Parshat Shemot

Parshas Shemos

Almost half of my year here in Israel has gone by and there is still so much left to learn. My set learning program during the day has overflown into almost every free moment that I have. Sometimes the learning is hard but I end up plowing through it anyways because to me, this is my once in a lifetime opportunity to focus on my Torah studies.

I spend a lot of my free time reading various books on background of the Jewish people. I’m learning the simple meaning of the text in the Tanach thoroughly. I read the Hebrew text and then the English text line by line. If I see something that sounds strange or doesn’t seem to fit in with the texts I first try to determine what it means by myself. After my attempt or failure I bring the questions up to my Rav in yeshiva and receive an answer through him. Alongside the text itself I also read a book called The Bible as it Was by James Kugel. It’s a nice read and it offers the simple meanings of the text with various possible theories of what happened in between scenes in Tenach. Another book I am reading at the moment is Steinsaltz’s Talmudic reference guide. It’s a book that offers a detailed history and background on the oral law of the Torah. Alongside the history are the common Aramaic phrases found inside every Talmud with English translation followed by the guide to learning Talmud from scratch.

When I’m not learning or reading I am writing my Megilah for Purim. I started to get good at writing and spacing the letters nicely on each line of the parchment. By the time Purim comes around I’ll have a full fledged Megillah ready to read from. After I finish my Megillah I plan on moving forward onto mezuzas and tefilin. I hope to one day be able to write my own sefer torah and donate it to a shul.

This week my yeshiva is going on a trip to visit the gedolim of Israel. I’m excited to meet them and hear what they have to say and that is what I think this year is all about for me. It’s about gaining knowledge of my Jewish heritage and by doing so I am creating an appreciation for Torah studies.

I’ll conclude with a Divrei Torah. In this week’s parsha, Parshas Shemos, we learn a very important lesson for the Jews. The Pharaoh of Egypt hears a prophecy that there will be a savior for the Jewish people from slavery. Like any business man, Pharaoh didn’t want to lose three quarters of his workforce to a youngster that wasn’t even born yet. But when you know someone is better than you, you have to know when to throw in the towel. Pharaoh didn’t care because he wanted to keep the Jews as slaves and at the same time tried to prevent the prophecy from happening by killing male Jewish babies. It’s said in gemara sotah that although Pharaoh tried to kill the male Jewish babies Hashem thwarted every scheme of his. The more I learn about the Torah here in yeshiva the more I realize that we have many opinions to what actually happened in Tanach. We may not know the exact truth of everything that occurred but what we do know is that for over two thousand years nations, armies, groups, and people have tried to eradicate Jews from this world and no one has ever succeeded. The lesson is that the Jewish people will never be destroyed no matter how hard people will try. There is something special about the Jewish people and in today’s day and age of seeing is believing, I don’t know what else can make you believe other than Jews constantly being attacked, stabbed, and murdered in the light of day in our own streets of our land. However, we are still here and only get stronger every day. Thank you.

Student Studying in Mevaseret