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JULY 10-11, 2009 19 TAMUZ 5769

Pop Quiz: On which holiday are the most communal korbanot offered?


"If a man will die and he has no son, you shall cause his inheritance to pass over to his daughter" (Bemidbar 27:8)

This week we are taught the laws of inheritance. A beautiful story is told about a great saddik and the laws of inheritance. Rabbi David Sion Laniado z"l was born in Halab (Aleppo) in the year 1900. At a young age Rabbi Laniado emigrated to Israel and lived in a tiny apartment in Jerusalem. In this tiny apartment he raised a large and beautiful family. From there he distributed much needed sedakah to all those in need. He was known as a great scholar but perhaps he was more famous for his misvah of charity and hesed. At the end of his life he summoned his firstborn to come to him. He told him that Hashem had blessed him with a large family of sons and daughters and many grandchildren, all of them following in the path of Torah. He spent his whole life trying to fulfill all of the misvot he could possible do. There is one misvah that he has a great desire to observe before he passes away. That misvah is the misvah of passing one's inheritance to his children. However, he has almost no money because he gave everything away. He had used all of his money to perform many misvot that would accompany him to the next world. Nevertheless, he wanted to fulfill the misvah of inheritance with one remaining lira coin to be divided amongst his children, and he, as the bechor, should get a double portion of that coin. Rabbi Laniado did not leave behind gold and silver, and the one coin that he bequeathed to his family did not bring them wealth. However, his good deeds and his good name he bequeathed to them, and his children continued in his ways. As we know, when a person departs from this world, he is not accompanied by gold and silver, but his good deeds go before him to pave his way to Gan Eden.

There is a great parable in the Gemara (Gittin 7b): A Beraita of the academy of Rabbi Yishmael has taught, "Whoever shears some of his possessions and devotes them to charity is saved from the judgment of Gehinam. This is analogous to two sheep that were passing through a body of water, one of which was shorn, and one of which was not shorn. The shorn one passed safely while the one that was not shorn did not pass safely." Rashi explains: People attempting to go through life with all their worldly possessions are like sheep with all their wool trying to cross a river. Just as sheep who cross the river only when shorn and not weighed down by their soggy wool, so too a person will pass safely through life and avoid punishment in the next world only if he gives away some of his possessions to charity. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The name of the daughter of Asher was Serah" (Bemidbar 26:46)

When the Jewish people were counted for the last time, the Torah mentions the daughter of Asher, Serah. Rashi tells us that although she didn't inherit the land, since she was still alive during this counting, she was mentioned. The Targum adds that eventually she entered Gan Eden alive, without having to die and become resurrected! The reason given is that she played the harp and sang to her grandfather, Ya'akob Abinu, that Yosef was still alive, thereby restoring Ya'akob's spirit. Since she gave Ya'akob good tidings, she merited this extraordinary reward.

Of course, we can't expect to understand this on a superficial level. The secrets of the Torah are too deep for us, and when everything will become clear, we will also know why Serah merited entering Heaven alive. However, the lesson for us is very basic: If we cause others happiness by giving them good news, by complimenting them and by encouraging them, we also will merit life. We should not be the one to relate bad news or negative reports. People have a way of finding them out anyway. Let's train ourselves to speak only positive things and we will merit both worlds! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Pinhas has turned away My wrath from B'nei Yisrael in that he was jealous for My sake among them so that I did not consume B'nei Yisrael in My jealousy" (Bemidbar 25:11)

In its purest form, zealousness is contingent upon three criteria. The zealot must perform his act totally leshem Shamayim, for the sake of heaven. There should be no personal prejudice or vested interest which motivates his urgent reaction. Second, it is imperative that the zealot not remove himself from the community. He must challenge any incursion from within. Running away and hurling stones at sinners does not reflect true kana'ut, zealousness.

Rav Nissan Alpert z"l points out that a third contingency is regrettably often overlooked. Those individuals who exhibit unbounding devotion to Hashem's ideals may react zealously and swiftly to any incursion against the Torah. They ignore, however, one very important point: the welfare of those who erred and sinned. How often do we hear the term "yemach shemam (let their names be blotted out) regarding those who sin. One should take note of the Torah's text regarding Pinhas's act. "And I did not consume B'nei Yisrael in My jealousy." Pinhas's goal was to prevent B'nei Yisrael's death, not to destroy them. Our goal in kana'ut is to save Judaism, not to see it destroyed. Undoubtedly, there are times when Hashem's Name is profaned and swift unrestrained reprisal is warranted. This response, however, should be executed with dignity, with an attitude reflecting the lofty necessity for this action. (Peninim on the Torah)


Sunglasses are a hot fashion item. People buy sunglasses not only to shade their eyes and block glare, but also to make a personal fashion statement.

Some people seek practicality in their shades. Suppliers of the product cater to the special needs of their prospective customers. There are oversized glasses that fit over prescription specs, as well as clips that snap over clear lenses. There are wraparound styles, favored by athletes, which hug the face and keep dust and dirt out of the eyes. Polaroid lenses are offered to eliminate glare.

There are even glasses with removable lenses that come in a variety of hues. Darker lenses are snapped in when the sun is bright, and ambers and yellows replace the dark tints when dust arrives. Some colors offered may not enhance visibility, but do match the garb the sunglass wearer is donning for the day.

The color of your lenses affects the way you see an object. It follows that if you would remove the glasses completely, you would expect to see things as they really are. The problem is that people's eyes vary as much as the lenses available on the market. Some have a "good eye" that sees the best in every person and every situation. There are others with a "bad eye" that sees the negative and the deficiencies in all that they observe. Others have an "evil eye" that looks to hurt those in its view, while some have a jealous "I" that covets all that others have and achieve.

Many times every day you will be forming an opinion about something or someone. Check your eyes. Which "lenses" are you wearing? Are they the positive, understanding, caring eyes of a righteous individual, or are they the selfish, negative pair that looks at the world with jealousy?

If you take the time to snap on the lenses that let you see life in a positive light, you will gain success in both the physical and the spiritual realms. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Succot.

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)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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