In Loving Memory of our Dear Parents

Benjamin Assa & Rebeca Assa z"L

Parasha Beshalach

In Beshalach, the process of their liberation from Egypt continues, as the children of Israel battle external and internal threats to their freedom and advance toward the Exodus—to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Moshe takes along Joseph’s bones for burial in the Holy Land, in fulfillment of the promise made by the children of Israel at the beginning of their Egyptian exile.

Soon after allowing the Jews to leave Egypt, Pharaoh chases them wanting their return.

The Jews find themselves trapped between the sea and Pharaoh´s army. Their situation seemed hopeless. As soon as the children of Israel beheld the Egyptian army and no means of escape, they all did teshuva in their hearts and cried out to Hashem, asking Him for help.

As the mighty waves rolled towards them, Nachson ben Aminadav, leaped into the water first. Hashem commanded Moshe to raise his rod, yet it split only after Hashem´s shechina appeared to the sea.

The Bnei Israel walk through the sea, with the Egyptian army merciless pursuing them. When all the Egyptians had entered the bed of the sea, Hashem commanded Moshe to stretch out his hand so the sea would return to its natural course and drown all the Egyptians.

Moshe and all the Bnei Israel sing a song of praise in thankfulness to Hashem.

They travelled in the desert for three days. The Bnei Israel complain to Moshe and Aaron about the lack of water in the desert.

Miraculously Hashem converts the bitter water of Mara, into sweet drinking water.

Requesting for bread and meat, the Bnei Israel complain to Moshe “It would have been better for us to perish during the days of Darkness in Egypt.”

Hashem reveals to Moshe and Aaron that He would cause bread (Mann) to rain down from Heaven, and meat in form of quails.

The children of Israel are instructed to gather a double portion of manna on Friday, as none will descend on Shabbat, the divinely decreed day of rest.

Dasan and Aviram disregard Moshe´s warning and go out to collect Mann on the seventh day, but find nothing. Aaron preserves a small quantity of manna in a jar, as a testimony for future generations.

Then came the nation of Amalek, and waged war with Israel in Rephidim, the Amalekim are defeated by an army lead by Yehoshua and by Moshe´s tefilla.

Hashem said to Moshe “Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Yehoshua: that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heaven.”

 

Parasha Bo

Hashem commanded Moshe to warn Pharaoh about the eighth plague which He would bring upon all Egyptians.  And so with this, the last three plagues invade Egypt: a swarm of locustsdevours all the crops and greenery; a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land; and before the 10th plague Hashem told Moshe “this plague will be as destructive as all the other plagues put together. After this plague,” Hashem continues, “not only will Pharaoh allow you to leave the country, he will drive you out of his country.” At midnight of the 15th of the month ofNissan all the firstborn of Egypt are killed.

The first mitzva is commanded to the Bnei Israel:  to set the Jewish calendar in accordance with the monthly birth of the new moon, and to regard the month of the Exodus as “the head of the months.”

Hashem commands to offer a “Passover Offering,” while still in the land of Egypt.  A lamb or kid is to be slaughtered, and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelitehome, so that the angel of death could pass over each household when the plague of the first born will strike all Egyptians. All Israelites shall eat the meat on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan, roasted with fire, and with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 

This event shall be established a festival for all generations, Pesaj.

The Bnei Israel circumcise themselves and offer the Korban Pesaj.

Pharaoh´s resistance is finally broken when the death of the first- born strikes all of Egypt. He implores Moshe that the Bnei Israel leave immediately, and so their dough has no time to rise. Before leaving, the Israelites ask the Egyptians for all of their silver and gold and garment, thereby fulfilling the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would leave Egypt with great wealth.

The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children, with a multitude of flocks, herds and cattle.

Moses instructs them to observe the following mitzvot as commemorators of the Exodus:

Moshe said to Bnei Israel:   “On the 14th of Nissan every year, remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand G‑d brought you out from this place: no leavened bread shall be eaten.”

All firstborn should be consecrated to Hashem, in commemoration of Hashem´s killing the firstborn of Egypt and sparing the Jewish firstborn, this includes all first-born animals as well.

The tefillin should be worn as “a sign on your arm and a remembrance between your eyes,” as an indication of your commitment to Hashem.

 

SHABBAT SHALOM!! 

Parasha Vaera

Moshe protests to Hashem over the sufferings of Bnei Israel.  Hashem reveals Himself to Moshe and assures the newly appointed leader that the redemption is near, employing the “four expressions of redemption:” He promises to take out the Children of Israel from Egypt, deliverthem from their enslavement, redeem them, and acquire them as His own chosen people at Mount Sinai; He will then bring them to the land He promised to the Patriarchs, Abraham, Itzjak and Yaakov as their eternal heritage.

Moshe relays Hashem´s words to the children of Israel, “but they did not listen to Moshe because of their anguish of spirit and cruel bondage."

Moshe tells Hashem that the children of Israel have not listened to his words, how then will Pharaoh listen to his plea, he asks.

The Torah breaks in its narrative of Moshe´s mission to Pharaoh to detail the family tree of the first leader of Israel.

Moshe was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh

They repeatedly come before Pharaoh to demand in the name of Hashem, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.”  Pharaoh does not accept.

 

“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart then multiply My signs and wonders in Egypt,” Hashem tells Moshe and Aaron. 

 

Pharaoh repeatedly refuses. Aaron’s staff turns into a snake and swallows the magic sticks of the Egyptian sorcerers. Despite this, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to set the Bnai Israel free.

Hashem then begins to send a series of devastating plagues upon the Egyptians.

The waters of the Nile turn to blood; swarms of frogs overrun the land; lice infest all men and beasts. Hordes of wild animals invade the cities; a pestilence kills the domestic animals; painfulboils afflict the Egyptians. For the seventh plague, fire and ice combine to descend from the skies as a devastating hailWhen Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders had ceased, he sinned yet again. . . . The heart of Pharaoh was hard, and he would not let the children of Israel go, as G‑d had spoken through Moshe.

 

Perasha Shemot

 
This Parasha opens by once more listing the names (shemot) of the sons of Yaakov, the Tribes, who came with him to Egypt, where “the children of Israel were fruitful, and proliferated, and multiplied, and grew very, very strong; and the land was filled with them.”

When Yaakov´s sons were alive, the children of Israel prospered in the land which Joseph had saved from starvation; but after his death, and the death of his brothers there arose a new king of Egypt who did not know Joseph. When he saw the way Am Israel multiplied, he became nervous because he saw them more numerous and mightier than the Egyptians.

Threatened by their growing numbers, Pharaoh enslaves them and orders the Jewish midwives, Shifra and Puah, to kill all male babies at birth. When they do not comply, he commands his people to cast all Jewish boys into the Nile.

The Parasha continues with the narration of the birth, the rescue, the survival and the greatness of Moshe, the leader of Am Israel.

A baby boy is born to Yocheved, and placed in a basket on the river while Miriam, the baby´s sister, stands to watch from a distance. Pharaoh’s daughter, Batya, discovers the boy, raises him as her son, and names him Moshe, “he who was drawn from the water.”

As a young adult, Moshe leaves the palace to be with his Jewish brothers, and sees their sufferings and hardships.

He sees an Egyptian beating a Jew, and kills the Egyptian. The next day he sees two Jews fighting, when he reproaches them, they tell him that they saw him kill the Egyptian, and Moshe, scared for his life flees to Midian.

There he rescues Yitro´s daughters who were thrown inside a well. He marries one of them Tzipora, and becomes a shepherd of his father-in-law’s flocks.

While shepherding his sheep, Moshe led his flock far into the desert until he reached the mountain of Hashem, Har Sinai, where

Hashem appears to him in a burning bush at the foot and instructs him to go to Pharaoh and demand: “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.”

Aaron, Moshe´s older brother, is appointed to serve as his spokesman.

Hashem tells them to gather the Elders of the Jews to tell them that I will take the Bnai Israel out of Egypt.

The people believe since they are maaminim bnai maaminim, believers, sons of believers; but Pharaoh refuses to let them go, and even intensifies the suffering and hardships on the children of Israel.

Moshe returns to Hashem to protest: “Why have you done evil to this people?”

The parasha concludes with Hashem´s promise that the redemption is close at hand, and assures Moshe, “You shall yet see the miraculous punishments which I will inflict upon Pharaoh.”

Parasha Vaiji

And with the closing Parasha of the Book of Bereishit the narration of the life of the patriarchs concludes.

Yaakov feels that the end of his days are approaching, calls Joseph, his son, and makes him swear that the he will not bury him in Egypt, but in “Mearat Hamajpelah” next to his forefathers.

Yaakov blesses Menashe and Efraim, Joseph´s two sons, so that they will each be a father of a tribe in Israel, thereby elevating them to the status of his sons:

In blessing them, Yaakov places his right hand on Efraim’s head and his left on Menashe´s, crossing his arms, since Joseph had placed the elder Manashe to his father’s right. Joseph thinks that his father—who has grown blind in his old age, doesn’t realize that the elder son is to his right.

And Joseph said: “No father, it´s not like this, he is the first born!”

“ I know my son” Yaakov responded “he will also be great, but truly his younger brother will be greater than him, and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.”

And Yaakov blesses them with the beracha parents have been saying to their children for more than 3,000 years:

" Yesimej Elo-ím KeEfraim ve Menashe ...

Yaacov hands over the birthright to Joseph, granting him a double inheritance, and turning Efraim and Menashe into two tribes of Am Israel.

Yaakov bids farewell to his 12 sons, and blesses each of them individually defining their roles as respective tribes.

And Yaakov passes away and is honored with a historic funeral procession  The Egyptians, the people from Canaan  the servants of Pharaoh and his children bury him in Mearat Hamajpelah, as he wished.

Upon returning to Egypt, Joseph´s brothers fear that he will have a change in behavior toward them, and Joseph tells them, “...Fear not, for I will nourish you and your little ones...”

And that´s how it happened, they lived in harmony and abundance. 

At the age of 110 Joseph passes away, but before doing so makes his brothers swear that when they leave Egypt they will take his bones with them so he can be buried in the Promised Land.

And the Parasha concludes like this... 

“Joseph’s body is placed in a coffin to await the day of return to the Promised Land.”

 ¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !!

Perasha Vaigash

Joseph took Benyamin as a slave and said to his brothers,“Leave him here as my slave, and you may return in peace to your
father´s house!” Yehuda offered himself as a slave to the Egyptian ruler in Benyamin’s stead.


When Joseph witnessed his brothers´ loyalty to one another, he revealed his identity to them. But before doing so, he asked all of the Egyptians to leave the room so he wouldn´t embaress his brothers.


I am Joseph, whom you sold to Egypt” he said. “Is my father still alive?” he asked. The brothers were terrified and could not answer.

 

Overcome with shame Joseph comforted them “Do not grieve having sold me... for it is Hashem who sent me here, and it was not caused by you,” he calmed them.

 

It was all a Masterplan from Hashem to save us, and the entire region from famine.”

 

Pharaoh feared that Joseph would want to leave Egypt to return to his father.

 

So he sends wagons to bring Yaakov and his entire family to Egypt, and declares: “The bounty of the entire land of Egypt is yours.”

 

The brothers worried about how to break the news to their father that they had found Joseph alive and ruler of Egypt. They instructed Serach, Asher's daughter, to appear before Yaakov with her harp, “and sing a melody, stating that Joseph is still alive.” She obeyed and Yaakov blessed her with a long life for having revived his soul after 22 years of mourning his lost son.

 

Yaakov went down to Egypt with his sons and their families, seventy souls in all, and is reunited with his beloved son after 22 years. On his way to Egypt he receives the Divine promise: “Fear not, go down to Egypt; for I will there and make of you a great nation. I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again.”

Joseph gathers the wealth of Egypt by selling food and seed during the famine.

Hashem caused this great fortune to be gathered in Egypt in order to fulfill His promise to Avraham that the Jewish People would leave the country with great wealth.

 

Yaakov and his family settled in the land of Goshen and the children of Israel prosper.

 

Perasha Miketz

Joseph was 30 years old and marries Asenat, and they have 2 children: Menashe and Efraim.

Joseph oversees the implementation of his plan, so that when the years of famine commence, “There was hunger in all the lands but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.”

Yaakov, hearing that there is food in Egypt, sends his ten older sons there to purchase grain, but Benyamin, stays with Yaakov.

The brothers arrive in Egypt and come before Joseph, “And they bowed themselves down before him with their faces to the ground.” They do not recognize Joseph.

However, Joseph does recognize them and accuses them of being spies. They deny it and explain to him that they are 12 brothers and that they travelled to Egypt looking for food, they continue explaining that one brother stayed behind and the other one had disappeared.

Joseph asks them to bring their younger brother so he can believe them. And he detains Simon until they come back with the younger brother.

Out of compassion, Joseph cries in secret. And orders that all of the money that his brothers payed for food, should be returned to them.

When they reach Canaan, they tell Yaakov what occurred and he refuses to send Benyamin.

Finally he accepts and sends Benyamin, and they arrive to Egypt where Joseph receives them with a banquet. And to their surprise, they are seated by age.

And Joseph asks them for their “elderly father” and they answer him that he is alive and well.

Joseph left the room to weep........

And Joseph commanded Menashe his son to “Fill the sacks of these people with grain. Return each one´s money to his sack and hide my silver cup in Benyamin´s sack.”

 

On the following day Joseph sends his steward after them “Why have you paid back evil for good?” he accuses them. “Why, this is the cup from which my lord drinks, and whereby indeed he divines. You have done evil in so doing.”

 

“Search us and whoever has it will die and the rest will be the lord´s slaves.”

 

And they find the cup in Benyamin´s sack!!

 

They all approach Joseph and Yehuda tells him that they will all remain as slaves, Joseph does not accept and tells them:

“Only the man in whose sack the cup was found shall be my slave, and the rest of you may go back to your father in peace!”

Perasha Veieshev

Yaakov settles in the Land of Canaan, where he lived a brief period of tranquility. He gives Joseph, his most adored son, a multi-colored coat.

At the age of 17 Joseph has two dreams:

 . . . “Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and behold, your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”

Joseph dreamed the dream, and he told it to his brothers, causing jealousy and hatred towards them.

Then he dreamt another dream:

“The sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me.”

And once again he tells his brothers the dream and the envy and the hate increase.

One day, Joseph´s brothers go out to the field.

Yaakov asks Joseph to get them. When his brothers see him, they decide to kill him, but Reuven (the eldest), proposes they throw him into a pit with the intention of picking him out later.

And as soon as Joseph comes near, his brethren took off his robe and cast him into the pit.

Soon after, they see in the distance a caravan of Yishamaelin whose camels were loaded with spices and Yehuda, the leader, proposes they sell him to them, and that´s what they do, and Joseph is brought to Egypt.

And he is sold as a slave to Potifar, Pharaoh´s minister.

The brothers stained the multi-colored goat with goat´s blood and give it to their dad.

Immediately Yaakov recognizes it and tears his clothes, mourning Joseph without comfort.

The Torah interrupts its narrative by inserting here the chapter of Yehuda and Tamar:

Yehuda, Yaakov´s 4th son, gets married and has three sons: Er, Onan and Shaila. Er, marries Tamar, and dies. Yehuda asks Onan to take Tamar as his wife, so he can fulfill the mitzvah of yibum. Onan obeys, but also dies.

Time passes and Yehuda is widowed.

Motivated by intentions that were purely leshem shamayim, she provokes a relationship with him, and gets pregnant. She asks Yehuda to give her a pledge. Yehuda does not recognize her and gives her his signet ring, his cloak, and his staff.

**Yehuda did not recognize Tamar, for she had always modestly veiled her face in his house**

When Yehuda learns that his daughter-in-law is pregnant (not realizing it was his child), sentences her to death.

As she was being led out to be burnt, she proclaims

“ I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.”

Dismayed, Yehuda, accepts the truth, recognizes his mistake and saves Tamar. Tamar bears twins from this pregnancy: Peretz and Zerach.

Meanwhile in Egypt, Joseph prospers with much success. Potifar´s wife, fascinated by Joseph´s beauty, tries to seduce him various times, but Joseph on all occasions denies her. She, wounded and angry, falsely accuses him with her husband saying that Joseph tried to rape her, and they imprison him.

In prison, Pharaoh s chief butler and chief baker tell Joseph about their strange dream. Joseph interprets their dreams and foretells exactly what happens, and asks the butler that when he returns to his position in the royal court to mention him to Pharaoh´s so he can be liberated from prison.

The butler is liberated, but forgets about Joseph.

Joseph remained in prison for 12 years, from the age of 18-30!!

SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Vaishlach

Yaakov returns to the Holy Land after a 20-year stay in Charan, and sends angels to meet his brother Esav, hoping to make amends with him.

But his messengers return to Yaakov to yell him that his brother on the warpath with 400 armed men. Yaakov prepares for warprays, and sends Esav a large gift with hundreds of heads of livestock to make peace with him.

That night, Yaakov travels with his family and possessions across the Yabok River. However, Yaakov remains behind and encounters the angel of Esav with whom he wrestles with all night long. The angel managed to dislocate Yaakov´s thigh.

The angel gives him the name Israel, which means “ You have fought against celestial beings (Esav´s angel) and against mortals ( Lavan and Esav) and you prevailed. You are worthy of your father´s blessings!”

Yaakov and Esav meet, they embrace and kiss, and go different ways.

Yaakov purchases a piece of land near Shechem, whose governor Shechem, abducts and rapes Yaakov´s daughter Dinah. Shimon and Levi, Dinah´s brothers avenge the deed and kill all male inhabitants of the city, on the third day after their circumcision, at the height of their weakness.

Reuven interferes with his father’s marital life and loses his birthright.

 

The Parasha concludes when Yaakov arrives in Hebron.

 

 

SHABBAT SHALOM!!

Perasha Vayetze

On the following day Yaakov complains to Laban and this cheater and swindler proposes 7 more years of labor in order to hand him Rachel. And that´s what happened. And Yaakov loved Rachel.

Yaakov has 4 children with Leah: Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda.

Rachel, infertile, asks Yaakov to take her handmaid Bilhah. Bilhah gives birth to a son, Dan, and then to another, Naftali.

Leah stops conceiving and hands Yaakov her handmaid Zilpah. Zilpah bears two children, Gad and Asher.

Reuven brings for Leah, his mom mandrakes he had picked in the field so she could conceive. But when Rachel finds out, she buys the mandrakes from Leah in exchange “for the night” with Yaakov.

And Leah conceives a fifth son, Issachar. She then gives birth to another son, Zebulun, and to a daughter Dinah.

And Hashem remembered Rachel!! And she gets pregnant, and gives birth to Joseph!!

Yaakov announces his retirement to Laban, but when Laban sees how he has succeeded because of Yaakov´s labor, he begs him to stay. And Yaakov accepts.

After twenty years in Charan, Hashem appears to Yaakov and tells him that it is time to go home. Yaakov takes his family and possessions, and flees in secret.

Laban pursues Yaakov, but is warned by Hashem in a dream not to harm him.

And so Laban only asks him for an explanation as to why he ran away on secret, and claims some idols that have gone missing. And Yaakov (without knowing that Rachel had them) answers Laban: “Search us, for whoever took them shall die!”

Laban searches and does not find the idols, they bid farewell and they make a peace pact, to be attested to by a mound of stones.

Yaakov continues his trip back to his parents´ hometown after a 36 years of separation. And angels of G-d met him to escort him into the Holy Land.

Up until this moment 11 out of the 12 Tribes of Israel had been born.

¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Toldot

A famine forces Itzjak to relocate and settles in Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, which is within the boundaries of the Holy Land, where he presents Rivka as his sister. But Abimelech the king, discovers the hoax. Abimelej orders protection over Itzjak.

Itzjak becomes successful and prosperous.

The shepherds of Abimelech and those of Itzjak fight over the water wells. But Hashem blesses Itzjak and he decides to make a peace treaty with Abimelech.

Esav marries at the age of 40 to Yehudit and Basemat (goyim ). 

Already old and suffering from blindness, Itzjak decides to bless Esav so he can leave him his spiritual legacy. When Rifka finds out, she advises Yaakov to dress as Esav so he can receive the blessings.

Yaakov covers his arms and neck with goatskins to simulate the feel of his hairier brother, prepares a similar dish, and sends Yaakov to his father. Yaakov receives his father’s blessings for “the dew of the heaven” and “the fat of the land” and mastery over his brother.

When Esav returns, Itzjak realizes that he gave the beraja to Yaakov, and suffers from a great deception. But gives Esav another blessing.

Esav gets very upset and decides to kill Yaakov. But Rivka warns Yaakov and orders to him to flee to Laban´s (her uncle) home, and to look for a wife.

When Esav learns that his father is upset because he married goyim, Esav takes a third wife, Machalat, Ishmael´s daughter.


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