By: Rabbi Yosef Shemtov
In this week’s Parasha Aharon passes away, and Moshe Rabenu buries him. After that the Torah states that the king of Canaan heard the news and then attacked Benei Israel. Our Rabbis tell us that all the nation were surrounded by clouds to protect them for 40 years, and that this was in the merit of Aharon. Once he died those clouds were removed and the enemies, who had been afraid until now to start up with Benei Israel, started waging war against them.
Our Rabbis tell us that Aharon always sought Shalom; he made sure that everybody had peace. But once he died, arguments and fights began. Therefore, the Jews were vulnerable to be attacked by their enemies.
The lesson we learn is that as long as there is strife and Machloket amongst the Jewish people, we have what to fear from our enemies, but if there would be peace among us, we wouldn’t need to be worried about our enemies.
By Rabbi Shlomo Zargari.
Shalom, this weeks Parasha is Korah`. We know he was Moshe’s first cousin and very wise and wealthy. He stood up against Moshe and Aharon and said :”why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?”(Bamidbar16:3). Basically saying that Moshe made himself the king over the nation and his brother the High Priest, and the command didn’t come from Hashem. Our sages explain what prompted him to even brew such foolishness. However, the bigger question is, how did he convince all those who followed him to their death? They were “leaders of the assembly, those summoned for meeting, men of renown”( 16:2) !!! It seems they were people of stature. How is possible to even see Moshe “…the skin of his face had become radiant ; and they feared to approach him”(Shemot 34:30) and even allow themselves to think in this manner ? Rav chaim Shmuelevitz(1892-1979) quotes the Midrash Rabba(18:1) explains the connection between our Parasha and the end of last Parasha which is the commandment of Sisit, Korah` jumped and asked if the garment itself is made of Techelet(turquoise wool) then will it need Sisit(fringes) as well ? To which Moshe of course replied yes and he started to make a mockery out of him. The Midrash goes on to bring many examples of his behavior which reeks of mockery and poking fun and it was through this that he was able to enlist those great people to join him. In reality the claims and questions he had were baseless and foolish but when people would hear word of mockery and belittling, the “shock factor” kicks in and they follow. In fact historically this method has been used by many instigators who follow the footsteps of Korah` . The Mesilat Yesharim(chapter 5) says that this behavior is very damaging and one could drown in it as one would in an ocean because it takes away the heart of a person and you can’t even reason with this person …. This is something we should pay attention to and pray to be saved from it. Shabat Shalom.
By Rabbi Shlomo Zargari
Shalom, in this weeks parasha we learn about the event of ” The Spies ” which were sent to Eres Yisrael to check it out and see how the inhabitants and living conditions are . When they returned, they gave a negative view of the Holy Land : ” They brought forth to the Children of Yisrael an evil report on the land that they had spied out, saying, The Land through which we have passed, to spy it out, is al land that devours its inhabitants…”(13,32). Rashi explains that everywhere they went they found them to be burying , but they didn’t realize that Hashem caused many Canaanites to die during the spies mission in order to divert the populations attention from the spies. The question is what is wrong with this picture ? They understood the situation this way and the failed in their interpretation but what the saw was the truth !! Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk(1787-1859) says, not everything that’s not a lie is the truth. One who reports on something he saw, we won’t call him a liar but we can’t call him ” A Man of Truth” either. And what is the “Truth” and who is “The Man of Truth”. This is a person who won’t be satisfied with the superficial view of things and won’t judge with just what he sees, he looks for the truth and the deeper meaning of things and won’t rest until he will get to the bottom of the matter. This was the root of the sin of the spies. They didn’t lie, they didn’t reach the truth either because they weren’t looking for it and that’s why they failed to see the great miracle that Hashem made for them. Yehoshua and Kalev searched the truth with all their heart and did not stay with the superficial, ” …Yehoshua son of Nun and Kalev son of Yefuneh lived from among those men who were going to spy out the Land”(14,38).
By: Rabbi Yosef Khakshoor
In this week’s parasha, parahsat Beha’alotcha, when the Jewish people left Har Sinai, a group called erev rav (a group of converted Egyptians) started to complain about the manna (heavenly bread) . They complained to have meat instead of manna. The Jewish people also started to cry because they wanted to have meat. This caused Hashem to become very angry. If the erev rav initiated the complaint about the manna, why did the Jewish people follow them? One would expect the Jews to have a greater strength of character than the erev rav and not follow their improper and ungrateful behavior.
From this incident we learn the importance of being surrounded with good friends and neighbors. No matter how strong a person is, he will inevitably become affected by the attitudes and behaviors of the people around him. Sometimes the effect is so gradual that unfortunately, we do not even realize it until it is too late. Therefore, it is crucial for us and our children to have friends and neighbors that will have a positive effect on us. May Hashem give us and our children the strength to withstand the challenges of peer pressure with valor and fortitude.
By: Rabbi Shemuel Akhamzadeh
יְבָרֶכְךָ ה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ …וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
This Week’s Torah portion, Parasat Naso is the longest Parasha of the Torah. Within the over hundred pesukim of the Parahsa are the priestly blessings that Kohanim are commanded to bless the nation with. It’s noteworthy that after these verses laud the nation with physical and spiritual blessings, the extra blessing of Shalom, peace is added. It appears that Shalom was not part of the general blessings that were given earlier in the same portion rather a separate idea that needed to be added at the end. To understand this better we need to refer to the words of Talmud that Stats:“Hashem did not find a vessel for blessing Israel except for Shalom“ and more so we find that the second temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred. Hence for the blessings that Hashem bestows upon us to stay we need to create Shalom amongst ourselves and even more so with our self (inner peace) , and if you ask how to achieve this, the answer is with in the words of King Solomon in Mishle :”דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי-נֹעַם; וְכָל-נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace“. To Achieve peace we need to seek Torah.
By: Rabbi Moshe Yakoby
“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “But you shall not count the tribe of Levi, and you shall not take a census of them among the children of Israel” (Bamidbar 1:49).
The commentaries of the Chumash try to expound on the difficulty raised by this verse as to why Hashem left out the chosen tribe from being counted among their brothers.
This difficulty is further fueled by Rashi’s explanation as to why Hashem commanded Moshe to count the nation. Rashi (Bamidbar1:1) explains “Because Hashem loves the Jewish nation, he counted them several times.”. This is analogous to one who counts and recounts his wealth out of excitement.
If so, one wonders why then not the Levi’im? One can imagine how hurt and sad the Levi’im felt, knowing that they were left out of Hashem’s portrayal of love to the nation.
However, once again Rashi comes to our rescue. In his commentary to our verse, he explains that Hashem did not want to count the Levi’im knowing full well that everyone who was part of this counting would perish in the 40 years in the desert due to the sin of the crying when the spies spoke negatively about entering the land of Israel. The Levi’im, however, are the chosen tribe because months before they did not join the nation when they worshiped the Golden Calf. Therefore, Hashem chose to save them from death in the desert.
Had the Levi’im known that in just 69 days from the counting there would be a decree on whoever was included in it, they would have made a big thanksgiving ceremony to Hashem for not taking part in the census
Shalom , in the beginning of the parasha , the Torah teaches us about the misva of Shemita. On this year we must not work in the field and let the land rest. The first verse is some what different than the other verses similar to it because the word ” In the Mountain of Sinai ” is added and commentators try to understand what the meaning of this is. A person might think that he will lose as a result of observing the laws of shemita , not planting , not harvesting and tending the field , not for a week not for a month or two but ONE WHOLE YEAR … On this the Torah writes : ” The Shabat produce of the land should be yours to eat for you , for your slave…your animal …should all its crop be to eat “(vayikra 25:5,6). Even if you don’t work the land , you will have what to eat , not only you , even your employees and even animals , more over , the Shemita will bring abundance of blessing for the other six years as it says :” I will command my blessing for you …”(21). That is why the Shemita is called Shabat , just as the whole week is blessed from the Shabat so are the years in the cycle blessed from the Shemita. The same was true for Mount Sinai. Of all the mountains Hashem chose it to bestow upon us the holy Torah and through that bring blessings to the world. The misva of Shemita is a clear proof that the Torah is divine and GD forbid not man made. Who would dare tell people not to work in the fields for a year and expect them to follow based on his promise of blessings ? Only The Blessed Be His Holy Name can and that command was given on Mount Sinai ! Shabat Shalom.
Rabbi Shlomo Zargari
Say to the Kohanim… and tell them. (21:1)
It seems that the Torah is twice instructing Moshe Rabbeinu to speak to the Kohanim. Chazal explain this to imply that the Kohanim were to convey this teaching to others who would otherwise not be included in this command; the young children. The adults are not permitted to cause their children to become tamei, from exposure to the dead. This teaching needs an explanation. The pasuk implies that the adults were commanded twice. There is no mention, however, of any communication to the children. From where do Chazal derive that this is a message for adults concerning their children?
Horav Moshe Shapiro, explains that the way to influence the children is by strengthening the resolve and commitment of the adults. A direct warning to the children will not be as effective as one that the parents teach by example.
Unfortunately, we see so many children leave the road of mitzvot because the parents weren’t upholding the standards put forth by the Jewish schools they were sent to. Chazal teach us that the way a child speaks in the marketplace is the way his parents speak at home.
Being a model isn’t easy. Our children see us at all hours of the day under all types of circumstances. We must set aside time to develop out character through learning from our great sages.
Rabbi Dovid Cohen
Parashat Acheri / Kedushim
The Torah states:
“My ordinances you shall do, and my statutes you shall observe, to walk with them, I am the Lord, your God.” (Lev. 18:4).
What does the Torah mean “to walk with them?”
The Ktav Sofer commented that the words “to walk with them” mean that a person needs to walk from one level to the next level. That is, a person should constantly keep on growing and elevating himself.
An impediment to growth and success is sad feelings and depression. We are told that in the month of Iyar, in anticipation of receiving the Torah, the Jewish people were healed from all of their physical ailments. The blind were able to see, the deaf were able to hear, the mute were able to speak, and the crippled were able to walk. I think it is safe to assume that there was not only a physical healing but an emotional one as well. All feelings of sadness, hopelessness and distress (although I don’t know why that generation would be sad, after all, they didn’t have to pay the mortgage and their livelihood dropped from the skies, literally!!) were transformed to cheerfulness, happiness and joyfulness. Iyar is the time of emotional healing. It is the time that we prepare for the giving of the Torah by looking into our lives and asking ourselves: “are we happy? What is holding us back from true happiness?” Iyar was the time that the Almighty healed our ancestors and Iyar is the time that the Almighty heals all those in need.
By Rabbi Eliezer Rafaelmehr