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MAY 23-24, 2003 22 IYAR 5763

Day 37 of the Omer

Pop Quiz: If a man between the ages of 20 & 60 vows to donate his value to the Bet Hamikdash, how much must he give?


"If you will walk in my statutes..." (Vayikra 26:3)

The perashah begins a whole series of blessings promised to the Jewish people if they will "walk" in Hashem's statutes. Rashi tells us this means to toil in Torah study. This is the source of all the berachot, and conversely, when the section dealing with the curses begins, Rashi tells us it is because there was no toil in Torah study.

The question is asked: Why is this command called a "hok - statute" - which means something with no understandable reason? Isn't Torah study something which is logical, and yet the Torah calls this "behukotai- My statute?" The answer is, to learn Torah just to know what to do is not sufficient. There is a misvah to toil in Torah study, to involve ourselves in the wisdom and beauty of Torah, regardless of whether it is relevant at this moment or not. This may not seem comprehensible to some and therefore it is called a "hok". Yet here we see that this is the basis for all of the blessings and vice versa, G-d forbid.

We have to ask ourselves truthfully, are we involved in Torah study? Do we have a set time to toil in the understanding of the Torah? Especially now, when the holiday of Shabuot, which reenacts the giving of the Torah to our generation, is right around the corner, we should be prepared to have an answer to this question. As we read the perashah and see how many blessings and, G-d forbid, curses are involved due to toiling in Torah study or the lack of it, we should commit ourselves to a set time of Torah learning, with toil and effort, so that we should merit all these blessings for ourselves and our families. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"I will provide your rains in their time." (Vayikra 26:4)

The Torah teaches us that when we closely observe the laws of the Torah, we will be blessed with great bounty. The rain, which is so important, will come at the most convenient time. Rashi says it will come on Friday night, the evening of Shabbat, when people are not traveling.

It is truly amazing that the Torah only speaks of benefits that will come in this world. There is no mention of the reward or the punishment in the next world, no mention openly of the revival of the dead, or a specific open statement about the eternal existence of the next world. Even though these are fundamental truths of our religion, they are only hinted to, and these hints are revealed to us by the Sages. Why is this so?

The answer is that Hashem hid these basic ideas from us for our benefit. Everything that Hashem does is with mercy. Hashem withheld the punishment of the next world from us, because if he would have revealed it in all of its severity, and man would still sin, it would make his sin even greater. Man is now left with an alibi. He could say that if he knew how severe the punishment is, he wouldn't have done the sin. As a result, this alibi will make the punishment much lighter.. On the other side of the coin, Hashem withheld the great reward. This, in turn, helps the good people who do the misvot, because they observe the misvot without knowing how great the reward is. That makes their righteous deeds even greater.

In short, everything Hashem does is with kindness and mercy. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"A person who sanctifies his house" (Vayikra 27:14)

The Kotzker Rebbe commented on this verse: When a person is involved in spiritual matters, it is relatively easy for him to do so in a sanctified state. But true holiness is when a person sanctifies the seemingly mundane daily activities of running his house. When one behaves in an elevated manner in his own house, he is truly a holy person. Torah ideals and principles are not only for when one is in a yeshivah or synagogue. Rather, Torah principles and values apply to all areas of our lives. At home, one has many opportunities for acts of kindness to one's own family. Also, behaving properly towards members of one's own family at home is frequently more difficult than behaving properly towards strangers. But the more difficult it is to apply Torah principles, the greater the reward. The more sanctified your behavior at home, the greater you become. (Growth through Torah)


"If you shall walk in my statutes." (Vayikra 26:3)

The beginning of this perashah details the reward that Hashem will shower upon a person who toils in the Torah. The Ohr Hahayim adds that the first pasuk doesn't simply say, "you shall keep," but rather it says, "you shall walk in my statutes." This comes to teach that in addition to studying Torah while at home, we also have an obligation to maintain our studies and Torah observance even when we are walking and traveling. This can include listening to a Torah tape in the car, bringing a sefer to read while waiting for an appointment or simply reviewing some Torah thoughts in one's mind while walking from place to place.

Question: What do you do during your commute to work or school? How much time did you spend studying Torah on your last vacation or business trip?


Question: What is the significance of Shalom Alechem?

Answer: In this poem, we are greeting the angels which accompany us on Shabbat. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


This Week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 16:19-17:14.

Parashat Behukotai contains promise of prosperity for those who follow the Torah, and rebuke and punishment for those who transgress the Torah. Similarly, the prophet, Yirmiyahu, rebukes the people for their sins, and gives blessing to those who trust in Hashem and follow His ways.


It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat.

"Ben Heh Heh says, commensurate with the effort is the reward" (Abot 5:21)

The above is illustrated with the following parable: A king, wanting to beautify his chamber, enlisted four painters each to paint a mural on one of the walls. He gave them a month to accomplish this task and told them that upon completion, he would review the paintings and place a sack of gems in front of each wall as a reward. The most beautiful would receive the largest sack, and the others would receive smaller sacks in descending order according to the rank of the painting.

Three of the painters worked diligently while the fourth wasted his time amusing himself. On the last night before the deadline, when the three painters had each finished their work and had gone home, the fourth arrived in the room. He placed a large mirror on his wall so that it reflected the other three paintings. In the morning the king arrived, and after close inspection of the finished art works, he placed sacks of gems in front of the three painted murals and nothing in front of the mirror. Shocked, the artist who placed the mirror exclaimed to the king, "Where is my reward? My mirror is a composite, merging together the other three paintings!"

The king responded, "Indeed you have received your reward. Gaze in your mirror and you will see the reflection of the three sacks of gems given to the other artists, who toiled with great effort and sincerity while you have done nothing and have only reflected their initiative."

The lesson is that for toil there is great reward, and you can't fool anyone, especially not Hashem. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: 50 silver shekalim.

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