Shalom Wonderful Readers!

Welcome to my first parsha post!

This Shabbos, the parsha is Shemot, also the beginning of sefer Shemot.  We all remember the powerful “Chazak, Chazak, V’Nitchazeik!” we cried out last week, after finishing sefer Bereishit.  “Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!”  This reverberating, soul-stirring chant, precedes the grim rise of slavery in Egypt, that we read of in Shemot.  Interesting..

Chizuk, closely related to the word Chazak in Hebrew, is understood by Rabbi Yechiel Spero as “an indescribable combination of inspiration, strength, encouragement, and comfort”.  And perhaps this is just what we need, before we plod through our dark exile.  Perhaps the “Chazak, Chazak” cry is calling out a lesson to us.  We need our strength, and we need to understand Hashem’s love and comfort, to survive through the heavy times we experience today.

Hashem is always our source of Chizuk, whether He bestows it directly, or through a messenger.  “V’im ruchi g’viati, Hashem-li v’lo ira – Hashem is always with me, and I shall not be afraid” as we say in Adon Olam.

The beginning of this collection of chiddushim, was inspired by a Torah comment by the great Rabbi Bechaya ibn Pekuda (may it be an Ilui Neshama), which I will now share:

“Go and gather the elders of Israel, and say to them:  The Lord, G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, has appeared to me, and said:  ‘I have surely remembered you and what is being done to you in Egypt.'” (Shemot 3:16)

{Rabbi Bechaya’s comment}  “I have surely remembered you – Pakod P’kadti”:

“This is repetitive, ‘pakod p’kadti’.. but of course, it comes to teach us something.

It is in fact two expressions.  The first time it is used in the pasuk, alludes to Hashem’s remembrance of the Jewish People.  He hasn’t forgotten His Children, and He will soon help us out of the quagmire of dark and galus that we have sunk into.  Our loving Father, our wonderful Avinu, will help us through our nisyonos, and help us to grow.

And the second word “p’kadti” alludes to the Shechina.  Hashem will remember the Shechina, and bring Her up too.   The Shechina?  What does this mean?  The Shechina is a manifestation of Hashem, and part of Him..  How is the Shechina down in Egypt, that She must be brought up too?

To understand how the Shechina ‘got down’ to Egypt in the first place, let’s go back to the event of Yaakov journeying down to Egypt, to reunite with his long-lost son Yosef, and to dwell with his family in a place of sustenance, in Parshas Vayigash.  Before leaving Eretz Canaan, his home, Hashem spoke to Yaakov in a dream, saying: “Anochi airaid imcha Mitzrayim v’Anochi a’alcha gam-aloh – I Myself will go down with you (to Egypt) and I Myself will also bring you back” (Bereishis 46:4).  At this time, Hashem promised the Shechina will always be with us, wherever we go.”

(Some say that this is what the morning blessing “otair Yisrael b’tifarah – Who has crowned Israel with glory” means.  The glory of Hashem that is bestowed upon us, is the glory of His Divine Presence, the Shechina, that is constantly above us– a great blessing upon the Jews!)

When things get difficult, when we feel that we don’t have the strength to go on, when we feel like we’re being tossed into a storm that will never end… Never fear!  Hashem is our might and our strength!  Hashem is our glory!  Hashem is the ultimate Comforter.

Hashem is always with us, and we’re going to make it through– Together!

The Messenger Bird