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JUNE 10-11, 2005 4 SIVAN 5765

Shabuot will be celebrated on Monday & Tuesday, June 13 & 14.

Pop Quiz: What is the minimum amount of time one may become a nazir?


On the verse in Shir HaShirim 5:6, "nafshi yas'ah b'dabro - My soul departed when He spoke," the Rabbis explain that when Hashem said the Ten Commandments, the souls of the Jewish People left them from awe and fear. Then G-d took a certain dew from the Torah and used it to revive the Jewish Nation. On the surface, this seems difficult to understand. Why did Hashem allow the awesomeness of the moment to be so great that the people should die and then have to be revived again? Why not reveal Himself just a little bit less?

The lesson to be derived from here is that when we received the Torah, we didn't just get a set of laws to have to keep. The Torah is what made us alive; we expired and had to be revived through the power of the Torah. That means that our very being is based on the teaching and the essence of the holy Torah, and it is not only possible to keep its laws, but rather our very existence depends upon it.

On this Shabuot, let us remember this message. Our success as a nation and as individuals is through the Torah and its laws and customs. The more we study and accept its effect upon us, the closer we will become to that which we owe our existence. Tizku LeShanim Rabot. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Hashem summoned Moshe to the top of the mountain and Moshe ascended" (Shemot 19:20)

In a few days we will be celebrating the holiday of Shabuot. We celebrate the momentous occasion of Hashem giving the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. Hashem called Moshe and Moshe went up to the mountain. Rabbi David Kaplan quotes a beautiful Midrash. When Moshe Rabenu went up to the heavens he asked Hashem to reveal to him the secret of the working of Divine justice. "Why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?" he asked. "No mortal can fully comprehend My workings," was the reply. "But I will reveal to you as much as you are capable of absorbing. With that Hashem showed Moshe a vision. Moshe saw a soldier riding a horse through a desert on a boiling-hot day. He arrived at a water hole, he dismounted and had a long refreshing drink of water. As he was bending down to drink his money pouch, stuffed with gold coins, fell out of his pocket. He finished drinking, mounted his horse and rode off. A short time later a twelve-year-old boy stopped at the water hole to have a drink. As he bent over he noticed the pouch. He picked it up and peeked inside. "Wow! Look at all those gold coins!" he exclaimed, and ran home to show his mother. A short time later a little old man with a white beard shuffled up to the water hole. He pulled a couple of pieces of dry bread out of his pocket and dipped them into the water to soften them up. He ate his meager lunch, stretched out and fell asleep. Meanwhile, the soldier suddenly realized the forgot his money and returned. He found the old man asleep and he kicked him and woke him up. "Give me my money, old man!" he shouted. The old man replied that he didn't know what he was talking about. The soldier wasted no time and drew his sword and killed the old man. The soldier searched his pockets and found them empty, and rode away. The vision faded and Moshe Rabenu called out, "Hashem, where is the justice?" Hashem answered, "You must see the next vision to understand."

Moshe saw before him a thick forest with a clearing in the middle. Walking together through the clearing were a father and his two-year-old son. Back in the forest sat a soldier on a horse, watching the clearing. Suddenly, from the other side jumps a bandit and attacks the father. After a struggle he pulls out a dagger and kills the father. Searching the pockets he finds a pouch full of gold coins. But, in his haste to flee he dropped the pouch. The soldier who was watching, who did nothing to help, saw the pouch, took it and rode away. The vision faded. Hashem said, "Now do you understand the perfect justice in My world?" Moshe responded, "No, I don't. Actually I am more confused than ever." "I will explain it to you, and let this be a lesson for you always, that even if you don't comprehend My justice in any given situation, it most certainly is there. You see it is really quite simple. The vision of the water hole occurred ten years after the vision of the forest. The soldier who lost the money at the water hole, is the soldier who found the money ten years earlier in the forest and should not have kept it. The rightful owner was the two-year-old boy who, ten years later, was the twelve-year-old boy who found it at the water hole. It was his inheritance. It took ten years but he finally received what he was entitled to. The little old man who was brutally murdered was, ten years earlier, the bandit who killed the boy's father. It took ten years, but eventually he got exactly what was coming to him. And the soldier who should have intervened and killed the bandit in the forest, eventually carried out his job. So you see, although you don't understand, there is indeed perfect justice. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"Take the sum of the sons of Gershon, also them" (Bemidbar 4:22)

Many commentators discuss the seemingly superfluous words, "also them." We learn from this that in order to achieve one's true potential in life, a person should not underestimate his own abilities and become discouraged. Very often, people do not "rise to the occasion" due to a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. Unfortunately, this often applies to the observance of misvot and Torah study; one might say, "Since I will not be a great scholar, why go through the effort if the goal is unattainable?" Similarly, many who are approached to contribute to a worthy cause reply that their donation is unnecessary since it is not a substantial sum. The Torah teaches us that we are judged according to our efforts, and not by the attainment of our goals. Moshe and Aharon were considered equal despite Moshe's apparent superiority, because they both tried, to the best of their abilities, to fulfill the will of Hashem. This concept is illustrated by the description of the jobs of B'nei Kehat and B'nei Gershon. B'nei Kehat carried the Aron and the other holy vessels, while B'nei Gershon only carried curtains. However, they were equally important and prominent in the eyes of Hashem, because each performed his task with the same vibrancy and enthusiasm as the other, both using their abilities to their utmost. (Peninim on the Torah)


"Anything in which grapes have been steeped he shall not drink" (Bemidbar 6:3)

The Torah forbids the nazir to drink any intoxicating liquor or any beverage derived from grapes, even if it contains no alcohol. He may not even eat fresh or dried grapes. The prohibition includes water in which grapes had been briefly soaked, even if only a mere hint of the grapes is present in the water. Hazal infer from this concept that the taste of a food is regarded as representative of the food itself, or ta'am ka'ikar, the taste is like the substance. In the Talmud (Nazir 37b), Hazal also derive from this pasuk that when a half-measure of permitted food is added to a half-measure of a forbidden food, the product is transformed into a whole measure of forbidden food. This process is described as heter mistaref le'isur, the permitted is subsumed by the forbidden.

The Noam Elimelech asserts that these two conclusions allude to two moral principles. From the halachah of ta'am ka'ikar, we learn that the mere "taste of sin," associating oneself even in thought, is considered contact with the sin itself. Indeed, in the area of morality, thought is the precursor of active sin. From the second halachah of heter mistaref le'isur, we may conclude that if someone mixes money acquired from an honest commercial transaction with funds derived illegally, the entire enterprise becomes illicit.

Our relationship with others must reflect the loftiest level of veracity. Any alien tinge of an odious nature will compromise that relationship. As members of Klal Yisrael, we must be morally impeccable in every aspect of our lives. By seeking to maintain the hallmark of kedushah, holiness, we can aspire to the designated status of a goy kadosh, holy nation. (Peninim on the Torah)


Question: Why do we only recite seven berachot in the Amidah of Shabbat instead of the 19 berachot that we recite during the week?

Answer: A person is not permitted to pray for his personal requests on Shabbat, because if he were to think about his needs, it may decrease his enjoyment of the Shabbat. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umekorei Hadinim)


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: Thirty days.

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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