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Friday, January 16, 2015


When Moshe was a child he made a choice between a Diamond and a coal. He knew that the diamond was more valuable, but he picked up the coal instead. As a result he was inflicted with a speech impediment.

When Reb Shmuel Kamenetzky visited Norfolk several years ago, the students at Toras Chaim were encouraged to prepare a question to ask him. One of the students asked why Moshe did not pray to have his speech impediment cured, rather than allow it to handicap him for his entire life.

The Ramban answers that Moshe did not want to forget the amazing wonders that Hashem had done for him in saving his life when he was only a baby.

The Ran writes that Hashem wanted Moshe to have a speech impediment so that it would be understood that the Torah had sold itself and had not been the result of slick marketing. (The Shela disagrees based on the Medrash that Moshe was healed at Matan torah).

Rav Itzele Volozhiner wrote a work entitled Peh Kadosh. He quotes a Medrash that the Jewish people had a secret known through Serach that they would be redeemed with the word ‘Pakad’. There had been false saviors in Egypt and people were skeptical of Moshe, but when he used the word ‘Pakod Pakadeti’ they were convinced.

Moshe’s particular impediment was the inability to pronounce the letter “pey’. This may be the meaning of the verse ‘Mi Sam Peh L’adam?” When Moshe miraculously pronounced the words ‘Pakod Pakadeti’ they knew that he had truly been sent by G-d.

Still, we need to understand the significance of the words Pakod Efkod. Were they jus a code word like “Open Sesame”?

Perhaps the idea is that the people in Mitzrayim did not feel worthy of redemption. In fact, even the angels argued before Hashem that the Jews were no more deserving than the Egyptians.

This is where Pakod comes in. Pakod means to count and to remember and to assign because as Hashem counts us he remembers us and our potential. We may not always look great, but when we are desperate He knows what we need.

When Moshe was at the bush he also felt like the Jewish people were not ready. They wouldn’t listen to him. This was the symbolism of the historic staff turning into a snake but again into a staff. As gruesome as they looked, the Jewish people needed to be remembered and picked up off the ground.

Hashem’s miraculous message of Pakod Efkod was that he remembered every one of us, what we needed and what our role should be.

We need to remember this when we are feeling neglected and undeserving. More importantly, we need to remember this when we see somebody else having a bad day or acting improperly.

Hashem caused great miracles just to communicate that ‘Pakod Efkod’, “I remember you and I am going to let you shine”.

Posted on 01/16 at 08:21 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at