AUGUST 22-23, 2003 25 AB 5763
"If your brother entices you saying, 'Let us go and serve gods which you have not known." (Debarim 13:7)
The Torah seems to emphasize that these other gods which are forbidden are not known to us. What is the difference or relevance whether the other gods are known or not?
The Hatam Sofer points out something which is especially important in our days. There are always people who will propose ideologies which are considered revolutionary. Each one will make a claim that his way is unique, his way is novel and his way will be the answer to all of man's problems. Even though others tried it and failed, they will say that this is guaranteed success. The Torah predicted this from way back and showed how all these "new gods" are all false, just like the old ones. Just like we see new claims to dieting and other fads which are said to be easy and quick, and yet we know it's impossible to do anything without effort, so too when it comes to Torah. None of the "isms", the non-Torah ideologies have worked in the past and none will work in the future. There is only the true Torah way of life, which involves commitment, effort and perseverance, but ultimately brings with it success, happiness and blessing! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"The entire commandment that I command you today...so that you may live and increase" (Debarim 8:1)
In the perashah this week Moshe continues speaking to his people at the end of his life. In the above pasuk Moshe says: "Kol hamisvah - the entire commandment". A singular version is being used to refer to all of the misvot. Moshe stressed that no Jew could pick and choose among commandments of the Torah. The blessings promised by Hashem were contingent on Israel's acceptance of the entire Torah as if all of it, in its entirety, is a single command. If we want to live a life of pleasure and to multiply as our pasuk concludes, it comes from being part of Hashem's program.
The Be'er Mayim Hayim illustrates: A king once had a special wellspring of pure water on his castle grounds. Since he wanted all of his subjects to enjoy this wonderful water, he issued an order that everyone should attach a pipeline to the well and draw the water directly into their own homes.
Those who were wise and respectful laid new clean pipes to guard the purity of the water. They genuinely enjoyed the water and loved the king for giving them this gracious gift. The lazy foolish people, however, took old rusty and leaky pipes. Naturally, the few drops that they received were foul smelling and repulsive. Their reaction was, "The king is terrible and gives us horrible water." The King, Hashem, has a life-sustaining well of blessing. All He asks of us is to connect a clean "pipe," Torah, misvot and good deeds, to His well. Those who construct a clean, pure conduit without foreign thoughts and objectives, that don't leak, will drink of these waters and love Hashem for it.
The outside world thinks that it is easier to be a partial Jew by doing partial misvot or some misvot. However, the opposite is true. It is more difficult to be a partial Jew than to be a complete Jew. Being a complete Jew is easier because of the sweet water that comes flowing into our lives. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Reuven Semah
Question: When beginning the Zimun of Bircat Hamazon, we ask, "Birshutchem" (with your permission). However, when saying kidush, we ask instead, "sabri maranan" (what is your opinion?) asking others to pay attention. Why the difference?
Answer: Kidush on Shabbat is an obligation from the Torah. Therefore, we need only ask others to pay attention (and expect a positive response). Because eating bread on Shabbat is not an obligation from the Torah itself (though it is of course a misvah) we must ask permission from all to participate. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
This Week's Haftarah: Yishayahu 54:11-55:5.
This week's haftarah is the third in the series of seven haftarot that deal with consolation and hope, which are read between Tish'ah B'Ab and Rosh Hashanah. In this haftarah, the prophet Yishayahu tells a prophecy of how it will be in the times of Mashiah. No enemy will be able to rise up against us. Rather, all the nations will recognize that Hashem has chosen us to be His nation.
A villager named David went into the city one day to buy merchandise to sell in his hometown. He went to his regular supplier, Judah, picked out some merchandise, and asked if he could take it on credit.
Judah checked his books and saw that David hadn't paid yet for the last three purchases he had made over the last six months. He told David, "I'm sorry, but you keep telling me that you will pay your old bills, and you still haven't paid me."
David promised to send the money for all the bills as soon as he got home. "That's what you said the last time you were here," said Judah. "In fact, even if you do pay me everything you owe me, I wouldn't give you anything on credit again. Your word is obviously not worth very much." David pleaded with Judah, but Judah would not give in.
Another man in the store overheard the whole discussion and said to David, "There's no way he will sell you again on credit, but I have a suggestion. Buy only what you need right now, and pay for it in cash, and also pay some of your balance. Next time buy a little more and do the same. Keep doing that and eventually Judah will give you another chance."
In a little over a month from now, we will be praying to Hashem on Rosh Hashanah, and we will be asking Him to bless us with a good year filled with health, wealth and happiness. Hashem will then ask, "Why should I give these things to you?" We will answer, "So that we can do more misvot, learn more Torah and serve You better." "You said the same thing to Me last year and the year before that," Hashem will respond. "But you never changed your ways. You haven't paid up, and your 'credit' is no good."
In order to avoid this situation, we need to build up our credit in advance, before we make our requests. We should start with small changes like avoiding gossip and lies, or praying with a little more kavanah. Then, when Rosh Hashanah comes, Hashem will be more receptive to our requests. In only a few days, Rosh Hodesh Elul will begin the thirty-day countdown to Rosh Hashanah. If not now, when? (Sha'arei Armon)
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