Shemos: Our Own Unique Mission
Tuesday, January 09, 2007 / 19 Teves 5767
“And these are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt. ” (Shemos/Exodus 1:1)
Rashi on the aforementioned verse comments; “Although he (the Almighty) counted by their names in their lifetime, he counted them again after their death to make known how precious they are…because they are compared to the stars which he brings out and brings in by number and by their names…”
Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch raises the following question; why are the Jewish people compared here to – of all things – stars? (We find elsewhere we are compared to sand.)
He provides us with an enlightening and empowering answer. Every star has their own purpose and function. Similarly, every single one of us has our own specific and unique purpose and mission in this world.
Not only are our names different from one another, but our souls differ as well. Each one of us has our very own mission to fulfill based upon our God given abilities and strengths.
Getting back to our question; just as Hashem counts every single unique star, so too, does he count us – his precious children – again and again, individually. The following story illustrates the fact that we each have our own task in Hashem’s master plan.
A man approached Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach – son of the illustrious Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach OB”M – and asked him the following question; at this point of my life I have two options. I can retire and live comfortably off my savings devoting my time to Torah study, or, I can continue working and thereby have the wherewithal to support Torah institutions and students. What do I do?
Rabbi Auerbach, impressed with his sincerity, asked the man several specific questions and then instructed him to continue working so that he would be able to support Torah institutions and students. However, he told him to cut back and spend some time learning. The man accepted and did accordingly.
The lesson we can take out is that we all have a role to fill. A symphony orchestra is nothing but sixty individuals – each with unique talent – who pool their talents, resources, and abilities to form a magnificent production. We must view ourselves as being a privileged member of a giant worldwide symphony orchestra with millions upon millions of members scattered all over the world.
Whether you are an Accountant in Australia, a Rabbi in Russia, or a Stockbroker in London, you have a unique and important mission to fulfill. By viewing ourselves in this light we will find it easier to connect with the One Above and strive for perfection.
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Shemos: Living in Exile
Friday, December 28, 2007 / 19 Teves 5768
“…For he said, ‘I have been a stranger in a foreign land.’” (2:22)
Moshe’s intention, explains Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, was to show how he was situated in ‘Golus’, the exile.
Although he found himself in Yisro’s (his father in law) house, his belief and faith in Hashem did not falter. Additionally, he felt and acted like a stranger in a foreign land away from the familiar confines of home. Despite the comforts that surrounded him, Moshe realized where his true home was, and his longing for it never ceased.
This serves as an important lesson. Ever since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, we have been in exile. Yet today, as the majority of our nation lives in free and democratic societies where freedom of religion is taken for granted, we tend to settle down and become attached to our lifestyles and ‘homeland’.
While utilizing these opportunities afforded to us by our benevolent democracies that may be, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent and think that we are in peace. We must remember that we are in exile. One Rabbi once remarked, “Anti-semitism is but a reminder of where we are and where we really should be.”
The following anecdote beautifully illustrates this concept. I heard it from a Rebbi of mine while in High School.
The question was posed to a leading rabbinical figure in America. “While I have no plans to travel (internationally) in the near future, should I obtain passports for my children?”
The Rabbi replied, “How can a Jew in Golus (exile) not have a passport?”
We are in exile and do not know what tomorrow may bring. We cannot afford to sit back so long as the land of our heritage lies in ruins. The time to rebuild is now. By doing so may we merit to see the fulfillment of the verse, “Behold may our eyes your return to Zion in compassion.”
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