Friday, July 30, 2010

Parshas Eikev

Something to say:

It will be that if you hearken to My commandments… (11:13).

In this, the second paragraph of the Shema, God promises that we will be blessed with prosperity beyond the bounds of natural law, if we obey His commandments. Why does the Torah use the expression Shema, to hearken? Shouldn’t it have said, “I f you will perform My commandments”? Rabbi Avigdor Miller comments that taking action is not always in a man’s power, whereas listening sincerely, with the intention to do, certainly is. When one decides to listen to God’s commandments, he demonstrates his willingness and his genuine intention to perform them. It is according to the “listening,” the effort to learn, that God measures one’s acceptance of the Torah and therefore provides him with innumerable blessings.

There’s a famous saying “It’s the thought that counts”. So long as we are sincere in wanting to do Hashem’s commandments, then we get credit for it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parshas Va’eschanan

Something to say:

And you shall love Hashem, your God (6:5).

The Sfas Emes asks how e can be commanded to love. Is love not an emotion, felt spontaneously rather than produced on command? What should a person do if the doesn’t feel that emotion?

Actually, he explains, a love for God is embedded deep within everyone. The command we are given is to allow this love expression, and to bring it out into the open by doing actions that promote it. One should involve himself in activities that will strengthen this natural spark of love and maintain it in his awareness.

Our actions have a great effect on us. They say if you do not like a person you should do good deeds towards them. This helps you like the person. With Hashem, we already have feelings of love towards Him. We just need to do Mitzvos and engage in activities that bring out our love towards Hashem. So that we feel closer and more in love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Parshas Devorim

I have always believed that if someone does something wrong towards you, you shouldn’t do wrong to them too. “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. A person is not excused for harming another since the other harmed them first. That is Nekama, revenge. We are supposed to be compassionate people, and not want to harm others.

Something to say:

Hashem our God, gave into our hands also Og, king of Bashan (3:3).

After forty years in the Wilderness, the Jews had begun the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, beginning with the kingdoms of Sichon and Og. The Midrash Rabbah relates that Og, the king of Bashan, the infamous and evil giant who hated the Jews, once uprooted a mountain with his mighty hands and heaved it over the Jewish nation in an attempt to crush them. Moses uttered the secret Name of God and was miraculously able to suspend the mountain in midair, so that no one was hurt. After this, the Jews proclaimed, “Cursed are the hands that threw this mountain”; and the Emorites declared, “Blessed are the hands that held it up.”

The Sefer Ta’am Voda’as finds it puzzling that the Emorites blessed the Children of Israel and the hands of Moses; they were enemies of the Jews and despised them. He answers that Moses’ great level of Kindness mad ea tremendous impression on the Emorites. The cruelty of Og, who sought to destroy the Jewish people in one fell swoop, was obvious; he showed no mercy whatsoever. Moshes, with the strength that God gave him, could easily have responded measure for measure and thrown the mountain at the Emorites, but he did no such thing. He merely suspended the mountain to prevent it from falling on the Jews.

This Midrash teaches us that the Jewish people are unique in their innate quality of compassion. We are called merciful ones, the children of merciful ones. For this reason the Emorites blessed the hands of Moses- because he held the mountain in place.

So next time someone does something bad towards us and we want to give them “a taste of their own medicine”, think about how the person will get hurt. Think about how we are compassionate people and don’t want to hurt others. So we should only treat people right, with care and compassion.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Parshas Matos-Masei

Something to say:

These are the journeys of the Children of Israel, who went forth from the land of Egypt according to their legions, under the hands of Moses and Aaron (33:1).

The commentators remind us that since the redemption from Egypt was effected through a human being, it could not be a permanent one. This is hinted at in the words “under the hands of Moshe and Aaron”. However, the future redemption will be brought about by God Himself, and will therefore be an eternal redemption.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Parshas Pinchas

In this weeks parsha Moshe is told that Yehoshuah will become the next leader, he merited this great honor because he cared for the Jewish people, and served Moshe faithfully.

Something to say:

You shall place some of your majesty upon him (27:20)

Hashem tells Moshe that Yehushuah will be the next leader of the Jewish nation and that he is to give Yehoshuah some of his special honor. The Talmud comments that Moshe was commanded to give “some of your majesty, but not all of your majesty”

The elders said, “the countenance of Moshe is like the face of the sun, and the countenance of Yehoshuah is like the face of the moon. Oh, the disgrace of it; oh, the shame of it!” Rabbi Chaim Yosef Azulai, the Chida, asks, “what is the shame and disgrace of which the elders speak? What do they so despise?”

According to the Midrash, Yehoshuah merited the leadership of the nation because he served Moshe faithfully; he also performed such tasks as arranging the benches in the Beis Midrash and sweeping the floor. It was therefore said of him, “he who cares for the fig tree will eat of its fruit.” The elders had been ashamed to perform these mundane tasks, but not they realized that these very tasks had made Yehoshuah worthy of the mantle of leadership, and they felt a sense of shame.

Someone who puts their effort into caring for an organization, or any project, will be the one to get credit for it at the end. You want to put someone in charge that has shown they care and work hard.