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Monday, 10 Shevat 5777 / February 6, 2017

Monday: Embracing Spiritual Challenges

Monday: Embracing Spiritual Challenges

Second Reading: Exodus 14:9–14

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G‑d knew that the Jewish people would not feel totally free of Pharaoh’s clutches as long as he remained alive, and that the potential threat of his pursuit would prevent them from receiving the Torah fully. So G‑d again made Pharaoh stubborn, inspiring him to pursue the Jews to the shore of the Sea of Reeds (the Gulf of Suez). Seeing him approaching, the Jews panicked.
Embracing Spiritual Challenges
וּפַרְעֹה הִקְרִיב וגו': (שמות יד:י)
Pharaoh drew near. Exodus 14:10

The Midrash offers another interpretation: By chasing them, Pharaoh drew the Jews nearer to G‑d, as evidenced by their crying out to Him when they saw the Egyptian army approaching. Indeed, it is often opposition that awakens our deepest reserves of energy.

When we are confronted with a challenge, we should view it as an opportunity for spiritual growth rather than try to avoid it. Comfort and contentment can cause us to lose sight of priorities, weakening our sense of urgency in our Divine mission. Physical or spiritual adversity can shock us out of this indifference, undermining our self-assurance and affording us the opportunity to advance in our relationship with G‑d by breaking through the obstacle.1

Footnotes
1.
Torah Or 61c; Sefer HaMa’amarim 5721, pp. 257–8; Sichot Kodesh 5721, pp. 62–3. 5726, pp. 209–210.
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (11 Nissan 1902–3 Tammuz 1994) became the seventh rebbe of the Chabad dynasty on 10 Shevat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century, a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah, and fluent in many languages and on scientific subjects. The Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet, having sent thousands of emissaries around the globe, dedicated to strengthening Judaism.

Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, author and anthologist, and is editor-in-chief at Chabad House Publications of California. He is the author and translator of Apples from the Orchard, gleanings from the writings of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534–1572) on the Torah, and is the author and editor-in-chief of the Kehot Chumash produced by Chabad House Publications, featuring an interpolated translation of the Torah with commentary adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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Daily Quote
"And [Haman's] wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, 'If this Mordechai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail over him, for you will certainly fall before him.'" She said to him: This nation is compared to the stars, and to the sand [cf. Genesis 13:16 and 15:5). When they fall, they fall all the way to the sand. And when they rise, they rise all the way to the sky and the stars.
  –Esther 6:13; Rashi's commentary, ibid.
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