Moses was on top of Mount Sinai for quite some time. The people grew impatient when he was “delayed in coming down from the mountain” (32:1), and they asked Aaron to make an idol for them. But why does Aaron tell the men, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives” (32:2)? Rashi explains that Aaron did this because the women will resist, not willing to give up their jewelry, and create a delay. This would give Moses time to arrive in time. More
You shall command the Children of Israel to bring you pure beaten oil for a light, to cause the lamp to burn continually (Exodus 27:20).
Abraham Saba (1440-1508), the Tzror HaMor, taught, “Israel is likened to an olive, which yields up its oil only when it is crushed, for Israel reveals its true virtues only when it is made to suffer.” This is not surprising coming from a rabbi who lived during the expulsion of Jews from Spain. More
“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among [within] them” (Exodus 25:8).
I found this teaching among my resources: Every soul is a chamber for God, a vessel that contains the divine light. This is the message the Hasidic masters repeatedly associate with the Tabernacle, built by the Israelites in the desert. The details of its construction are complex and vast, much like Ikea furniture arriving on your doorstep with the instruction: “Some assembly required.” More
Every Saturday, the Torah is read, and then it is interpreted by the rabbi. In the Torah portion, Yitro, the people receive the Torah from Mount Sinai. In this story, who do you suppose is the “Torah reader” and who is the “Torah interpreter”? Almost everyone responds that the Torah reader is God. And they would be wrong! More
“And the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt, and Moses took the bones of Joseph with him…” (Exodus 13:18-19)
What were the weapons that the Israelites took with them? Rabbi Moshe Meiselman, nephew and student of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, teaches that the armament was comprised of the bones of Joseph. More
And the Eternal said to Moses, Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; they saw not one another, nor any rose from his place for three days. But Israelites had light in places where they lived (Exodus 10:21-23).
But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that I may multiply My signs and marvels in the land of Egypt (Exodus 7:3).
This is one of ten references in this portion to either God hardening Pharaoh’s heart or Pharaoh himself hardening his heart. The rabbis taught that God was destined to harden Pharaoh’s heart to punish him for the 400 years of cruel bondage he imposed on the Israelites. More
Moses encounters God in a burning bush. God gives him the task to set the Israelites free. Moses is reluctant and asks God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His Name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13). God answers Moses: Ehyeh asher ehyeh (“I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be”). More
Jacob called his children, ‘Assemble yourselves and hear, O children of Jacob, and listen to Israel, your father’ (Genesis 49:2).
It is interesting that the children of Jacob are asked to gather and listen. They come together in order to listen to Israel and not Jacob. Why are both names used for our patriarch in one sentence? More
Why does Jacob hold on so tenaciously to the angel (Genesis 32:27)? Where once he held his brother’s heel for a free ride from the womb to the world, now he grasps the angel and demands a blessing. One lesson we draw from this is not to rely on miracles. The Talmud tells us, “One should never place oneself in a dangerous situation, saying, ‘A miracle will come and save me’” (Shabbat 32a). More