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MAY 20-21, 2005 12 IYAR 5765

Pop Quiz: How many cities in Israel were designated for the tribe of Levi?


"In this Yobel year, you shall return each man to his ancestral heritage" (Vayikra 25:13)

The Jubilee year, the Yobel, came every 50 years of the Jewish calendar. Besides having the same status as Shemittah, the Sabbatical year, where no one may plant or plow, there was also an additional law that all lands and fields and houses must return to their original owner. As the Torah puts it, when one sells a field, it is basically a long-term lease until the year of the Yobel. The Rabbis tell us that the Yobel year must have been an amazing sight, to see everyone moving from property to property. Imagine the turmoil, the frenzy and the tumult! The lesson is to teach us that we are only strangers in the land; we are not here for good. Although this law is not applicable today, the concept is just as relevant as before. We tend to think of ourselves as permanent inhabitants of this world. We build and plan to live as if this is the final stop. Yobel should teach us that we are only guests here, hopefully for our full 120 years, but guests nonetheless. With this in mind, we can plan correctly for the final destination by making our time count with Torah and misvot. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"You shall perform My decrees and observe My ordinances and perform them, then you shall dwell securely in the land." (Vayikra 25:18)

Everyone asks, "What will be in Israel?" Will there be peace? Will there be security? What about disengagement from Gaza? Are we going in circles or are we getting somewhere?" These are all very important questions. Good people are trying all different ideas to make the situation better, sometimes this way, sometimes that way. Do you know what the situation is like? It is like a man sick in bed. He is in constant pain. He tries lying on his right side; it doesn't help. He tries his left side; doesn't help. He tries his back; even worse. Tries to sit up; no energy to do it. Tries to stand; can't do it. Tries to lie down; tried that already. He is in pain and we feel sorry for him. But let's say the doctor tells him, "Why are you suffering so much? Why do you refuse to take your medicine?" Will we feel sorry for him? Surely not, especially if the medicine is not bitter and if the medicine doesn't hurt!

If so, why are we so confused and worried? The medicine is right in front of us, in this week's perashah. "And you shall perform My decrees, and observe My ordinances and perform them, then you shall dwell securely in the land." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"And when you sell anything to your fellow man or buy from your fellow man, you shall not cheat one another" (Vayikra 25:14)

Seforno (to verse 17) comments that Hashem is the G-d of the buyer and the G-d of the seller and He does not want anyone to cheat a buyer or a seller. When selling something to another person or when buying from someone, if you keep in mind that the Creator is his G-d you will be very careful not to deceive him in any manner. If the son of an emperor or of a president of a powerful nation would purchase something from you or sell you something, you would be extremely careful not to cheat him. Either you would have respect for his father and out of that respect you would be honest with him, or else you would fear retribution if you would deceive him and his father found out about your deception. This should be our attitude in our monetary dealings with other people. Hashem is their Heavenly Father and he commands you to be honest with them. Either out of respect for Hashem or out of fear of Him you should be meticulously careful not to cheat another person in any way. (Growth through Torah)


"If your brother becomes impoverished and his means fail with you, you should strengthen him - whether proselyte or resident - so that he can live with you" (Vayikra 25:35)

"Vehechezakta bo" means, "strengthen in him." It should have said, "Vehechezakta oto" - "you should strengthen him."

Sedakah is often pictured as the rich giving to benefit the poor. However, in the Midrash Rabba (Vayikra 34:8), Rabbi Yehoshua says, "More than the rich does for the poor, the poor does for the rich." The rich man who gives the poor man money is helping him temporarily with his daily needs. In return, through sedakah, the rich man's assets become blessed and he is greatly rewarded in olam haba.

Our pasuk alludes to this by saying "vehechezakta" - "you will find strength for yourself" - "bo" - "in him" - i.e. through helping the poor man. (Vedibarta Bam)


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

"Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of G-d; it is even a greater love that it was made known to him that he was created in the image of G-d." (Abot 3:14)

How does the fact that is was made known to man that he was created in the image of Hashem show a greater expression of love?

When Eress Yisrael was under English rule, a group of people decided to name a town after the King of England. They discussed it with the English ambassador, and after a period of time he turned down the gesture. His explanation was that in the future, disreputable people might reside in the town, and their behavior and reputation would be a disgrace to the King's name.

Hashem loves the Jewish people and therefore He created them in His image. If this fact would not have been revealed, it would be no disgrace to Him personally if they lived a lifestyle which is contrary to His glory. The fact that He revealed it to them and gave them the Torah to know how He wishes them to live shows the great love and faith that he has in the Jewish people that they will always be faithful to Him and not cause a hilul Hashem - desecration of His name. (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: On each holiday, we read a special maftir which describes the musaf offering of that holiday. Why don't we do the same thing on Shabbat? Answer: 1. The musaf offering for Shabbat only contains two verses, and no aliyah is allowed to be fewer than three verses.

2. We are obligated to read a haftarah which relates to the subject discussed in the maftir. If we were to read about the Shabbat musaf offering every week, all the haftarot would discuss the same subject. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umekorei Hadinim)


This week's haftarah: Yirmiyahu 32:6-27.

Our perashah discusses the sale and redemption of lands, and this haftarah tells of Hashem's command to Yirmiyahu, the prophet, to purchase a plot of land prior to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. The haftarah also discusses the Babylonian exile which lasted 70 years. Our Sages teach that the exile lasted 70 years to atone for the 70 shemitah (sabbatical) years which were not observed when they were in the land of Israel. One of the main themes in our perashah is the subject of shemitah and its laws.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Forty-eight.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

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