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

JULY 17-18, 2015 2 AB 5775


"And they approached Moshe and said, 'Enclosures for the flock we shall build here for our livestock and cities for our children.'"(Bemidbar 32:16)

The tribe of Gad and Reuben and half the tribe of Menashe wanted land on the east bank of the Jordan. Rashi says, "They were concerned for their property more than they were for their sons and daughters, for they put mention of their livestock ahead of their children. Moshe said to them, this is not right. Make that which is essential essential and that which is secondary secondary. First build cities for your children and afterwards, enclosures for your flocks."

Of course the question is glaring. Could it be that men of such great stature would be more concerned about their money than their children? We can answer this with another question (like all Jews answer questions with another question) that is asked in the book Torah Ladaat.

I'm sure many of you have attended a Pidyon Haben. The Kohen asks the father an incredible question, "What do you prefer, your son or the five silver coins?" What kind of father in his right mind would say, "I prefer the coins." Plus, it says in Shulhan Aruch (Yoreh Deah chapter 305) that even if the father would want to give the child to the Kohen and would say so, it wouldn't help.

The true meaning of the question is, "What do you prefer in your heart?" Of course every person would say he prefers the child, but is that just your mind controlling your heart, but deep down there is a desire for the money? Or is it that you have no desire at all for the money and you give the money with a full heart? This is a very special time to ask this question because a Kohen is really a teacher who can truly guide this child in the right manner, and help him grow up to be a righteous Jew. But, now the father wants to be the guiding light for this child. Therefore, the Kohen must determine at this juncture, is the father a good candidate for this important job?

Many times a person is not sure of his feelings inside. A person might think he is not interested in the monetary aspect of things but deep down he is. The tribes that came to Moshe were very much in tune with their inner feelings, and that was their greatness. They were lofty enough to admit their true feelings to Moshe, and Moshe taught them that they must overcome this to obtain true greatness.

May we attain the level where monetary gain no longer prevents us from doing the right things. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Reuven Semah

"When a person makes a vow to Hashem." (Bemidbar 30:3)

When do people most frequently make a vow or an oath? When they become angry. Out of anger, they swear that they will or will not do something, or that something should be forbidden to them. But anger is not the proper motivation for a vow or an oath. Rather, the vow should be "to Hashem." That is, if a person sees that his negative impulses might lead him to transgress, then out of a calculated, willful decision, it is permitted to make a vow or oath that will motivate him to refrain from transgressing. In general, however, one should abstain from making any vows or oaths. Indeed, even when one gives charity, one should get accustomed to say, "Beli neder - without a vow."

The same actions can be done with various motivations. Depending on your motivation, the act will either be a manifestation of a loss of control or an elevated act of self discipline. When you impulsively do or say things out of anger you are the servant of your temper. On the other hand, when you decide that doing something can be spiritually harmful for you, and therefore you are willing to set up self-restraints, you are becoming the master over your impulses. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


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

Rashi points out that, despite being told that he would be taken from this world as soon as he had finished battling Midian, Moshe unhesitatingly assembled the army to fight the Midianites, fulfilling Hashem's will with joy and without delay. Even though Moshe could have delayed the war and prolonged his life by many years, he put the needs of the Jewish People first and saw their advancement into Eress Yisrael as the best thing for them. This act of selflessness epitomizes Moshe's relationship with the Jewish People. As the Torah later relates, Moshe never cared for his own needs. Rather, he was solely focused on the role that Hashem gave him - to lead and care for the Jewish People.

This character trait is only found in the great leaders of the Jewish People, as we see from Rav Shimon Shkop's answer to a question about the most important quality for someone to have who wants to become a "Gadol Hador - a leader of the generation." He answered that everybody identifies themselves as an "I" - with one's own needs at the forefront of his mind. For some people, explained Rav Shimon, included in that "I" is their wife and children. For others who are greater still, "I" includes their friends and neighbors. There are some even greater people whose "I" extends to their entire community; but the "I" of a Gadol Hador, concluded Rav Shimon, includes the entire Jewish People. (Short Vort)


The children were not bored, even though they were stuck indoors on a rainy day. They whiled away the afternoon playing "dress up" with clothing they found stashed in cartons in the storage closet.

Leon put on a policeman's cap that uncle Dan used to wear before he retired from the city's police force. Mimicking the motions of an officer he had seen directing traffic, Leon began "directing" the other children to advance or stop. Mimi walked across the room with measured steps, head held high, in a silky gown Mom had once worn to an aunt's wedding. Even little David - usually silly and playful - looked serious and stern as he sat at a table in Dad's hat and tie, pretending to be the "boss" of many employees. All the children were transformed, behaving as they thought people wearing those clothes would act.

"Clothes make the man." I don't know who said it first, but it has become a clich?. Although we are taught not to be fooled by external trappings and to esteem the inner values and the spiritual makeup of friends and neighbors, there is still some truth to the importance of clothing.

The Torah expects us Jews to dress in new, fine clothing on out holy days as part of the celebration of the occasion. Shabbat clothing is supposed to be of higher quality than weekday garb, and unique to the holiness of the day. And we would not dream of going to a wedding ceremony in shorts and a tee shirt for fear of being ridiculed by all the other attendees.

What someone wears may also indicate function or status in society. Uniforms of all types are worn to identify a person's job, and members of royalty wear special garb to demonstrate their lofty status.

How people dress certainly has an effect on how they behave. Society at large has gone casual. Loose-fitting, soft clothing is certainly confortable, but, somehow, the casual look makes for an all-too-casual personality. Laxity in observance of proper manners, lack of respect for others, and a decline in the observance of moral guidelines may not be caused exclusively by revealing clothing. However, clothes do affect the wearer in conscious and subconscious ways that determine not only behavior, but also moral decisions and attitudes.

Clothes may or may not make the man, but they certainly do affect behavior. Be smart. Dress "up"! (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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