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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shemuel Akhamzadeh

וְהָיָ֣ה לָכֶם֮ לְצִיצִת֒ וּרְאִיתֶ֣ם אֹת֗וֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺ֣ת ה וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם וְלֹֽא־תָתֻ֜רוּ אַחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם זֹנִ֖ים אַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃
לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכְּר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺתָ֑י וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם קְדֹשִׁ֖ים לֵֽאלֹהֵיכֶֽם

That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the LORD and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge.(15-39)
Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God.

Every time we make a beracha before a mitzvah, we thank Hashem for making us holy through that mitzvah by saying “אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו.” Chofetz Chaim has a fascinating point from this week’s portion on this idea. He points out that in Passuk (15-40) the words “וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺתָ֑י,” to observe all My commandments, are seamingly repetitive since it was already mentioned in the previous verse “וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺ֣ת ה,” to do all the commandments of Hashem. Chofetz Chaim explains that here the Torah is revealing that one may be keeping all the mitzvot fully, however he will not achieve kedusha, holiness, unless he is also in line with the words “ וְלֹֽא־תָתֻ֜רוּ אַחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם”, the desires of one’s heart and eyes ( Heresy & illicit relations ).” The verse continues, “Thus… Be holy to Hashem.”

Perhaps this idea is similar to the explanation of Ramban on the mitzvah of Kedushim Tihyu: to keep our desires in check even when they do not contradict the words of Torah. One who rises above his physical desires and is in control of them is a holy person.

Shabbat Shalom

Leilui Nishamat Mordechai Ben David

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shlomo Zargari

Shalom, we learn a pasuk in the parasha:
לֹֽא־אוּכַ֤ל אָנֹכִי֙ לְבַדִּ֔י לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־כָּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֥י כָבֵ֖ד מִמֶּֽנִּי׃
I cannot carry all the people by myself, for it is too much for me.
(Beha’alotecha 11,14)

Moshe is begging for help from HaShem and HaShem tells him to gather the seventy elders who will assist him in the leadership in front of the אוהל מועד.

וְיָרַדְתִּ֗י וְדִבַּרְתִּ֣י עִמְּךָ֮ שָׁם֒ וְאָצַלְתִּ֗י מִן־הָר֛וּחַ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָלֶ֖יךָ וְשַׂמְתִּ֣י עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וְנָשְׂא֤וּ אִתְּךָ֙ בְּמַשָּׂ֣א הָעָ֔ם וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א אַתָּ֖ה לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃

I will come down and speak with you there, and I will draw upon the spirit that is on you and put it upon them; they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone.

Rashi explains that Moshe was compared to a candle; even if you light many other candles from a single candle, the flame will not be diminished. The question to be asked is, “Why did HaShem use Moshe as a conduit and not directly give prophecy to the seventy elders?” The משגיח Harav Shlomo Wolbe זצ״ל answers that the Torah has to be transmitted from a Rebbi to a student. By learning and observing, the students will grow based on the righteousness of the master. It is extremely important for everyone to develop such connections for growth in Torah, and thereby spirituality.

Shabbat Shalom

 

 

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Aharon Seleh

In this week’s parsha, the laws of Sotah are introduced. We learn the greatness of shalom from Hashem. He allows His name to be erased in the “bitter waters” in order to bring peace between man and his wife.

The Pele Yo’etz offers a fascinating insight. Imagine you see a man bickering with another. You ask him, “Don’t you realize the greatness of shalom, and the consequences of machloket?” He answers you, “Of course I realize, but how can I make peace with those who are always upsetting me?” Answer him, “If making peace was that simple and easy, the Torah wouldn’t expound on it and extoll it so extensively.” True, shalom is when you are in a difficult situation and peace is alluding you, but you still pursue it. That’s what the possuk means when it says, “Seek peace and pursue it.” Specifically when making peace is challenging, the Torah commands us to pursue it.

The Pele Yo’etz compares this to a scenario where one is told by heaven, “If you make peace with so and so, you’ll live 1000 yrs; if you bicker with him, you’ll die right away.” It won’t be difficult for him to have peace as the stakes are very high. All the more so, when it comes to shalom, we all know one moment in Gan Eden is more pleasurable than all the pleasures of this world, and in contrast – the devastating consequences of machloket.

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Yosef Shemtov

Every morning we bless Hashem for giving us the Torah. Torah is the source of all blessings. In fact, the Torah was created before the Almighty created the world to demonstrate that life without Torah is empty and void of any blessings. Shavuot is the holiday of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. By the burning bush, Hashem commanded Moshe to go to Egypt to save the Jewish nation so that Beni Yisrael would receive the Torah 50 days after their exodus from Egypt. Rambam states the main proof of the truth of Judaism – and what  differentiates us from other nations – is the fact that all of Beni Yisrael witnessed and heard the Almighty themselves, and not through a story or by the testimony of a human being.

On Shavuot, Hashem gave ten commandments orally and then called Moshe to go up the mountain. Everyone heard G-d speaking to Moshe. No other nation in the world can claim that they heard Hashem talking to a prophet except Beni Yisrael.

Every Shavuot we commemorate receiving the Torah by staying up all night and learning Torah. We thank Hashem for choosing us as the recipients of his Torah.

On behalf of the Yachad Rabbis, I wish you and your family a happy and meaningful Shavuot.

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi David Cohen

If you will follow My decrees and observe My Commandments and perform them. (26:3)

At first glance, the pasuk appears repetitious: follow My decrees; observe My commandments; perform them. Every word – indeed, every letter – has profound significance. How are we to understand what the Torah is trying to tell us? Rashi explains that the pasuk is teaching us the process by which we proceed from learning to action. The combined meaning of the pasuk is: If you will follow My decrees by engaging in ameilut ba’Torah, intensive Torah study, with the intention that this study will lead to; observe My commandments properly, and, if you will actually elevate potential to reality; and perform them – you will merit the following blessings, which will be detailed in the upcoming pesukim.

Thus, it all reverts back to ameilut ba’Torah, commonly translated as toiling in Torah, or exerting oneself in his studies. If we have no clear understanding of the meaning of limud haTorah, study of Torah, then we are in serious trouble. Sitting in front of a Gemorah as if one is at a country club is not the Torah’s idea of ameilut. Yet, on the other hand, we find ourselves reciting daily the blessing, v’Haarev na, “Please, Hashem, sweeten the words of Torah in our mouth.” Toil? Sweetness? It would seem that these terms are not mutually consistent with one another.

A certain blessing precedes v’Haarev na, the Bircat HaTorah of Laasok b’divrei Torah, “To busy (occupy) ourselves with the words of Torah.” We now have another term for Torah study: eisak, busy ourselves. An eisak is a business. Literally, the Torah becomes our business, our occupation. The purpose of Torah study is so that we are able to perform the mitzvot properly. Thus, the extended meaning of Laasok b’divrei Torah is to occupy our minds with Torah, so that we are able to implement the words of Torah properly and correctly in actual practice.

We now know that Torah must occupy our minds and our mouths. We acknowledge that physical and mental exertion is an integral part of this process. Where does the “sweetness” enter the picture? Horav Shimon Schwab, zl, explains this pragmatically. Once we have expended the effort to apply ourselves to learning Torah, we ask Hashem to make the Torah sweet for us. He offers a prosaic analogy to one who is reluctant to jump into a pool of cold water. Once he has made the plunge, the water is quite soothing and enjoyable. Indeed, there are difficulties in studying Torah. It does not come easily for many people. Obstacles and challenges block the way. For some, it is time; For others, it is acumen, background, study partner, indolence, every excuse in the world. Once one has made the necessary effort, and dispensed the necessary toil and exertion, he asks Hashem to please grant him the enjoyment of the learning.

May we all merit to taste the sweetness of Torah.