Women of Valor

Hashem uses women for very important roles. The Rabbis have also stated that women are more spiritual than men.

A Voice in the Midst

A Voice in the Midst

Communication can be very complex when the recipient cannot understand what the individual is trying to express. Communication is frustrating when there’s a breakdown from written language to verbal expression. When we communicate written language in a letter, email, or text, not seeing body language of the sender can leave the reader with uncertainty if there is sarcasm.

If the sender unintentionally leaves out additional information for clarity, it can also be a breakdown. However, the sender could have sent the message with perfect clarity, but the reader could be in a bad mood, or has past issues left unchecked; giving him/her the wrong temperament reading the message with a biased opinion.

Miscommunication can be daunting and hurtful to both parties. It comes down to motives and where our heart and thoughts are when messages are sent or received. Having said that, we need to be additionally careful on social media how we present ourselves. We should never use social media, such as Facebook, to call others out with intentions to shame or embarrass. If there’s a question of concern, a private message would show maturity and honor; looking for the good in others.

Using our voice can be another way to communicate. Having a voice gives one an advantage, in most cases, to express our needs. Our voice can ask questions, give directions, teach, as well as to scream for help. One can read stories to children, sing, laugh, give counsel, and pray with others with a voice. The list goes on. Our voices can be very powerful—the tongue. Trouble arrives when we don’t keep our heart and thoughts in check.

Our tongue can be a blessing or a curse to others, ourselves included. Language can build up or tear down. Our words can breathe life or death into others. Our voice is a gift from Hashem, therefore, wisdom should be used before we open our mouths. Do we want to speak love and life, or like a knife, cut people down by belittling and mocking that shatters them with a broken spirit? How we speak to others exposes and reveals our character and heart. From the heart speaks the mouth. A gentle tone goes a long way. A listening heart and a soft spoken word of encouragement is chesed (Loving-kindness).

We are a product of our thoughts that feed our Souls. We cannot blame others for our failures if we become our own taskmaster. When we settle for complacency, we remain in bondage with an infancy outlook in life; spiritually stagnate.

Let’s imagine we are at the finest restaurant with the most exquisite foods. When the server places our dessert in front of us, what would it (our words spoken) taste like if we had to eat our own words? What taste would our tongue deliver? Would that spoonful be soft, sweet as honey that gives life and hope to others? Life within extends the beauty of Torah into the lives of others. On the other hand, would our words taste like poison that brings death? Would our words taste of death like a rotten carcass left in the heat? Words matter. Words are remembered by our souls.

Our “words” spoken to others, as well as to ourselves can build up and heal. A deeper connection of “words” holds a higher level of meaning; such as, words of encouragement, confidence, compassion, integrity, promise, and g-d- esteeming others. The words breathed out bring Life or Death. It’s a flood gate. The flooding of words can either bring hope and refreshment, or a hot-headed tongue that scorches like a forest fire. Our words manifest from our thoughts to our heart and it comes out of our mouth. Our tongue is a sharp-edged sword. When we cross blades with others, our Father hears and sees. May Hashem see our words of joy and healing.

The words we speak impacts our outlook in life, health included. It’s important to give ourselves chen (grace), to be a friend to ourselves; especially when others may not be available emotionally. It can be discouraging when others are disconnected from G-d’s chesed, but Hashem’s love for us surpasses everything. Hashem gives us His strength and joy. Our Father in Heaven will carry us and wipe every tear shed. Our tears are held in a bottle.

“You keep count of my wanderings; put my tears into Your flask, into Your record.” (Psalms 56:9)[1]

Hashem knows our heart and thoughts. G-d will send trials that’ll reveal the measure of chen we give others. It’s never a good idea to ignore Hashem when He is teaching goodly things. Evil speech (Lashon hara) is destructive and comes in forms of hurtful words such as: shaming, yelling, pointing fingers, lies, gossip, belittling, mocking, derogatory, embarrassing others, especially in public. If one is yelling while the other person is in tears, a heart and tongue check needs to be evaluated with forgiveness requested.

Our words spoken determine who we are within. One should never be humiliated. The measure of  rachamim (mercy) , or lack of, is the same measure we will receive from G-d. How much rachamim do we want on Judgement Day? We need to take each step in life in “baby steps,” giving the measure of rachamim to others that we would want to receive from Hashem.

When we listen to gossip, we become a participant in Lashon Hara (evil speech). In other words, as human beings, we are created to be in G-d’s image. The choice is to honor G-d by blessing others with kind words and actions (good deeds), or its opposite that takes on the image of the Beast (beast and man were created on the sixth day) that dishonors G-d and others with evil inclination (Yetzer Hara).

Yetzer Hara takes on the Nefesh (soul/flesh) that acts on impulse. Evil inclination moves us away from the goodness of Hashem with selfish thoughts and/or self-gratification, self-praise (haughtiness), and acts as a self-appointed g-d. The tongue cuts like a knife. Once the harsh word leaves our mouth, it’s too late, it can’t be taken back. We can ask for forgiveness and start over with a change of heart; however, natural consequences of sin can remain.

Lashon Hara is one who speaks with an evil tongue about another person regardless if it’s true, or not. They discredit the character of others with uncomplimentary words. Motzi shem means “evil reports.” One who spreads evil reports is malicious and spreads evil. They are considered a moral leper.

One may say they have never stolen from others; however, Lashon Hara steals love, honor, respect, and trust with disparaging words that leave us uncovered in the eyes of others. The one spoken against, his/her image could be forever altered with a damaged reputation. Lashon Hara takes from G-d’s People. No one knows the work Hashem is doing in the lives of others. Negative words not only leaves people uncovered, but it uncovers Hashem.

We must be careful to not plant bitterness in the hearts of others with hurtful words. There’s a choice to honor people, to show affection for  G-d’s creation, or bring harm with a calloused heart. The tongue does not have bones, yet its strength can break a heart.

There is a Chasidic tale about a man who went into the community spreading false reports about a Rabbi. His words were very hurtful, malicious, and slanderous. After a while, he felt guilty about his poor behavior and wanted to make a mends; asking the Rabbi for forgiveness. The Rabbi asked him to return to his home and take some of his feather pillows, cut them open and scatter the opened pillows throughout the room with the window opened for the breeze to come inside. The man thought it was a strange request but simple to do in order to receive the Rabbi’s forgiveness.

Returning to the home of the Rabbi to report what he had done, the Rabbi told him to return home to gather up the feathers. The man said it’s impossible to retract them, the feathers blew everywhere. The Rabbi told the man despite his change of heart and his sincerity to correct what was done, like the feathers, it’s impossible to gather the damage caused with words.

 “A man’s belly is filled by the fruit of his mouth; He will be filled by the produce of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue; Those who love it will eat its fruit. ” (Proverbs 18:20-21)[2]

Yetzer Hara is first mentioned in Genesis 6:5—“HASHEM saw the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always.”[3]

Our words should be a blessing that grow others in the breath of life, love, and truth; bringing honor to Hashem. When we use our words with Yetzer Hara (evil speak), we are violating G-d’s will and it invites the “spirit of impurity.” G-d’s righteousness doesn’t bow down to corruption.

There are times our voices need to be heard:

What about people with special needs who can make sounds with their voices but cannot speak, or is unable to make any sound due to a medical condition? They need their voice to be heard. Sign language and braille (for those who are blind) can be a blessing so that their “quiet voices” can be heard. Yet, there are others who are unable to use sign language; although, they can use communication devices. When it comes to programming communication devices, programming can be challenging. Some individuals are more advanced than others. Evaluations and observations can usually determine their level of understanding. However, in some cases, those methods are not always accurate. Every person is at a different learning level.

We learn at a different pace. Programming communication boards (iPad or other) for those who are nonverbal can become very challenging as it reveals the density of language. It’s more than a language barrier between two people from different countries trying to communicate. When one isn’t able to demonstrate what he/she understands, creating a device to meet the needs of the individual can be perplexing, especially if the child/adult doesn’t initiate the conversation.

When a communication device is designed to have a voice command state what the photo is, that’s the beginning of a new world for one who is nonverbal. The complexity is revealed when we “up the Ante” on the communication board. We realize that when two verbal people can carry on a conversation about anything, trying to design a touch screen device to mimic “conversations” is impossible. Although a simple question and answer can be programmed, they remain the same until it’s reprogrammed. As an advocate for those without a voice, it’s our responsibility to be that voice. We do our best and allow a lot of patience on each side. The nonverbal person becomes our teacher, and over time, we will reap those blessings when they come pouring out for the glory of Hashem.

No matter what we are able to do in life, Hashem hears our voice. He hears our thoughts and He knows our motives, struggles, plans, desires, fears, and concerns. We can learn from one who is nonverbal. When we enter a facility or a home with a special needs person, it’s important to take a few minutes to show kindness by acknowledging them. One might offer to read him/her a story, mention how nice they look, or comment on their beautiful smile. They are aware who spends time with them and who doesn’t. We are called to love one another—loving-kindness (Chesed).

“Of HASHEM’S kindness I will sing forever; I will make Your faithfulness known to every generation with my mouth. 3 For I said, “Forever will [Your] kindness be built; the heavens, You establish Your faithfulness in them.” (Psalms 89:2-3) [4]

Language is a gift and so is the ability to hear. Will we hear (Shema) G-d when He calls? This type of hearing is from within. Hashem wrote His Torah upon our hearts. Isn’t it amazing that those who are nonverbal, physically deaf, and find it challenging to communicate with others in written, speech, sign, or with devices can still hear (Shema) the voice of G-d when He calls? In the same breath, those who are blessed with a voice to speak, and given the intelligence to understand written language with perfect hearing can be blind and deaf to the voice of G-d.

“Hear this, O nation that is foolish and without a heart,
They have eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear!” (Jeremiah 5:21)[5]

Moses reminds us that G-d doesn’t seek blind obedience. “‘He wants us to listen, not just with our ears, but with the deepest resources of our minds. If G-d simply sought out obedience, He would have created robots, not human beings with a will of their own.[…] G-d, in making human beings “in His image,” was creating otherness. And the bridge between self and other is conversation: speaking and listening. When we speak, we tell others who we are. But when we listen, we allow others to tell us who they are. This is a supremely revelatory moment. And if we can’t listen to other people, then we certainly can’t listen to G-d, whose otherness is not relative but absolute.’”[6]

Courage is demonstrated when we open ourselves to others; giving someone an opportunity to be heard, understood, and cared for. It’s a spiritual act to listen to others, and to G-d. Listening to others is the greatest gift one could offer. It can be life-changing.

The question remains… how will we speak to others? Do our words edify? This is a very important question. Are we willing to listen to others?

We edify G-d’s creation by acknowledging the value in others. Our choices reveal our character, and our heart. Will we breathe life or death into others? Will we bring blessings or cursing with our speech? Will we honor, or shame and embarrass others? What do our words taste like? I hope our words taste like the sweetness of honey, edifying others with loving-kindness.

Chofetz Chaim reminds us in A Lesson A Day, “‘[…] when anger comes upon a person, he guards the sanctity of his soul and does not allow it to become uprooted and replaced by the “foreign g-d” [that is anger], then he is a person who is fit to be near. However, if he does not guard the sanctity of his soul, allowing it to become uprooted so that the “other side” can dwell in its place, surely he is a person who rebels against his Master, and it is forbidden to seek his company… he is a person who “tears apart his soul in his anger” (Iyov 18:4).’”

Death and Life are in the tongue’s power.

The measure we give others is the measure we receive from G-d. In other words, if we hope to receive rachamim (mercy) from G-d, we need to extend that same amount to others (if not more), ourselves included. When we hold on to anger it is holding on to idolatry.

We never know what Hashem is doing in the lives of others. Like a seed planted in dirt, it remains in a dark place for a certain amount of time to germinate. However, during that time, life is happening. There is movement. We don’t see it on the surface until growth sprouts. There is life in that seed and Hashem is watching. He is watching the seeds, the soil, and the ones planting. He is also watching those who throw toxic weed seeds (hurtful words and poor actions) in His Garden. Our words can either demonstrate kindness through intelligent speech that esteem others, or words of the beast that hurt and tear down like the tearing of teeth from a beast that rips into flesh for pleasure.

Let our words lift up each other in prayer and song. Let our voices call out to Hashem with joy and praises; thanking G-d for everything. Let’s breathe out words of life that bursts forth sprouts of life that encourages others.

Our voice comes through our mouth. Hebrew for mouth (speech and silence) is Peh. Peh also represents the gematria value of eighty. Eighty is “spiritual strength to control the body impulses. A person develops this maturity with ripening age.” (Tiferes Yisrael) Ironically, Moses was eighty years old when G-d sanctified Moses with His words to speak properly. Moses did not remain stagnant in his old age; he continued to learn to serve G-d and others.

 “And HASHEM G-d formed the man of dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) [7]

Whether our words are verbalized or left in silence, our thoughts bring forth actions, emotions, spirituality, and physical transformation into fruition. Will our basket of offerings be sweet as honey or rotten?

“The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the firmament tells of His handiwork. Day following day utters speech, and night following night declares knowledge. There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is not heard. [But] their precision goes forth throughout the earth, and their words reach the end of the inhabited world. In their midst He has set up a tent for the sun, which is like a groom emerging from his bridal chamber, it rejoices like a powerful warrior to run the course.  Its source is the end of the heavens and its circuit is to their end; nothing is hidden from its heat. The Torah of HASHEM is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of HASHEM is trustworthy, making the simple one wise; the orders of HASHEM are upright, gladdening the heart; the command of HASHEM is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of HASHEM is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of HASHEM are true, altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold, than even much fine gold; and sweeter than honey, and drippings from the combs. Also, when Your servant is scrupulous in them, in observing them there is great reward. by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern mistakes? Cleanse me from unperceived faults. Also from intentional sins restrain Your servant; let them not rule me, then I will be perfect; and I will be cleansed of great transgression. May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, HASHEM, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalms 19:2-15)[8]

There will be times we feel as though our prayers are not heard, isolated, and alone. Hashem holds every tear we’ve cried, and one day HIS GLORY will rain on us with amazing joy that is “Heavenly Scented.”

We need to remember the ones who are nonverbal that G-d hears them just as much as He hears us. Our words don’t need to be physically vocalized; it is given through breathing life into others with blessings and good deeds. Our voices, silent or not, are heard by the Father. The Torah is the Lamp of His Light—Amen!

The Midrash states, “Words, like the ocean, can be stormy or calm. An evil mouth, like turbulent waves, can destroy and kill. A sharp tongue, like deep water, is feared. Good words, like pearls on the ocean floor, are precious…” (Midrash Alpha Beisa)

As we study Torah with an eagerness to learn, what benefit is a beautiful flower that blossomed in the middle of an isolated desert. In other words, when we are gathered to learn Torah, we acquire wisdom (Chokmah) when to teach, or when to remain silent. We can use our Peh and bring Torah to others to benefit from that same wisdom.

My G-d, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceitfully. To those who curse me, let my soul be silent; and let my soul be like dust to everyone. Open my heart to Your Torah, then my soul will pursue Your commandments. As for all those who oppose and who design evil against me, speedily nullify their counsel and disrupt their design. May it be your will, Hashem, my G-d and the G-d of my forefathers, that human jealousy may not rise up against me, nor my jealousy upon others; may I not become angry today, and may I not anger You. Rescue me from the Evil inclination, and place my heart submissiveness and humility. O our King and our G-d, cause Your Name to be unified in Your world; rebuild Your city, lay the foundation of Your House, perfect Your sanctuary; gather in the scattered exiles, redeem Your sheep, and gladden your congregation. Act for Your Name’s sake; act for Your right hand’s sake; act for Your Torah’s sake; act for Your sanctity’s sake. That Your beloved ones may be given rest; let Your right hand save, and respond to me. May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Hashem my Rock and my Redeemer.” (The Complete Artscroll Siddur)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My spirit within you, and I will make it so  that  you will follow My decrees and guard My ordinances and fulfill them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)[9]

Shalom!

 

[1] Psalms 56:9, Sefaria

[2] Proverbs 18:20-21, Sefaria

[3] Genesis 6:5, The Stone Edition

[4] Psalms 89:2-3, The Stone Edition

[5] Jeremiah 5:21, The Stone Edition

[6] https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/4091059/jewish/Listen-Really-Listen.htm

[7] Genesis 2:7, The Stone Edition

[8] Psalms 19:2-19, The Stone

[9] Ezekiel 36:26-27, The Stone Edition

 

 

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Shemot/Shemos (Names)

Shemot/ Shemos (Names)

Exodus 1:1-6:1

Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23 (Haftarah)

As we continue our journey in the Torah Portions, we will have a better understanding of why “Names” are important to Hashem. The ones who love and give glory to Hashem, their names become very important to HIM.

It is amazing how Genesis and Exodus are tied together! As we delve into this Parshah you’ll be able to see the connections in the Creation Story. Hashem separated the light from the darkness, and it happened again in Exodus when Hashem separated the Israelites (with light), and Mitsrayim (Egypt) with darkness.  As we study these Portions, you’ll often see a phrase that is used often: seeing, saw, or to see. It is more than just seeing with the eyes, but to actually see within, taking notice, and having empathy for others.

I find the following connections (patterns) very exciting: The Ark that Noah built under the direction of Elokim and the Ark (basket) that Moses floated in, in the reeds were both covered in tar and pitch—the exact same substance! Moses, as a baby, floated along the Nile in the reeds, and when Elokim used him as the Deliverer, they were taken through the water—the Reed Sea.

Looking back, when Joseph (Yosef) was in Egypt with his family, life was good. They were taken very well care of so why would they want to go to the Promised Land? Isn’t it interesting to note that we tend to be like that too? When life is going great and everything seems to be going our way (in our comfort zone), do we like to be moved into a different place or given a different agenda? Hummmm.

Let’s continue on our exciting study of Moshe (Moses) in Exodus and see what it is that Hashem calls for.

~These are the names of the people who are exiting Mitsrayim (Egypt) ~

“‘These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The total number of persons that were of Jacob’s issue came to seventy, Joseph being already in Egypt. Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation. But the Israelites were fertile and prolific; they multiplied and increased very greatly, so that the land was filled with them. A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.” So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the [Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians ruthlessly imposed upon the Israelites the various labors that they made them perform. Ruthlessly they made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks and with all sorts of tasks in the field. The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, saying, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, fearing G-d, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, letting the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women: they are vigorous. Before the midwife can come to them, they have given birth.” And G-d dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and increased greatly. And because the midwives feared G-d, He established households for them. Then Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’” (Exodus 1:1-22)[1]

The Pharaoh decreed all of the baby boys to be cast into the river, but to keep the female children. To cast out is a very strong word as in to “throw out the trash.”  A decree to kill children is a very evil act; having much violence, fear, and hate. The meaning behind the name of “Pharaoh” is “The mouth of evil being spoken. “Pharaoh’s name isn’t mentioned, but the names of the two Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Pu‘ah, mean Shofar and Beautiful. The midwives were given an order to kill all baby boys born. That would have been very scary and tragic, but they had a greater fear for Elokim. They refused to kill the baby boys. The Israelites grew abundantly and multiplied.

The women of Israel actually set the foundation….

Pharaoh’s plans for the annihilation of the Israelite children are defeated by women—the human feelings of the midwives, and the tender sympathy of a woman of a royal birth, and a sister’s watchfulness in extremity. It was to the merit of the pious women that Israel owed it’s redemption in Egypt, say the Rabbis.”[4]

A side note: Indecently on the count of “70” descendants, the mother of Moses was the “70th” (69 +1).  Yocheved, birth mother of Moshe (Moses), was the daughter of Levi. Yocheved was married to Amram (grandson of Levi). Because of the age of Moses’ mother (130 years), she married her nephew (Amram) for a man young enough to father children [Yocheved was older than the age of Sarah when Sarah conceived]. Aaron was born three years earlier than Moses, Miriam was the oldest sibling. Moses was born just as they arrived in Mitsrayim (Egypt). Moses was born circumcised. Later on, Moses married Zipporah, who would later circumcise their son to save the life of Moses.

Yocheved in Hebrew means “Glory of G-d”. Moses’ father’s name, Amram, means “An exalted people.” Moses’ name was Egyptian, but Jews give names to their sons on the eighth day during circumcision. His Jewish name is believed to be “Tovia.” He was a “Goodly” child.

 When the Glory of G-d is wed (Bride) with the exalted people (His Chosen) Redemption is our New Beginnings, called GOOD.

Yocheved could no longer hide her baby after three months (Moshe was three months premature). She made a wicker ark, coated it with tar and pitch, and laid the baby boy in the basket in the reeds of the river. She sent Miriam, his sister, to keep watch to where the ark went. The Pharaoh’s daughter was down at the river to wash (Mikvah). When she saw something floating, she sent her maidservant to get it. When the Pharaoh’s daughter opened up the wicker ark, saw a weeping baby, she took compassion upon the child and said, “This is one of the children of the Hebrews.” The sister of the baby asked if she should go and call for a wet nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child. Of course, she said “yes.” Interesting that the Egyptian women would have never done that, but a blessing they didn’t! Miriam fetched her mom.

The Pharaoh’s daughter told the woman to take the baby, nurse him, and to bring him to her when he no longer needed to be nursed. She paid her wages. The mother brought Moshe back to the Pharaoh’s daughter when he was older. He became the Pharaoh’s daughter’s son by adoption, named Moshe “Because I have drawn him out of the water.”

When Moses had grown and became great, he had empathy for others. He was able to set aside his “role” and have understanding and compassion for the feelings of others—he noticed!

He looked and noticed the burdens of the Hebrew slaves. He saw a Mitsrian (Egyptian) striking (whip) a Hebrew slave (his brother)/ Moshe looked this way and that way, smote the Egyptian, and buried him in the sand. And the next day, he broke-up a fight between two Hebrews (it would seem he wanted to resolve matters, keep others from being oppressed, and desired people to live in harmony). But when they asked Moses who made him the judge, and if he was going to kill them like the Egyptian, Moses became fearful that the Pharaoh would kill him and he fled to Midian. As he sat by the well in Midian, the priest’s (seven) daughters came to their father’s well to draw water, they poured water into the troughs to water the flock. Some shepherds arrived and drove them away, but Moshe stood up, helped the women, and watered their flock.

 “When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Where is he then? Why did you leave the man? Ask him in to break bread.” Moses consented to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah as wife. She bore a son whom he named Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” A long time after that, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to G-d. G-d heard their moaning, and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. G-d looked upon the Israelites, and G-d took notice of them.” (Exodus 2: 18-25)[2]

Re’u’el is a title of Yitro- meaning “Friend of G-d.”

 

“‘Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of G-d. An angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up?” When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to look, G-d called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am,” He said, “the G-d of your father, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at G-d. And the LORD continued, “I have marked well the plight of My people in Egypt and have heeded their outcry because of their taskmasters; yes, I am mindful of their sufferings. I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the region of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me; moreover, I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them. Come, therefore, I will send you to Pharaoh, and you shall free My people, the Israelites, from Egypt.” But Moses said to G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?” And He said, “I will be with you; that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship G-d at this mountain.” Moses said to G-d, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And G-d said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’” And G-d said further to Moses, “Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The LORD, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob, has sent me to you: This shall be My name forever, This My appellation for all eternity.’” (Exodus 3:1-15)[3]

Hashem SAW that Moshe looked and saw the bush burning, yet Moshe NOTICED it was not being consumed. He didn’t just walk by it…. Not only did Hashem reveal to Moshe who He was by stating the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob (Israel), but Hashem told Moshe His Name, which was never revealed to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.

WOW!! This is so powerful, and so humbling. Hashem’s name is above all others, Creator of all things– seen and unseen. Hashem wants us to personally know, believe, trust and love Him.

As I mentioned earlier, some may not want to be moved from their comfort zone. They may be too prideful, fearful, or set in their own “beliefs.” Only the Ruach ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit) can set their hearts on Hashem. The Pharaoh was set in his ways, and his arrogance and pride hardened his heart from allowing Hashem to teach him differently (though he learned later—the hard way).

We need to remain teachable so that our hearts don’t harden from learning Torah.

At the burning bush, Moshe was given Hashem’s word that He would be with Moses, and would be his voice. He said, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be].” Hashem wanted Moses to be sure to tell the children of Israel that G-d has surly visited himThey would then know Elohim has sent the deliverer as Joseph told the people before he died –that Hashem would surly visit them and they would carry his (Joseph’s) bones out of Egypt. So this phrase was a secret code Pakod Pakadeti—I remember I remember!  I have remembered to take you out of Egypt and to bring you all to Eretz Yisrael. And they would know it was true!

The amazing thing about this is the Children of Israel knew Moses had a speech impediment (his lips were burned with hot coals as a toddler), with Moses saying this Hebrew word, Pakod Pakadeti , perfectly, they saw a miracle had taken place!

“‘But Moses spoke up and said, “What if they do not believe me and do not listen to me, but say: The LORD did not appear to you?” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he replied, “A rod.” He said, “Cast it on the ground.” He cast it on the ground and it became a snake; and Moses recoiled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and grasp it by the tail”—he put out his hand and seized it, and it became a rod in his hand— “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob, did appear to you.” The LORD said to him further, “Put your hand into your bosom.” He put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, his hand was encrusted with snowy scales! And He said, “Put your hand back into your bosom.”—He put his hand back into his bosom; and when he took it out of his bosom, there it was again like the rest of his body.— “And if they do not believe you or pay heed to the first sign, they will believe the second. And if they are not convinced by both these signs and still do not heed you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and it—the water that you take from the Nile—will turn to blood on the dry ground.’” (Exodus 4:1-9)[4]

I need to point out some interesting connections:

  1. Did you notice that Moshe “fled from the serpent” in fear and Elokim wanted him to overcome the serpent; yet in Genesis, the serpent ruled over man by trickery? We need to trust that Hashem has everything in His power! Interesting spin on this!
  2. There are (3) signs Hashem speaks of that will come into play. G-d is a G-d of patterns. Hashem gave three signs for the Pharaoh to see: The staff (serpent), healing of the hand and water turned to blood.

Let’s look a little more:

“‘But Moses said to the LORD, “Please, O Lord, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” And the LORD said to him, “Who gives man speech? Who makes him dumb or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, and I will be with you as you speak and will instruct you what to say.” But he said, “Please, O Lord, make someone else Your agent.” The LORD became angry with Moses, and He said, “There is your brother Aaron the Levite. He, I know, speaks readily. Even now he is setting out to meet you, and he will be happy to see you. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth—I will be with you and with him as you speak, and tell both of you what to do— and he shall speak for you to the people. Thus he shall serve as your spokesman, with you playing the role of G-d to him, and take with you this rod, with which you shall perform the signs.” Moses went back to his father-in-law Jether and said to him, “Let me go back to my kinsmen in Egypt and see how they are faring.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” The LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who sought to kill you are dead.” So Moses took his wife and sons, mounted them on an ass, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses took the rod of G-d with him. And the LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the marvels that I have put within your power. I, however, will stiffen his heart so that he will not let the people go.’” (Exodus 4:10-21) [5]

Do we sometimes feel as though we are not qualified to be called as Hashem’s servant?  We tend to forget Hashem doesn’t call the qualified. He calls those who are available and willing. Why do we limit Hashem’s power to perform miracles through us? He called Moshe by name, showed him signs, and yet, Hashem’s power was still questioned. We do not always trust the ONE who created us. Our Nefesh (flesh) cannot see or know what is spiritual because the Nefesh only knows what is carnal. It’s important that we place our Nefesh under our heel, allow Hashem to lead, and always trust Hashem ways are good. When we allow fear to rise up, we cannot function correctly; giving into the adversary (Evil Inclination).

How many times have we said to Hashem “I can’t do it, I am not qualified, send someone else?” Let’s be mindful and trust our Creator has a purpose and a plan for each and everyone one of us. Hashem loves and wants to bless us with great rewards.  I think Moshe felt very intimidated having a speech impediment, unknowingly to what he was actually doing; placing his problems above Hashem’s capabilities (pride).

When G-d “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart, in the Hebrew, “hardened” means to strengthen. Elohim didn’t want the Pharaoh to give up his challenge and just let G-d have His way out of fear. Hashem wanted Pharaoh to have a change of heart, to turn his direction to Hashem’s way, and to repent. Hashem knew Pharaoh would need the strength to able to stand up against G-d without feeling fearful. Hashem “strengthened/ chazak” Pharaoh’s heart. The difference is: G-d strengthened Pharaoh’s heart, and when Pharaoh hardened his own heart, he let pride and arrogance rule him.

The Israelites only experienced the first three signs, while Egypt experienced the last seven as well. The Israelites were given light; they were covered (protected) while Egypt was not under Hashem’s covering. Of course, the lamb’s blood and blood from the circumcised males were placed on the door posts for death to Passover. Pesach is one of the commanded festivals to be kept for all generations. Hashem separates before the in-gathering.

I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you…

Then the humble shall have increasing joy through the LORD, And the neediest of men shall exult In the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant shall be no more, The scoffer shall cease to be; And those diligent for evil shall be wiped out, Who cause men to lose their lawsuits, Laying a snare for the arbiter at the gate, And wronging by falsehood Him who was in the right. Assuredly, thus said the LORD to the House of Jacob, Who redeemed Abraham: No more shall Jacob be shamed, No longer his face grow pale. For when he—that is, his children—behold what My hands have wrought in his midst, they will hallow My name. Men will hallow the Holy One of Jacob And stand in awe of the God of Israel.”  (Isaiah 29: 19-23)[6]

We have worked through this Parshah. Hopefully, more connections were made. It is so humbling and amazing how much love Hashem has for us. It is hard to understand how a G-d with so much Power and Glory, WHO is full of Majesty, loves us with an indescribable compassion. Very humbling.

Shalom!

 

 

[1] Exodus 1:1-22, Sefaria

[2] Exodus 2:18-25, Sefaria

[3] Exodus 3:1-15, Sefaria

[4] Exodus 4:1-9, Sefaria

[5] Exodus 4: 10-21, Sefaria

[6] Isaiah 29: 19-23, Sefaria

Categories: Mikveh, Torah Portions, Women of Valor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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