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Tuesday, Tevet 17, 5780 / January 14, 2020


This Shabbat we begin the second Book of the Torah – Shmot (Exodus).


The Parsha begins, “These are the names of the children of Israel who are coming into Egypt with Yaakov; every man came with his householdAnd the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied and the land was filled with them.


Although Yaakov and his family moved to Egypt because of the famine in the land of Canaan, this was the revealed natural reason for their move. However, G-d had a much deeper plan. G-d told Abraham, two hundred years earlier that his descendants will be enslaved in a foreign land and after which that they will leave with great wealth.  With this move to Egypt began the exile of the children of Israel, where they spent the next two hundred and ten years. 


Our sages say that Yaakov and his descendants would have had to go to Egypt even against their will. This was G-d’s decree. But G-d chose to make the move to Egypt and their initial settling there in a pleasant way, by bringing the famine and Joseph becoming ruler of the land.


Although this second Book of the Torah begins with the Egyptian exile, it is called, the book of RedemptionExodus. The purpose of the exile was, as G-d promised Abraham, “And after they will emerge with great wealth.


Indeed, they came out of Egypt with great financial wealth and great spiritual wealth, for through the experience of the exile, they merited to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai and the Land of Israel.


Q.  Yaakov and his children came to Egypt over seventy years earlier.  The Book of Exodus tells what happened after Yaakov and his sons passed away. Thus, the Torah should have said, “These are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt with Yaakov.” Why does the Torah say, who are coming, in the present tense? 


A.   Our sages explain that this was the secret of how the Jewish people survived the over two hundred years of Egyptian exile and still manage to emerge as a people with their unique identity. It was because they never became settled and comfortable in their Egyptian environment. They always felt as if they were now coming.” No matter how long they resided in Egypt, they considered themselves as just now coming there – as immigrants – as temporary residents. They knew that one day G-d will redeem them and they will return to the Holy Land. This kept their spirits up even when physically they were down. This is also the secret of Jewish survival throughout our 2000 year Exile.




In loving memory of Chaim ben Yosef HaKohen - Yartzeit is today, Tevet 17.

May his memory be a blessing.  May his Neshama-soul rest in peace in Gan Eden.

From his family