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Friday, January 01, 2016

Why Didn’t the Bush Burn? (Shemos)

Hashem appeared to Moshe in the Bush because a Bush is a lowly shrub. It symbolizes humility.

The Torah tells us that the Angel of Hashem appeared as a fire burning in the bush, but the bush was not consumed.

Moshe said, “Let me turn for a minute and take a look. Why isn’t the Bush consumed?”

What was the answer? We are accustomed to thinking that the Bush turned out to be a heavenly fire and therefore did not follow the rules of regular fire, but the Noam Elimelech writes and interesting idea.

One would think that a holy fire would wipe out something as unholy as a bush. One would think that holy activities would bring us to a level purity where the mundane world cannot enter.

It seems unfair when we are davening and the most random of thoughts comes in, or when we spend an hour studying Torah just to lose our tempers five minutes later. Moshe was bothered with the question: Why doesn’t the bush burn? Why don’t we ever seem totally free of our Yetzer Hora.

The answer is simple. The bush doesn’t burn. We always remain somewhat worldly. We never become angels. Maybe this is so that we elevate our worldliness and use it to serve Hashem, maybe it is to keep us challenged, but the fact remains. The Bush just simply doesn’t burn.

Hashem didn’t really answer Moshe’s question, but he did tell him to take off his shoes. The very first command Hashem gave Moshe. By taking off his shoes Moshe understood that he needed to feel every thorn and thistle on the ground if he was to truly help the Jewish people and grow as an individual.

We keep waiting for the holiness to root out and consume everything else, but it will never happen. This was the lesson of the burning bush.

Posted on 01/01 at 10:34 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