“Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz was asked, ‘Why did G-d create the non-Jewish nations who are so brazen in their sinfulness?’ He replied, ‘Just as He created darkness to make you appreciate light, so did He create non-Jews to demonstrate the greater virtue of the Jewish people’”.*
*The Great Chasidic Masters, by Avraham Y. Finkel, p. 38 (B)
This coming Shabbat we complete the reading of the book of Genesis with the story of Jacob’s final blessings to his children and grandchildren before departing this life. Parents blessing their children after the Friday night prayers prior to the Shabbat evening meal should do so with special intent tonight as this week’s parshah contains the verse with which fathers customarily bless their sons, “May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menasheh” (Genesis 48:20). The customary blessing for girls, “May G-d make you like Sarah and Rebecca, Rachel and Leah” is also based on this verse.
After the completion of the synagogue Torah reading of Genesis, the congregation customarily declare: “Hazak Hazak Ve-nit-hazek: Strong! Strong! Let us be strong!”*
If a woman experiences difficulties during childbirth, G-d forbid, her husband should immerse in a mikveh. (Sifran Shel Tzaddikim, cited in Sefer Baal Shem Tov, Yisro, 14, note 25)
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One who gives charity is saved from transgressions. [On the one hand it is written]: “whoever has mercy on G-d’s creatures, Heaven has mercy upon him” – [but on the other hand it’s also said]: “it’s prohibited to have mercy on whomever doesn’t have knowledge.” However, when [he gives charity and Heaven] has mercy on him, he receives knowledge as a result, and then he’s saved from transgression, for a man doesn’t transgress unless he’s overcome by a spirit of temporary insanity.
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