April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When we were living in Eretz Yisrael, my mother, a”h, was very sick. My wife and I visited as much as possible, but flying a few times a year with four little children to America was very difficult and expensive. For this and other reasons, we started thinking about moving back to the U.S. I spoke with one of my rebbeim, Rav Reuven Leuchter, who told me, “Baruch, at the end of the day, if Hashem wants you somewhere you will end up there. It seems that Hashem is steering you in that direction. You have a choice: You can go willingly, or you can go kicking and screaming. Why not go willingly on your own terms.”

This reminded me of Yaakov going down to Egypt. Hashem had a plan for Yaakov to go there and it wasn’t optional. So the Almighty arranged to have Yosef send wagons to transport Yaakov and his entire family to Egypt as a kindness. While Yosef was led down to Egypt in chains after being sold as a slave, Hashem transported Yaakov in class and comfort with royal wagons.

Let’s see how this theme fits into Parshas Bo. The commentaries are all troubled by exactly how long the Torah says the Jews were in Egypt. It says we were in Egypt for 430 years, but a simple calculation shows the Jews were only there for 210 years. Rashi explains that the 430 years really started at the time of the bris bein habesarim (covenant between the parts), when Hashem informed Avraham that his children will live in a foreign land. Yet, that still doesn’t answer why the Torah directly says, “the Bnei Yisrael dwelled in Mitzrayim for 430 years” (Bo 12:40). It was really 210 years!

The Maharal answers that once Hashem informed Avraham that his children will end up being slaves in Mitzrayim, it was considered as if Avraham was already living in Egypt. Hashem had sealed the fate of Avraham and his children. No matter where they were physically, Avraham and his children belonged in Egypt, so the counting of the 430 years started at that time.

This concept of being committed to a place is illustrated in Halacha. The Torah says Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) is one day. But outside Eretz Yisrael, a person must keep two days. If he visits Eretz Yisrael for Yom Tov, the Mishna Berura says he should still keep two days while staying in Eretz Yisrael. Many newlywed Americans who go to live in Eretz Yisrael to learn in yeshiva would ask Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt”l, how many days should they keep. He would show them the peace sign—holding up two fingers—signaling to them to keep two days, as he felt they were only living temporarily in Eretz Yisrael and were beholden to parents in the U.S. who were supporting them financially.

In a similar vein, I was attending a wedding last week of the daughter of a good friend. I was sitting together with my good friend Yossi and our rebbe, Rabbi Ahron Sklar from Eretz Yisrael. My rebbe received a text from Rabbi Dovi Kielson, who was supposed to attend. “I was planning to come tonight and was looking forward to seeing you. However, too much going on at home; my wife wants me home.” This made a big impression on me. As much as Reb Dovi wanted to be at the wedding, it was clear where he needed to be. Reb Dovi Kielson is a very busy person, with hundreds of talmidim (students). He gives many shiurim and has many responsibilities. But he knows his place. As a husband and father, the place to which he is primarily committed is his home.

Waze and Google Maps has a “home” setting where you can add your home address and then be one click away from navigation to your home from wherever you are.

As a husband or wife, father or mother, we need to recognize our home button!! Our primary place—our priority—is with our home and family. Our spouse and children are dependent on us. We need to be there for them. No one else can replace us.

I need to remind myself of this as I have many responsibilities, aspirations and dreams to teach more Torah. However, I constantly remind myself that my first responsibility is to my home. I need to be a good husband and a good father. That is the only way to be successful. If we neglect our home, then we will end up losing everything.

May Hashem grant us tremendous harmony, blessing, peace and success in our home with our families.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Livingston and West Orange. He initiated and leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. He has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis medrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in Livingston, Fort Lee and a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its full offering of torah classes visit pti.shulcloud.com.

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