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Mazal tov to Yedidya Gorsetman, on his engagement to Shlomit Cohen!

Mazal tov to Nechemiah Kivelevitz, on his engagement to Jessie Margolies!

On Sunday, we were proud to host Daniel Mael, a senior at Brandeis University and a well-known Israel activist. Daniel spoke to the students about what they can do for Israel when they are on campus.

On Monday evening, we were honored to hear a shiur by Rav Zvi Sobolofsky shlit"a, rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University. Rav Sobolofsky gave a shiur on the halachot of making salad on Shabbat (download here).

On Tuesday, Rabbi Alan Schwartz, a sofer who lives in Beit Shemesh, visited the yeshiva for his annual talk on the proper care and treatment of tefillin, and in order to check the kashrut of all of our students' tefillin.

On Thursday, we welcomed Rabbi Josh Zisook, director of admissions for the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois.

On Thursday night, Rav Kahn gave the sicha ruchanit on the topic of, "Being a Good Neighbor". This was followed by a siyum on Masechet Rosh Hashanah by our alumni Aryeh Sklar and Ben Kean, who are visiting the yeshiva during their winter break. After the weekly mishmar cholent, everyone walked to Yeshivat Reishit Yerushayalim, where many yeshivot gathered together for a tisch and shiur with Rav Moshe Weinberger, mashpia at Yeshiva University.

Next week, the yeshiva will be embarking on a tiyul to the Golan. And on Thursday, we are having our first ever "24 Hours Straight in the Beit".

Rav Wolicki will be traveling to the United States and Canada this week to conduct interviews. He will be visiting Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Rav Krohn is currently in the U.S., having visited San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boca Raton, and Silver Spring; next week he will be in Boston, West Hartford, Memphis, and Columbus. If you would like an interview, please tell your Israel guidance counselor, or write to the yeshiva office at yeshiva@yesodei.org. And remember to send in your application through the yeshiva joint app or at www.yesodei.org.

19 Tevet 5775
Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

Memory and the Redemption
By Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

When G-d sent Moshe to redeem Bnei Yisrael from Egypt, Moshe worried that the people would not believe him and that he was not worthy of the task. G-d put Moshe’s fears to rest by giving him signs to perform and by telling him exactly what to tell the people. There is one phrase in particular that is singled out for special mention by our sages.

“Go and gather the elders of Yisrael and say to them, Hashem, the G-d or your fathers appeared to me; the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov saying, ‘I have surely remembered you – Pakod Pakadeti Etchem – and that which has been done to you in Egypt.'” (Shemot 3:16)

Rashi comments:
“Since you will speak these exact words to them, they will listen to you, for this sign is already passed down to them by Yaakov and Yosef that with these words they will be redeemed. As Yosef said ‘G-d will surely remember you…’ [pakod yifkod Elokim etchem]”

The words “I have surely remembered – pakod pakadeti” were the cue to Israel that Moshe was the true redeemer of Israel.

“Moshe and Aharon came to the elders of Israel and they performed the signs for them. They [the elders] went to their elder, Serach the daughter of Asher, and said to her: ‘A man has come and performed such and such signs before our eyes.’ She said to them: ‘These signs don’t mean a thing.’ They said to her: ‘Behold, he said “I have surely remembered you [pakod pakadeti etchem]”‘. She said to them: ‘He is the man who is destined to redeem Israel from Egypt.'” (Pirkei deRabi Eliezer ch.48)

Serach – well over the age of 200 – knew the significance of these words because she was the last living person who was alive when these words were spoken by Yosef shortly before his death.

“Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I will die and G-d will surely remember you [pakod yifkod etchem] and bring you up out of this land, to the land which He swore to Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov.’ Yosef made the sons of Israel swear saying, ‘G-d will surely remember you [pakod yifkod etchem] and you shall bring my bones up from here.’ Yosef died [being] one hundred ten years old. They embalmed him and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” (Ber. 50:24-26)

An obvious problem arises. Inasmuch as G-d cannot forget anything, what is the meaning of G-d remembering?

Hebrew contains no word for “history”. When the Torah wants us to be aware of the past we are told to “remember”. The difference between history and memory is – at first glance – simple. Memory is my experience. It is what I remember. I cannot remember an event unless I was there. However, the Torah commands us to remember events that we did not experience.

By commanding us to remember ancient events, the Torah teaches us the true meaning of memory. Memories are events that shape identity. History is an event that happened to other people – in other words, it has nothing to do with my life. Memory is personal. It is part of who I am. Serach represents this idea on the human level. The words spoken by Yosef, the existence of Yaakov Avinu, the Land of Israel, all are part of her memories. They are not history. They are identity. Serach is the key to the redemption as a symbol that, for the redemption to come, Jewish history must reach every Jew at the level of identity.

To say that Hashem “remembers” is to say that the information in question is essential to His “identity”, so to speak – to his Presence in the world.

Now we can return to our original verse with a new understanding. There is a powerful message in the words “‘I have surely remembered you – Pakod Pakadeti Etchem.” The redemption of the Jewish People from Egypt is essential and inextricably linked to the very essence of G-d’s presence in this world – to His identity.

We “remember” G-d and G-d “remembers” us. Our identity and His Presence in the world are inter-dependent. This is the secret of Jewish eternity.

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