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Haftarah: Yehoshua 2:1-24

MAY 31 - JUNE 1, 2013 23 SIVAN 5773


Do not rebel against Hashem and you will not fear the people of the land." (Bemidbar 14:9)

This week's perashah details the first encounter between the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel. While ten out of the twelve spies sent ahead to scout out the land warn that the Jews have no realistic chance of overcoming the enemies that occupy the Land of Israel, Yehoshua and Caleb take a different tack. Their argument is that the size and power of the enemy is irrelevant when it comes to Jews living in Israel. The only thing that is relevant is how the Jews conduct themselves in their relationship with Hashem.

The verse quoted above says don't rebel and do not fear. Rashi explains that we mustn't think that "do not rebel against Hashem" and "you should not fear the people of the land" are two different things. Rather, one is an outgrowth of the other. If you don't rebel against Hashem then you will have no reason to fear. This explains why Yehoshua and Caleb told the people "Do not rebel against Hashem," although they were trying to calm the people rather than to chastise them. For trusting G-d rather than rebelling against Him will alleviate their fear (from Mishmeret Hakodesh).

In times of uncertainty, Jews in Israel and around the world have to go back to basics, to focus on spiritual growth and our relationship with Hashem.

Actually, all of the Jewish nation is not far from this realization. A year ago, in explaining the need to make large painful cuts to Israel's national budget, finance minister Yuval Steinmitz told his cabinet colleagues, "If Heaven forbid Israel faced the situation of Spain no entity or country would give us 100 billion Euros in assistance." The point is well taken; no one will bail the country out economically. The same is true when it comes to national security. The world won't raise a finger if Israel gives up Yehudah and Shomron in order to create an independent Palestinian state and then finds Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport under constant missile fire.

The math is simple. Even the secular Jew agrees that Israel can't count on anyone. Any student of Jewish history knows that the Jewish nation has always been on its own, despite all of its enemies. So if we're still here, it must be Hashem is with us.

This recognition, even by senior government ministers, that Israel can't count on anyone else, is significant. It is our hope and prayer that this recognition, in light of the dangers threatening Israel's survival, will prompt some soul-searching that leads to a nationwide reawakening to our relationship with Hashem. Only then will we have nothing to fear. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

At the end of the perashah, the Torah tells us that one individual was caught violating the Shabbat by chopping firewood and was brought before the Bet Din for judgment. Moshe was informed that this person must be put to death by stoning and, indeed, they carried out this sentence. The Gemara tells us that this person's motive was for the sake of heaven, because he had heard people questioning whether the punishments written in the Torah would ever be meted out. He therefore used himself as a test case so that the Jewish people would take the commandments seriously and thereby the Torah would be observed more properly.

At first glance, it seems that this man should be called a hero since he sacrificed himself for the sake of Heaven and the Torah, and yet, we know he is considered a sinner and was treated as such. The message here is that we should not be smarter than Hashem. If He tells us not to do something, then that is His will, and to do the reverse, although with "kosher" motivations in mind, is not the proper thing. Many times we talk about other people, knowing that it is against the Torah, with the excuse that G-d Himself would want us to do this. Other times we act in an improper way in business and rationalize that in our situation, this is the proper way because more benefit will come out. We have to keep this lesson in mind and always ask a halachic authority if we want to change what we know to be correct. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"The entire community arose and raised their voices and the people wept that night." (Bemidbar 14:1)

The Gemara (Ta'anit 29) states: "The night the Jews cried) was the Ninth of Ab. Said Hakadosh Baruch Hu, 'You cried for no reason, I will give you a reason to cry for future generations.'"

All the terrible events that took place on Tisha B'Ab, including the destruction of the two Temples, the fall of Beitar, and the plowing of the Har Habayit, claim their origin from that fateful night when the Meraglim, spies, bore a negative report against the Holy Land and the Jews cried. As a result of their unfounded tears, they set the tone for all future punishments in all future generations. The effects of their cries have been felt millennia later, in the form of the Spanish Expulsion of 1492, and the outbreak of World War I, which both took place on Tisha B'Ab, in their respective years.

But the effects of the Meraglim went even further and tragically, we still feel its awful effect today. The Shulhan Aruch lists the days that one should try to fast (aside from the rabbinically prescribed fast days), due to the tragedies that befell the Jewish People on those days. Among them is the seventeenth of Elul. On that day, the Meraglim were punished and they died. Explains the Bet Yosef, R' Yosef Karo zt"l, even though they were classified as resha'im, wicked, it is nevertheless deemed a tragedy because they perished without ever having done teshubah.

Like Tisha B'Ab, the seventeenth of Elul is also considered a day of bechiah ledorot - crying in future generations. Historians point out that September 1, 1939, the day that World War II (and by association the Holocaust) began, was on the seventeenth of Elul! (Torah Tavlin)


With most other important achievements in life, techniques must be learned and practiced, and skills fine-tuned, before the goal can be reached. However, even though they say the most important goal in life is happiness, people chase after happiness by sampling an assortment of existing and entertaining activities. Concerts, sporting events, amusement parks, restaurants, and shopping trips all share one common denominator which causes them to fall short of bringing true happiness to the joy seeker. They are all short lived, external stimuli that, at most, can only produce a temporary elation. When the event is over, so is the good feeling that was confused with true happiness.

Today's technology has further compounded this problem. Instead of producing the bliss promised by advertisers with the introduction of every scientific advance, the "new" gadgets that appear almost daily have created a mindset that demands instant gratification without effort. But you can't download happiness at broadband speeds, nor is it a signal you can pick up on a portable, wireless device. Happiness is an external trait developed and learned through great effort. It is a feeling that is independent of external stimuli.

Get started on the long, hard process of learning to be happy. Study the classic Torah works on personal growth like Pele Yoetz and Orchot Tzadikim. Discover the things in this world that bring true satisfaction to the eternal soul. Then, when the opportunity for an instant "high" is offered, take a deep breath - and pass! Remember, the first step to acquiring the character trait of happiness is committing to the long-term development process it takes to learn any complex science or hone a talent. You can't learn to play a piano or golf by pressing a button, and neither can you learn to be instantly happy. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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