Tag Archives: Parsha

14. VaEra–The Plague of Hail: Fire Within Ice

“And there was hail, and fire was flashing within the hail…” 1

The flax and barley have been destroyed...” 2

"Hail - The Seventh Plague" by Yoram Raanan. Image courtesy of YoramRaanan.com

“Hail – The Seventh Plague” by Yoram Raanan. Image courtesy of YoramRaanan.com

The first six plagues were not enough to make Pharaoh admit his mistakes. Hashem hardened his heart to allow him to dismiss every plague so far as a “natural disaster”. But the hail, with its terrifying and clearly unnatural fire contained within ice, frightens Pharaoh enough to make him cry out, for the first time, “…I am guilty! God is just! It is I and my people who are in the wrong! Pray to God! Enough of this supernatural thunder and hail…”3

Another lesson for life: the stalks of barley and flax were hardened and inflexible, so they were crushed by the hail. But the spelt and wheat were still young, sprouting and supple and therefore survived.4

Good Shabbos, Shabbath Shalom!

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Shemoth (Exodus) 9:24.
  2. Shemoth (Exodus) 9:31.
  3. Shemoth (Exodus) 9:27-28.
  4. Likutey Halakhoth, Orakh Chaim, Tzitzith 3:25.
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13. Shemoth 5776

13. Shemoth 5776 ~ The Treasure and the Bridge

Shemos 5776_City_Park_Bayou_Bridge_WikimediaOnce upon a time a man dreamed that a treasure was buried under a bridge in Vienna so he traveled there to find it. But when he arrived, a guard confronted him. Hoping to bribe the official into joining his quest, the traveler told the story of his dream, but the guard only laughed.

“I also dreamed about a treasure, but do I go chasing after it? Of course not!” He then told how, in his own dream, a treasure was hidden in a certain city at a certain address. Realizing that the guard had described his own home, the traveler rushed back and found the treasure!

In his parable Rebbe Nachman alludes to many secrets. One of them is that the treasure is our voice – a unique symphony of colors and resonances that has never been heard before, and will never be heard again.

We’ve used our voice all our lives but to discover that it is actually a treasure, we need to travel to the “bridge” spanning all worlds, the teachings of the Tzadik.1

“These are the names of the Children of Israel who arrived…”

ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים

Burning Bush by permission of YoramRaanan.com_Thumbnail

Parshath Shemoth — “Burning Bush” by Yoram Raanan. Courtesy of www.YoramRaanan.com

In this week’s parsha, Shemoth, rearranging the final letters of the opening words spells תהלים–Tehillim (Psalms). Hashem always sends the cure before He sends the illness, and so before the exile in Egypt began, the antidote was already prepared: Sefer Tehillim. 2

Through vocalization, even a whisper, the power locked inside the letters, words, and phrases of Sefer Tehillim is activated. This is the antidote to the exiles that began so long ago in Egypt. May we soon be free!

Good Shabbos — Shabbath Shalom!


Show 2 footnotes

  1. Rav Yehiel Michel Dorfman ז”ל, oral tradition
  2. Lekutey Moharan Tanina 73
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31. Emor

“And you shall count seven complete weeks…”1

To make sure that the seven weeks of the Omer are “complete” the time set for counting is during the early evening hours.2 Performing this mitzvah as soon as possible after nightfall — when the new day begins — ensures that our seven weeks will be as “complete” as we can possibly make them.

The Zohar Hakadosh teaches that counting the Omer similar in importance to the Shemoneh Esrei prayer and should therefore be recited standing3 as hinted through the word 4 בקמה  — read as בקומה, “standing”.5

If a person lost the count and can no longer say the blessing, counting the day still elevates our soul, especially if we count joyfully and in a way that we can hear our voice!6

Show 6 footnotes

  1. Vayikra 23:15
  2. Menachoth 66a
  3. Zohar: Tetzaveh
  4. Devarim 16:9
  5. R’ Asher, end of Pesachim
  6. Oral Tradition, heard from Rav Yehiel Michel Dorfman ז”ל
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