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JUNE 13-14, 2003 14 SIVAN 5763

Pop Quiz: What does the kohen do in the sotah process that is normally forbidden?


"So shall you bless the Children of Israel...May Hashem bless you" (Bemidbar 6:23-24)

If Hashem commanded the Kohanim to bless the people as the verse above says, "So shall you bless," why do the Kohanim pass this duty on to Hashem? The Ktav Sofer (quoted by Torah Ladaat) explains that the best blessing a person can give his friend is to wish him that Hashem should bless him. This is due to the fact that only Hashem knows what is best for each person. What a human being may perceive as being a blessing for his friend may in reality be to his detriment, and what may seem a difficulty is a true blessing.

In a similar vein it says in Tehillim "May only good and kindness pursue me all the days of my life." The term ??pursue me," implies that the person will be running away from it. Why would someone flee from goodness and kindness? The Hafess Hayim answered: Very often people do not realize what is truly the best for them and they go to great lengths to avoid things which are really beneficial to them. Therefore, King David implored Hashem: Even if in my nearsightedness I attempt to run away, please be certain that goodness and mercy pursue me and overtake me.

The following story is a perfect example of someone who didn't know what was good for him, and it almost cost him dearly. There was once an infamous miser who refused to give a penny to charity. He was so stingy that the word "give" was literally foreign to his vocabulary. One day this man was traveling by ship, when he fell overboard and began to drown. Another passenger stretched his hand out to the fellow and said, "Here, give me your hand!" But the miser could not understand the word "give" and continued to struggle helplessly. Finally, the other man yelled, "Take my hand!" The miser did so and was saved. He could think only in terms of taking rather than giving.

We must thank Hashem for all the opportunities for us to give, because you are actually saving yourself by becoming a better person. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"If a man's wife strays" (Bemidbar 5:12)

The word which is used to denote straying (tisteh) is the same word which means "folly - "shoteh." Indeed, the Rabbis tell us that a person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters him first. This means that any rational and sane person would know not to commit a transgression. What happens to a person, however, is that momentarily he is overtaken by a desire or an impulse, and therefore does something wrong. This is akin to temporary insanity. Is it not insane that we argue with our spouses about foolish things, letting everything go to pieces because of a minor issue which is usually resolvable if we wouldn't stand on ceremony? What about words said in anger or spite? Is that not foolish? If we would go down the line, we would see that there is no logic to most of our transgressions! This is the lesson of the wayward woman, the sotah. If we learn to be on the lookout for this "spirit of foolishness," we can nip it in the bud, and let our reason and common sense keep us in line. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"They shall confess the sin that they committed." (Bemidbar 5:7)

The commandment to confess one's sins is the cornerstone of the misvah of repentance (see Rambam, Teshubah 1:1). Why does the Torah choose to mention it here in connection with the sin of stealing?

Every sin that a person commits contains a degree of stealing: Hashem gives the person energy and strength and wants him to utilize it for Torah study and fulfilling misvot. Thus, when a person uses his energy for committing sins, he is thereby "stealing" from Hashem. Therefore, the misvah of confession is mentioned in connection with stealing in particular. (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: The words "yom hashishi" which begin our Kiddush are actually the end of a verse in the humash - not the beginning. Why do we begin with these words?

Answer: 1) To start the Kiddush with the name of G-d. If we take the first letter of each of the first four words, "Yom hashishi vayechulu hashamayim," we spell the name of G-d.

2) With the addition of these two words, the Kiddush has in it 72 words (besides sabri maranan and boreh peri hagefen). This corresponds to the 72 letter name of G-d. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


On the twelve days during which the Mishkan was dedicated, the princes of each tribe brought special offerings, one prince each day. Upon reading this perashah, one will immediately notice that the offerings of each prince was exactly identical to the offerings of the other princes. And yet, the Torah deems it necessary to repeat the list of offerings twelve times instead of just listing them once and recording that all the princes brought the same offering. The Ralbag comments that the Torah wants to teach us a fundamental lesson - that one should not try to outdo another person in order to show off or feel more important than him. Each of the princes had the means to bring a more elaborate offering than the princes who preceded him, but each one understood that this is not the way to serve Hashem. One should always be conscious of his actions, and consider whether he is acting with pure intentions, or if he is trying to outdo his fellow man.

Question: When you bought your last car, did you buy it solely on its own merits or did you also consider what your friends and neighbors are driving? Do you feel pressure to spend more than you would like simply in order to maintain your level of respect among your peers?


This Week's Haftarah: Shoftim 13:2-25.

One of the many topics in this week's perashah is the Nazir, one who chooses to abstain from wine and all grape products. Probably the most famous Nazir in our history was Shimshon (Samson). Our haftarah tells the story of Shimshon's mother's encounter with an angel of Hashem. The angel tells Shimshon's mother that she is pregnant, and that she must refrain from wine because her child must be raised as a Nazir from birth. The haftarah concludes with the birth of Shimshon.

Answer to Pop Quiz: He erases Hashem's name.

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