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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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EXODUS — 13:17 nearer

The historical value of certain precepts, such as the sacrifices, served a useful educational purpose at a time when the people were not ready for more spiritual forms of worship. … in a similar manner did G-d provide for each individual animal of the class of mammilia. When such an animal is a born it is extremely tender, and cannot be fed with dry food. Therefore, breasts were provided which yield milk, and the young can be filled with liquid food which corresponds to the condition of the limbs of the animal, until the latter have gradually become dry and hard. Many precepts in our Law are the result of a similar course adopted by the same Supreme Being. It is namely impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other; it is therefore according to the nature of man impossible for him suddenly to discontinue everything to which he has become accustomed. Now G-d sent Moses to make the Israelites a kingdom of priests and a holy nation by means of the Knowledge of G-d [Deuteronomy 4:35; 5:39] The Israelites were commanded to devote themselves to His service.… but the custom which was in those days general among all men, and the general mode of worship in which the Israelites were brought up, consisted in sacrificing animals in those temples which contained certain images, to bow down to those images and to burn incense before them.... It was in accordance with the wisdom and the plan of G-d, as displayed in the whole creation, that He did not command us to give up and to discontinue all these manners of service, for to obey such a commandment would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used; it would in those days have made the same impression as a prophet would make at present if he called us to the service of G-d and told us in His Name that we should not pray to Him, not fast, not seek His help in time of trouble; that we should serve Him in thought, not by any action.... There occurs in the Law a passage which contains exactly the same idea; it is [this verse]. [Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, III, 32.]

EXODUS — 13:18 armed

... when the Jewish people left Egypt, [the Torah] says that the Jews left "Chamushim." The word has many explanations, but one translation is that they left armed with weapons. In fact this is the explanation of the Ibn Ezra, the Rashbam, and Rabbeinu Bechaye. The Jews knew they would be fighting battles in the desert and to conquer the land of Israel, and therefore needed weapons for these wars. Based on these explanations, weapons were a "necessary evil" for the Jewish people, and were needed to accomplish the national task to defeat the enemy (on the occasions when G-d did not do so by Himself, miraculously, as by the Red Sea, the Sea of Reeds). Though the Jews relied on G-d as well, they also had to fight other nations by natural means, using the weapons of the day, says Rabbeinu Bechaye. In fact, King David attributes to G-d not only his successes in wars, but also considers G-d his teacher to become an expert in using weapons for his many battles.(Samuel II:22:35). Thus, Judaism clearly recognizes the need of weapons on the battlefield as a necessary part of life. (continued at Exodus 20:21-22 AMJV 121)

EXODUS — 13:18 roundabout

Judaism is so sensitive to preserve a person's dignity that the Torah goes out of its way to preserve even the dignity of sinners …. Even when sinners in the Torah had to be killed, they died, where possible, in a manner that would embarrass them least. According to one explanation in Rashi on [this] verse about leaving Egypt, only one fifth of the Jews left Egypt. The other four-fifths were sinners and perished during the plague of Darkness. It is believed that they died then so that they would not be unnecessarily embarrassed to die publicly, when the Egyptians would be aware of their deaths.

EXODUS — 13:19 bones

(Continued from Leviticus 18:5 laws BOROJMV 257-8). R. Tarfon's formula "It is not your duty to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it" (Avot 2:16) has been cited so often in recent years that it has become something of a cliché. It was a soothing balm for the chronic Jewish overachievers who could not complete all that they had overextended themselves into attempting--and if that remains your complaint, we commend Tarfon to you. But familiarity and a change of social ethos have turned a sensible limitation into an excuse for being almost as satisfied with starting something as with carrying it through to its conclusion. Perhaps for the foremost tasks of humanity, contentment with making a beginning contains sparks of moral grandeur. But for the myriad of small duties that make up responsible living, we prefer what we learn from the scoring rules of America's favorite spectator sport, major-league baseball. The pitcher who successfully concludes the game receives credit for the win, not the one who goes to the showers after a few innings. The Bible describes a similar situation. Moses, knowing Joseph's wishes to be buried in Canaan, exhumes the patriarch's bones in Egypt and schleps them through the desert for forty years [this verse]. But since Moses doesn't enter the land, it Is Joshua, Moses's successor, who buries Joseph's remains, which is why this is mentioned in the book that bears Joshua's name (Josh. 24:32). This observation leads the rabbis to comment: "Not the one who begins the task, but the one who completes it receives credit for it" (Gen. R. 85.4).

EXODUS — 13:19 bones

Jewish law opposes cremation, and regards it as an extreme lack of respect for the dead body. Although no explicit biblical law prohibits cremation, the prophet Amos, writing over 2,700 years ago, speaks of the punishment of the nation of Moab for its many sins, specifying that it had "burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime" Amos 2:1. The Torah takes burial and a gradual decomposition of the dead body for granted "For dust you are and to dust you shall return." Genesis 3:19

EXODUS — 13:19 bones

Perhaps the most famous biblical example of keeping a long-standing commitment was Moses' taking Joseph's bones with him when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Centuries earlier, Joseph had exacted an oath from his brothers, saying, "When G-d has taken notice of you [and brings you back to Canaan], you shall carry up my bones from here" Genesis 50:25. On the day the Jews left Egypt, Moses was unquestionably very busy, and the commitment to Joseph had not even been made by him, but by his ancestors; nonetheless, the Bible tells us that he" took with him the bones of Joseph".

EXODUS — 13:19 took

"With the measure that one measures, so it is measured out to him." Moses appropriated the merit [of looking after] the bones of Joseph, as it is written: "And Moses took the bones of Joseph." And there was none in Israel greater than he; accordingly, he, likewise, merited that the Holy One Himself occupy Himself with him [i.e., with his burial], as it is written (Deuteronomy 34:6): "And He buried him (Sotah 9b).

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