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Haftarah: Shoftim 11:1-33

JUNE 18-19, 2010 7 TAMUZ 5770


"Miriam died there and she was buried there." (Bemidbar 20:1)

Our perashah marks the beginning of a new era in the life of the nation. Thirty-eight years passed since the episode of Korah in last week's perashah. The decree that the generation of the spies would die in the wilderness has been fulfilled. The Torah tells us that Miriam passed away and immediately follows with the fact that there was no water. This teaches us that it was in her merit that the miraculous well followed the people and provided a plentiful supply of fresh water. As son as that righteous woman died the water stopped.

Rashi comments: "She, too, died through a kiss, so why did it not say of her, 'She died by the mouth of Hashem'? For it is not a respectful manner of speaking with regard to Hashem Who is on high." Rashi is explaining that her manner of passing away was like Moshe and Aharon. This was known as the kiss of Hashem, which is a very painless process of the soul clinging to Hashem, without the use of the Angel of Death. But, the Torah didn't say so because it is not nice to say that Hashem kissed Miriam.

To us it seems strange. Why is it a lack of honor to Hashem to say it? After all, Hashem is not physical at all. The whole concept is very distant from Hashem. Plus, the kiss is like a father to his daughter. If so, why not say it? The answer is that the Torah wants to teach us to keep a great distance and stay far away from physical contact which is inappropriate. The distance is to be so great that it shouldn't even be mentioned. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

After Miriam passed away and the well which provided water for the Jewish people dried up, Moshe was told to speak to a rock which would become a source of water. When Moshe spoke to the rock and no water came out, he hit it twice, and although water came gushing forth, he and Aharon were punished that they would not be allowed entry into the land of Israel. What is amazing about this episode is that years before, in a similar situation of no water for the Jews, Moshe was told to hit the rock! Why all of a sudden is hitting the rock incorrect and only speaking to the rock the right way?

The Rabbis tell us that in the beginning year of the career of the Jewish people, hitting a rock was appropriate. But after forty years being guided by Hashem, we must mature enough that the miracles should happen with words rather than by hitting. This is comparable to a child who has to be hit when he is young, but afterwards only a word is necessary. We have to learn from here that what was acceptable in the beginning of our career has to be upgraded as we get older and wiser. We should not be doing the same thing year after year, rather we should be mature enough to serve Hashem in a more advanced way. What was good enough for children is not good enough for adults! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The human being is expected to grow in intellect and maturity, not merely in size and weight like other creations such as plants and animals. The character of a person should improve and become refined with age, like fine wine. And so Hashem planned the world in a way that would be conducive to personal growth.

One of the built-in training devices is called marriage. The Torah describes a man's mate as "ezer k'negdo" - a helper corresponding [opposite] to him. Hashem designed marriage as a place where a man and a woman who were created with different natures would live together in one home. Their different views regarding so many daily situations would thereby yield growth and perfection through the reconciliation of their opinions.

Men are different from women, and the differences are more than just physical. In any relationship, one party moves faster than the other. The trick to domestic tranquility is not necessarily for one spouse to slow down or speed up in order to move exactly in sync with his or her mate. The trick is really to learn how to react to the difference in pace.

One great Rosh Yeshivah in Jerusalem would always be ready to leave for semachot (happy occasions) before his wife was done getting dressed. In most instances he kept busy with learning or some other important activity while he waited for her to announce, "I am ready, let's go!" One time the couple was invited to the wedding of one of the Rosh Yeshivah's students. The Rosh Yeshivah had a very pressing matter to attend to that same evening; therefore he requested from his wife, "Tonight we must leave home no later than six o'clock, as I cannot stay past eight, and I must show proper respect to the groom and bride before I depart. Please be sure to be ready promptly at six." The well-intentioned wife tried her best, but was not ready until six-thirty. When she finally came to the front door, the anxious Rosh Yeshivah accepted her apology and gave her an admiring look, as if to appreciate every detail of her simple but dignified wedding suit. "Kedai," he said. ("It was worth [the wait].") (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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