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Ma Chadash? Bites
27 Teves l Parshas Va'era l January 24
Parsha Lesson


Background

At the end of last week's Parsha, Shemos, Moshe saw that the Jewish people were not only not being set free, their slave labor was increased. Before Moshe arrived to free the Jewish people, the Egyptians were giving them straw with which to make bricks. Now that Pharoah saw that the Jewish people were talking about going free he ordered that they should no longer be given straw. Pharoah insisted that the Jews still make the same number of bricks, even though they would now have to gather their own straw as well.

Moshe complained to Hashem and questioned- why are you, Hashem, increasing the hardship on the Jewish people? At the beginning of this week's Parsha Hashem responds to that charge. Rashi explains that Hashem responded with a 'tone of judgement' because of what Moshe had asked.

Question

What was wrong with what Moshe asked Hashem? It would be important for Moshe to understand Hashem's ways. That is what learning Torah is all about! So why did Hashem 'punish' Moshe by responding with a 'tone of judgment'?

Answer

There are different ways to ask a question. In the Hebrew language there is something called a 'shaila' which means a question and there is something called a 'kasha' which also means a question. However, these are two very different types of questions. A shaila is when someone doesn't know something and he asks to understand. A kasha, however, is when you think something is wrong and you ask in order to convey that the thing under question is wrong. Both people are asking, but they are doing two completely different things. One who is asking a shaila is presuming that he, the questioner, is deficient and lacking understanding. On the other hand, one who asks a kasha presumes that the other person, the one the kasha is on, is deficient and mistaken in some way.

Rashi notes that Moshe asked a kasha on Hashem. Moshe was, to some very slight degree, not just asking to understand but rather being critical of what had happened to the Jewish people.

Lesson

There are a couple of lessons that we can learn from this episode:

  • One needs to be sensitive to the way they do things. Doing the same exact thing as someone else, but doing it in a different manner can make all of the difference between something being correct and incorrect. To ask a shaila to understand is very laudable, to ask a kasha to disprove is not always appropriate.

  • From the fact that Hashem spoke to Moshe in a way that conveyed judgement as a punishment, we see that speaking in such a manner is in fact a punishment! We often think that we don't need to speak nicely, as long as we don't speak harshly. Hashem punished Moshe for having been out line in his questioning of Hashem by speaking to him- not harshly, but with a tone of judgement. In talking to others we need to keep in mind that: A) speaking nicely or pleasantly is not extra credit, it is doing what you are supposed to. And B) before we do speak with a tone of judgement to others we should tread very carefully in our 'punishment' of someone else.


Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Eli Meir Kramer


What's Happening...
Judaic Studies

Morah Esther Berliner- 3rd grade

If you’d step into the third grade classroom you’d be greeted by the sight of eager faces ready to learn Torah and grow in their Judaism. You’d hear thought-provoking questions, ideas and insights. One of the many lessons we delved into during Chumash was Hashgacha Pratis; how Hashem loves us, cares about us and is personally involved in every detail of our lives. The students contributed real-life personal examples of how they see Hashem’s presence in their lives. During Parsha we learned the traits the Torah requires for Jewish leadership, qualities such as compassion and humility. The students are having a great time acting out the Parsha story. They are all very talented. Speaking about talent, did you see ‘Mr. Vav ההפוך’ around? He does a cool trick, when he appears at the beginning of a verb he switches the tense from past to future. We’re always on the lookout for him.
General Studies

Ms. Rochie Fendel- 4th grade

Fourth grade has begun exploring the world! As we neared the mid point of our year, we were introduced to our Social Studies program! Each student received the new textbook with much excitement. We learned how we can gather information about places we’d love to visit but haven’t yet, by learning about it on a map. We began mastering the world map and learning how to read all kinds of maps with a map key. We used the best model of earth that we have, the globe, to see that the earth has two hemispheres which together equal one sphere. Our adorable chant and fun review lent success to each fourth grader on the very first Social Studies quiz. We’re all eagerly looking forward to visiting many great places, starting with the USA!
Mrs. Susan Leibowitz- Kindergarten

In Nursery we have started our unit on the 5 senses. First, we learned all about our eyes. We looked at our eyes in the mirror and then charted all of the different colors we all have in our eyes. Brown was our winner! We also had lots of fun with our magnifying glasses and seeing what happens when we look through them. Then we learned all about our Ears! We listened to different sounds and guessed what they were and we even learned about different instruments and their sounds! We then made three different instruments and marched in our Nursery Sound Parade around the school! Next we had a very smelly week; we learned all about our nose. We smelled all different types of spices and then we even painted with them! We learned all about animal noses and we even played a game trying to pick cotton balls up with our noses. We can't wait for our tasty week coming up!!

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