Atlanta Jewish Academy

Atlanta Jewish Academy Blogs

Dvar Torah - Parashat Beshalach

written by: AJA 8th Graders, Matthew Kaplan and Daniel Mordoch

This week's parsha, is parshat Beshalach. In Beshalach, after Bnei Yisrael leave Egypt, they find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s armies and the sea. Having nowhere to go, Moshe splits the sea for Bnei Yisrael and they escape, as the ocean closes in on Pharaoh’s men. After Moshe and Bnei Yisrael cross the sea, they sing a song of thanks to Hashem for saving them. Then the parsha continues with the complaints and worries of Bnei Yisrael for water and food. Hashem provides the manna each day, except for on Shabbat, when the people collected a double portion on Friday. The people complain twice more, the last time ending with Moshe being commanded to hit the rock which then provides water for the people.

 

After יציאת מצרים (the exodus),  קריעת ים סוף (the splitting of the sea) and all the great miracles that occurred we wouldn't expect the Bnei Yisrael to complain. Yet they do. After the third complaint, when they complained for water, Hashem tells Moshe:

וּמַטְּךָ, אֲשֶׁר הִכִּיתָ בּוֹ אֶת-הַיְאֹר--קַח בְּיָדְךָ, - take in your hand the staff with which you hit the Nile. וְהִכִּיתָ בַצּוּר וְיָצְאוּ מִמֶּנּוּ מַיִם - and you’ll hit the rock, and water will come out.

The language used was very similar to when Hashem commanded Moshe to take his staff and hit the Nile before the plague of blood. Bnai Yisrael knew that the plagues came from Hashem - even though they were performed through Moshe. Here, Hashem commanded Moshe to take that very same staff and to replicate that. Hitting the rock in the same way as he hit the Nile is a way of saying: “The G-d that did all those miracles in Egypt? That’s the same G-d providing for you right now!” And it’s even more than that: This staff which was an agent of destruction, isn't just the weapon. It’s a tool of a G-d who loves you and wants to provide for you.

 

The Bnei Yisrael discover what they couldn’t see when they were suffering in Egypt. Hashem’s agenda isn’t about destruction… it’s about recognizing Him as the Creator. He loves us and cares about us. Hashem demonstrates that to Bnei Yisrael over and over again, with miracle after miracle. The first and most important thing they need to know as a nation is: hashem wants to have a relationship. -

He took them out of Mitzrayim, saved them from Pharaoh, and he gave them manna. This teaches us not to lose faith in Hashem; He is not going to just forget about us and He will always be there. We need to look for Him in our daily lives, which are miracles in their own right. It teaches us that in a situation where hope is no longer a factor, the one thing we know we can always count on is Hashem. Even if the way you think He should be helping you isn't what actually happens, one thing we can be sure of is He has our backs wherever we go!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thank you and have a good week.


   

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Dvar Torah: Parashat Bo

February 2, 2017
6 Sh'vat 5777

written by AJA 4th grader: Oliver Mason

This week’s paarsha is Bo. Last week the Egyptians faced the first seven plagues: blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, death of the animals, blisters, and hail. This week, the Egyptians face the last three plagues: grasshoppers, darkness, and the death of the first born. During each plague, Pharaoh told Moshe that if the plague stopped he would let the Jews go.

So Moshe prayed to Hashem to stop the plague, and Hashem listened. But when each plague stopped, Pharaoh’s heart hardened, and he did not let the Jews go. And so, Moshe brought the next plague. Finally, during the last plague, death of the first born, Pharaoh let the Jews go. Pharaoh made the Jews leave so fast that he did not even give them enough time to bake bread. Why did Pharaoh make the Jews leave Egypt so fast? Pharaoh made the Jews leave so fast because he was a first born, and he did not want to die.

A very important thing that happens in this week’s parsha is that the Jews are commanded to eat the Korban Pesach. If there were not enough people to finish it by the next morning, they should invite other people such as friends and neighbors to finish it. This week our school is having its first whole school Shabbaton, a chance for us to get together as a community just like the Jews in Egypt did when they ate the Korban Pesach for the first time. The Shabbat before Pesach is known as Shabbat Hagadol, when we, as Jews, remember the preparation of the Korban Pesach. Similarly, this is our “Big Shabbat” weekend together as an AJA community, a milestone shabbat that we will all remember.

Shabbat Shalom! Oliver Mason

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A Lesson Learned from Va’eira

written by Tali Feldman (GHA '06)

In this week’s Parsha, Va’eira, we begin to witness the beginning of the end of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt and, most famously, the introduction of the ten plagues. The story of Moshe, Pharaoh, and the Ten Plagues is one of the most recognizable storylines in all of Judaism, mostly because we read it every year around the Seder table. As the simplified version goes, G-d appears to Moshe and tells him that he is going to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land; but this comes at a large cost. Moshe, knowing Pharaoh is not going to listen to his pleas, asks G-d how this will actually happen. G-d responds by inflicting the ten plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, with Pharaoh only growing more and more stubborn with each passing plague. Eventually, Pharaoh is forced to give in, and we all know how this chapter of slavery happily ends.

We are typically taught that G-d used the ten plagues as a way to prove his power and might to the Egyptians. Essentially, G-d wanted to show Pharaoh who, exactly, he is messing with by keeping Moshe’s people enslaved for so many years. The Israelites, having been enslaved for hundreds of years, were also yearning for a sign from G-d that the end was near; but first, they had to endure Pharaoh’s stubbornness and ‘hardened heart’ after each passing plague.

These plagues came after hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt. The Israelites were exasperated and had all but accepted their fate. Just as the Egyptians saw the ten plagues as proof of G-d’s might, the Israelites also saw the plagues as a reminder that their higher power exists. This reminder provided the last sliver of motivation and guidance the People of Israel needed in order to push through.

In today’s world, it is almost too easy to get caught up in the world of politics, social media, and technology in general. In a time where the news is instant and it feels as though the world of politics and social media control our lives, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that there is something deeper and more powerful within us. Each person forms their own foundation to which they stay grounded, and this can always be there to serve as a reminder that there is something bigger, stronger, and deeper guiding us: our own morals.

For me, I try to ground myself by looking towards my own foundation of morals, which stem from my personal version of “my Judaism”. My strong foundation in Judaism largely comes from my experiences at GHA and growing up in Atlanta’s nurturing Jewish community. While I learned the importance of religion and the rules that govern it, I also learned valuable lessons in family, community, respect, and friendship. As I navigate through these next stages of my life, I always look back on my time at GHA as the period of time that formed the solid foundation for my life.

 

Tali graduated from GHA in 2006, and the University of Maryland in 2014. She will graduate from the University of Georgia in May 2017 with a Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology. 

 

      

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D'var Torah: Make Time

January 26, 2017

28 Tevet 5777

 

This D’var Torah was co-written and presented to parents and grandparents by our 5th Graders, Leora Frank and Mollie Glazer, at the Mishnah Day of Learning

 

The Tanna Rav Tarfon is quoted in Pirkei Avot teaches “Hayom Katzer Vehamelacha Merubah”- The day is short and the work is great!”. Time is something so precious and yet something constantly taken advantage of. Hours can just disappear. Days can disappear. And unfortunately, even years can disappear.

 

Jews take time very seriously. Our Torah begins with the words Beresheet Barah - “In the beginning,” while the Mishnah starts with the question, “From what time may one recite the evening Shema?”

 

The idea of making time קדוש, holy is one of the foundations of Jewish faith and practice. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the first Mitzvah given to the Jews as a nation was to create a calendar based on the cycle of the moon.

 

In next week's Parsha, Parshat Bo it is written  "And Hashem said to Moshe in the land of Mitzrayim החודש הזה לכם ראש חדשים, This month is for you, the head of the months.

 

This Shabbat will mark Rosh Chodesh Shevat ... a reminder of the Mitzvah!!

 

We have learned to make time part of our lives. At school, at home, at shul, when we go to sleep, when we eat, and when we wake up. Time is everything. Without time we would be out of order, unable to relax at any point in time. Time tells us when to do certain things. Time tells us when the חגים are and when they end. Time tells us when we have to leave for work, when we have to go out for recess, when to eat meals, and when Shabbat starts and ends.

 

Sometimes we wish we had more time to do things. Have you ever heard the saying, "Time flies by when you are having fun?” you probably have. When you don't pay attention, time goes by really fast. When you are waiting for a certain time, people say it takes forever to get there. 

 

Nowadays, we have clocks and watches. What do you think early people did to keep track of time? For example the Jews in the Torah. How did they know when a holiday started? 

 

This Shabbat we would like you to think about these questions and talk with your family about them.

 

The Torah teaches us how to cherish time, and make the best possible use of it, we being a “co-creator” with Hashem we are able to “make” time for what is important.

 

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Parashat Shemot

written by: Asher Lytton and Zelik Silverberg - Grade 5

 

In this week's Parashat Shemot, the first words are ”ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה” - “these are the names of the sons of Jacob who are coming to Egypt”.

 

Rashi has a question about this. The Torah already says this at the end of last week’s parsha. Rashi says that Hashem lists the names of the brothers after their deaths to show his love for them. Rashi compares them to the stars which Hashem takes out and puts away by number and by name.

We are taught that counting the Bnai Yisrael is not permitted. As it says in Parashat Ki Tissa - you have to be careful how you count or a plague will strike. That is why in the Torah the Bnai Yisrael were counted with a half shekel. Rabbi Baruch Yerachmiel Yehoshua Rabinowitz said it is not that we shouldn’t be counted it is that we should not forget our name and our individuality. If we forget our name we may just disappear and become one of many. That is why Hashem lists everybody's name at the beginning of the parasha. While thinking about the Jewish people as one nation we should not forget we are a nation of individuals, each with his own name, each one loved by Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

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