Judaism places great emphasis on the proper use of time. For serious students there is practically no greater sin than that of bitul Torah—the wasting of precious time that could be devoted to Torah study and action. Successful people have effective time management techniques balancing the need to study, earn a living and spend time with their families. It should therefore come as no surprise that the first mitzva given to the Jewish people concerns the fixing of a calendar. To the slave, time had little relevance.
One of the great difficulties we often have is making a clear distinction between people and the ideas that they espouse. While one might reject an idea, we may not reject the person who espouses it. This is true even of ideas that we find offensive or heretical.
One of the central tenets of our faith is the eternal relevance and unchanging nature of our Torah. The Torah is not only Divinely authored, it is an autobiography of G-d, with each mitzva reflecting a different aspect of the Divine. By observing the mitzvoth, we emulate G-d, actualizing our Divine image. Because each and every aspect of the Torah is an expression of the Divine, our Sages (Avot 2:1) admonish us to be as careful with a “light” mitzvah as with a “heavy” mitzvah. Both are part of an integrated system.
The land of Egypt and the people of Egypt had undergone tremendous hardship and suffering. Their economy had been destroyed, their material possessions depleted and their empire shown to be vulnerable. While the worst was yet to come—the death of the firstborn—the mood in Egypt could not have been one of joy. No doubt an international aid effort was needed to help Egypt rebuild. And all this at the hand of a few Jews!
The devar Torah is sponsored by Caron and Steven Gelles and Family in memory of their Grandparents Sylvia and Sam Gelles and Martha and Louis Silver.
This d’var Torah is sponsored by Claire and Howard Glowinsky l'ilui nishmas Chanah bas Rachel a”H, their dear aunt who passed away early this week. May her memory be for a blessing.
In his opening comment on the Bible, Rashi links the Creation story to that of the Exodus. Working on the assumption that the Torah is primarily a book of law, Rashi famously asks why the Torah does not begin with the first law given to the Jewish people, that of establishing a calendar. “And G-d spoke to Moshe and Aaron in the land of Egypt. This month [Nissan] shall be the head of months, the first to you of the months of the year” (12:1-2).
“And Pharaoh awoke, he and all his officials and all the rest of Egypt. There was a great cry, as there was no house where there was no death” (12:30). If the Torah says that Pharaoh awoke, it must mean that until then, he had been sleeping. Clearly, the Torah is not interested in telling us the bedtime habits of Pharaoh or, for that matter, anybody else. All information in the Torah is there to teach us some kind of a lesson, be it ethical, legal, or inspirational. Thus, biographical information about our founders is often lacking.