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Tuesday, Tevet 17, 5783 (Hakhel Year) / January 10, 2023


This Shabbat we will read Parshat Shemot. With this Parsha webegin the second Book of the Torah, the book of Exodus(Shmot). The Parsha tells how the Egyptians enslaved the Jewish people and that King Pharaoh of Egypt, decreed that every Jewish boy born shall die.


The Parsha also talks about the birth of Moshe and how his mother, Yocheved, placed him is a basket at the river. He was saved by Pharaoh’s own daughter and was raised in Pharaoh’s palace. Moshe eventually had to flee Egypt and came to Midyan, where he met his future wife, Tziporah. There he became a shepherd for his father-in-law, Yitro.


We read how G-d revealed Himself to Moshe.  The Torah says, "And Moshe was feeding the flock of Yitro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midyan; and he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, and he came to the mountain of G-d, to Horeb. G-d’s angel appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Moshe saw the bush was on fire, but the bush was not consumed.” 


Moshe decided to get closer to observe this wonderous site of the bush being on fire, yet not being consumed. When Moshe came closer, G-d called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, “Moshe, Moshe, remove your shoes from your feet for the place upon which you are standing is holy ground." G-d tells Moshe to go to Pharaoh and bring forth My people, out of Egypt.


Q.   The Midrash tells that a gentile once asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karcha, "Why did your G-d speak to Moshe from the midst of a bush and not from a different tree?"


A.  Rabbi Yehoshua answered, "Had He revealed himself from a carob tree, you would have asked the same question: Why that tree and not another one. However, now that you asked, I will answer you: G-d wanted to show Moshe that there was no place where G-d cannot be found and that He rests not only in the tall trees but also in a low bush.


Q.   But why from a “thorn” bush?


A.  Rashi explains that by revealing Himself from a thorn bush, G-d was saying to Moshe that, just as the Jewish people were suffering,He too, is in pain, which is symbolized by the prickly thorn bush.


Q.   Why from a “burning” thorn bush?


A.   To show Moshe that just as the fire didn't destroy the bush, so too, the Egyptianswillnot be able to destroy the Jewish nation. For thousands of years the Pharaohs of every generation, to this very day (their names may have changed, but their goals were the same), tried to destroy us. But in G-d’s first revelation to Moshe, He made it clear that, just as the bush was not consumed by the fire, because G-d was there with us, so too, the Jewish people will not be consumed, for G-d is always with us.




In memory of Chaim ben Yosef, of blessed memory. May his Neshama rest in peace in Gan Eden