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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2

JULY 13-14, 2007 28 TAMUZ 5767

Pop Quiz: Who did Hashem tell Moshe to conquer, after which he would die?


"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel" (Bemidbar 33:1)

There is one misvah that we mention every day in the Shema: "Va'ahabta et Hashem Elokecha, and you shall love Hashem your G-d." The difficulty is to understand how you can be commanded to love. Is it not an emotion that a person has to feel? How can the Torah legislate it? Mr. Avi Shulman answers with the following scenario. Mr. Rubin, in the prime of his life, develops a rare kidney disease. There is no cure and slowly Mr. Rubin begins to die. The medical expenses after insurance have bankrupted his family. They are forced to sell his business, his home, his two cars and the family has to go on welfare.

Then a new procedure is developed that, together with a matching donor kidney, can save Mr. Rubin's life. A worldwide search has begun and, because of numerous complex issues, hundreds of millions of potential kidney replacements are disqualified. Then a miracle happens. One man in a distant country has a perfect matching kidney. Will he consider donating one of his kidneys? It turns out that this person is none other than the wealthiest person of a small country in some remote part of the world. He is contacted and amazingly, he answers yes. Moreover, he will immediately come to the city of our sick friend at his own expense to save Mr. Rubin's life.

And that's exactly what happened. The wealthy man came, donated his kidney and Mr. Rubin got better and returned to a robust, healthy life. Moreover, for some unknown reason, the donor took a tremendous liking to Mr. Rubin and determined to become his benefactor. He bought him a beautiful new home, two new cars, paid all of his debts and rebuilt his business. The rich man then left and went back to his country. Can you list the words to describe the various emotions that Mr. Rubin felt about his wealthy friend? Perhaps the one word to best capture all the emotions would be "love." Mr. Rubin's heart would be overflowing with love for his benefactor.

Assume Mr. Rubin did not know anything about the donor of his kidney and all the kindness done to him after he got well. We tell him, "Why don't you investigate how you got a kidney and everything else, find out about all the wonderful things that your benefactor gave you." Are we legislating Mr. Rubin to love his benefactor? Absolutely not. All we are doing is saying, "Find out all the good things he gave you…and you will love him on your own." From this we learn the misvah of loving Hashem is a practical and do-able misvah, not one that comes by itself.

Now we are ready for the Ramban on our perashah. He asks, why does the Torah list all of the places the Israelites camped in the desert? He answers that the Torah wants us to go and see all of these places and see that they are uninhabitable. This will show us the wonders of Hashem of how He took care of millions of people in the desert. Now one might ask, why do I need this information? The answer now is obvious, that this will bring out in us a great love of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

And they traveled from Elim and they encamped by Yam Suf" (Bemidbar 33:10)

Elim hints to the word alimut, which means violence. Yam Suf hints to the word sof, the end. They traveled from the trait of violence. How? By coming to the trait of looking at the end of a person.

Violence induces both actions and words. There is the physical violence of hitting or pushing someone, and there is the verbal violence of shouting at someone or putting him down. Any form of violence not in self-defense is against the principles of the Torah. What is the main cause of violence? Frustration and anger! When you become frustrated or angry, you are likely to lash out at someone. When you remember your true purpose in this world, most things that get other people angry will not affect you very strongly. Also, the more you appreciate life and the more joyous you feel, the less angry you will become. By remembering the end of each person, you will gain a greater appreciation for life. You will value your time and utilize every opportunity for growth. This awareness will keep you far away from any form of violence. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"He shall not break his word" (Bemidbar 30:3)

In Hagigah 10a, Hazal state that although an individual may not break his own word, others may do so for him. This refers specifically to the power of annulment (hatarah) which a Torah Sage maintains. Annulment is a procedure by which a Torah scholar can absolve a person from his vow in applicable circumstances. In addition, certain halachic requirements must be met. The Keli Yakar explains the reasoning behind this dispensation. When a Jew makes a vow, he does so with the assumption that the Torah authorities concur with his decision. Consequently, the Rabbi has the power to invalidate an inappropriate vow.

The Torah's desire for a Jew to maintain a close bond with Torah Sages is the cornerstone of this law. The Torah encourages spiritual linkage with Torah Sages in all situations at all times. This is taught by the pasuk in Debarim, "You shall not turn [from Hashem's misvot] neither to the right nor to the left" (5:29). Rashi says that this specifically means that one must heed the words of a Sage in observing the misvot "even if he tells you that right is left and left is right." Indeed, this enjoinment applies even in such extreme circumstances as when it seems clear to us that the Rabbi is saying that left is right.

A Jew must maintain an unfaltering faith in Torah Sages, for their perception of a situation is enhanced by their ability to view it through the crystalline vision of Torah perspective. We must tenaciously accept upon ourselves the authority of the Torah Sages of each generation who interpret the will of Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)


"And Moshe sent forth a thousand from each tribe to the army." (Bemidbar 31:6)

The Ba'al Haturim comments that Moshe did not send the princes of the twelve tribes to fight against Midian to spare the tribe of Shimon embarrassment, since their prince, Zimri, had been killed.

In time of war, good leadership is essential. The princes would have contributed much to the war effort if they would have been present during the battle against Midian. However, Moshe was willing to forgo the advantages of their assistance to save people from embarrassment. Zimri, the former prince of the tribe of Shimon died dishonorably. He publicly committed an immoral act and Pinhas killed him. If the princes of the other eleven tribes would have been called to lead the one thousand men from their respective tribes, the leader of the tribe of Shimon would have been conspicuously absent. The pain of embarrassment is so great that even in time of war, we must be careful not to cause someone shame. (Love Your Neighbor)

Answer to Pop Quiz: The nation of Midyan.

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)

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