Parashat & Current Events

Devarim 5778

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Devarim 5778

The Gemara (Chagiga 5b) quotes the pasuk (Yirmiyahu 13,17):

If you do not listen, I will weep in a secret place because of glory;
My eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.

Rav Shmuel bar Inia said in the name of Rav, “HaShem has a place On High and it is called Mistarim (literally mysteries, concealment), where HaShem cries each day because of His lost glory”. In yeshiva they asked, “What is ‘the lost glory’ referring to?”

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Matot-Masei 5778

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Matot-Masei 5778

Our parasha enumerates the 42 stations where the Jewish nation encamped in their 40 years of wandering in the desert; some are well known, others are just markers on a map.

Wandering is the essence of Jewish history when HaShem banished us from His holy land.

To have to leave the land in which you and your parents were born, in order to begin a new life in foreign surroundings, with the knowledge that in three or four generations your descendants will also have to leave for a new place, is traumatic. But these situations also held within them the survival of our people. The feeling that we are “permanently temporary” decreased the degree of assimilation into the cultures of our “host” countries. Some might argue that the “treatment” was much too harsh in combating the disease. Perhaps! But it worked.

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Pinchas 5778

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Pinchas 5778

This parsha always draws me close to tears. How I feel for the greatest of men – Moshe Rabbeinu – who was forced to succumb to HaShem’s absolute and terminal judgment prohibiting him from entering the Holy Land.

But it should not have come as a complete surprise to the great Moshe. Among his ten names, Moshe’s holy Jewish name given to him by his parents at birth was Tuvia, whereas Moshe was the name given to him by Batya, the Egyptian princess who saved him as a baby from the river (Moshe in ancient Egyptian means “to draw out from water”).

From all his names, why did HaShem choose to call him by the Egyptian word “Moshe”?

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Balak 5778

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Balak 5778

This week’s parasha completes the tragic transgression trilogy perpetrated by the Jews in their 40-year desert sojourn.

The first was the distortion of HaShem’s revelation at Sinai by the heretical, idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, causing the death of 3,000 Jews. Followed by the refusal of the majority of the men to enter the Holy Land while under the influence of the Meraglim, which took a toll of hundreds of thousands between the ages of 20 and 60 who were condemned to die over the coming 38 years.

And in our parasha the sinful relationships with the daughters of Moav and Midyan, leading to the death of 24,000 Jews, including the head of the Tribe of Shimon.

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Chukat 5778

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Chukat 5778

Our parsha begins with the unfathomable ritual of para aduma, the red heifer. The completely red-haired animal is burned on Har Ha’zaytim to the east of the Temple Mount, in direct line with the Holy of Holies, which enabled the officiating kohen to see into the Holy of Holies.

The Torah informs us that all the people involved in the preparation of the para aduma become tamei (a state of ritual impurity), even though the result of their efforts is the purification of people or objects which became tamei through contact with a corpse.

How strange that the people who are engaged in the purification of others become themselves impure!

But here the Torah is teaching us a huge lesson in Yiddishkeit; that, in the fulfillment of Hashem’s will, a Jew at times is called on to dirty his hands – literally and figuratively.

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Korach 5778

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Korach 5778

Question: Korach’s punishment is seemingly excessive in proportion to his sin; HaShem saw to it that there would not be even a grave which one could throw stones at; Korach was swallowed up into the bowels of the earth, never to be seen again. In contrast President Trump’s successes are “excessive” in relation to the short time that he has been in office. The US economy is healthy, unemployment is the lowest in many years, Wall Street is sizzling and there is no social unrest to speak of. Why?

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