The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, January 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Beshalach

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


On that note, a very special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my cousins, the Newmarks of Toronto on the recent birth of their daughter, Chaya Sara, the first great granddaughter to bear by Oma's name as we approach the first yahrtzeit. Mazal Tov to the extended Perlman and Jakobovits mishpachos.


At the end of the parsha, B'nei Yisrael defeat Amaleik in a battle, though the war is still not won. Following the victory, Moshe is told to instruct Yehoshua about the eventual destruction of Amaleik. Rashi (17:14) comments that here it was hinted to Moshe that he would not bring B'nei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael but rather Yehoshua would bring them in. However, the passage does not appear to contain anything pertaining to the entrance into Eretz Yisrael. Is it not possible that Moshe is just instructing Yehoshua because he is the general? Where exactly is the hint?

 

I suggest that when HaShem told Moshe "K'sov zos zikaron baseifer, vesim be'oznei Yehoshua," it is not simply referring to the words that followed but he was also told to relay to him the parsha of Amalek that we find at the end of Ki Seitzei, the text of Parshas Zachor. There it speaks specifically about the events following the entrance into Eretz Yisrael, (Devarim 25:19) "It shall be that when HaShem, your God, gives you rest from all your enemies..." Perhaps, there was the hint, that Yehoshua alone will witness those events and not Moshe.

 

This approach (that Moshe gave over the parsha of "zachor" at this time) is supported by Kol Eliyahu on this pasuk. He writes that Moshe was told to "place in the ears of Yehoshua" the proper pronunciation - zeicher Amaleik, as opposed to Yoav's erroneous mesorahzachar Amaleik. [As a side point, it was deciphered in Peninim MiShulchan HaGR"A that the GR"A himself is not the actual source of this piece but rather, it came from R' Chaim of Volozhin.]


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Happy 15th Birthday, Dikdukian!

Dikdukian: Exceptions Ahoy

Dikdukian: Mikdash, HaShem ...

Dikdukian: Leave us Alone

Al Pi Cheshbon: Chamushim

Daily Leaf:

:ל What to read on הושענא רבה

.ל"א What to read on חנוכה

.ל"א The reading for מחר חדש


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Friday, January 7

The Weekly Shtikle - Bo

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


When Moshe comes to warn Paroah about makas bechoros, he declares (11:5) that all the firstborn in Mitzrayim shall die, from the firstborn of Paroah who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the handmaiden who sits behind the millstones. There is a slight discrepancy, however, between this pasuk and the pasuk dealing with the plague itself. There (12:29) we are told that in the middle of the night, HaShem smote all the firstborn in the land of Mitzrayim, from the firstborn of Paroah who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon. Here the handmaiden is substituted for the captive.

 

Rabbi Raphael Davidovich of Cleveland, OH once showed me a nice explanation from the sefer HaKesav vehaKabalah. He writes that many commentaries say that the handmaiden and the captive are one and the same. The Egyptians would capture women and have them do work during the day. At night, since they were not doing work, they locked them up in their cells. He adds when Moshe came to Paroah to warn him about the plague, it was daytime so then he referred to them as the handmaidens that sit behind the millstone. But the actual plague took place at night so the Torah refers to them as the captives in the dungeon.

 

Another explanation can be suggested based on what Rashi expresses numerous times –  that Moshe took a deliberately overly respective tone with Paroah. Moshe referred to them as handmaidens so as to go along with the impression that these women were graciously being provided employment. But the narrative account of the actual plague reveals the true nature of their plight as prisoners who are subjugated by day and subjected to confinement at night.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Talented Locusts

Dikdukian: Better not Butcher This One

AstroTorah: Korban Pesach in the Sky by R' Ari Storch

AstroTorah: The Death Star (Ra'ah) the classic by R' Ari Storch

 

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Friday, December 31

The Weekly Shtikle - Va'eira

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


This past Shabbos marked the beginning of a new cycle of the Mishnah Yomis program which I encourage everyone to try. With two mishnayos per day, the entire shas is covered in under 6 years. There is a beautiful thought on one of the mishnayos this week which, while perhaps better suited for next week's parsha, is certainly appropriate for this week's as well.

The last mishnah of the first perek features the famous passage from R' Elazar ben Azaria which most will at least be familiar with from the hagaddah. "Behold I am like 70 years old and never merited that the exodus from Mitzrayim should be mentioned at night until Ben Zoma interpreted the pasuk…" This begs the question: If R' Elazar had no scriptural reference for his position, what was in fact the reasoning behind it?

Meiri understands that the position of the chachamim is based on the fact that the exodus concluded in the morning when B'nei Yisrael actually left. R' Elazar, however, holds that since the final exodus actually began at night with makas bechoros and the korban Pesach, we should mention it at night as well. It seems that the real message behind R' Elazar's position is that it is not sufficient to simply appreciate the end result of our deliverance from Mitzrayim. It is necessary to appreciate each step and the miracles that HaShem brought in order to finally break us free. In the context of the recitation of Shema, this is confined merely to the events of the night before. But certainly, on a broader scale, beginning with the events of this week's parsha, we must appreciate each component – each plague, each miracle – individually, not just as a means to an end.

Have a good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Plurals and Singulars

Dikdukian: Netziv and the Missing Yud

Dikdukian: The Strange thing about Frogs

Dikdukian: Dikdukei Va'eira by Eliyahu Levin

Dikdukian: Leshon Yachid veRabbim by Eliayhu Levin

DailyLeaf:

.י"ד The Most Effective Rebuke

.ט"ו Magic Number 48

 


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

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Friday, December 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemos

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


At this beginning of this week's parsha, Shifrah and Puah are faced with the daunting challenge of defying Paroah's orders to kill all firstborn males. It is stated in the pasuk (1:17) "And the midwives feared the Lord and they did not do as they had been commanded by Paroah and they let the children live." It is interesting that their actions are classified as fearing HaShem. It could have simply been an act of defiance. Perhaps it was an act of emotion ‑ they couldn't bring themselves to kill the babies. However, we do find that this situation is a halachic matter. The gemara (Sanhedrin 72b) asserts that it is forbidden to terminate the life of one in order to save the life of another. Shifrah and Puah's lives were certainly at stake. In a bad moment, Paroah could easily have terminated them for disobeying his orders. Nevertheless, they knew that it was forbidden for them to take one life to save their own ‑ certainly to take many. The Torah goes out of its way to make it clear that this was not simply an emotional decision that Shifrah and Puah made. It was a decision to do the right thing according to the letter of the law no matter what fate would befall them.

 

There is another interesting nuance in this pasuk. The midwives were commanded to let the females live but to murder the males. However, the pasuk concludes, "vatechayena es hayeladim." The word yeladim is the generic gender‑non‑specific word for children. The phrase "vatechayena es habanim" would have been more appropriate. Surely, this pasuk speaks of something deeper.

 

Paroah had sinister plans for B'nei Yisrael that certainly went beyond killing the baby boys. Although he allowed the girls to live, he surely did not want for them to have any sort of Jewish upbringing. As with every other adversary we have faced, Paroah had a disdain for the Jewish identity and wished to strip it from us. That the midwives defied his decree is already clear by the words "velo asu ka'asher diber aleihen melech Mitzrayim." The end of the pasuk is actually completely superfluous. Rather, it does not at all pertain to Paroah's actual decree. Shifrah and Puah did not only let the babies live. They gave them life. We are taught in the gemara (Sotah 11b) that Shifrah and Puah were really pseudonyms for Yocheved and either Miriam or Elisheva (Aharon's wife.) Not only were these women responsible for letting the baby boys live, they were responsible for building the future of Klal Yisrael. They defied Paroah in ways he never even knew. Surely, their heroism and sacrifice gave life to all the children ‑ the girls as well as the boys. Thus, the pasuk does conclude "vatechayena es hayeladim."

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Mishnah Yomis

Dikduian: Bas Paroah
DikduianFrom the Children of the Hebrews
DikduianThe Strange Thing about Straw
DikduianAffliction
DikduianRaamseis

Dikduian: Dikduk Observations on Shemos by Eliyahu Levin

Daily Leaf:

:עד דלא ידע ז

:י"א The Man Who's Been Through It All

.י"ב Delayed Response?

.י"ג Provisional Beauty

.י"ג Provincial Beauty II

.י"ג Weight a Minute

 


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Friday, December 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

Yesterday, 12 Teves, was the 14th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisrael. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


One of the more intriguing episodes in this week's parsha is that of the blessings given to Efrayim and Menasheh and all of the dialog that surrounds it. Nearly every child learns in school about Yaakov crossing his arms as he placed his right hand on Efrayim (although, according to Rabbeinu Bachye, he actually switched the position of the children.) The pasuk (48:14), however, recounts that Yaakov switched his hands "ki Menasheh habechor," because Menasheh was the first born. This phrase seems superfluous. Some commentaries (Ibn Ezra, Riv"a, Chizkuni) simply understand ki as "despite." He placed his right hand on Efrayim despite the fact that Menasheh was the firstborn. Chizkuni (as well as Rosh) offers another approach. Yaakov crossed his hands rather than just moving the children. Since Menasheh was indeed the firstborn, and so in order to still accord him some respect, he did not move his position.

Ohr HaChayim offers yet another interesting interpretation. Yaakov's sight had diminished and he was not able to discern on his own between the two children. It was because Menasheh was the firstborn that he knew Yosef must have placed him to his right. So that is indeed the reason he needed to switch his hands.

According to the flow of the pesukim, Yoseif objects to his father's hand placement after he delivers his famous blessing to the children. Why did he wait to object and not speak up right away? Interestingly, a number of commentaries (Ha'ameik Davar and Radak) actually understand that this exchange in fact occurred before the berachah was given. Ashich explains that initially, Yoseif saw this and assumed that Yaakov would give a special berachah to Efrayim and he was fine with that. However, after hearing that the berachah covered both children generally, only then did he believe that his father might have erred so it is only then that he objected.

Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.


Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: You Make the Call: Aveil Mitzrayim

Daily Leaf:

            Ta'anis :כ"ז Similar Raffles

            Megilah: .ב No More, No Less

.ג What makes a Navi?


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Friday, December 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayigash

Yesterday, 5 Teves, was the 44th yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Israel Frankel, a"h. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel Aryeh ben Asher Yeshayahu.

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


I have always found parshas Vayigash to provide many fascinating insights into politics and governing. More specifically, there are some ideas and concepts which are subjects of modern-day discussion which may very well have been established by Yoseif himself. At the very least we do find him bringing these ideas to light, even if he didn't invent them. Yoseif institutes a rigid, flat 20% tax across the board. The flat tax has been debated in the United States but is actually in place in one way or another in 29 independent nations.

By the end of the parsha, the citizenry of Egypt have relinquished the ownership of all of their property to the state in order to be fed and stay alive. This would not be considered eminent domain as it wasn't technically forced upon them. But is this the introduction of communism? Yoseif also puts in place a system of religious or priestly exemption from taxation. This would have immediate benefit for his own family as it provided an exclusion for the tribe of Levi from the subsequent subjugation. But it is also a concept that our religious institutions benefit from today.

However, a similar thought came to me in last week's parsha, as well, one that ties in directly with current events. It would seem that Yoseif was also the pioneer of the idea of national strategic reserves. Ironically, just two weeks ago, the United States (in a decision attributed to another Joseph, lehavdil,) released some of its Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to address a supply shortage. Just days later, Canada followed suit and tapped into their own strategic reserve… of maple syrup (not a joke.)

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon / Dikdukian: Can you count to 70?

Dikdukian: Pain in the Neck

Dikdukian: Just Do It!

Dikdukian: Ram'seis

Dikdukian: Dikdukei Vayigash by R' Eliyahu Levin

Daily Leaf: :כ"א Death Frequency

.כ"ב Righteous Clowns

:כ"ז Similar Raffles

 


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The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

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Friday, December 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Chanukah

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


Everyone is surely familiar with the miracle of the oil, which we commemorate on Chanukah.  The Chashmonaim found only enough oil for one day (not even enough for one day according to She'iltos d'Rav Achai) but the oil lasted for eight days.

This was not, however, the first miracle with oil in Jewish history. For the haftarah of parshas Vayeira, we read about another miracle with oil. In Melachim II (perek 4) a poor woman (the widow of Ovadiah HaNavi, according to Midrash Tanchuma) comes to Elisha HaNavi in dire need. She is deeply in debt and the creditor is threatening to take her kids as slaves for payment.  Her only source of income was selling oil. Elisha tells her to borrow some jugs, close her door and pour the oil into those jugs. Miraculously, the oil multiplied to fill all of the jugs and she was able to sell the oil and pay off her debts.

The question that occurred to me as we read this haftarah was, why is it that the miracle of Chanukah occurred in the specific manner in which it did? Why did the oil last extra-long instead of multiply like it did in Elisha's case? As you traverse the many answers to the famous question of the Beis Yosef, indeed a number of analyses of the miracle might understand that the oil did in fact increase very slowly. But I have a suggestion of my own.

The initial miracle of Chanukah, the unlikely military victory over the Syrian Greeks, was particularly noteworthy because we were so vastly outnumbered. In Al HaNisim, we make specific mention of "rabim beyad me'atim," HaShem brought the many to defeat at the hands of the few.  The theme of this miracle is quality over quantity. As Yonasan declared when he and his armourman single-handedly took on a band of Pelishtim (Shmuel I 14:6), HaShem does not discern between many and few when granting salvation to His noble servants. The quality of character and the nobility of purpose were all the Chashmonaim needed to defeat the Greeks. Therefore, rather than increase the quantity of the oil that was found, it was that miniscule measure of oil which lasted the necessary eight days. The miracle of the oil was specifically orchestrated in a similar manner to the miracle of the war.

Have a Chanukah samei'ach, good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Clear the Halls (Chanukah)

Dikdukian: Na'asah Nes

Dikdukian: Who's agitating my dots?

Dikdukian: Be Strong

Dikdukian: Just Do It!

Dikdukian: You Make the Call: Ukra'ahu

Dikdukian: Dikdukei Mikeitz veChanukah by Eliyahu Levin

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