MARCH 5-6, 2010 20 ADAR 5770
"I have seen this nation and behold it is a stiff-necked people." (Shemot 32:9)
Moshe Rabenu prays to Hashem after the Jews worshipped the Golden Calf. Moshe says we are a stubborn people. Rashi says: "They turn the back of their necks to the one rebuking them and they refuse to listen." From Rashi it sounds like this description was intended as an insult. But, the Midrash (Shemot Rabbah) says it was a praise. The Jews, after they accepted the Torah, give their lives entirely to sanctify the Name of Hashem. They never give in, and stubbornly cling to the Torah. Well, we can ask, what is the true intention of Moshe? If it was meant as a praise, then why mention it here at the sin of the Golden Calf? If, then, it was an insult, why does the Midrash color it as a praise?
Rabbi Label Lam explains, like any other trait, stubbornness can be used for good or the opposite. This trait is a key to our survival. If not that we are stiff-necked we would have blended and vanished among the nations thousands of years ago. However, a rebuke was needed here because the trait was misused. It is like a doctor who would reset a broken bone to make sure it doesn't grow hard in a warped manner. Therefore, for the sake of our survival, a stinging rebuke was needed, to re-set this trait to ensure that it grows correctly. And so we have survived until today. The net result is clear. Rashi says it was an insult, and we needed it, but now the Midrash says as a result of this, the repaired trait is our praise. It is interesting that this great sin became a source of our greatest strength. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"I have endowed the heart of every wise-hearted person with wisdom" (Shemot 31:6)
Hashem appointed Besalel and Aholiab to make the Mishkan and to use all those with wisdom in their hearts to assist them. If we think about it, these people had just been enslaved for many years in Egypt doing menial work. Where did anyone have experience or background to be able to create the magnificent utensils of the Mishkan?
The answer is that Hashem gave wisdom to the "wise at heart." The one who wanted to use his heart to serve Hashem was given wisdom for G-d, Who is the Source of all knowledge. This is a lesson for us. We don't have to know everything to serve Hashem; we have to want to know everything to serve Him. There is a lot of potential in us and in our children which is waiting to be tapped. It needs the will and the direction. Let's not allow all that potential to go to waste with all the distractions of today's society! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Every sport has its little tips that can help a participant perform better. In baseball, hitters are taught to keep an eye on the ball. Tennis players are taught to "swing through" the ball. And cycling experts say: "Watch your flags."
When you ride a bicycle, wind resistance can tire you and wear out your leg muscles, thus reducing endurance. Therefore, before setting out on a bike route, follow the experts' advice and pick the direction that is more difficult at the outset - into the wind - so that the return trip will be assisted by the power of the wind at your back. The simple way to determine wind direction is to "watch your flags."
In life, people are confronted with different paths which all lead toward their goals. Some individuals choose the path that offers the least resistance at the outset. Our Sages, however, advise that in order to succeed, you should choose the path that seems more difficult at first, and you will find the road smoother and easier to navigate at the end. Beginnings are usually difficult, but perseverance yields success.
When you must decide which way to go, don't be shortsighted. Consider the long term. Don't automatically choose the seemingly easy road over the one that looks difficult. If you ride into the wind on the outbound leg of your journey, the wind will be at your back in the end. Look at the whole ride, and fix a course that can lead to ultimate success in the long run. (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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