Kahal Joseph Congregation

310.474.0559 / webmaster@kahaljoseph.org
10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

Rabbi’s Message

Rabbi Natan Halevy

Parashat Vaera 5783, BSD

Shalom U’vracha,

In the beginning of our parasha, Moshe comes to Hashem with a complaint. His first intervention with pharoah resulted in worse conditions for Bnei Yisrael. Pharaoh issued a new decree and refused to provide the Jewish people with the materials for their slave labor. They now needed to gather straw themselves before making the bricks. When they didn’t meet their quota of bricks, they were beaten severely. Moshe felt great pain at this unfortunate circumstance that followed his intervention on their part.

In addition, the children of Israel were upset with him for this situation. Moshe was caught in a hard place. He was dealing with tremendous hostility from pharoah who denied the existence of Hashem in an extremely brazen way. Pharoah refused to consider releasing the Jewish people who were constructing huge buildings, storehouses, and pyramids for him.

The redemption of Israel from Egypt begins in earnest after we hear of Moshes complaint to Hashem. Hashem says to Pharaoh, שַׂמְתִּ֣י פְדֻ֔ת בֵּ֥ין עַמִּ֖י וּבֵ֣ין עַמֶּ֑ךָ לְמָחָ֥ר יִֽהְיֶ֖ה הָאֹ֥ת הַזֶּֽה, “And I have placed this omen between My people and your people as a redemption; this sign will come about tomorrow.”

The Ben Ish Chai has a beautiful commentary about the Hebrew word, מָחָ֥ר, tomorrow. The letters of the word can be rearranged to create the number רמָחָ֥ (resh-mem-het) which signifies the 248 positive commandments of the Torah. The same letters also spell the word רחָ֥ם (rakham) which signifies Hashem’s love and compassion.

All Jews strive to fulfill the 248 mitzvot, or commandments, a task which is almost impossible. However, through the love and compassion that exists among many members of our people, we help each other. When taken together our strengths, gifts, and abilities complement and complete one another so that we may fulfill all  248 commandments. That’s why these two words are inherently related: to demonstrate the great connection between love in our nation and the fulfillment of the mitzvot.

The mitzvot, or commandments, of HaShem are an eternal connection with Him which we are able to tap into. They offer a wellspring of goodness which helps illuminate our lives and the world around us. The spiritual effect also increases the love we experience.

May we be blessed to internalize these lessons,

Shabbat Shalom U’mevorah

Kahal Joseph Congregation

10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
310.474.0559 / webmaster@kahaljoseph.org