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Haftarah: Shemuel I 11:14-12:22

JUNE 28-29, 2008 25 SIVAN 5768

Rosh Hodesh Tamuz will be celebrated on Thrsday & Friday, July 3 & 4.

Pop Quiz: After the incident with Korah and his followers, what was done with the fire-pans that they used?


"It shall be that the man whom I shall choose - his staff will blossom" (Bemidbar 17:20)

The tragic episode of the rebellion of Korah did not end with the demise of Korah and his men. The people still felt they needed a sign to validate and prove that Aharon was the one chosen to be the Kohen. Moshe declared that each tribe will submit a wooden staff with the name of the nasi (president) inscribed into the wood. The test would be that the staff that miraculously blossomed and grew fruit would be the staff of the chosen one. We say "miraculously" because the staff would be a dry piece of wood not rooted in the ground. The staff of Aharon blossomed, which proved he was the chosen one.

Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Bloch says that there is an important message here. In general, a piece of wood will grow and blossom if it is rooted in the earth. If it is not, it will not grow anything. A staff of wood not connected is like a person who is not rooted in any country, a wandering Jew. However, if a man is connected to the holiness of the Torah and to the spirit of Hashem, he can be fruitful even without roots and without land.

This is the symbolic significance of the staff of Aharon. A righteous Jew can be happy and successful even without a land and without roots. Today we feel rooted and secure if we have a home and a secure job. Without them we get confused and flustered. If we can get more connected to the source of life, we would not need any things to feel secure. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"It's enough for you, sons of Levi." (Bemidbar 16:7)

When Korah, Datan and Abiram came to Moshe and questioned his authority, they also expressed their wishes to become like the Kohanim, and serve G-d in a closer way. Moshe tried to diffuse the issue by saying that they already have a special status by being Leviim (Levites), so why ask for more? Ultimately, this became a major rebellion, and the only way it could be squashed is by an open miracle of the earth swallowing up Korah and his followers. This was Divine proof that Moshe was correct in his decision.

However, the Midrash tells us that forty years later, when Moshe begged and pleaded with Hashem to try to enter Israel, Hashem refused him with the same words that Moshe used to Korah, "Rab lach - It is enough for you," which is similar to "Rab lachem?" Hashem was saying to him, "Moshe, it is enough for you to be the leader here. You don't have to go to Israel." The reason these same words were used was that Moshe was being shown that it is incorrect to tell someone not to strive for a greater position in spiritual matters. Although Korah used the wrong methods and ultimately paid with his life, he still wanted an opportunity to get closer to Hashem, and Moshe seemed to be telling him, "It's enough. You don't need more."

We learn from here an important lesson. If we see someone getting close to Hashem more than we are able to handle for ourselves, we should never hold him back. Sometimes we see people learning more Torah than we do, or praying Amidah for a longer time. Even if we cannot be like them, we should not discourage them. We should understand that everyone has to be comfortable on his own level and ideally, we should be happy that Hashem is being served in a better way. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Picture this. You come home one Sunday afternoon and behold, sitting there on the couch right in the middle of your living room, is your landlord. With his shoes off, and feet up on the coffee table, he lowers the volume on his headphones and puts your Sunday paper down just long enough to give you a short hello, and then goes back to reading.

"What are you doing here?!?" you ask in a polite tone trying to mask your annoyance. He coolly puts down the paper and pulls out the deed to the property from his pocket and indignantly replies, "Excuse me, but if you read carefully you will see that this house belongs to me." As your blood-pressure soars to new heights you contortedly respond, "I know the house belongs to you, but since you rented it out to me, you gave up your right to just use it anytime you wish. I would appreciate if you would leave as soon as possible."

The case is crystal clear. The landlord is clearly in the wrong, and each moment he remains in the rental property without permission, he is stealing from the tenant. In essence, the same is true in the case of employment.

The Rambam (Sechirut 13-7), compares an employee who uses his time on the job for his own purposes, to stealing. When an individual hires him/herself out to work for an employer, he is in actuality "renting" out his capabilities, efforts and strengths. Therefore although in essence his body and all of his strengths are of course his own, when he accepts the job he relinquishes his rights to use them for his own benefit, during the hours of employment, to his employer. For him to use his boss's time to surf the net, play solitaire, or conduct a lengthy conversation with a friend (that is not business related) is tantamount to theft, just as is the case with our friendly landlord.

It is important to note that there are acceptable leniencies in regards to this sensitivity. Anything that can be clearly classified as "common practice" is permissible, as it is understood that the employee was hired under those assumptions. For example, it is acceptable to say hello and greet a fellow employee in the hallway, speaking in a relaxed and unhurried way which expresses common courtesy. In this respect, today a normal "coffee break" is also considered acceptable, as long as it is in the realm of "the normal customary activity." However, anything more than the "minhag" must be limited. (Rabbi Dovid Grossman of Kollel Zichron Gershon)

Answer to Pop Quiz: They were made into a covering for the mizbe'ah (Altar).

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)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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