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JUNE 24-25, 2005 18 SIVAN 5765

Pop Quiz: What is the penalty for intentionally violating the Shabbat?


"Forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year...forty years" (Bemidbar 14:34)

The spies traveled the promised land for forty days and returned with a negative report. They spoke badly about the land and said that it buries its inhabitants. They melted the hearts of the people and caused them to cry and to lose the courage to enter the land. The Israelites were punished that for every day the spies traveled the land they would have to stay and travel the desert for a year. Forty days, forty years. But, is this fair? The punishment was for believing and accepting the bad report. How long did it take to believe and accept this report? A half hour? One hour? Why did the Israelites receive punishment for all the days that the spies walked? The answer is a simple one. It's true that the spies spoke only one hour, but in that hour they condensed and capsulated the entire forty-day trip. Therefore, if the people heard and accepted that shortened version of the trip, it is as if they went through and traveled the entire time.

Let us take this idea and spin it the other way around. If a person attends a Torah class, do the people realize how much time went into preparing that class?! For instance, if it is a Gemara class, how many times did the teacher learn the Gemara and then the commentaries, both early and late commentaries, and the final halachah. Finally, to decide what to say and what not to say until the class is smooth and clear. If so, we know there is no end to the reward of one word of Torah. Imagine an hour of Torah. But that's not all. Because for that hour the listeners receive the reward for all the hours that went into preparing that hour! Now we understand how great is the opportunity to attend a Torah class. Don't miss it! `Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

When the spies came back from touring the land of Israel with a negative report, they said those infamous words, "the nations are stronger than us/than Him. They used the words "hazak hu mimenu" which can be interpreted as either "stronger than us" or G-d forbid "stronger than Hashem!" How could anyone say such a thing, let alone great leaders like the ten men chosen to be spies?

The Hafess Hayim says that they were really saying we are not worthy of a miracle, so therefore Hashem will not be able to overcome these nations. Not because of a lack of Hashem's power but because of our limitations, Hashem will not be able to do miracles for us. The lesson from this is that this is also wrong! We should never look at ourselves as so down that Hashem cannot help us. He can always help, He can always save, and we must turn to Him at all times, no matter what level we are on!

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"From the first of your kneading shall you give a portion to G-d" (Bemidbar 15:21)

In Hebrew a bed (cradle) is called an "arisah." Thus the word "arisotechem" can also mean "your beds." The Torah is teaching that "mereshit arisotechem" - as soon as a person rises from his bed - he should give an offering to Hashem.

The offering we give Hashem is our reciting of "Modeh Ani," (in which we thank Him for restoring our soul, the essence of our life source) and making praying and Torah study the first activity of our day.

Alternatively, when a child is very young and still in the "arisah" - cradle - his parents should endeavor to inculcate him with a love for Torah and G-dliness by exposing the child to Torah-oriented songs, toys, games and room decorations. (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: Why don't we say the berachah on besamim in the habdalah at the end of a Yon Tob?

Answer: As mentioned previously, the besamim serve to console a person when the extra neshamah for Shabbat leaves him. Since there is no extra nashamah for Yom Tob, there is no need for the besamim. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umekorei Hadinim)


This week's Haftarah: Yehoshua 2:1-24.

Our perashah tells the story of the spies who brought back an evil report of the land, leading to Israel's 40 year wandering in the desert. In this haftarah, Yehoshua sends two spies to the city of Jericho. This mission was not for military purposes, but to find out if the residents of the land feared B'nei Yisrael, which would be considered a sign from Hashem that the time was right to attack.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Death by stoning.

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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