The Jewish people are the only people in history to predicate their survival on education. The most sacred duty of parents is to teach their children. Judaism is a religion whose heroes are teachers and whose passion is study. The Egyptians built pyramids. The Romans built the Coliseum. Jews built schools. That is why we alone, of all the civilizations of the ancient world, are still alive and strong, still continuing our ancestors’ vocation, our heritage intact and undiminished. In this parshah, Moshe speaks of the duty of parents to educate their children. We should encourage our children to ask questions, so that the transmission of the Jewish heritage would be not a matter of rote learning but of active dialogue between parents and children.

It was the chasunah of a relative. A happy time, a special time, and Reb Anshel was filled with gratitude to be there. A retired businessman with a large and ever-growing family immersed in lives of avodas Hashem, Reb Anshel is known and respected in the Toronto community and beyond. As a guest myself, I was also participating in the beautiful simchah. During the chasan’s tish, waiting for the badeken ceremony to begin, I noticed Reb Anshel coming out of the crowd, toward me.

Pharaoh asked Moshe to pray to G-d to remove the frogs. Moshe Rabbeinu prayed and the frogs went away. The same thing happened with the plague of wild animals. Pharaoh suffered and begged Moshe and Aharon. They davened to Hashem and the wild animals left. Likewise, with the hail and the locust. Pharaoh begs Moshe to daven for him, Moshe davens, the hail stops, and the locust leave. Why was it necessary that every single time, Pharaoh would ask him to pray, Moshe would daven, and only then the plague would cease? The answer, says Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt”l (Mir Mashgiach) is that this narration teaches us something very fundamental about life: The way to obtain things in this world is to pray for them. This is the only way to achieve things in this world. Without prayer, not even Moshe could have prevailed.

Rivka Toledano, a religious emergency room nurse, has seen a lot in her time, but on one occasion, she recalls a miraculous occurrence that she personally witnessed while working in a Canadian hospital. It was a cold December night, in the middle of a snowstorm, when the ER can get pretty crazy. Chanukah was starting that night, and Rivka was looking forward to completing her shift and going home to light the menorah with her family.

In every generation, the Jewish people are blessed by the Almighty with a leader to whom, regardless of the domain – be it communal or individual life – nothing is done without his advice or consent. Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor zt”l was known as “Rabban shel kol Yisrael” (Teacher of all Israel), and although he led various communities during his almost 80 years of life, his greatest renown arose from the city of Kovno, Lithuania, where he served as Rav for more than 30 years. It was there that he established his reputation as the Poseik HaDor, and he maintained a large correspondence with rabbis, roshei yeshivah, laymen, communities, philanthropists, and representatives in many parts of the world, who sought his advice and instruction on all conceivable subjects relating to klal Yisrael. His sound reasoning and love of peace established him as truly one of the great leaders of world Jewry. The N’tziv, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin zt”l of Volozhin, once said that Rav Yitzchak Elchanan merited all this because of his exceptional diligence in Torah study. “He is the greatest masmid of our generation,” said the N’tziv, who was also known for his exceptional diligence.

Yosef is sent by his father to Sh’chem to check on his brothers. Along the way, he becomes lost and is found by a “man” who notices him in a field and tells Yosef where his brothers are. The N’tziv (in his Haameik Davar) writes: “In truth, the Torah should have said, “and he found a man,” for it was Yosef who was wandering alone, searching, and found the man – not the man who was walking on his way. Rather, the pasuk comes to teach us that the man was a messenger from Heaven, sent to encounter Yosef and bring him to Dosan, and the “man” (angel) went and found him in that place.