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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1-2:3

JULY 18-19, 2014 21 TAMUZ 5774


"He shall not profane his word, according to whatever comes from his mouth shall he do." (Bemidbar 30:3)

The perashah begins with the power of the word. Even if a simple person makes a vow, he can make something that is normally permitted into something forbidden. An individual can transform a mundane object into a holy one. One can dedicate and set aside something for the Bet Hamikdash by merely saying so. How is it possible for one to change the status of an object with his mouth?

Rabbi Y. Spero explains according to Rabenu Yonah: If a person guards his mouth carefully, he transforms it into a kli sharet (a holy vessel used in the Temple). Just as a vessel of holiness that was used in the Bet Hamikdash was able to transform a mundane object that was placed into it into one of holiness, so too a person can transform his mouth into a kli sharet, a vessel of holiness, which can transform mundane objects into holy ones.

The mouth has the power to do tremendous good, or G-d forbid, it has the potential to wreak havoc on people's lives. The Sefat Emet points out that this perashah is always read during the three weeks, for during this time our words can really make a difference. If one is careful, his words can help rebuild the Bet Hamikdash.

On numerous occasions, Rav Yisrael Gans, Rav in the neighborhood of Mattersdorf, Jerusalem, was present when Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Rosh Yeshivah of Torah Ore, met with childless couples and promised them that they would have a child. Not a blessing, but a promise. When he was asked how he was able to guarantee that a childless couple would have children and from where that power came, he responded with a simple but very powerful thought, "My entire life I have been careful to watch my mouth and therefore I have the ability to make that promise."

One should never dismiss the power of words with the notion that they are "just words." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

When the author of the Sefat Emet was a young boy, he stayed up all night to learn Torah, and by the time the morning prayers came, he had dozed for a few minutes and he came a little late to the minyan. His grandfather, who was a great Rebbe and was in charge of bringing him up, began to rebuke him for being late to shul. He said to him, "If this is your attitude now, what will happen when you get on in life; if you want to succeed you can't be lazy, etc."

The young grandson took the rebuke with his head lowered to the ground and didn't try to defend himself. After the grandfather left, the boy's study partner, who had learned with him all night, exclaimed, "Why didn't you defend yourself and tell him that you were up all night and that's why you were late?" The youngster, who succeeded his grandfather and became a big Rebbe himself later on in life, told his friend, "I learned this from the perashah of Matot. When Moshe rebuked the tribes of Gad and Reuben for wanting to inherit the land on the east of the Jordan, he suspected them of wanting to shirk their responsibilities and of not wanting to fight with the rest of the Jewish people. After Moshe finished his speech they answered that they were not intending to abandon the Jewish people, but were planning to fight with their brothers. We see from here that they did not interrupt Moshe while he was rebuking them because when someone points out our faults, especially someone who cares for us, we should listen rather than object and defend ourselves. This way even if we were right this time, we would have learned something for the future."

This is true today as much as back then. Whenever our loved ones or our friends say anything to us, we become defensive and sometimes even take the offense against them. We should realize that every rebuke or criticism can be helpful in our development if we open our minds and hearts and listen! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"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)


"Take vengeance for the Children of Israel against the Midianites; afterwards you will be gathered unto your people." (Bemidbar 31:2)

Many lessons can be learned from the pure heart of Moshe Rabenu. Hashem commanded him to wage war against Midian, after which he would pass away. Still yet, Moshe did not delay for a moment, but rather he immediately gathered an army and sent them out to war. Moshe saw that defeating Midian would not only bring vengeance for B'nei Yisrael, but it would also avenge the honor of Hashem.

If this was such an important misvah that Moshe refused to put it off, even to prolong his own life, why did he send Elazar and Pinhas to lead the army instead of going himself? Our Rabbis teach that since Moshe lived in Midian for forty years when he was staying with Yitro, he felt that it would not be proper for him to bring any harm to it. This shows us the great importance of hakarat hatob - showing appreciation to one who does a kindness to another. Even though this was such a great misvah that Moshe was ready to end his life in order to perform it, he still refused to physically have a hand in the defeat of Midian because of the kindness they had done for him.

This seems surprising. Of what importance can the kindness Midian had done for Moshe be compared to the great tragedy they had brought upon B'nei Yisrael? They lured many of the people to worship abodah zarah which led to a plague that killed 24,000 people. Must Moshe still acknowledge the kindness they had done to him years earlier? Yes. One must always remember what another person has done for him, regardless of how circumstances may have changed later on.

We also see that when the army returned victoriously from the war, Moshe got angry at them because they violated his order and instead of killing the Midianite women also, they brought them back as prisoners. As a result of his anger, Moshe forgot a halachah. Our Rabbis teach that one who gets angry causes his wisdom to leave him. People have a tendency to justify their anger in various situations, but we can see from this case that the result is the same nevertheless. Moshe's anger was completely justified in that the army was commanded to take vengeance on the Midianites for leading them to sin, and it was actually the women who led them to sin. It is obvious that they did wrong by not wiping them out. Still yet, Moshe's wisdom temporarily left him at the moment of his anger. We can learn from this that the fact that anger causes a lessening of a person's wisdom is not a punishment, but is simply a natural result of the anger. It makes no difference whether the anger was justified or not. Here Moshe got angry even though their failure to fulfill his command actually prolonged his life. Obviously he had no self-interests in his anger, but he was only concerned about the honor of Hashem. Still yet, he suffered the consequences of his anger. (Yalkut Hamishai)


"It took me three hours to get to work today!" Steve complained to his colleague, Jack. "First the train arrived late at my station, and the problems and delays got worse once we were on the way."

"I did not have an easy time, either," Jack replied. "I decided to use a car-service rather than drive myself, and the one-hour trip took two-and-a-half hours this morning."

"I just don't like to waste so much time getting to work when I have so much to do!" Steve grumbled.

"Waste? I don't waste time, ever - not even when travel delays upset my routine," Jack responded. "I always take along a good book to fill the time with constructive learning."

I know someone who doesn't like to read while in motion. He performs one of the constant misvot while he travels. He thinks about his belief in Hashem, or his love for his Creator, and gets misvah credits as he waits for a bus or sits on a plane.

There is the following story (paraphrased) about the Steipler Gaon, zt"l: He was walking to synagogue, one day. Before he entered, he paused for a few minutes. Then, he entered. Later, someone asked him why he had paused. He replied, "Whenever I walk to synagogue, I review a masechet (tractate) of Gemara. Today, I did not complete the entire review by the time I arrived. So, I stopped outside, until I finished."

Many people make the mistake of believing that transit time is not part of real life. They treat time spent traveling as if it were non-existent, as if they could do nothing constructive while moving from point A to point B.

Once, while sitting on a plane, doing nothing, I glanced to my right and saw a businessman working feverishly on his laptop computer. On the other side of me was another gentleman playing video games on his computer. It was then that I realized the contrast between someone who values time and someone who does not.

It is always possible to make good use of your time. The minutes spent waiting for an appointment or a bus is real time gifted to you by Hashem to accomplish your mission in this world. Use it - don't lose it. (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.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

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