Parshat Yithro 5770: What Compelled Yithro to Join B’nai Yisrael?

by, Moshe Burt

We learn that when Yithro had heard all that Hashem did for B’nai Yisrael, he left Midian with Tzippora and Moshe’s two sons and went to join with the Jews.

We are not absolutely certain as to whether any one specific event Yithro heard boosted him to circumcize himself and to go out to join the B’nai Yisrael, and if so, which exact event it was, or whether it was the sum total of all he had heard which convinced him to become a Jew.

In the sefer Ner Uziel: Perspectives on the Parsha, Rabbi Uziel Milevsky z’l writes on Parsha Yithro (p. 380-383) indicating that were Yithro to have come to join the Jews after Yetziat Mitziyim or after the cri’at Yam Suf, it would have been unlikely that he could have joined with the Jews due their concern as to what his motivations might be; i.e. whether he was anxious to be on a winning team, on the right side, not unlike many athletes who, when reaching free agency status, seek the best deal, to earn more that their peers, to join onto the team which has gone all-the-way. This concern for one’s true motivations in converting seems to this author to be why Rabbi Milevsky cites indications that B’nai Yisrael didn’t accept Gerim during the reigns of David HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech when B’nai Yisrael was at the zenith of prestige and power in the world. [...]  Click here to read more.

Parshat Beshalach 5770: Moshe’s Paradigm of Empathy: Applied Today?

by Moshe Burt

Near the end of our Parsha, we read “And the hands of Moshe were heavy and they took a rock and placed it under him and he sat on it.” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 17, posuk 12)

Rabbi Pliskin in Growth Through Torah cites a Rashi which states;

“that Moshe did not sit on a comfortable pillow, but a rock. There was a battle going on with Amalek and Moshe wanted to feel the suffering of the people. This, said Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, is a lesson in feeling for another person’s suffering. Not only should we mentally feel their pain, but it is proper to do some action in order to feel some of the discomfort yourself when someone else experiences pain. This way [through empathy] you actually feel his pain.” (Growth Through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, page 177, citing from Daas Torah, page 152)  [...]  Click here to read more.

Parshat Bo 5770: Tangible Darkness, Supernal Light and Jonathan Pollard — Revisited

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Bo is the one which, for me, annually relates to that crazy tune which played back “in the Old Country” a few decades ago, “Does Your Korbon Pesach Lose It’s Flavor Tied to the Bedpost Overnight?” (Actually, the real title to the song was “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?”)

Over the years, this author has opened with this nutty parody because it cuts right to the chase, to the very heart of our Parsha. That is the Mitzvot of taking the Korbon Pesach, applying the da’am on Jewish doorposts, the going up from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to “…a land flowing with milk and honey …” and the first mitzvah commanded of the National entity (B’nai Yisrael), the Kiddush HaChodesh — the sanctification of the New Moon and the relevance today of these mitzvot which relate to emunah (belief in) and yirat (fear of)Hashem.  [...]  Click here to read more.

Parsha Va’era 5770: Reconnecting the Jewish Soul

by Moshe Burt

At the conclusion of Parsha Shemos, Moshe and Aaron are confronted, upon exiting Pharoah’s Palace, by the B’nai Yisrael who are in deeper despair than before because of the increased workload, i.e. finding their own straw while the quotas remain the same, which resulted from Pharoah’s fury at Moshe’s first effort to secure their freedom and exit from Mitzrayim.

Our Parsha begins with the dialogue which Moshe Rebbeinu has with Hashem prior to again speaking to the B’nai Yisrael. And so, after Hashem rebukes Moshe for his complaint and reassures him that redemption is at hand, Moshe again addresses the B’nai Yisrael as to his meeting with Pharoah; [...]  Click here to read more.

Parshat Shemos 5770: Assimilation and the Evolution of Jewish Enslavement — Then and Now(?)

by Moshe Burt

To sufficiently comprehend the evolution of the enslavement of B’nai Yisrael in Mitzriyim, it would seem that one needs to comprehend the closed nature of the two preceding Parshiyot; the concluding posuk of Vayigash;

And Yisrael dwelt in the land of Mitzriyim in the land of Goshen, and they acquired property in it and… multiplied greatly

and the first posuk of Vayechi;

And Yaakov lived in the land of Mitzrayim for seventeen years…

We need to understand the gist of the Kli Yekar; that the Sh’vatim, the Am, knowing that they were to be in Mitzriyim for a definite period of time beyond their lifetimes thus perceived a permanence. Therefore, they adapted themselves to living in Mitzriyim long-term and were thus vulnerable to Mitzri “encouragement” to melt, to assimilate into Mitzri society, to work for the nation, etc. The B’nai Yisrael began to accumulate wealth, land, assets, material possessions as they grew in numbers from 70 souls to 600,000 during Yaakov’s 17 years in Mitzrayim, as stated in the Judaica Press Chumash volume 3 re: Parsha Vayechi.  [...]  Click here to read more.

Yaakov, The Sh’vatim and The End of Days

by Moshe Burt — Special Erev Shabbos Edition

This author heard a vort on Parshat Vayechi this past Thursday night at Mishmar which could be understood to amplify on a topic repeated on this blog several times over the past few weeks — that Jewish unity is prerequisite to bringing about a Halachic, Just State of Israel, the prerequisite to bringing about the Geula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption.

As he was completing his shiur on Parshat Vayechi, Rabbi Harry Greenspan said over a vort from some 40 years ago in the name of his Rebbe in Yeshiva University, R’Nissan Alpert z’l. R’ Alpert was a Shul Rav on the Lower East Side and gave shiurim at YU. It is said that he was the top Talmid of R’Moshe Feinstein, z’l. [...]  Click here to read more.