Torah Weekly

For the week ending 21 January 2017 / 23 Tevet 5777

Parshat Shmot

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Overview

With the death of Yosef, the Book of Bereishet (Genesis) comes to an end. The Book of Shemot (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 Yocheved to fulfill that role. Years 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.

Insights

Cracking the Code

“They will heed your (Moshe’s) voice…” (3:18)

Nations spend megabucks on keeping their communications secret. But a code, however sophisticated, can always be cracked.

In 1939 it was generally believed at the British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park that the Nazi’s “Enigma” code could not be broken. Only the head of England’s German Naval Section, Frank Birch, and the mathematician Alan Turing believed otherwise. Using an embryonic computer and a lot of hard work, GC&CS managed to break “Enigma”. This resulted in a dramatic turn-around in the Atlantic War. Enigma intercepts helped the British to plot the positions of U-boat patrol lines, and adjust the routes of the Allied convoys to avoid them. Losses of merchant-ships dropped by more than two-thirds in July 1941.

“They will heed your voice…”

G-d assured Moshe that the elders would heed Moshe’s call because they had received a tradition from Yaakov and Yosef that the eventual redeemer would use the expression, “I have surely remembered.” (Rashi) The question remains: What if someone else “broke the code” and purported to be the true redeemer? What would stop him from misleading the Jewish People with disastrous results?

“It happened sometime later, in the days of the wheat harvest, that Samson remembered his wife…” (Shoftim 16:1) The word “remembered” here is “yifkod”, an expression of love and yearning — and it’s exactly the same word used by Yaakov and Yosef.

There was another dimension to Yaakov and Yosef’s code — and that indeed made it truly unbreakable: The Jewish People knew that not only would the true redeemer use the correct word – pokad – but he would ignite in their hearts a burning love and yearning for the G-d of Yisrael and the Land of Israel.

And that’s not something you can crack.

  • Source: The Kotzker Rebbe

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