The Tenth Plague

B”H
erev 11 Nissan 5780
Motzei Shabbos Shiur

The redemption of B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) began on Shabbos, specifically, the tenth of Nissan. That Shabbos became known as Shabbat HaGadol. What was so special about the Tenth of Nissan? That day was when the Children of Israel were commanded to bring a lamb into each and every one of their homes. “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household” (Exodus 12:3, JPS 1917 Tanach).

Why was this the beginning of the Redemption for B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel)? Because the lamb was to be the first national offering, made by each and every family, for the sake of using the blood of the lamb as a sign, placed upon the doorposts and lintels of their homes. The blood would serve as a sign, whereby, “the L-RD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side-posts, the L-RD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you” (Exodus 12:23).

And, so, the tenth plague, the slaying of the first born, was not enacted upon the Children of Israel. They were spared, because of their emunah (faith) in H’Shem, that compelled them to carry out the commandment, regarding the Pesach lamb. They had been further commanded, “none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning” (Exodus 12:23).

“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, And shut thy doors about thee; Hide thyself for a little moment, Until the indignation be overpast.”

– Isaiah 26:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

Weekly Edition: The Heart of Truth

B”H

4 Nissan 5780

March 29, 2020

Lev Emes: The Heart of Truth

“Let us reason together.” – Isaiah 1:18

There is no cause for false hope. Our real hope is in H’Shem (The Name). While gaining a realistic perspective on what is happening in the world, especially in the U.S., where we live, we can still read accurate news, without feeling inundated by the conflicting presentations. Yet, more importantly, we should reflect upon where our strength derives from, in this time of national crises, and global pandemic. From the Source of Creation, all continues to flow, both the good and the bad. H’Shem, the Almighty’s Will be done. Irrespective of our weaknesses, we may turn to Him in the midst of the chaos. He will eventually bring order, healing, and renewal.

With Pesach approaching, a test of faith is upon us, concerning the commandment to remove all chometz from one’s place of residence. For Ashkenazi Jews, this includes kitnios, inclusive of various types of foods, such as rice and beans. While many consumers are stocking up on basic food items, if not resorting to hoarding food, we are cleaning out our homes from basic food items, that we consume throughout the rest of the year. This requires placing one’s trust in H’Shem, that we may be provided for both during Passover, and after Passover, when we will restock our own shelves.

“And the L-RD will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you” (Deuteronomy 7:15). “In any plague, and in any disease, in any prayer or supplication offered by any person among all Your people Israel – each of whom knows his own affliction – when he spreads his palms towards this House, oh, hear in Your heavenly abode, and pardon and take action. Render to each man according to his ways as You know his heart to be – for You alone know the hearts of all men – so that they may revere You all the days that they live on the land that You gave to our Fathers ” (1 Kings 8:37-40, JPS 1985 Tanach).

“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”

– Isaiah 26:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

daily meditation: Refuge

B”H

March 20, 2020

(24 Adar 5780)

“Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other begining’s end.”

– Closing Time, by Semisonic

As we close the doors behind us, and shut ourselves in for the duration of this plague, let us recall the night before our first redemption, when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of B’nei Yisrael.

We who placed our trust in H’Shem, by obeying His commandment to place the blood of the Pesach lamb on our doorposts and lintels, while sheltering behind those doors. The prophet makes reference to this event, while speaking of another day.

“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”

– Isaiah 26:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

The sages liken the final redemption to the first redemption. As Egypt was inflicted by ten plagues, so will the world be subject to an even greater set of plagues. Those of us who trust in H’Shem may seek refuge in Him, within the confinement of our homes at this particular time in history.

By turning our hearts towards Him, we prepare ourselves for the redemption that is at hand. Although this may only be a forerunner of the ensuing judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth, we shelter in expectation of our freedom, when Moshiach will reign.

Additionally, while our hunkering down during this time period, may also only be a prelude to a greater need to seek refuge in H’Shem down the prophetic timeline, we trust that He will safeguard us.

“He concealeth me in His pavilion [sukkah] in the day of evil; He hideth me in the covert of His tent; He lifteth me up upon a rock.”

– Psalm 27:5, JPS 1917 Tanach

Coronavirus Musings

B”H

March 11, 2020

Coronavirus Musings

I am beginning to feel a little bit claustrophobic. This is a surprising statement for myself to make, inasmuch that I am an introvert, recluse, and contemplative, not necessarily in that order. Yet, upon reading the news updates on the Coronavirus every day, I unexpectedly had a visceral sensation of claustrophobia, while sitting at my desk in my apartment.

Thank G-d that I am not on quarantine; however, I empathise with those who are. In particular, I am thinking of the New Rochelle community. Also, my heart goes out to New Yorkers, specifically those living in NYC, including members of my family.

If not now when? We can ask this in regard to the potential appearance of this plague in areas where there has been no outbreak. We may also ask this of ourselves, regarding our response to Coronavirus. As Fauci said, “It will get worse.” We need to be practical, realistic, and active.

Apparently, many if not all U.S. states are stepping up the response; this is a necessary stance to an invisible, yet formidable foe. There is no need to fear or panic; yet, it is important to recognize the scope of this threat, and act accordingly. I welcome these measures that are being taken across the country, in every state. It is as if up until now, after the WHO has declared a pandemic, I had not seen the type of aggressive rhetoric, concerning containment recommendations, including social distancing.

On another note, I am beginning to worry about things like, Will I continue to have a steady supply of bananas, purchased from the local health food store, or will banana shipments somehow be curtailed? A relatively small concern, compared to what most people might worry about, as well as compared to what I should be concerned about; for example, basics, like nonperishable food items and water.

Yet, my diet mostly consists of bulk food items; so, I am already prepared. Even so, man can not subsist only on oats, rice, and beans. I prefer to add apples, bananas, and roumaine lettuce to my list of basic food items. Nor, do I think that I could do without green tea or spring water.

It is no longer a question of What is the situation going to look like, two to three weeks from now; rather, it is a question of what changes in the response levels will occur in 2-3 days from now? Indeed, every day brings an increase in case positives, and immediate responses.

I would encourage everyone to be smart about preventative measures on an individual basis. I had already stopped shaking hands with others, about a week ago, despite not having seen others restrict themselves. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore, think globally, prepare locally.

“I will say of the L-RD, who is my refuge and my fortress, my G-d, in whom I trust, that He will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

– Psalm 91:2-3, JPS 1917 Tanach