and his family.


There are a plethora of stories of great people, throughout the history of our people, who rose to the occasion when feeling the sense of achrayus, responsibility, for the people of Israel. But, perhaps more importantly, one must feel the sense of responsibility to one's self when it comes to the service of G-d. Every day, three times a day, we recite kriyas shema which is a form of kabolas ol malchus shamoyim, accepting the yolk of Heaven. We accept the responsibility to perform Hashem's mitzvos. If we realize the power and awesomeness of this responsibility, Hashem will in turn give us the strength and zeal to serve Him.




Dvar Halacha
Halachos of Modeh Ani 


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


When we wake up in the morning we proclaim "Modeh Ani L'fanecha Melech Chai V'kiyum, She'hechazarti Be Nishmasi B'chemla, Rabbah Amunasecha" )I give thanks before You, King living and eternal, for You have returned within me my soul with compassion, abundant is Your faithfulness) (Mishneh Berurah 1:8). The Gemara [Brachos 57b] states that sleeping is 1/60th of death. Therefore, when we wake up in the morning we have to be thankful that Hashem gave us life anew [for we were partially dead]. Additionally, we also have to be thankful that we go to sleep tired and worn out, yet Hashem returns our souls refreshed. He gives a us new opportunity, a new day to serve Him and to accomplish our specific missions (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:2).


The Shulchan Aruch [1:1] rules when we wake up we should do so with zealousness and a desire to start our day serving Hashem. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch[1:4] adds on that even though this is not an easy task, if one accustoms himself to getting up with this feeling for a few days in a row, it will not be so difficult for him anymore, and will receive Divine assistance.


We do not mention the Name of G-d in ModehAni, and therefore there are more leniencies with it than most prayers. For example, one is permitted to recite Modeh Ani prior to washing netilas yadaiyim with hands that are ritually unclean (Mishneh Berurah 1:8). The opinion of the Shu"T Eretz Tzvi [52] is permitted to recite Modeh Ani even in a place where there is a bad odor or in a bathroom [even though one is normally forbidden to say holy things (e.g. daven or learn Torah) in these places The implication of the Mishneh Berurah (ibid.) is one may recite it even if he needs to go to the bathroom.


The proper time to recite ModehAni is upon waking and planning to remain awake (Tefillah K'hilchisa 9:1). If one wakes up and says Modeh Ani and then falls back asleep, he should repeat Modeh Ani again when he wakes up for the second time (Tefillah K'Hilchisa 9:3). It is preferable to recite immediately upon waking up, even while lying down (Mishneh Berurah 1:8).


There is a machlokes as to what is the proper nusach for women to say: Modeh Ani [like men] or Modah Ani [which is proper feminine dikduk]. The opinion of Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l,is to say "Modah" (Halichos Shlomo Tefillah 2: DH5 & ftnt. 17). Others disagree and hold that a woman should say Modeh (see Shu"T Rivivos Ephraim 1:37:2).






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