Parashat & Current Events

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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Shlach 5778

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Shlach 5778

Of all the difficulties which our parasha presents, the most conspicuous is the total and sudden retraction of all the ideals that led the Israelites to this point in the exodus drama. Were the ten Meraglim (scouts) so articulate and blessed with the power of elocution that they were able to turn the entire nation (except for the righteous women) against the leadership of Moshe and Aharon?

I don’t believe that it was their rhetoric that convinced the nation to reject all that was previously precious in their lives.

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Be’ha’alotcha 5778

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Be’ha’alotcha 5778

Eight times in his commentary on Chumash, Rashi asks, “lama nisma’cha” (“why did the Torah choose this particular sequence of verses?”). Meaning: since the episodes of the Torah do not always appear in their chronically historical sequence, nor is there always a logical human explanation for mitzva B to follow mitzva A, it is important to investigate the sequence of the Torah text.

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Naso 5778

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Naso 5778

The holiday of Shavuot, when we receive the Torah every year anew with great satisfaction and pride has now passed. However, in the first year when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai there is an apparent contradiction in the attitude of our ancestors’ willingness to receive it.

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