“A Shul with a Story” — Aish Hatorah St. Louis: Changing the World, One Jew at a Time — by Judy Waldman, The Jewish Press, 23 February 2020

We hope you enjoy this story about Aish St. Louis that was written in memory of Kalman Packouz zt’l.

“While I considered Kalman a dear friend, I think everyone who ever met him probably felt the same way. That’s who Kalman was.  The Jewish Press has 100,000 subscribers. Hopefully our fellow Yidden reading about Kalman will elevate his neshama. Enjoy the article and please do just one more act of chesed today in memory of Kalman Moshe ben Avigdor” — Judy Kalman

Click to read the story, Page 1 and Page 2.

 

The Rabbi Noah Weinberg Memorial Lecture — Kivi Bernhard video

We hope you enjoy this video of Kivi Bernhard that was taken during The Rabbi Noah Weinberg Memorial Lecture, dedicated by the Axelbaum Family in memory of Jerry Axelbaum a”h.
His topic was Speaking of Jewish! The journeys of living loud and proud as a Jew while keynoting to Fortune 500 corporations across the globe and how they see us.  

 

Aish Hatorah Low Budget Productions presents Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald’s Yom Kippur Questions

Season 1, Episode 4
“Yom Kippur Questions that I’ve
been pondering”

Aish Hatorah Low Budget Productions Presents Opportunities for Insight & Growth with Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald (3)

Season 1, Episode 3
“Do You Have Questions About the
Rosh Hashanah Service?”

Aish Hatorah Low Budget Productions presents Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald’s Opportunities for Wisdom & Growth

Season 1, Episode 1                                        Season 1, Episode 2
“What We Are Praying For and                   “A Prayer and A Rocket”
Why We Are Addressed”

 

 

 

Shabbat Shalom Weekly

Torah Portion: Shemot (Exodus 1:1 – 6:1)

Tevet 25, 5781

Mystical Tour

Limitations and Definitions
by Rabbi Max Weiman
Every proper noun in the Torah has a meaning. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means boundaries. Consequently, we understand that the exile in Egypt, and subsequent Exodus, was all about boundaries and limitations. We weren’t able to serve the Creator because we were enslaved. We were limited.
The Hebrew name of the second book of the Torah is not Exodus, but Shmot, which means “names.” A name also limits something by defining what it is. But that type of limitation allows the object to fill its potential. When you know what a pen is, it helps you use it to its fullest capacity.
As a nation, the people of Israel lacked a “definition” – until the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. We were missing a true goal and purpose of existence. It was only when we were released from the physical place of boundaries and limitations — Egypt — were we able to receive our purpose.  This is not just a historical event, but a metaphor for all time. When you are able to release yourself from perceived limitations, you can access a higher purpose.
PERSONAL SACRIFICE
Because the midwives in Egypt were willing to put themselves in danger to save the babies from death, they were rewarded with blessings. Also, their accomplishments were blessed, as the children of Israel increased in number and strength.
Similarly, Moses took his life into his hands by killing an Egyptian taskmaster. The Torah highlights this character trait of Moses because it is an essential leadership trait. Many people act heroically as long as things turn out the way they want. But give them a setback, they will say, “I stuck my neck out once and got burnt. I’m not doing that again.”
Moses noticed that the children of Israel were ungrateful and gossiped about his deed, which got him into trouble with the authorities. But instead of having a bad attitude, the next time he saw someone in trouble (the daughters of Yitro fighting for water at the well), he stuck his neck out again.
PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
When Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, saw baby Moses in the Nile, she knew there was no way to reach him. She wanted to save him but recognized her limitation. So she did something that makes no sense. She reached out for him anyway.
The verse says something superfluous: “She sent forth her maidservant to get the child.” Maidservant in Hebrew is the same word as “her arm.” The Midrash says that the verse means she sent forth her arm. What does this mean?
The Midrash explains that when Batya made the fruitless effort of stretching out her arm to retrieve a baby that was far out of reach, her arm miraculously extended and she was able to reach it.
On a prior occasion, God took Abraham outside, showed him the stars, and asked him to count them. Then God said, “So shall be your children.” What did God mean by this? If he merely meant, as it seems, that Abraham would have many progeny, why the big drama of taking him outside and counting the stars?
Rabbi Noah Weinberg explains that when God told Abraham to go outside and count the stars, Abraham did just that. He went out and started to count, “One, two, three…” Of course it’s a fruitless attempt — there are billions of stars! But if God said to do it, that’s what Abraham will do.
God’s blessing was “So shall be your children” — i.e. your progeny will be just like you. They will do the will of the Almighty, despite seemingly impossible physical limitations. When Abraham did that, God gave him the ability to have a child, seemingly beyond Abraham’s physical capabilities.
This week, look for opportunities to question your seeming physical limitations. Find an instance when doing the right thing involves some type of barrier, and try to do it anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Shem MiShmuel

The Three Sins
by Rabbi Zvi Belovski
When God spoke to Moshe at the burning bush, Moshe was concerned that klal Yisrael, crushed by the terrors of the Egyptian slavery, would not believe that he was to be the agent of God who would bring about their redemption: Moshe answered and said, “But they won’t believe me, and they won’t listen to my voice, for they will say that God did not appear to you.” (Shemos 4:1)
God thus provided Moshe with three signs, miracles he could perform at will before the people to convince them that he really was the man to lead them out of Egypt. The first sign was a stick that Moshe would throw to the ground, where it would change into a serpent. When he grasped the serpent by the tail, it reverted to a stick. The second was that when Moshe thrust his hand into his breast, it contracted leprosy. When he returned it to his breast, it reverted to its healthy state. Finally, Moshe was to take some of the waters of the Nile and pour it onto dry land, where it would become blood.
DISBELIEF
Before analyzing these signs in any depth, let us consider for a moment why klal Yisrael needed them to convince them of Moshe’s authenticity. Why couldn’t they simply believe that he was the redeemer without this proof? We may first of all rule out the possibility that klal Yisrael doubted that God had the power to redeem them from their oppressors and thus needed the signs to prove that He was capable. This is highly improbable, as they had a tradition from their ancestors that God was omnipresent and powerful and would one day redeem them. In reality, their disbelief was prompted by a much deeper and personal motive. They did not feel ready for redemption; they knew that the exile had a specific aim, which they believed had not yet been realized.
THREE SINS, THREE GENERATIONS
To appreciate the underlying function of the Egyptian exile, we must go back in human history to three crucial earlier generations. These were the generations of Enosh, that of the Flood, and that of the Tower of Babel. Each of these generations had a particular spiritual function to fulfill: they were each given a specific proclivity for one of the cardinal sins, which they were to overcome, thereby perfecting the world.
In the days of Enosh, idolatry was invented. The Torah tells us little about Enosh, but the Rambam explains that it was in the lifetime of Enosh that people assumed that, since God had appointed the heavenly spheres to control the world, it was appropriate to worship them. From that error onward, the world slid into idolatry. Enosh’s contemporaries could have perfected the world by using their powers for good. Instead, they used them to introduce idolatry.
The generation of the Flood were sexually immoral. The Torah tells us the reason for their destruction: The world was corrupt before God… (Bereishis 6:11)  Corrupt — this is the language of sexual immorality and idolatry. (Rashi loc. cit.)
The great evil instigated by this generation was sexual misbehavior. Again, they had a particular proclivity for this sin, could have overcome it and improved the world, but failed.
Finally, the builders of the Tower of Babel are characterized, if not as murderers, at least as people with no regard for the sanctity of human life: If a person fell down and died, they paid not the slightest attention, but if one brick fell down, they sat down and wept, saying, “Woe to us! When will we bring up another to replace it?” (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 24)
So these three special generations failed to cleanse the world from the three cardinal sins– idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder — instead introducing and consolidating them.
The consequence of the Tower of Babel incident was that the world was divided into different nations. From this division, came the 70 primary nations and Avraham, the forerunner of the Jewish people. The Jews were to be the torchbearers of morality, in some way the conscience of the peoples of the world. As such, the 70 progeny of Yaakov and their descendants had to go into exile in Egypt to rectify the three cardinal sins before they could become the nation of God. They had to undergo a series of oppressive decrees to wipe out even the slightest trace of these sins left in their collective consciousness by the three earlier generations.
HAD THE TIME ARRIVED?
At the time of Moshe, only slightly under 210 years had elapsed since Yaakov and his family had arrived in Egypt. However, the exile was supposed to last for four hundred years, as God had originally promised to Avraham. The Midrash states: When he went and said to the Children of Israel, “You will be redeemed in this month,” they replied, “Moshe Rabbeinu, how can we be redeemed? Did not God say to Avraham Avinu that the exile would last for 400 years? Only 210 have passed!” (Pesikta Rabbasi 15:8)
This is why Moshe thought that klal Yisrael would not believe that he was the redeemer– they knew that they needed 400 years of slavery to achieve complete rectification for the sins of the three generations of which they were the spiritual inheritors.
In truth, the time had not yet arrived, for indeed the rectification was not complete. But another consideration had become relevant: klal Yisrael were sinking into the spiritual perversion of Egypt; they had reached the 49th level of tumah (impurity). If allowed to deteriorate further, their spiritual status would have become so bad that they would never have been redeemed. So God chose to redeem them at this stage in the exile, despite the fact that 190 years remained. They would succeed, despite the incomplete exile process, in the merit of the fact that they would eventually accept the Torah. Admittedly they still needed to rectify the faults that the exile had not purged, but this was now to be achieved at the Giving of the Torah.
UNDERSTANDING THE THREE SIGNS
Moshe feared rejection from klal Yisrael. God thus gave him three signs to perform before them, which would make them realize that He had decided to end the exile at this premature stage.
The stick turning to a serpent pointed to idolatry. It was the snake in the Garden of Eden who first introduced the rebellion against God which lies behind idolatry. The leprous hand corresponded to sexual immorality. We can see this from a punishment promised to immoral women: Because the daughters of Tzion are proud and walk with outstretched necks and fluttering eyes, walking and floating as they go, and with their feet they spit poison. And God will strike with leprosy the crown of the heads of the daughters of Tzion… (Yeshayahu 3:16-17)
Finally, the blood corresponded to the sin of murder. Thus, when Moshe performed these miracles, the nation knew that he understood their concern (that their rectification of the three cardinal sins was incomplete) and that God would redeem them nevertheless.
A SUBTLE DIFFERENCE
There is, if we look closely, a slight difference between the miracle of the blood and those of the serpent and the leprosy. We mentioned that after the stick was transformed into a serpent, Moshe turned it back into a stick. Likewise the leprosy — after his hand had become infected, he thrust it back into his breast, restoring it to full health. Not so with the blood. Moshe poured some water on to the ground, where it became and remained blood. We may suggest that the return of a miracle to its original state conveys a great meaning in our context — while there was a problem in that particular subject, it has been rectified, restored to its correct state. So the serpent and leprosy miracles, which symbolized the sins of idolatry and sexual immorality, indicated to klal Yisrael that the rectification had already been achieved in those matters.
Concerning the blood, Rashi tells us: Egypt worshipped the Nile, so He smote first their god and then they themselves. (Rashi, Shemos 7:17 et. al.)
Blood is the connecting force between the physical and spiritual, between life and death. Indeed, murder is called “bloodshed” — through spilling the blood, the connection between the soul and the body is severed, resulting in death. Once blood is spilled, it cannot be rectified, for we cannot bring the dead back to life. This explains why the blood that Moshe poured on the ground did not revert to water after the miracle was over: the blood that had been spilled and would still be spilled in the downfall of Egypt could not be undone.
Excerpted from Shem MiShmuel by the Sochatchover Rebbe, rendered into English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, published by Targum Press

Family Parsha

Meeting the Challenge
by Nesanel Yoel Safran
Did you know that the greatest leader in our people’s history was physically challenged? Moses, the one whom God chose to deliver the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery, had a serious speech impediment (Ex. 4:10). We can learn from his overcoming his life-challenge that we, too, can overcome ours.
“Foot in the Door”
“Forget it! I’m not going — you’ll have to go yourself,” Sue said with a frown to her friend, Jan, who had shown up at her door with her clarinet case slung over her shoulder like a soldier.
“What are you talking about?” Jan asked. “We made up that we’d go to band tryouts together.”
“I know, but I … changed my mind. I’m not trying out this year.”
“But why not? You love playing in the marching band.”
Sue sighed. “That was before I had my operation. Sure, I recovered, but in case you haven’t noticed — which I know you have — it left me with a limp, which makes me not exactly the kind of marcher that will make the school proud. Besides, there’s a new bandleader this year who won’t even remember what I used to walk like and give me a break. So, see you and good luck!” she said, closing the door.
But her friend’s foot got in the way.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Sue asked.
“I’m waiting for you to come with me.” “But I just told you I’m not going.”
“And I’m telling you,” Jan said, “I’m not taking ‘no’ as an answer. You’re a great musician and you walk just fine. So unless you want a red-headed, freckled doorstop blocking your house for the rest of the day, grab your flute and let’s get going.”
Sue knew that although Jan was just under five feet tall, she had a stubborn streak the length of a football field and even though she knew she’d be wasting her time bothering to try out, she reluctantly agreed to come.
Sue felt a bittersweet sense of longing as they arrived at the auditorium where the tryouts were being held. She watched all the hopeful, familiar faces chatting away, waiting for the new bandleader to come as they carted around their familiar array of brass, percussion and wind instruments. The only piece of equipment out of place, Sue noticed, was a wheelchair next to the faculty room.
“Jan, it was a mistake to come,” she said. “I feel so foolish, there’s just no way someone with a limp can hope to…”
Suddenly a hush swept through the crowd as the faculty door opened and a woman with leg braces spryly swung herself out and into the waiting wheelchair, which she deftly maneuvered to the midst of the speechless crowd.
“Hi y’all!” she announced with a winning smile. “I’m Mrs. Marshall, your new band leader. I hear we have a lot of talent in this school and I hope it’s true because when I roll in front of you as we parade down the football field I want to feel proud. Now everyone line up with your instruments and let’s see what you’ve got.”
Jan winked at Sue as they stood in line. “Still sorry I made you come?”
“No,” Sue smiled. “I think I might just make it after all. And … I’m sure glad you make a better friend than a doorstop.
Discussion Questions
Ages 3-5
Q. How did Sue feel at first about trying out for the band?
A. She was embarrassed about her limp and didn’t think she could make it.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She saw how the bandleader overcame an even bigger challenge and felt that she could, too.
Ages 6-9
Q. What life-lesson do you think Sue learned that day?
A. She’d felt that because she had a physical challenge, she had to put some of the favorite things in her life on hold. But a persistent, encouraging friend and a spunky, overcoming bandleader gave her a new perspective and a dose of courage to succeed.
Q. If it ended up that Sue didn’t make it on the band, would you think she had failed?
A. No. Once she decided to try and keep going with her life, she’d already become a big success — whether she made the band or not.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. How much of success do you think depends on attitude?
A. Nearly all. While there can be some genuine physical limitations, they pale in comparison to the degree one can limit oneself with a negative attitude — and liberate oneself with a positive one.
Q. Do you think there is any way that being challenged can be an advantage?
A. A primary tool for success in life is willpower. Willpower is built by facing obstacles and overcoming them. A challenged person has the opportunity to strive in a way others do not and therefore can hone their willpower to become a dynamo of successful living.

                                                                                      *   *   *

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet”
   — Anne Frank

 

                                                                                 *   *   *

JOKE OF THE WEEK

Finally, the first day of school. Moshe  was entering 8th grade. He turned to his friend Shloimie, to reflect on the year that was to come.
“So what do you think Moshe?” his friend Shloimie asked. “Lots of pressure on you. After all your dad was valedictorian, your mom was valedictorian, and even your sister was valedictorian.
Moishie paused, leaned back in his chair and said, “Looks like the end of an era!”


Send a Tribute!
A great way to send a greeting and support Aish!  Send a mazel tov, condolence or simply show your appreciation to a relative or friend with an Aish Tribute. It’s easy  — just call the Aish office at 314-862-2474 or email us at stlouis@aish.com. Donate any sum (we suggest $18) and we will send a card to your designated recipient and publish it in our newsletter.

Jewish Women’s Society Programs

Dear sisters,

Join me for this fun upcoming virtual class in January:

Monday, January 27th  8:00 pm   Pre-Tu B’Shevat Class.  More details will be sent shortly.
Zoom.us/j/9699246316   Dial in:  1-312-626-6799

All the best,

Mimi

For more information about The Jewish Women’s Society of St. Louis, contact Mimi David at mimidavid@aish.com

 

A Shabbat Message from Mimi… January/9/2021 Tevet/25/5781

Dear Sisters,

There is a verse in this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Sh’mos, that I believe is so powerful and motivating. The Torah tells us the whole story of baby Moshe in the basket.  Because of Egyptian policy, all Jewish baby boys were to be killed, so Moshe’s mother, Yocheved, placed him in a waterproof basket and sent his sister, Miriam, with it to the Nile. The Torah says, “His sister stationed herself at a distance to know what would be done with him.”  Miriam placed the basket with her baby brother in it into the Nile, and then she hid among the reeds and watched what happened to the baby.
Fast forward a few years to the time the Jews were traveling through the desert. After a short while of traveling, the inevitable happened and the Jews ran out of water.  Moshe is told to hit a rock, and that rock transforms into a wellspring of water.  This well was no ordinary water source.  The Medrash tells us that it was a giant boulder, with holes all over it to the point that it resembled a sieve.  Every time the Jews camped in the desert the rock would camp as well, settling somewhere in the middle of the camp.  Then Moshe would come and draw grooves in the sand with his staff, from the rock to the camp of each tribe.  After tracing 12 grooves, one to each tribe, water would begin to flow from the rock, filling up the grooves.  So much water would flow, that eventually the grooves became major rivers, and the Torah says one could ride a boat along the water!
Why am I sharing this with you?  Because our Sages tell us that the well that we had for 40 years in the desert was a gift to the Jews in the merit of Miriam.  What did she do to deserve such an incredible merit?  She waited at the water to see what would happen to her baby brother Moshe, and, in reward, she provided water for the Jews for 40 years.
Think about that for a minute, because it is a mind-blowing idea.  Miriam waited at the water to see what would happen to her baby brother.  She did something completely normal; any big sister would be worried and want to make sure her baby brother was safe!  (I know some teenage girls who would be thrilled if Egyptians came along and relieved them of their sibling, but even they would not want that to happen to a new baby!)  So Miriam does an act which is totally normal and expected in those circumstances; basically, she does something ordinary!  And her reward is outrageous — 40 years of miraculous water for the entire Jewish people.
Bottom line is this: We have no clue, literally no idea, how powerful our actions can be.  We can do something that we think is no big deal, anyone would do the same, and the ripples it creates can affect generations.  We can make a choice that is so simple it is almost mindless, and it has the power to bring blessing to an entire community.  We have no idea how important even a seemingly insignificant act can be.
This idea reminds me of the famous poem by James Foley:

“Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there’s little waves a-flowing, and there’s ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave have grown;
You’ve disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you’ve started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget,
But there’s little waves a-flowing, and there’s ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you’ve stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.”

― James W. Foley

Let us take time this Shabbos to appreciate the smaller, easier things we do.  We have no idea how much goodness we are creating when we do them.
Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Mimi David

PS —  Join us for this upcoming class:  

Wednesday, February 3rd, 7:30 pm   Challah Club Meeting — Aish Firehouse.  Social distancing in place, RSVP to mimidavid@aish.com and masks required.  Please remember to bring your trays so you can easily carry home your challah.

All the best,

Mimi

For more information about The Jewish Women’s Society of St. Louis, contact Mimi David at mimidavid@aish.com