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Tuesday, Tevet 15, 5778 / January 2, 2018


Someone wished me a Shana Tova yesterday. I said to him that as far as I’m concerned, a Shana Tova is reserved for Rosh Hashana – the Hebrew New Year. I explained to him that the word “Shana” which means “year” has a numerical value of 355. This is the number of days in the average Hebrew year. But a secular year has 365 days, it never has 355 days. Thus, the word “Shana” doesn’t apply to the secular year, as it does to the Hebrew year.


Nevertheless, a Happy (secular) New Year is in order. We can always use blessings for health, happiness and success whenever we can get them. May 2018 be a year of peace for everyone.


The New Year 2018 is especially significant as it contains the number 18 which is the numerical value for the word “Chai” – “Life.” May it indeed be a year of good Life and good health for everyone.


This week’s Parsha, S’hmot, begins the second Book of the Torah – the Book of Exodus. Although this Book of the Torah is known as Exodus, the Hebrew name is S’hmot, which means “names.” This Book of the Torah begins with the names of the twelve sons of Yaakov who came to Egypt together with him.


We read about the harsh enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt, about the birth of Moshe (Moses) and the story of the burning bush where G-d chose Moshe to become the leader of the Jewish people and to take them out of Egypt.


Q. How many years did the Jewish people physically live in Egypt?


A. From the time Yaakov and his family moved to Egypt until the Exodus was 210 years. Joseph came to Egypt twenty two years before Yaakov.


Q. How many came to Egypt with Yaakov and how many left at the time of the Exodus?


A. Yaakov and his descendants who came to Egypt (including Joseph and his two sons, who were there before) numbered 70 people. At the time of the Exodus there were over 600,000 men, over the age of 20. In addition there were also many women and children. Perhaps a few million people.


Q. How long after Yaakov’s arrival in Egypt was Moshe born?


A.130 years later. Moshe’s mother, Yocheved, was born as Yaakov’s family entered into Egypt. Thus, Yocheved was 130 when she gave birth to Moshe. Moshe was eighty years old when he led the Jewish people out of Egypt. Thus, in total they were in Egypt for 210 years (130+80=210).