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B”H


BESHALACH: SHABBAT SHIRA - LIVING FAITH
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

-----

 

Beshalach-Shabbat Shira-Living Faith
N. Y. City Candle lighting 4:53. Shabbat ends 5:55
Kiddush Levanah may be recited through Tuesday night

Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the portion of Beshalach. This week’s portion contains many miracles and many tests of faith that the Jewish people endured. All of the miracles teach us to rely on Hashem and follow His directives. After the Jewish people left Egypt, Pharaoh and his army chased them, pinning them against the ocean. The Jewish people were thrown into a state of confusion. Among the people there were those who sought to return to Egypt. Hashem told Moshe to tell the people to go forward. Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the prince of the Tribe of Yehudah, jumped into the water. Moshe raised his staff, Hashem split the sea and the Jewish people went through the seabed on dry ground. The Egyptians pursued and the ocean closed, swallowing them and finally ending the Egyptian threat to the Exodus. The Jewish people fully believed in Hashem and Moshe His servant. Upon witnessing this, Moshe and the Jewish people sang praise to Hashem. Their song is known as the “Shirah” (song) of the sea, and is part of the daily prayers. This is the reason why this Shabbat is called Shabbat Shirah. The Egyptian army carried with them vast treasures which the Jewish people took before their next journey. This teaches us that what seems to be a difficulty (like the Egyptian army’s pursuit) is often a source of blessing.

Thereafter, the Jewish came to an oasis called Elim. The Torah tells us that there were twelve wells and seventy date palms. Rashi explains that these paralleled the twelve tribes and the seventy elders. This was a hint from Hashem that our food and water come in the merit of the forefathers and the merit of Torah.

 
Thereafter the Jewish people lacked bread, and Hashem sent bread from heaven. The bread was sent in a manner to teach them to have faith. Each day there was only sufficient for that day. It was forbidden to save for the next day. Further, however much one tried to gather, he only had enough for one day. This teaches us that to realize that our sustenance comes only from Hashem. If we deserve to receive a certain amount, all of our efforts to make more will be to no avail. The way to attain more is by meriting more in Hashem’s judgment.


When the Jewish people needed water, two miracles occurred. First, Moshe threw a tree into bitter waters and sweetened them. Later, he hit a rock and water came forth. The tree is symbolic of the Torah, which is called an Eitz Chaim (Tree of Life). The Torah from Moshe teaches us how to reveal the sweetness in the bitter. The water flowing from the rock teaches us that our true source of sustenance is completely hidden from us, just as the water is concealed in the rock.


Thereafter, a nation called Amalek rose up against the Jewish people. The war was a miraculous one. When Moshe’s hands were uplifted, the Jewish people succeeded. When Moshe lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed. This taught us that all of our success in overcoming evil was dependent upon Moshe.


Chassidic teachings explain that Amalek represents our doubting of G-d. By connecting ourselves with the Tzaddikim of the generation, we overcome our inner Amalek. The Targum teaches that the final vanquishing of Amalek will be in the time of Moshiach. May we merit that as we study the redemption, we shall experience it!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

A project of Chabad of Great Neck 400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

516 4874554 fax 516 4874807


B”H

Tu B’Shevat

Shalom and Bracha!

This Wednesday, February 4th, is Tu B’Shevat, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. The Gemarrah in Rosh Hashanah states that the fifteenth of Shevat is the Rosh Hashanah for trees. This is because the sap begins to flow again after the winter. Although the Gemarrah is referring to the agricultural laws of tithing, today it is celebrated as a holiday by not saying Tachanun and by eating special fruits. It is customary to make the blessing on the fruits for which Israel is famous, namely grapes, pomegranates, figs, olives and dates. It is also customary to eat a new fruit and make the blessing “Shehechiyanu.” By using fruits to make blessings we help assure that Hashem should bless the fruits of this coming year and by making the blessing on fruits connected with Israel we enhance Hashem’s blessing and protection of the land of Israel.


The New Year for trees has important lessons for each of us. A person is compared to a tree. Just as a tree constantly grows, a person must constantly progress. A person is also meant to bear fruits. It is not sufficient that we grow ourselves; we must also affect our surroundings. Just as a tree bears fruit from year to year, we mustn’t be satisfied with our effect on the world until now. We must keep giving and doing and growing.


The entire Jewish people are compared to a tree. Although each branch grows in its own direction, they are all part of one tree. The strength of each limb of the tree aids the entire tree, and the weakness of any limb effects the other limbs. Whatever directions we take, we are one people. When we strengthen each other, we strengthen ourselves. This is alluded to in the name of the month, Shevat. The word Shevat is related to the Hebrew Shevet, which means branch.


The Gemarrah tells us that fruits represent Mitzvot. When a tree bears fruit, it doesn’t lose its power to bear fruit, but instead grows. When we do a Mitzvah, even if it seems difficult or costly, Hashem repays us and gives us the strength to perform another Mitzvah. When we plant a seed, we don’t see the fruits for a very long time. However, from one seed grows a tree that produces thousands of fruits each year, each capable of producing new trees. We don’t always see the effect of the Mitzvot that we do. However, Hashem nurtures them and they bear fruit for us, our children and all future generations.


May Hashem grant that this Tu B’Shevat usher in a new era of joy, healing, new growth and prosperity, particularly in Israel. The Tanya explains that all of the good things that will occur when Moshiach comes are a direct result of our service of Hashem in Galut (exile). Each Mitzvah is a seed, whose fruit we will see at that time. May the joy of redemption replace the pain of exile immediately!

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Biggs
The blessing for fruit that grows on trees is Baruch Atta A-donai E-loheinu Melech Haolam Borei P’ree Haeitz
The blessing Shehechiyanu for new fruits is Baruch Atta A-donai E-loheinu Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’Kiy’manu V’higyanu Lizman Hazeh.

Dedicated in loving memory of Aharon Ben Yehudah Ohabi. May Hashem grant perfect rest and joy to his soul and grant strength and comfort to his family and all who loved him.

A project of Chabad of Great Neck 400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

516 4874554 fax 516 4874807


 
   
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