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AUGUST 29-30, 2003 2 ELUL 5763

Pop Quiz: How many wives is a Jewish king permitted to marry?


"Our hands have not spilled this blood."?(Debarim 21:7)

Our perashah discusses the misvah of eglah arufah. I ask our readers to please read the article entitled "Moral Support" on page 2 of this bulletin for an in-depth explanation of this misvah. Once you read that article, it is understood that the elders were actually declaring that they were unaware of this person's presence in their city, which is why they did not escort him properly and attend to his needs for the road. The implication is that if someone feels that he is alone or uncared-for, he can get so depressed that it affects even his will and ability to survive.

The Maharal explains further that every individual has an inner need to feel that he is part of a community, to know that he is not just an individual but an integral part of the Jewish family. By escorting someone even a few steps from our homes, we create an attachment between him and us, and this can provide him with heavenly protection extended to the nation as a whole.

Dear community member, today our community is being tested. The number of people today who cannot earn a livelihood in our community has reached staggering proportions. Not only is this problem reflected in the number of people who are unemployed, but even many who are fully employed and hard working are not bringing home enough money to survive. As a result of this, our community has reacted well. A number of hesed organizations are functioning, trying to fill this gap. Also, many families are learning to downsize their lifestyle to adjust to the income they are earning. However, it is a very difficult struggle for these people. I therefore repeat what I mentioned above - that if someone feels that he is alone or uncared-for, he can get so depressed that it affects even his will and ability to survive. The numbers are growing. We are being tested. A showing of moral as well as financial support can pull us through. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"He shall keep the Torah with him and he shall read it all the days of his life." (Debarim 17:19)

The king of Israel was enjoined to have his own Sefer Torah and keep it with him at all times so that he may read it whenever a question arose. The Perashah makes it clear that he must have no lapse without the Torah in his hand. The lesson for us is that whenever we embark on any spiritual pursuits they must be done with consistency, without interruption. To bring a pot of water to boil it must be left on the fire until the boiling point. If it is taken off and put back on, even if it's for a whole day, it will never reach the point desired. Whenever we take upon ourselves any project we must do it until it's completed. Half completed endeavors are not even worth half merit. Let us focus on what we want to achieve and do it until the end. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Question: What is the source of the custom to eat fish on Shabbat?

Answer: 1) In creating the world, G-d gave three blessings: On the fifth day, He blessed the fish; on the sixth day, He blessed man; on the seventh day, He blessed Shabbat. By man eating fish on Shabbat, we bring the three together. And, it is written that something which is threefold cannot easily be broken. 2) Shabbat provides us with a taste of the days of Mashiah. At that time, the righteous will be given a meal from the fish called leviatan. Eating fish on Shabbat signifies this. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


"You shall not deviate from the word that they will tell you, right or left." (Debarim 17:11)

This pasuk seems to simply be saying that we are obligated to follow the rulings of our Rabbis without deviating from their words. However, Rashi and other commentators teach that it goes even one step further. They explain that the Torah is also commanding us to follow their instruction even if they tell us that right is left and left is right! In other words, even if what they tell us seems to be 100% wrong, we are still commanded by the Torah to obey them.

We must view ourselves as soldiers in the army of Hashem. The Rabbis who lead us are the generals in Hashem's army. What consequences would a soldier suffer if he refused to follow the orders of his superior simply because they didn't make sense to him? He would probably be charged with insubordination, and possibly face a court martial. We are in the same situation. We must follow the orders of our superiors even when we think we know better.

Question: In this aspect, do you consider yourself a loyal soldier of Hashem? Do you feel threatened and take a defensive position when a Rabbinic ruling may force you to change something about your lifestyle?


This Week's Haftarah: Yishayahu 51:12-52:12.

This week, we read the fourth in the series of seven haftarot of consolation. It alternates between prophecies of suffering and prophecies of redemption. The knowledge that Hashem will ultimately have mercy on us and redeem us helps to make the pain and suffering easier to bear. Hashem longs for the day when we will merit the final redemption.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Eighteen.

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