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Bo |  8th Shevat 5777  | February 4th 2017  |  Issue 685
Mazal Tov to Rabbi Eliyahu Birenboim on the birth of a granddaughter, Achinoam
Mazal Tov to Eliad Avruch (Atlanta, 2007-08) on the birth of a son
Mazal Tov to Idit (Wolf) Shapira (Sydney, 2013-14) on the birth of a son

   Yedidyah Bejell

Former Shaliach in Chicago (2007-08)
Currently a structural engineer

The True Goal of Yetziat Mitzrayim 

"This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you"
Right in the middle of the process of exiting Egypt, prior to the plague of the firstborn, Am Yisrael receives an unexpected commandment. They are ordered to perform the mitzvah of kiddush hachodesh – to establish a calendar. At first glance this would seem odd. Why is this mitzvah associated with Yetziat Mitzrayim?

But when taking a second, deeper view, instituting a new monthly and annual calendar represents a new beginning. There is a sense of new order and new life. The famous Rashi at the very beginning of Sefer Bereishit expresses the importance of this mitzvah; he posits that perhaps the Torah should have begun with this verse and this mitzva! 

In order to better understand the essence of this mitzva, we must differentiate between two levels to the repemption from Egypt. Similar to Rav Soloveitchik's concepts of Faith and Destiny. Faith is something that happens to a person; occurrences which he encounters passively. Destiny on the other hand, is a course which one embraces, and is active in pursuing.

At first, Am Yisrael needs to be removed from the physical and spiritual slavery in Egypt. Am Yisrael goes through a violent extraction from Egypt. They are passive both in being forced into slavery and in being redeemed from it.
But there is a second step - an objective and a goal they must take upon themselves. There is reason they are redeemed from Egypt.
This destiny was conceptualized at Mt. Sinai and implemented fully when the nation entered The Land of Israel. Through the mitzvot Bnei Yisrael play an active role and fulfill their purpose.
In the interim we were given the mitzvot which appear in our parasha and are given prior to Yetziat Mitzrayim, even before being directed to Mt. Sinai. Am Yisrael, before actually being freed from slavery and the impurity of Egypt, and are already entrusted with some mitzvot which give them an opportunity to take charge of their destiny. These mitzvot represent that process exactly - of maturing from the initial stage of extraction to taking their active role in achieving their dedestiny.

The first mitzvah is Kiddush Hachodesh. The calendar is the framework in which our entire annual cycle takes place. In this mitzvah the Beit Din, as the representatives of the people are the ones to declare when the next month starts, and in effect when the holidays will fall as well.
After that framework is established, we continue with the commandments of Brit Milah, Korban Pesach and Matzot. In the circumcision a part of flesh is removed, representing the removal of negative aspects of physical life. In Korban Pesach (and any sacrifice in general), one is obligated to relinquish a physical asset to G-d. Next, The eating of Matza, unleavened bread, represents sufficing with physical life at its bare needs.

Following the exodus from Egypt, as the newly freed nation progresses to Mt. Sinai and to Eretz Yisrael, their destiny is fleshed out. The final aliyah of the parasha adds the mitzvot of bechorot and Tefillin.
On Teffilin the Torah says:

וְהָיָה֩ לְךָ֨ לְא֜וֹת עַל-יָדְךָ֗ וּלְזִכָּרוֹן֙ בֵּ֣ין עֵינֶ֔יךָ לְמַ֗עַן תִּהְיֶ֛ה תּוֹרַ֥ת ה' בְּפִ֑יךָ כִּ֚י בְּיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֔ה הוֹצִֽאֲךָ֥ ה' מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

The purpose of the mitzva is articulated; you wear Teffilin every day, so that G-d's Torah will be in your mouth, because g-d took you out of Egypt. You wear a physical artifact that is made out of flesh so you can carry the word of Hashem throughout the world. In the end it is not enough to be removed from the impure aspects of life; a holy destiny must be pursued in our everyday life.

As for bechorot, the first-born, the natural leaders belong to Hashem. But in a broader sense, all of Am Yisrael are the first-born sons of G-d, who are destined to represent him every day in life on Earth.

The above is based on a drasha by my Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Eliyahu Blumenzweig of Yeshivat Yerucham.

Around The World
Parent-Child Learning in Toronto
The middle school in Memphis at 'Mishmar' with the Kollel
Kollel Cape Town wrapping up a Shabbaton at the Milnerton community
Students in Montreal who spent their lunch break learning about Jerusalem

     Arik Speaker                    In cooperation with: 

'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

The Yatir Forest is the largest forest in Israel and one of the largest man-planted forest in the world.
It extends over 30,000 acres, with over four million trees of various kinds. It is named after the biblical city of Levi'im, whose remains can be still be seen. Yatir was one of the refuge-cities where inadvertent killers needed to stay.

The forest is located in the area between the Yudean heights and the Negev, and is therefore characterized by very dry weather and low precipitation. Nevertheless, the Jewish National Fund (KKL) decided in 1964, against all odds, to plant a huge forest in this region, which was then on the border with the Kingdom of Jordan.

In last week's picture you saw the local water reservoir, with a capacity of 650,000 cubic meters, which was established to assist in watering the vineyards and orchards of the nearby settlements during the summer.
The forest includes many important archaeological sites, such as ancient synagogue from the 4th century, ruins of caves, a wine-press, cisterns and ancient olive presses.
Another special characteristic of the forest is the beautiful, 5km long, Road of Crocuses. The Crocuses are a bulb-based flower, which sprouts bright yellow, egg yolk-colored, flowers hence the Hebrew name "Chelmonit", from the word 'Chelmon' - egg yolk).

The famous Yatir vineyard is located in the heart of the forest and is considered one of the most prestigious wineries in the country.
Yasher Koach to
Netanel Liker
who submitted the correct answer

  Where was this photo taken?

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The answer, further information about this location, as well as the first person to recognize this site 
will be published in next week's edition. 

Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with love for Torah, the Jewish People and the State of Israel.

Over the past twenty years, Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired and enriched their host communities through high impactful formal and informal educational programs.

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Our friend Benjy Singer has a very useful website,, which contains accurate and fresh information of what's going on in the Religious Anglo Community in Israel.

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