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Parashat Mattot Masei

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shlomo Zargari

From when the month of Av begins one must decrease in acts of rejoicing (Taanit 26B)

We have entered the month of אב. Harav Yosef Hayim זצוק״ל writes that the month is called אב because in the near future it will be the “Father” of all months. Being that so many horrible things happened during this time, there will surely be an abundance of miracles and good things, more than any other month, as is written:
שַׂ֭מְּחֵנוּ כִּימ֣וֹת עִנִּיתָ֑נוּ שְׁ֝נ֗וֹת רָאִ֥ינוּ רָעָֽה׃

Give us joy for as long as You have afflicted us, for the years we have suffered misfortune.(Tehilim, 90,15)

Harav Yosef Hayim continues, “It seems to me that the month is called אב because it will be rectified through Torah study. Our sages say: ( אל״ף בי״ת אלף בינה (שבת קה .The sages are teaching us the deeper meaning of the letters of our holy language and the relationship between them. The first is Alef Bet, alluding to “Alef Bina” meaning (we must) study the wisdom of Torah. Our sages teach us in the Talmud (Shabbat 119 B), Yerushalayim was not destroyed until the students of Torah were disrespected, and it will be rebuilt when the honor of those who study the Torah will be uplifted…

This is the week that we need to accept upon ourselves to be strengthened in the study of Torah, whether it be our own learning, our children’s, or the community’s. Through this effort, the merit will all be ours. But on the other hand, the Satan made the summer vacation during this time… when the study of Torah is so much needed. Now it’s only up to us to take the initiative and utilize this time for studying, reviewing, or learning new gems from our beautiful Torah.

We should be redeemed very soon in this merit Amen.

 

Parashat Pinchas

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Aharon Seleh

In this week’s parsha, Pinchos is credited with saving Israel from annihilation. There had been a terrible plague due to the sins of harlotry in Israel. Pinchos killed Zimri and the harlot, thereby ending the plague

The Zichron Meir points out that prior to this parsha, Pinchos was not a famous figure; he was just an ordinary individual. On the contrary, the shevatim were degrading him, saying “This grandson of someone who had fattened calves to be sacrificed for idols, had the gall to kill the prince of Israel! ”
Imagine, Israel is sinning and there is a plague raging. Zimri just sinned in public. The leaders are weeping. Pinchos stands up and takes action.

Pinchos could have thought to himself, “Who am I and what can I accomplish?” But he chose to act. This is an important lesson to us all.

We live in a society where so many of our brethren are lost, and there is so much impurity in the world. We must realize the power of an individual to change the world by influencing others. Reach out to them. Educate them. Spread the beauty of Emuna and Torah.

The possuk says, “He took a spear in his hand.” The Torah didn’t have to add “in his hand” as that is obvious. But the Torah is teaching us that’s the only action he took, afterwards he merited great heavenly assistance to carry it out. The same applies to us: just make an effort to draw others close, and Hashem will grant you great assistance.

Shabbat Shalom.

Parashat Balak

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi David Cohen

G-d said to Bilaam, “You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people, for it is blessed.” (22:12)

At a certain point Bilaam offered to bless the Jews. Hashem replied, “They do not require your blessing. They are a blessed people.” Rashi analogizes this to a bee whose honey is very tasty and beneficial, but, accompanying procuring the honey, is the chance that one might get stung. “We want neither your honey nor your sting.” Apparently, they go together.

A Rasha such as Bilaam generates curse even through his blessing. Anything to do with him is dangerous. This was the man who taught the world the idea of employing moral seduction as a tool for taking down a person – even a nation. Such a man could not be trusted – even for blessing. No good can ever be derived from someone so evil.

Furthermore, associating with Bilaam, even through the medium of blessing can be dangerous, just as in the case with the bee. While one is enjoying the honey, his mind is not on the bee – until he has been stung; then, it is too late; the damage has been done. While the Jewish People would be concentrating on Bilaam’s blessing, he would be occupying himself with destroying them. By the time they would have realized this, they would have been stung.

How careful do we Jews have to be, especially living in L. A. (a magnet for some of the most corrupt people in the world), of who we surround ourselves with.