Friday, May 28, 2010

Parshas Beha’alos’cha

“If there’s a will there’s a way”

Something to say:

Why should we be diminished (9:7).

Those who had been prevented by impurity from bringing the pesach offering pleaded for an opportunity to bring it at a later time.

This parshah discusses the unique mitzvah of the Pesach offering. There is no other mitzvah in the Torah which is time bound, yet is assigned an alternate time if one is unable to perform it initially. Why is the pesach offering different from other time-related commandments?

The Tiferes Shlomo explains that this mitzvah was special in that the Jews did everything in their power to fulfill it. We see that they anxiously begged Moses, “Why should we be diminished?” They meant that they waited so earnestly to fulfill the commandments that they should be given a second chance if they could not perform it at the assigned time. The redemption of the Jewish people, says the Tiferes Shlomo, will be based on the same attitude. If the Jews will persistently, energetically harness all their powers to merit ultimate Redemption, it will come.

If we really want something, like the Jews wanted to do the Mitzvah of bringing the Pesach offering, then we will get it. Sometimes all that is needed, is for a person to show they want something, and then others will help make it possible. That shows how much power we have by wanting something to happen. We can fundraise to help others in need. We can help cheer people up. We can make a difference.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Parshas Naso

There’s something about Birchas Kohanim that makes it an emotional time. The memories of being a child and going under my father’s tallis. The Kohanim giving a Bracha to us that is so Kadosh, that we are not allowed to see it. The “Rebono Shel Olam” Tefillah”, the beautiful singing of the Kohanim while we say the Tefilah. Where I always wondered how come there are more examples of people being cured, than strengthening the good.

Something to say:

May God bless you and safeguard you (6:24).

This parsha contains the Priestly Blessing, with which God commanded the Kohanim of every generation to bless the Jewish people. It is interesting to note that despite the fact that this blessing was recited in the Temple and synagogue over the entire congregation, it is phrased entirely in the singular, rather than in the plural.

One explanation for this is that it is not always possible, or wise, to extend the same blessing to everyone uniformly. For the farmer, rain today may be an anxiously awaited blessing; for the long-distance traveler, it would be a hindrance. Wealth, a handsome appearance, or an extraordinary measure of some talent might be tremendous gifts and resources for one person; for another, each of these might be a burden could not handle. Only God, Designer of all creations and Endower of all gifts, knows precisely what blessing is appropriate for whom. He therefore tells the Kohanim to bless the people in the singular; each individual should receive the form of blessing that is most appropriate for him.

When I went with my family to Israel for my brothers bar mitzvah, we would talk about how we hoped it didn’t rain the day we would all be celebrating at the Kotel. My aunt who lives in Israel would say that she hoped it did rain and she would supply umbrellas for everyone. That Israel needs rain. Everyone has different needs, so we are blessed individually, rather than the same for everybody.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Parshas Bamidbar

Shvous is almost here, during sefira we are awaiting the Torah, and counting up the days till we reach this great day of when we accepted the Torah.

Something to say:

In the wilderness of Sinai (1:1).

The Midrash tells us that the Torah was given to Israel in fire, in water, and in a wilderness. The Shem MiShmuel comments that these three elements symbolize the way an individual should strive to acquire Torah. He should learn it with the “fire” of enthusiasm – with an eager and fervent heart. The Torah student also needs “water” – a calm, peaceful thoughtful approach to learning, symbolized by the tranquility of water, which will help him master the material. Finally, he needs the “wilderness” – a willingness to forgot material pursuits that serve as obstacles to spiritual accomplishments.

The relationship we should have with the Torah is the same relationship as husband to wife. We should love to learn Torah and put our energy into it. We should be thoughtful in learning the Torah, and we should be willing to forgo other distractions so that we can focus more on Torah. Torah should be our number one priority, so that everything else we do in life should be for the Torah.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Parshas Behar- Bechukosai

Last week in Parshas Emor we talked about how if a person refrains from sin they get a reward. In this weeks parsha, Bechukosai, we talk about another way to help us stay away from sinning.

Something to say:

I will remember my covenant with Jacob (26:42)

In this parshah, the Jewish people are warned of the punishments they will receive if they fail to live up to their obligations as the Chosen People. In the midst of a series of punishments, this verse introduces words of comfort, promising the Jews that God will eventually remember his treaty with Jacob and the other Patriarchs. The Shlah HaKadosh asks why there is a verse of comfort in the middle of all the curses.

This verse actually serves as a mussar for us. We know that a rasha, an evil person, who is the son of an evil person cannot be compared to a rasha who is the son of a tzaddik. The latter is more liable for his transgressions, for he saw an example of piety in his home and has no excuse for not following that model. We are reminded here that we are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of this lineage, we have a very strong responsibility to follow in their ways – and if not, God forbid, we may bring all the curses in the surrounding verses on our heads.

Because we come from Tzadikim, the Avos, we have great models to emulate. If we do an aviarah we don’t have the excuse to say that we didn’t know better. If a person is tempted to commit a sin they should imagine their father and that will help them not to sin.