AUGUST 28-29, 2009 9 ELUL 5769
"And he wrote her a bill of divorce and presented it into her hand and sent her from his house" (Debarim 24:1)
It is painful to discuss the topic of divorce. We have unfortunately witnessed a sharp rise in the percentage of couples in the Jewish community ending in divorce in recent years.
There is an unusual Mishnah in the tractate of Gittin that is explained by Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, z"tl. The Mishnah brings two opinions on the grounds for divorce. Bet Shammai holds, "A man may not divorce his wife unless he found her in an act of adultery." Bet Hillel says, "Even if she burnt his food." While Bet Shammai's position is understandable, Bet Hillel's statement, that even if she burnt his food, is very difficult to understand. Do the Rabbis really mean that if a wife accidentally burns her husband's supper he should divorce her?
Rabbi Kamenetzky explained, that when a wife burns a piece of meat in all plausibility only a part of the meat was burnt and some parts were not burnt, so this wife has three choices:
a) She can take the burnt meat for herself and serve her husband the good meat.
b) She can divide the meat so that both she and her husband each have a piece of good meat and a piece of burnt meat.
c) She can serve her husband all the burnt meat and she can eat all the good meat.
The woman that Bet Hillel is talking about chose the third option, taking all the edible meat for herself and serving her husband all of the burnt meat.
Let's talk about both spouses. The term "burnt meat" is really a metaphor for all things that go wrong. In the course of life there are many situations in which a person is wronged, gets a raw deal, is the victim. These are the "burnt meats" of life. Here too the spouse (man or wife) has three choices. It was my fault, it was our fault, it was your fault. Bet Hillel is teaching us that when the spouse always puts the blame on the other spouse and serves it to that spouse constantly, then there is no relationship. The overwhelming urge to blame someone, usually those closest to us, is human nature. That is what our Rabbis are teaching us here.
This is a tremendous lesson for all of us, especially young couples. Be careful with blame. It can sour a relationship. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Our son is rebellious; he does not heed our voice." (Debarim 21:20)
Although the conditions necessary to punish a wayward and rebellious son with the appropriate punishment are difficult to come by, and indeed some say it never happened, we can learn some important lessons from this perashah. The Torah says that the parents say, "This is our son and he doesn't listen to our voice," emphasizing that the parents are united in their upbringing of their child and in the ultimate punishment. Then, they are entitled to bring him to bet din, since they have done the best they could, the fault being the son's.
This teaches us how important it is for both parents to be together in raising a child. If he hears two voices, rather than "our voice," he will get mixed messages and will quickly learn to manipulate one against the other to get his own way. Many times, parents might not agree on a certain point regarding their child, be it about permissiveness or about punishment, etc. They should discuss it between themselves first and come out with one voice to the child. Then, even if the child knows it's really the wish of one parent and not the other, he sees a unified front and won't be able to "divide and conquer." This is a well known rule which we may be very aware of, but if we take the time and energy to implement it on a regular basis, we will see more success in raising fine children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"You shall not plow with an ox and donkey together" (Debarim 22:10)
Da'at Zekenim explains a reason for this commandment that since an ox chews its cud and a donkey does not, the donkey will suffer the pain of envy when it sees that the ox has food in its mouth and it doesn't.
Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz commented: This is a great lesson in how sensitive we need to be not to cause others the pain of envy. We must be careful with the feelings of an animal, all the more so of a person. Note that the ox is not really eating any more than the donkey. The donkey only thinks this but he is mistaken.
Be very careful not to boast about your accomplishments or possessions if others might feel envious. Do not praise someone in the presence of a person who might feel envious of that person. (Growth through Torah)
"An Ammonite and a Moabite shall not enter the assembly of Hashem…because they did not meet you with bread and water…and because they hired Bilaam against you" (Debarim 23:4-5)
The above pasuk implies a dual offense attributed to these nations: first, not greeting B'nei Yisrael with food and drink, and second, for hiring Bilaam to curse and destroy the Jews. The question arises, are we to expect kindness and human decency from murderers? We may suggest that when we see murderers bent on destroying a whole nation, it is necessary to be aware of the source of this atrocity. It was not spontaneously that such miscreancy was born. Its source is rooted in an enormous lack of human decency and respect. A deficiency in human sensitivity and feelings can ultimately lead to acts of violence, indeed, even to murder. Atrocities of great magnitude do not just happen; they evolve from a vile seed which has been allowed to germinate. It was the lack of proper manners and conduct on the part of these wicked nations which eventually produced such acts of wickedness which attributed to their being forever excluded from the Jewish people. (Peninim on the Torah)
What we have has been given to us by Hashem, because He knows what the best possible situation for us is right now. It is not important that we do not understand His calculations, and it is permitted for us to try and improve our lot - so long as we do so in ways permitted by Torah guidelines. However, as long as we are where we are, we need to acknowledge that "This is where Hashem put me and He has given me all that I need for now."
Foolish people think that success is a function of what and how much they possess.
Ironically, ultimate success is when individuals are no longer burdened with "things." An expensive, designer briefcase is a status symbol; but the CEO doesn't carry any briefcase at all. His worth is valued not by the papers he carries in a briefcase, but by the ides he stores in his mind.
They not only wear out - their novelty and excitement fade quickly. When you see a beautiful home, garden, or automobile, enjoy the view. The owners have already become used to it, and whatever "thing" it is, it probably no longer brings them much pleasure. But you can revel in the concept that Hashem created the whole of Creation for you to enjoy. That garden and that home are "yours" to enjoy even though you did not have to pay for them! When you are down and feel the lack of material possession in your life, consider that He gave you all that you need - and that is enough! (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
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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