MAY 8-9, 2009 15 IYAR 5769
Day 30 of the Omer
"They placed him under guard to clarify for them through Hashem" (Vayikra 24:12)
In our perashah we have the unfortunate episode of the blasphemer. As a result of a fight between him and the members of the tribe of Dan, he cursed Hashem's Name. Moshe Rabenu was unsure of how to deal with him. He was placed in prison until Moshe was able to consult with Hashem to find out what penalty he should get.
Rashi informs us that another incident occurred at the same time. At the end of Parashat Shelah Lecha we are told of a Jew who intentionally violated Shabbat. There, as well, we are told that they left him in prison until they could find out what his penalty was. Although they knew that desecration of Shabbat warranted capital punishment, they had not yet been informed which of the four methods of execution applied. Moshe had to turn to Hashem to clarify this. With regard to the blasphemer, on the other hand, Hashem had yet not made clear what penalty he was liable to. Rashi explains that although the two incidents took place at the same time, and both the Shabbat desecrator and the blasphemer were imprisoned at the same time, they were kept separately, since the death penalty of the Shabbat desecrator was known, but the future of the blasphemer was unknown.
Why was it important to keep them separate? The Sifte Hachamim explains, if the one who cursed was not yet subject to the death penalty, he would suffer unnecessary worry if he was confined together with the desecrator. He might fear that he would share the same fate as his companion. Although the individual under discussion had committed one of the most serious sins imaginable, defiling and desecrating the Name of Hashem, and deserved to be punished, this did not permit inflicting any unwarranted pain upon him.
The care that Moshe Rabenu took to prevent the blasphemer from suffering unnecessarily should serve as a powerful lesson for us in our dealings with others. We must try our best that our actions or words do not inflict any amount of pain, even short lived. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"A man who will blaspheme his G-d...and a man, if he strikes any human life...and a man who strikes an animal" (Vayikra 24:15-18)
The Torah describes someone who blasphemed the Holy Name of Hashem and his ultimate punishment of being put to death. What strikes us as highly unusual is the fact that right after that, the Torah teaches us the "regular" laws of hitting another person or even causing damage to someone else's animal. What does this have to do with blasphemy? One would assume that to curse the Name of G-d would involve someone totally demented or evil enough to stoop to the lowest level. The Torah, however, is teaching us that there is a progression for everything. If one person starts off by damaging someone's animal, he may go to injure his friend personally. If left unchecked, a person can deteriorate so rapidly that under the right circumstances, he may even blaspheme the Name of Hashem. The Gemara tells us that when the Rabbis wanted to know who stole a silver cup, one of the masters noticed someone drying his hands on the sleeve of someone else and deduced that this was the culprit, which indeed he was.
Everything we do affects us and if not corrected will lead us to another level, lower than the one we started on. On the other hand, a good act which we do will also lead us to do even better things, as it says, " a misvah leads to a misvah and a sin leads to a sin." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And you shall take for yourself on the first day the fruit of the etrog tree [lit. a beautiful tree]" (Vayikra 23:40)
What is the beauty of the etrog tree?
Man is compared to a tree of the field (Debarim 20:19). Many lessons have been derived from the trees to guide man in his development.
The uniqueness of the etrog is that on the bottom it has an oketz - the stem by which it is connected to the tree - and on the top grows a stem with a shoshana - rosette blossom. Should one of these fall off, the etrog is no longer considered a beauty.
The lesson of the etrog tree is that a beautiful person is one who is connected with the past and who also has accomplishments of his own. A descendant of a fine family, who continues the family tradition, and who does not rest contented with the family's prior glories and goes forth to blossom on his own, is indeed a hadar - a very beautiful person. (Vedibarta Bam)
"So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them from the land of Egypt" (Vayikra 23:43)
When the Jews were in the desert they ate manna from heaven and drank water from a well which accompanied them in their travels. Why do we make a festival to commemorate the Clouds of Glory and not for the manna or the well?
Hashem took the Jewish people out of Egypt with the intent of bringing them to Eress Yisrael. Their itinerary included traveling through the desert for forty years. Since Hashem presented the itinerary and chose the desert route, it was incumbent upon Him to provide the Jewish people with food and water, which are otherwise unavailable in the desert. To smooth the roads and protect them from the scorching heat, He had to provide the clouds which enveloped them.
However, in addition, the Jewish people were also surrounded by Ananei Hakabod, Clouds of Glory. These were intended to show His love for His chosen people and not something strictly necessary. Thus, so that our generations appreciate the uniqueness of the Clouds of Glory, we commemorate them through celebrating the festival of Succot. (Vedibarta Bam)
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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