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Haftarah: Shoftim 11:1-33

JULY 4-5, 2008 2 TAMUZ 5768

Pop Quiz: Who lived the longest: Moshe, Aharon or Miriam?


"And they wept for Aharon thirty days, the entire house of Israel" (Bemidbar 20:29)

In our perashah Aharon passes away. The Torah describes the reaction of the people. The reaction was different than when Moshe Rabenu passed away. When Moshe Rabenu passed away, the Torah says, "And the sons of Israel cried over Moshe" (Debarim 34:8). But, when Aharon passed away it says, "And they cried over Aharon the entire house of Israel." Everyone felt the great loss, men, women and children. The loss of Aharon was felt more than the passing of Moshe Rabenu. This was due, in great part, to the efforts of Aharon to be the great peacemaker between husband and wife. Making peace in the home, shalom bayit, is a great misvah.

Rabbi Mordechai Menahem Schwab z"l would often quote the Hafess Hayim, who said that it is important to set aside a sum of money in a special shalom bayit savings account. Many times family discord begins over money matters. Sometimes it is not so obvious. However, if there would be money available and set aside to pay for any expenses incurred to avoid arguments or to add happiness it would prevent the argument altogether.

Many times we are willing to spend a lot of money on misvot. We will pay a lot for a beautiful etrog or special tefillin in order to beautify the misvah, as it should be. However, many times we forget that shalom is a big misvah. If we remember this we would have an easier time to overlook a little loss of money to acquire this great misvah. By setting aside a shalom bayit savings account we can train ourselves to view shalom bayit as a misvah and realize it can cost money like any other misvah. This investment can go a long way to avoid fighting in a time when the financial atmosphere can test the best of us in our own homes. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The symbol for healing that we are all familiar with is a serpent on a staff, and this comes from the perashah of the week. When the Jewish people spoke against Hashem and Moshe, they were bitten by snakes and other animals, and turned to Moshe for help. Hashem told him to fashion a snake onto a staff and let the Jewish people look at it, and they will be cured. The Rabbis ask, "Does a snake on a stick cure just by looking at it?"

The answer is that as they looked up, their heart turned to Hashem, and they realized that our Father in Heaven can do anything, and they rededicated themselves to Him. Then Hashem removed the illness because it was just a tool to get them closer to Him.

As we go through life today, we invariably have to go to doctors and use medicine. Although we don't see the serpent on the staff, we must "look upwards" and remember that Hashem is the Master Healer. He is the one who sent the illness and He is the one who can remove it. Every time we take even an aspirin, we should say a small prayer that Hashem should bring us to a complete recovery. We should also rededicate ourselves to Him and to His service so that the need for the illness will not be there, and this way we will have a full recovery. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The hour was late. It was a beautiful wedding. It was also a long tiring ride home. As the Cohens pulled off the Parkway, Mr. Cohen remembered the babysitter. They had spoken to her a number of times throughout the night and Baruch Hashem everything seemed to be under control. Mr. Cohen checked his pockets and realized that the numerous tolls had taken their "toll" on his cash flow. He had two or three dollars left. How am I going to pay the babysitter? There is an ATM machine a few blocks away, but I am so tired. I guess I could technically wait until morning. I hope she won't mind. His inner struggle was pulling him in both directions. "Is it really so important that I pay her tonight?" he asked himself.

The Gemara cites the following seemingly harsh statement. When one withholds payment from his worker, it is as if he has embezzled the worker's soul. The average worker relies on his wages to feed and sustain himself and his family. Withholding his sustenance is tantamount to taking away his life support. It is for this reason that the misvah of "timely payments" is mentioned on six different occasions in our Torah.

The Torah splits up this misvah into two different types of workers. The day worker, and the worker who works at night. Any employee, whose job ends during the daylight hours, must be paid before sunset. If the worker's job ends during the night, like in the case of our babysitter, their wages must be delivered before daybreak. It is therefore a Misvah De'orayta (Scriptural obligation) to pay this babysitter before the morning, since her job has ended in the middle of the night.

The Hafess Hayim adds that this misvah is relevant even if one would employ a katan, a minor (boy under the age of thirteen or a girl under the age of twelve). Therefore, this would be an obligation even if one would hire a rather young babysitter. Likewise, adds the Hafess Hayim, if one tells a child, "If you shovel my snow I will give you a treat," that treat must be delivered and in a timely fashion.

Mr. Cohen started thinking to himself, what were to happen if the holiday of Succot came and the only etrog in town was a few blocks away. Would I not go the distance even if I was tired after a long trip? I would definitely do everything in my power to fulfill that misvah properly. How many blocks do I walk, sometimes in the heat of summer, to hear the shofar on Rosh Hashanah? The misvah of paying a worker on time will be no less important in my eyes. And with that, he turned off the road to get the funds with which to pay the babysitter, who was very appreciative to be paid on time. (Rav Dovid Grossman of Kollel Zichron Gershon)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Miriam lived 126 years, Aharon 123 and Moshe 120.

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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