JULY 8-9, 2005 2 TAMUZ 5765
"And they shall take to you a perfectly red cow" (Bemidbar 19:2)
Our perashah begins with the law of the Parah Adumah - the Red Cow. This law is the perfect example of a hok - a law that we don't understand. The Midrash focuses mainly on the paradox in the laws of the Red Cow. Its ashes purify people who had become contaminated, yet those who engage in its preparation become contaminated. Tosafot (Abodah Zarah 35a) state that one should not try to explain this law because G-d gave us His best and most secret commands like a gift of a lover to his beloved.
The Midrash says that Hashem revealed the secret of how the Red Cow works to only one person - Moshe Rabenu. The Hatam Sofer says that Moshe Rabenu had tremendous suffering when Hashem explained the law to him. He experienced great pain because Hashem told him that he won't be allowed to teach the people the reasons for this law. He was so pained by this that he would have preferred not to know it at all! Rav Pam explains this unusual reaction of Moshe Rabenu. It is stated in Pirkei Abot that one of the ways a person acquired Torah is through happiness. A person who studies Torah feels true joy. The result of this joy is that he truly enjoys teaching the Torah that he learned. This joy of teaching has its source in Hashem Himself. Hashem was very happy to give and teach the Torah to the Jewish people. It states in the Talmud that Hashem taught Moshe and Moshe taught it to us with a good eye. This means he explained it with all of its depth because he loved the Torah so much. Therefore, when Hashem told Moshe he can't teach the Parah Adumah law, he experienced tremendous pain.
A good teacher loves to teach the Torah. He doesn't watch the clock; his fuel is the love of the Torah. These teachers ignite the love of Torah in their students. If we need anything today, we need our kids to fall in love with the Torah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"This is the Torah, if a person dies in a tent..." (Bemidbar 19:14)
The sages state that the Torah only lasts with those who die over it. This seems very puzzling, since the Torah is for the living, as it states (Vayikra 18:5), "And you shall live with them (the commandments)."
The Hafess Hayim gave the following analogy. A successful merchant was so busy taking care of customers who came to his store that he had no time for Torah study. He noticed one day that his hair was turning gray, and he realized that he was getting older. He knew that the day he would leave this world was getting closer. He therefore decided that he would go each morning to the synagogue to pray with a minyan and to study Torah for a couple of hours. When he came late to the store, his wife was frantic. People would have come to the store if he were there and they were losing customers. He calmly told his wife, "What would I do if the Angel of Death came to me and told me that my time in this world was up? Could I tell him that I can't go yet since I'll miss out on customers? If I were already dead I would not be able to come to the store. Therefore, each day, let us imagine for a couple of hours that I have already died. This way I am able to study Torah each day."
This, said the Hafess Hayim, is what the sages are advising us. You might be very busy and feel that you do not have any time to study Torah, but if you will just view yourself as if you were already dead, you will find the time to study Torah which gives life to those who study it. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And Moshe undressed Aharon of his garments and put them upon Elazar, his son." (Bemidbar 20:28)
Hazal describe the uniqueness of this undressing of Aharon. Normally, Aharon would first have to remove all of his garments, so that Elazar could don his undergarments first. As Aharon removed his outer garment, however, Elazar immediately put it on. This became Elazar's undergarment. As Aharon continued by removing his undergarment, it, in turn, became Elazar's outergarments. There is a profound homiletic lesson to be derived herein. Aharon's inner "garments" or essence, the way he acted in the privacy of his own home, was reflected externally by his children. Children invariably reveal the actual values and outlook presented in their home.
How fortunate are the parents whose deep inner sense of Jewish values is revealed in the constructive activities of their children. One may be able to build an external fa?ade of piety for the world. This sham, however, will eventually be exposed through the negative life activities of his children. We must forever be vigilant to keep the inner character of our lives in order, so that the next generation will be bequeathed a heritage which is pure and unimpeachable. (Peninim on the Torah)
"And it was that if a snake bit a person he would gaze at the copper snake and would live" (Bemidbar 21:9)
The term vehaya denotes joy. Why then does the Torah use it in this verse since being bitten by a snake is painful and not something that one would feel joy over? Rabbi Meir Simcha Hacohen explained that in the previous verse Hashem said that everyone who was bitten would live when he gazed at the copper snake on the pole. This includes someone who was deathly ill from a previous disease. If he was bitten by one of the snakes, he would be totally cured from everything by gazing at the copper snake. Therefore, such a person would experience joy if he were bitten by a snake, for this would now make him eligible to regain his total health. For this reason the Torah uses the term vehaya; it was a joyous occurrence.
But one can ask on this: The joy was only for those specific people who were previously ill. Why is this considered joyous for everyone? We see here the idea that everyone who was bitten by a snake could experience the joy of those specific people who gained greatly. Those bitten by the snake suffered pain but had a means of being cured, hence the bite was painful but not fatal. Even though they themselves suffered they could empathize with those who were gaining greatly. Since they could view the situation as positive because of those who gained, everyone had a joyous reaction. (Growth through Torah)
Question: Why do we take off our tefillin before musaf on Rosh Hodesh? Answer: The musaf prayer is in place of the musaf sacrifice that was offered on Rosh Hodesh. At the time that the sacrifice was offered, the day was treated like a Yom Tob. Since we don't wear tefillin on Yom Tob, we remove them before reciting this prayer. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umekorei Hadinim)
This week's Haftarah: Shoftim 11:1-33.
At the end of our perashah, Moshe sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Emorim, requesting permission to pass through their land. When they refused and came out to attack, Israel wiped them out and took over their lands. In this haftarah, the nation of Amon attacked Israel, seeking to recapture these lands. Yiftah, the Jewish leader, sent emissaries to Amon, detailing the events that took place in this perashah, explaining that Hashem had turned the lands over to Israel. When Amon did not withdraw, Yiftah attacked and defeated them.
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.
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