Shining Stars

Teves 20, 5782
Candlelighting Time 4:23 PM

            Netziv in his preface to this parsha cites from the earlier commentators that they refer to sefer shemos as the second sefer or book of the Torah. The other three sefarim are referred to based upon their content whereas this sefer is only designated as the second of the five. He concludes that this based upon the Midrash that the world was created for the sake of the Jewish nation. Our legacy unfolds dramatically in this sefer when we merit the exodus from Egyptian bondage and subsequently receive the Torah, also mentioned in the Midrash as the climatic event of the world. Creation was for the sake of our nation and our nation developed for the sake of its total immersion and dedication to Torah.

         The names of the tribes are repeated in the beginning of the parsha. Rashi cites the Midrash that they were precious to Hashem as the stars of the heavens. What is the analogy of those earlier generations to stars? Ksav Sofer explains that just like each star has its unique impact and essential role in the world’s functioning, so too, each of the tribes had a specific and pivotal mission establishing the nation in Egypt and its eventual extrication from that difficult stage in our development.

            Chasam Sofer elaborates further that just like Adam called each animal by a precise name detailing that animal’s inimitable characteristics. So too, each tribe embraced distinctive qualities that not only gave them the capacity to challenge the effect of Egyptian culture upon their respective families, but also, they instilled in the nation those individualities and assets that would empower and galvanize the people and future generations to resist and counter the influence of the alien acculturation. Therefore, upon their exodus from Egypt they incorporated that spirit and dynamism. This is what the Sages meant when they said that not only where our forefathers redeemed from Egypt, but we also were liberated because the very traits that they encompassed were transferred to all generations advancing our strength and intensity to confront the adversarial situations that their descendants would encounter during the ensuing exiles.

            Kedushas Levi further clarifies that the tribes were totally committed to fostering and expanding their allegiance to Hashem. Although it would seem that the names that are associated with the twelve tribes are based upon events or comments that occurred when they were born, actually the underlying theme of their names was very profound and reflective. The basic theme was that whatever their names were indicative of the respective namesakes endeavored to elevate their lives as such that everything was also heightened to a status that would enhance Hashem’s glory in the world.

            Malbim’s comment provides us with a deep understanding of the inflexible and fundamentally powerful eminence of the tribes. They arrived in Egypt not as separate households but rather with Yaakov. They dwelled in close proximity to him, spent time together with him at their meals and were ongoing companions. This cohesiveness afforded them the privilege of living with an incredibly important role model. This was an impetus for them to continue their strong dedication to Torah and mitzvos.


When Moshe approached the burning bush, he was instructed to remove his shoes because the land upon which he stood was sanctified by Hashem’s presence. Wherever we may find ourselves to be, we are never truly distant from Hashem, rather we must remove those barriers that serve to obstruct us from being close to Hashem.                                                                                   CHOFETZ CHAIM