Torah Weekly

For the week ending 13 January 2007 / 23 Tevet 5767

Parshat Shmot

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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With the death of Yosef, the Book of Bereishet (Genesis) comes to an end. The Book of Shmot (Exodus) chronicles the creation of the nation of Israel from the descendants of Yaakov. At the beginning of this week's Parsha, Pharaoh, fearing the population explosion of Jews, enslaves them. However, when their birthrate increases, he orders the Jewish midwives to kill all newborn males. Yocheved gives birth to Moshe and hides him in the reeds by the Nile. Pharaoh's daughter finds and adopts him, although she knows he is probably a Hebrew. Miriam, Moshe's sister, offers to find a nursemaid for Moshe and arranges for his mother Yochevedto fulfill that roleYears later, Moshe witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and Moshe kills the Egyptian. Realizing his life is in danger, Moshe flees to Midian where he rescues Tzipporah, whose father Yitro approves their subsequent marriage. On Chorev (Mt. Sinai) Moshe witnesses the burning bush where G-d commands him to lead the Jewish People from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael, the land promised to their ancestors. Moshe protests that the Jewish People will doubt his being G-d’s agent, so G-d enables Moshe to perform three miraculous transformations to validate himself in the people's eyes: transforming his staff into a snake, his healthy hand into a leprous one, and water into blood. When Moshe declares that he is not a good public speaker, G-d tells him that his brother Aharon will be his spokesman. Aharon greets Moshe on his return to Egypt and they petition Pharaoh to release the Jews. Pharaoh responds with even harsher decrees, declaring that the Jews must produce the same quota of bricks as before but without being given supplies. The people become dispirited, but G-d assures Moshe that He will force Pharaoh to let the Jews leave.


Me And My Shadow

“I Shall Be As I Shall Be” (3:14)

Just as every movement, every flexing of our limbs and muscles is motivated by the living soulinside us, likewise all the powers of all the worlds, all their movements and their influences are motivated and affected by a vast chain reaction starting with man’s actions in this lowliest of worlds and ascending to the highest places.

In the book of Tehillim (Psalms) it says, “G-d is your shadow.”In other words, G-d mirrors our actions like a shadow. It was His Will that everything that happens in creation be governed by man’s behavior; the spirituality that radiates from the highest levels of existence shadows our individual choices. Every kindness we do ascends through all the worlds to the loftiest places. There it triggers a flux of positive spiritual energy that descends again through all the worlds until it arrives back in this plane. Every mitzvahrises to its highest spiritual source and causes a life energy that radiates throughout all the creation.

G-d is our “shadow.” He has committed Himself to run the world in synchronization with our actions.

In this week’s Torah portion, Moshe asks G-d. “Behold, when I come to the Children of Yisrael and say to them, ‘The G-d of your forefathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His Name?’ – what shall I say to them?”G-d answers Moshe, “I Shall Be As I Shall Be.”

If G-d is our Shadow, if He responds to us measure for measure, logically, His answer to Moshe should have been, “I Shall Be As You Shall Be.”I will shadow your behavior.

In truth, G-d relates to us in two ways: He mirrors our actions and radiates spiritual energy on this world in concert with our actions. Yet He is not tied to this mode of action. If G-d chooses He can override this principle and bestow positive energy even without man’s awakening from below.

Speaking of the final redemption, the Prophet Yishayahu says, (60:22) “I am G-d, in its time I will hasten it.”How can the redemption come in its time and be hastened?

The answer is if we deserve it, G-d will accelerate the process. He will be our ‘shadow.’ However, if we don’t, G-d is not constrained to respond only to our behavior, for He will deliver us eventually whether we deserve it or not.

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