Category Archives: Shmot

Part-Time Slaves (Shemot)

Part-Time Slaves (Shemot)

Slavery is a weed that grows on every soil. -Edmund Burke

It is a biblical command for the Jewish people to remember the slavery we endured in Egypt and the subsequent miraculous exodus from the bondage of Egypt. Though history has shown that there are different degrees of slavery, the Jewish tradition is that Egyptian slavery was particularly cruel.

Based on that tradition, Egyptian slavery has been depicted widely in both books and film to the extent that we can readily imagine our ancestors plodding in the mud pits, under the harsh Egyptian sun, and the harsher taskmaster’s whip, as permanent prisoners of a tyrannical regime.

However, the Bechor Shor on Exodus 1:11 adds some nuance to the terms of enslavement that may not have been apparent to us. He explains that the enslavement was not constant but rather lasted for a few months at a time. He picks up on the parallel description of the much later “enslavement” which King Solomon decreed for the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. King  Solomon “taxed” the people, taking 30,000 men who would work for the king for a month, and then they would return home for two months, though we have no record that it was a particularly harsh situation for the conscripted men.

In a related vein, the Bechor Shor explains, the Egyptians forced the Jews into hard labor for several months at a time, and then let them go home to their families for a period, so they can support their own households until they were forced into hard labor again for a number of months. This is a cycle that continued for the long decades of Egyptian bondage. In the Egyptian case, even though the Jewish slaves had some “time off” it was still an extremely oppressive and dispiriting situation.

May we be cautious of the servitudes we get ourselves into – even if they’re not full-time.

Shabbat Shalom,



In honor of our nephew, Mordechai Tzvi Kahen’s Bar-Mitzvah. Mazal Tov!

Reasonable Danger (Shmot)

Reasonable Danger (Shmot)

The most dangerous thing in the world is to try to leap a chasm in two jumps. -David Lloyd George

The Torah is filled with stories of valiant personalities, who took risks, who conquered insurmountable odds, who had faith, who persevered, and with God’s help, succeeded in their journey, in their mission, in their calling.

At the beginning of the Book of Exodus, God reveals Himself to Moses at the famous scene of the burning bush. While initially resistant, Moses eventually accepts the task of liberating the people of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. After the encounter, Moses asks permission from his father-in-law, Jethro, to go to Egypt. Jethro gives him permission with the elegant blessing: “Go in peace.”

However, immediately after Jethro’s blessing, in Exodus 4:19, God again speaks to Moses and says: “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who sought to kill you are dead.”

The Meshech Chochma draws a perhaps counter-intuitive lesson from God’s command. He understands from the verse, that if the men who sought to kill Moses were still alive, Moses would have no obligation to risk his life by going to Egypt to free the Jewish people, even though the entire nation depended on him.

He learns a similar lesson, though one that might not have been apparent from a simple reading of the Talmud. The Talmud states that an inadvertent killer is exiled to a city of refuge and is prohibited from leaving the city for as long as the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol, is still alive. It then gives an example, that even if one of the greatest generals of our history, Yoav son of Tzeruya was sentenced to exile to a city of refuge and all of Israel needed him, he would not be permitted to leave. At first glance, we would reasonably assume that he can’t leave because that is part of his sentence and no pardon is available, even for extenuating circumstances. But the Meshech Chochma understands that the deeper meaning would be because by leaving the city of refuge, he would be putting himself into a high level of danger, as the “blood redeemer,” the relative of the inadvertent killer’s victim, has the right to kill him outside the city.

So too, Moses, when confronted with a very real and present danger to his life, was absolved from having to save Israel. The Meshech Chochma learns that one is not obligated to put themselves in likely mortal danger in order to save others. However, when the risks are not so clear cut and the danger is not so imminent, it’s a different story.

May we avoid dangers, both imminent and distant, and may we be safe and secure wherever we are.

Shabbat Shalom,


To my son Elchanan, and his friends, who have completed their army service. Thank you for your service!

Striving for Incompletion (Shmot)

Striving for Incompletion (Shmot)

Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. -Vince Lombardi

It is probably one of the more mistranslated phrases in the Bible. When Moses meets God for the first time, at the Burning Bush, God informs Moses that Moses will be The Redeemer, the one who will take the young Israelite nation out of the slavery of Egypt and on to the journey towards The Promised Land.

At that historic encounter of Man and God, Moses asks how he should describe God to the Israelite slaves. God answers cryptically that he is “Eheye Asher Eheye” which is classically mistranslated as “I am that I am,” but really means “I shall be what I shall be.” The understanding of what tense God is talking about somehow got lost in translation. God in this verse is in the future tense. (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has an entire outstanding book on the concept, appropriately named “Future Tense”).

The Berdichever expands on the encounter of Moses and God and on the verse of “Eheye Asher Eheye” and teaches what may seem like a counter-intuitive lesson.

He describes the Tzadik, the righteous person, who must know that every time he reaches some divine accomplishment, some gain in his spiritual service, that there is an even greater accomplishment ahead that he has not reached. He has not reached completion. And when he reaches the next spiritual accomplishment, again, he becomes conscious of the next challenge, the accomplishment that lays ahead, and again, how he has reached another level of incompletion. It is infinite. Man can never reach completion. He can never reach perfection. Nonetheless, man is enjoined to ever climb higher and higher. Not only God, but man, and specifically a Tzadik, somehow emulating God, is defined not merely by what he is, but rather by what he will be. And what he will be is something that is constantly growing, climbing, achieving. “I shall be what I shall be.”

The Berdichever relates to a verse from Psalms where King David asks for “just one thing…to gaze upon the pleasantness of God.” He explains that King David is articulating the prayer of the Tzadik, the righteous one, who only wants to gaze upon God. He wants to keep his eye on God. In today’s vernacular we would say that he wants to “keep his eye on the ball.” That ball being God, divine service, dedication to a spiritually rich and meaningful life.

The Tzadik, whenever he reaches some higher level, some spiritual accomplishment, doesn’t want to forget for a moment that there’s more, that he’s incomplete, that there are infinite levels of progress that remain to a human being. He doesn’t want to let God budge from his sights. He prays to God for help with that focus, with that dedication, with that constant attachment to God as our source of life, mission and purpose.

May we indeed constantly climb higher, never losing our focus.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the team dedicated to translating Rabbi Sacks’ work to Spanish on a weekly basis.

Enlightenment comes in stages (Shmot)

Enlightenment comes in stages (Shmot)

Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm. -Idries Shah

Moses, while tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the desert, sees a strange and wondrous sight. He notices a tree on fire, but for some reason, the tree is not consumed by the fire. Out of curiosity, he approaches, and then he sees what appears to be a celestial being within the flames in the tree. Finally, he perceives, in some way that we can’t describe or comprehend, the presence of God.

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Exodus 3:1 explains that the staggered revelation of the supernatural was purposeful and for Moses’ benefit. Had God revealed Himself to Moses in one shot, Moses would have fled, completely overwhelmed by the Divine Revelation. Therefore, God started with a mysterious fire that didn’t burn the tree. Moses’ interest was piqued, his mind prepared for the unusual. Next, the sighting of an angelic being alerted Moses to the fact that it was a spiritual, otherworldly event. Finally, God could approach Moses; even speak to him in a way that allowed Moses to keep his composure, his mental stability.

Rabbeinu Bechaye compares the gradual revelation to a man who has been sitting in darkness for some time. His eyes have become used to the dark. Should he go from pitch black to bright light too quickly, he would be blinded, perhaps even damage his eyesight. The way to transition is to look at a small sliver of light and get used to that before being exposed to stronger, brighter light.

It is the same with mental light. The mind needs to start with concepts that it’s familiar with, before it can comprehend greater truths, more powerful revelations. God takes the same approach when introducing His commandments to Israel. He starts with some basics, such as the Sabbath and civil laws. Then He proceeds to the Ten Commandments, and thereafter He presents the bulk of the Torah’s commandments.

God also gave us a parallel phenomenon in nature. Dawn commences slowly; just a sliver of light. The light seems to grow slowly, giving our eyes a chance to get used to it. In a gradual process light fills the sky until we can handle the light of a bright, sunny day.

May we see ever increasing light in our lives, and not be blinded by it.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the Iranian protesters. May you overcome the darkness and turn your country to light.

There’s no place like home

There’s no place like home 

Even as the cell is the unit of the organic body, so the family is the unit of society. -Ruth Nanda Anshen

Little House on the Prairie

Pharaoh kills and enslaves the people of Israel. They lay oppressed, beaten, dismembered. They are so demoralized that their minds have no room even for hope. When Moses arrives and offers tidings of redemption, they are too overworked, too dispirited to even contemplate the possibility of an end to their travails.

But they would be liberated, they would reconstitute their lives, and the nation of Israel would be born out of the blood of slavery, death and tyranny.

Rabbi Hirsch on Exodus 1:1 explains that the reason for the successful liberation and creation of the Israelite nation is due to one vital component – the family:

“At that time God would begin the upbuilding of His people not with the rooftops, as it were, but with the rocklike foundations of the home, which are based on the mutual bonds that unite parents and their children.”

“Though each of them [the sons of Jacob] already had an independent household of his own, they all still cling firmly and closely to Jacob…All of them together are part of the same ancient tree, but each has become an independent branch, the center of a family of his own. They are still the children of Jacob, but now they also have children of their own. This family spirit which inspires each son to build his own household, but only as a branch of his father’s house, and which enables every father to live on in his children and in his children’s children, forming a close, eternal bond that binds the parents to their children and the children to their parents – this is the root of Israel’s eternal flowering. Herein lies the secret of the eternity of the Jewish people.”

That was the one element Pharaoh couldn’t break – the family unit. As long as the family remained united, as long as the family identified as a family with strong bonds between each member, there was nothing Pharaoh and the Egyptians could do to extinguish the flame of what would eventually become the Eternal people.

May we enjoy and strengthen our family bonds.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Dr. Morris & Penny Charytan, for a most special time together, and for our children’s path to the creation of a new family.

Necessary Anti-Semitism

 There is no medicine to cure hatred. -Publilius Syrus

Anti-Semitism has plagued the Jews from the moment we became a people, perhaps even beforehand. The first organized expression of anti-Semitism occurred during the formation of the people of Israel, from a large family to a nation, during their centuries in Egypt. The Egyptians, slowly but surely, enslaved most of the Jewish population.

The Sfat Emet in 5634 (1874) quotes the Kabalistic tome, the Zohar, which states that the slave labor the Egyptians forced over the Jewish people was actually a good thing, as it kept the young Israelite nation from mixing with the other nationalities. He continues that it was God himself who planted hatred of the Jewish nation in Egyptian hearts – that the Egyptians really wanted to like the Jews, but that it was a divine decree in order to distance the two peoples from each other.

The Sfat Emet then states that hatred of the Jews did create a widening gap between the two nations and that the further the Israelites moved from the Egyptians, the stronger Israel actually became.

May we be strong enough as a people and no longer “need” anti-Semitism in the world.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Masa Israel that does so much for strengthening Jewish identity.











Persistent Divinity

First posted on The Times of Israel at:

Baal Haturim Exodus: Shmot

Persistent Divinity

There is genius in persistence. It conquers all opposers. It gives confidence. It annihilates obstacles. Everybody believes in a determined man. People know that when he undertakes a thing, the battle is half won, for his rule is to accomplish whatever he sets out to do. -Orison Swett Marden

God chose Abraham to found the Chosen Nation. His first son, Ishmael, from an early age already, didn’t really follow his father’s footsteps. God tries again with Abraham’s second son, Isaac. Isaac is blessed with twins. The firstborn, Esau, while retaining good relations with his father, was not cut out to continue the path of Abraham. God continues with the second twin, Jacob. Finally, after the third generation, Jacob has twelve sons and they all continue in God’s path. They are the founding tribes of the Nation of Israel.

The Baal Haturim on Exodus 1:5 compares the above chronology to an architect who builds a palace. The architect’s first effort was with one pillar. The palace did not last long. He tried again with two pillars. Same result. He tries once again with three pillars with the same failure. Finally, he goes all out and designs the palace with twelve columns. The palace remains steady until this day.

May we never be discouraged by defeat or failure in our noble enterprises. Persistence is key to success, which are both divine qualities.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the Jewish summer communities of Las Toscas and Atlantida. We are looking forward to a special Shabbat together.














Presagio de luz

ficción bíblica: Éxodo Shmot

Traducido del inglés y editado por Caro Cynovich

­pharaohs-daughterPresagio de luz

­—Seiscientos treinta y ocho bebés varones se han lanzado en el Nilo —el capitán leyó de su rollo de papiro—. Dieciocho bebés varones han sido evacuados por sus familias a otros distritos, y un bebé de sexo masculino está desaparecido.

—¿Qué significa “desaparecido”? —Faraón preguntó con irritación desde su trono.

—Hemos buscado por todos los rincones de la casa de la familia —explicó el capitán en tono de disculpa—, y la de sus vecinos, familiares y cualquier persona que están en contacto regular con ellos. Hemos buscado detrás de cada arbusto y debajo de cada piedra, pero el bebé no está en ninguna parte.

—¿Qué dice la familia? —Faraón demandó—. ¿Qué es lo que dicen que pasó con el bebé?

—Afirman que el bebé ya fue tirado en el Nilo, pero no hay mención de esto en nuestros registros.

—¿Está seguro?

—Estamos seguros, oh Faraón. Nuestros registros son impecables. Nuestras fuerzas no han supervisado el lanzamiento del niño Amram en el Nilo.

—Amram, usted dice —Faraón asintió pensativamente—. De seguro que es su hijo. Él es el líder de los hebreos. Su hijo sería sin duda un candidato para ser el Redentor destinado. ¿Dónde puede estar?

—Yo puedo responder a eso, Padre —una sorprendente mujer joven declaró mientras entraba en la sala de audiencias del Faraón.

—Hija, ¿qué significa esta interrupción? —Faraón preguntó con sorpresa y disgusto.

—Puedo informar acerca del niño desaparecido no han logrado ahogar.

—Hija, yo sé que no apruebas nuestras acciones. Sin embargo, debes tener en cuenta que esto es por el bien de Egipto.

—Pfah  —la hija hizo un gesto de escupir—. Sacrificas criaturas inocentes, ¿y aún así te llamas un héroe? Pones demasiada fe en los augurios de tus astrólogos.

—Hija, ten cuidado con esa lengua o puede que ese órgano ofensor sea extraído. Te puede pasar incluso a ti, mi preciosa joya.

—¿Se podría silenciar a la única persona que te dice la verdad? Tú estás rodeado de estos aduladores que han torcido tu mente con la superstición y verdades a medias. Ellos conducirán a Egipto a nada más que miseria.

—Capitán  —el Faraón dio la espalda a su hija—, puede retirarse, y al salir, llame al Verdugo Real y a mis consejeros.

La hija dio un paso atrás ante la mención del verdugo.

—Hija —Faraón le devolvió la mirada—, no debes discutir conmigo en ese tono, y ciertamente no en frente de mis subordinados. Creo que tal vez una lección de respeto sea necesaria.

—¿Cómo puedo respetar a un asesino a sangre fría?

—Yo te mostraré.

Momentos más tarde, el Verdugo Real entró, seguido por los asesores de Faraón, Jeinis y Jimbrei.

—Verdugo, ¿qué formas temporales tiene usted para silenciar a una persona? —Faraón miró significativamente a su hija—: Yo sé que las lenguas no vuelven a crecer, pero ¿hay algo que se pueda hacer a corto plazo que pueda enseñarle una lección permanente a mi hija, acerca de los modales que debe tener una Princesa?

—Hierros, Faraón. Los hierros son la solución.

—¿Se podría cerrar su boca con hierros? A pesar de estar tentado con la idea, me gustaría algo menos indecoroso.

—No, Faraón. Me refería a los hierros calientes. Si tocamos su lengua o la parte interna de la boca con hierros candentes, ella no hablará por un tiempo, y con el tiempo sanará.

—¿Por cuánto tiempo estará ella en silencio?

—No estoy seguro. Las pocas veces que lo intentaron, los sujetos murieron a causa de sus heridas, pero me gustaría tener mucho cuidado con la princesa. Haría falta quizás varios meses para sanar, tal vez incluso un año.

—Un año es muy bueno entonces. Tenga cuidado de no estropear sus hermosas facciones. Y si ella no habla de nuevo en un año, Verdugo, usted perderá más que solo la lengua.

—Pero, Padre —exclamó la hija alarmada— : ¡Pensé que querías saber sobre el niño desaparecido!

—Sí, pues. Dime.

—Sólo si no le permites al Verdugo lastimarme.

—Eso, querida, dependerá de la naturaleza de la respuesta.

—Tengo el bebé.

—¿En serio? Buen trabajo. Entrégalo al Verdugo y podremos deshacernos de él ahora mismo.


—¿Qué quiere decir ‘No’ ?

—No lo entregaré. Él es mi hijo.

—¿Tu hijo ? ¿Tu hijo? —Faraón bajó de su trono y comenzó a gritar—. ¡En el nombre de Ra! ¿De qué estás hablando?

—Lo encontré en el río. Yo lo he adoptado como mi hijo. De acuerdo con todas las leyes antiguas, él es mío. No puedes tenerlo.

—¿Tenerlo? No quiero tenerlo. ¡Quiero matarlo! Él puede ser la cosa más peligrosa para el Imperio Egipcio, ¿y tú lo estás protegiendo?

—Sí. Y si pudiera, me gustaría proteger a todos y cada uno de esos bebés inocentes que tú crees que son tan peligrosos.

—¡Hija! ¡Estás yendo demasiado lejos!

—¡No! ¡Yo no voy lo suficientemente lejos! Nunca lo entregaré. Si puedo salvar aunque sea un niño, habré cumplido con mi deber.

—¿Te atreverías? ¿Te atreverías a rebelarte contra el mandato de tu padre? Esto es traición. No te liberarás de mi castigo.

—Me atrevo. Debería haber hecho esto hace mucho tiempo.

—Que así sea. ¡Verdugo! Vamos a ejecutar la princesa, aquí y ahora, sin demora. No puedo soportar ni un momento más con esta niña rebelde. ¡Hazlo ahora!

El Verdugo cogió a toda prisa a la princesa y un banco acolchado y se preparó para decapitarla. La obligó a arrodillarse en el suelo y ató firmemente su torso al banquillo, dejando espacio para que la cabeza quede a un lado. Ató las manos de la princesa a su espalda y colocó una bandeja en el suelo donde su cabeza caería. Faraón iba y venía hirviendo de rabia, pero conteniendo las lágrimas. Entonces el Verdugo desenfundó la espada y pasó una uña sobre su borde para comprobar su filo. Abrió las piernas y levantó la espada. La bajó lentamente hasta el cuello de la princesa para verificar el ángulo y la distancia necesaria para hacer un rápido y limpio corte. Luego levantó la espada de nuevo y tensó fuerte sus músculos, a punto de dejarla caer, a punto de hacerla caer a la princesa, rápido y fuerte.

—O Faraón —Jeinis hizo una reverencia–, ¿puedo ser tan atrevido como para interrumpir?

—Procede, Jeinis —Faraón levantó la mano al Verdugo para que se detuviera, agradecido por el alivio y la esperanza de que Jeinis proporcionaría una solución diferente. Mientras tanto, el Verdugo bajó lentamente la espada, decepcionado.

—De acuerdo con los signos más recientes, parece que la crisis ha terminado –continuó Jeinis.

—¿Qué quieres decir?

—Lo que quiere decir, oh Faraón —Jimbrei intervino—, que de acuerdo a las estrellas, el Redentor ya ha sido lanzado al Nilo.

—¿Ya lanzado? Eso es un alivio. ¿Estamos fuera de peligro entonces?

—Um, no exactamente —Jeinis murmuró.

—Entonces, ¿hay peligro o no?

—Faraón sabe lo difícil que es leer las estrellas —Jimbrei entonó—.Parece que la necesidad de tirar a los niños en el Nilo ha pasado. El peligro del Redentor destinado aún está por ahí, pero es vago y difícil de leer. Debemos permanecer a la escucha.

—¿Pero ya puede parar el ahogamiento de niños? —la princesa intervino desde su posición, atada y de rodillas sobre el banco.

—Sí, princesa —Jimbrei respondió de mala gana.

—Entonces no hay razón por la que no puedo mantener a mi hijo, padre.

—Si eso hará que se detenga tus incesantes quejas, blasfemias y rebeldía, pues puedes mantener a este niño – con una condición.

—¿Y cuál sería esa condición?

—No adoptarás otro de los hebreos de nuevo. Este será su primer y único hijo de ese pueblo. No les deberá ofrecer una protección de esta manera. Y si tengo la sensación de que este niño es una amenaza en cualquier forma, irá con los Verdugos.

—De acuerdo. Felicitaciones, Padre, ahora eres un abuelo.

—Ahórrate el melodrama. Suelte a la princesa —el Faraón hizo señas al Verdugo—. Vamos a examinar este niño.

—Oh, Padre, lo amarás. Es un niño precioso —la princesa cantó mientras el Verdugo la desató y la ayudó a levantarse.

—Yo decidiré eso.

—Traeré el bebé —dijo la princesa mientras salía orgullosamente al pasillo.

Faraón se sentó en su trono, aliviado. ¿Cómo fue que merecí una hija tan difícil? Aunque me gustaría que mis soldados fueran al menos la mitad de valientes que ella – entonces el mundo entero estaría aterrado de nosotros, pensó con orgullo paternal.

—¿Es prudente dejar que se quede con el niño? —Jeinis preguntó a Faraón.

—Si eso apaciguará a mi hija y dejará de juzgarme, entonces valdrá la pena.

—Si este es el hijo de Amram —Jimbrei añadió—, podría tener ramificaciones curiosas.

—Hmm. ¿Quiero tener al hijo de mis enemigos en mi casa? Si fuera un rehén sería una cosa, pero como hijo adoptivo no estoy tan seguro.

—Es bueno tener a los amigos cerca, Faraón —Jimbrei citó—, pero es mejor mantener a los enemigos más cerca.

—Sí, vamos a mantener una estrecha vigilancia sobre el hijo de Amram. Él todavía puede ser de utilidad para nosotros.

La hija de Faraón, radiante de alegría, volvió a entrar en la sala con un bebé en sus brazos.

—Aquí Padre, éste es mi hijo.

—Él… ¡es hermoso! —Faraón tartamudeó.

—Te dije que era especial.

—¿Qué hay en su piel? Parece que está brillando. ¿Es esto brujería?

Jeinis y Jimbrei se asomaron sobre el bebé e hicieron varios movimientos arcanos con sus manos.

—¡Saquen sus garras de mi bebé! —la princesa abrazó al bebé, defensiva.

—Nosotros no sentimos ningún tipo de magia que rodea al bebé – él es realmente un espécimen sorprendente —Jimbrei concluyó.

—Déjame darle otra mirada, hija.

—Solo si les ordenas a tus secuaces que se alejen.

—Jeinis, Jimbrei, por favor, dejen que la princesa tenga un poco de espacio  —los asesores retrocedieron obedientemente, aunque todavía mirando al niño con abierta curiosidad.

La princesa volvió a mostrarle el bebé a Faraón. Faraón disfrutó de la visión del bebé, pareció calmarse de a poco e incluso alegrarse de mirarlo.

—Es verdaderamente hermoso. ¿Cuál es su nombre?

—Yo lo he llamado Moisés, porque desde el agua lo saqué.

Moisés. Un escalofrío recorrió la espalda de Faraón ante la mención de ese nombre. Egipto aún puede que lamente este día, el Faraón pensó para sí mismo. El día que dejemos a Moisés con vida y lo introdujimos en nuestra casa.

Umbral Divino Directo

Netziv Éxodo: Shmot

Umbral Divino Directo

“El materialismo es la única forma de distracción de la verdadera felicidad.” – Doug Horton

Moisés ve la zarza ardiente desde lejos. Curioso, se acerca. La voz de Dios le ordena quitarse los zapatos, porque él es tierra santa.

El Netziv en Éxodo 03:05 lee una alegoría en las primeras palabras de Dios a Moisés. Si quiere acercarse a Mí, si quieres un contacto directo conmigo, tendrá que separarse de su materia. Puede ser tan mundano como los zapatos. Puede ser algo bueno y útil para la vida cotidiana y el confort. Pero si quieres acceso claro y sin interrupciones a mí, tiene que dejar el material detrás. Deja de pensar en tus cosas. Deje de tratar con sus cosas. Denme su atención completa y voy a estar allí, esperando.

El Netziv añade que no es para todos y no es todo el tiempo. No podemos caminar por todo el día sin zapatos. No podemos pasar por alto el aspecto básico y material de nuestras vidas. Pero se puede conectar directamente a Dios cuando te separas de lo mundano, cuando estás en un espacio sagrado. Esto no niega la posibilidad de encontrar a Dios en lo mundano – pero quizás es más simple y más directa.

Que seamos capaces de tomar nosotros mismos, lejos del materialismo, aunque sea por breves momentos, para encontrar a Dios más plenamente.

Shabat Shalom,



Para el proyecto “La Historia de las Cosas”. Se trata de un gran esfuerzo de Tikun Olam (arreglar el mundo).

Direct Divine Doorway

First posted on The Times of Israel at:

Netziv Exodus: Shmot

Direct Divine Doorway

“Materialism is the only form of distraction from true bliss.” -Doug Horton

Moses sees the burning bush from afar. Curious, he approaches. The voice of God commands him to remove his shoes, for he is on holy ground.

The Netziv on Exodus 3:5 reads an allegory into God’s first words to Moses. If you want to approach Me, if you want direct contact with Me, you need to separate from your stuff. It may be as mundane as your shoes. It may be something good and useful for everyday life and comfort. But if you want clear, uninterrupted access to Me, you need to leave the material behind. Stop thinking about your stuff. Stop dealing with your stuff. Give Me your full undivided attention and I’ll be there, waiting.

The Netziv adds that it’s not for everyone and it’s not all the time. We cannot walk around the whole day shoeless. We cannot ignore the basic and material aspect of our lives. But you can connect directly to God when you separate yourself from the mundane, when you’re in a sacred space. This doesn’t negate the ability to find God in the mundane – but perhaps it is simpler and more direct.

May we be able to take ourselves away from materialism, even if for brief moments, to encounter God more fully.

Shabbat Shalom,



To “The Story of Stuff Project”. It is a great effort of Tikun Olam (fixing the world).