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Parashat Shemot

Parasha Thoughts

021-AROOS PHOTO  edited

By: Shemuel Akhamzadeh

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי–נְאֻם, יְיְ 
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, said the LORD

In this week’s portion, as Moshe Rabenu is fleeing Egypt he has his first encounter with his future wife Tzipora at the site of a water well, our sages teach ( Shemot Rabba 81:32) “Three people found their spouses at a well: Yitzchak, Yaakov and Moshe. Concerning Yitzchak it is written (Bereishit 24:62), ‘And Yitzchak came from the way of the well of Lechai-Roi.’ Furthermore, Rivka had met Eliezer at a well. Concerning Yaakov: ‘And he saw, behold, a well in the field.’ Concerning Moshe: ‘And he sat at the well.'” 
Besides the esoteric and more mystical facet of the Torah there is much to be learned from the manner Hashem conducts providence, particularly when it is stated in the words of Torah. The Idea that Hashem brought about our forbearers first meeting with their spouses at a place of drawing water is to teach us a lesson regarding relationship and marriage. Water is liquid and unlike solid objects forms the shape of any vessel where it is poured in to. To be married and create a relationship is to be able to except another person’s view even if its contradictory to yours, to be easy going, excepting and tolerant. Being rigid and tough is the best trait if you want to shatter a loving relationship and destroy a good marriage. Hashem brought about this lesson for our forefathers, to tell us even the greatest amongst us is prone to acting rashly, and needs a reminder here and there regarding his most precious relationship.


Parashat Vayechi

Dovid Kohen

By: Rabbi David Cohen

This week’s parsha of Va’y’chee contains the blessing that is given each Shabbat to one’s sons: “Y’simcha Elokim k’Ephraim v’k’Menashe {May Hashem make you be like Ephraim and Menashe}. [48:20]” Menashe and Ephraim were the two sons of Yosef that were born in Mitzrayim. They were granted the same status as the tribes that were born to Yaakov.

The blessing given to girls on Shabbat is that they should be like the Matriarchs–Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah. The boy’s blessing, however, passes over the Patriarchs and the twelve tribes and instead focuses on these sons of Yosef.

What special qualities did Ephraim and Menashe manifest that made them worthy of our blessing our sons to be like them?

The Mikdash Mordechai explains that the brother relationship had always been associated with strife and jealousy. The first brothers, Kain and Hevel, seemed to set the stage for what was to follow; Yitzchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Esav, Yosef and his brothers.

Ephraim and Menashe had the potential and setting for a similar type of strife. Yaakov had placed his right hand on the head of the younger Ephraim and had also placed Ephraim’s name first in the blessing. Although this could have caused Menashe, the first-born, to feel animosity toward Ephraim and could have soured their relationship, there remained a true brotherly camaraderie and love between them.

We too bless our children that they and their relationships should, in that respect, be as Ephraim and Menashe–filled with understanding, respect and love for others.

The Eved HaMelech offers another explanation. Ephraim and Menashe were the only tribes that were born in Mitzrayim. As opposed to the other tribes who were in the constant company of Yaakov and their grandfather Yitzchak, it was the officers and advisors of Egypt who frequented Ephraim and Menashe’s home.

They nevertheless managed to resist those influences and temptations and stayed true to the teachings of their father Yosef. Thus, Yaakov found them worthy of being counted amongst the twelve tribes.

The blessing instituted to brace our generations of children through the arduous path of exile and foreign influences was that they should be like Ephraim and Menashe–strong, confident and secure in who they are and the mission they have in life.

Although intellectually we know we shouldn’t be, we’re often a bit ashamed about performing our mitzvos {commandments} publicly.

The clear knowledge of who we are and where we come from will allow us to make it through the travails of our odyssey, firm, secure and committed like Ephraim and Menashe. This, coupled with the warmth and camaraderie exemplified by Ephraim and Menashe will allow these travails to speedily, in our days, come to an end.