parasha Behaalotecha 5782

B”H

“And the mixt multitude that was among them felt a craving: and the children of Israel wept, and said, if only we had meat to eat.”

–  Numbers 11:4

A perfect example of how a smaller component of a population, can influence, in this case, not for the good, the greater whole. The erev rab (mixed multitude) that accompanied B’nei Yisrael out of Egypt, instigated a general complaint. According to Chizkuni, this occurred within the first three days after they had travelled out from Mt. Sinai, as if already, the kedushah (holiness) that they had acquired there began to wear off.

Rashi asks, how can it be that they did not have any meat? He references the pasuk (verse), “And, also a mixed multitude went up with them, with flocks and herds” (Exodus 12:38). Since, in all likelihood, they still had “flocks and herds,” then, according to Rashi their complaint was only offered as a pretext. “A pretext to abandon the L-RD” (Sifrei Bamidbar 86).

From here, it can be deducted that the instigators attempted to compel B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) to abandon the L-RD. This is evidenced by their lament, “if only we had meat… we remember the fish that we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (11:4-5, JPS). Did they eat better as slaves, and, in their hearts, prefer to return to Egypt?

How could gashmiyos (material concerns) be more important to them than the spiritual path they were upon? When G-d’s people are unduly influenced by those who do not recognize the same values instilled in us by His wisdom, then we must seek to renew our faith in Him. G-d granted the request of the people, sending quails to feed them for a month; however, He also struck them with a plague. Let us learn from this lesson, and guard ourselves against undue influences.

Reconciliation

parasha Nasso 5782 – Reconciliation

“Then shall they confess their sin which they have done.” – Numbers 5:6-7a, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Mishkan along with the Levitical system of offerings were meant to restore the relationship of the people with H’Shem. A restored relationship with H’Shem begins with vidui (confession), whereby we confess our sins to Him; additionally, we return to Him by not making the same transgression(s) again. We must also increase our mitzvoth (good deeds), spend more time engaged with godly pursuits, and less time in that which could be considered frivolous.

This is all the more important in today’s world of instant gratification, social media, and encroaching nihilism. Moreover, the influence of Wokism will draw those who have no moorings, to join the cause of an intolerant advocacy for social justice. A type of social justice that uses identity politics to create groups of people, who are labeled as oppressed. This is cultural Marxism, the dividing of a population, in order to transform the status quo.

Wokism and the concurrent cultural revolution in America has no allowance for the concept of teshuvah (confession, repentance, and forgiveness). Its ideological roots are contrary to G-d’s word, and the values of Judeo-Christian belief. G-d provides us with the opportunity for renewal, every time we admit our faults. Wokism condemns all who it judges, without any sense of due justice, discussion, or compassion. It is relentless in its accusations against all dissenters.

Wokism creates its own ledgers of right and wrong, irrespective of G-d’s commandments. It is, simply put, a pseudo-morality, that is being inculcated within every facet of American society today – a widespread indoctrination. It is imperative for G-d fearing people to resist the lure of Wokism, and not confuse its sense of social justice with G-d’s sense of social justice. From G-d’s perspective, we may reconcile ourselves to Him, through teshuvah (repentance), therefore restoring our relationship to G-d. This is more important than reconciling ourselves to the world, and its version of restoration.

Shemitah Year

“And the L-RD spoke unto Moses in Mount Sinai, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the L-RD.” – Leviticus 25:1-2, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Torah, specifically, mentions that the commandment of Shemitah, wherein the land is to lie fallow every seven years, “a Sabbath unto the L-RD,” was given on Mount Sinai. Why is this particular commandment, singled out, as being given at Mount Sinai? The Sages say, that this serves as a reminder that all the commandments, not only the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – were given at Sinai. Yet, this still does not answer the question, why is the commandment of Shemitah given prominence?

Shemitah is a commandment that requires strong emunah (faith): for it is the trust in H’Shem to provide enough crops in the previous year, to eat, while the land lies fallow, until the third year, when the harvest arrives. Emunah (faith), the essential element that was initially exhibited at Sinai, when B’nei Yisrael committed to observing the commandments, before actually hearing them (na’aseh v’nishmah) is also required for Shemitah.

This faith is integral to receiving the commandments on Sinai, inasmuch that G-d guarantees that during the seventh year, when the land lies fallow, He provide enough food from the previous year, to last throughout the seventh year, as well as the next year, when the crops are being planted. Yet, the Torah warns of the consequence for not having faith in regard to the Shemitah year:

“And you will I scatter among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. Then shall the land be paid her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye are in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and repay her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall have rest; even the rest which it had not in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it” (Leviticus 26:33-35, JPS).

This chastisement was carried out towards the end of the first Temple period, as is mentioned, “to fulfill the word of H’Shem by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had been paid her sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” (2 Chronicles 36:21, JPS). Thus, failure to observe Shemitah led to the Babylonian exile.

What lesson can be drawn from this example? In today’s hustle and bustle of modern life, especially during the work week, if we focus only on striving for the material benefits, in order to provide for ourselves and our families, then we miss “the bigger picture.”

The Sabbath, is a reminder of the Creator, and his Creation. G-d must not be left out of “the equation” in our lives. For, it is G-d, Who made the heavens and the earth, as well as the seas. We should show reverence towards Him, and recognize His splendor. Especially so, as the hour approaches for our redemption. Let us not be amongst those who forget the Creator.

parasha Kedoshim 5782

parasha Kedoshim 5782 – Honest Weights and Measures

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.” – Leviticus 19:35, JPS 1917 Tanach

Regarding the opening verse of parasha Kedoshim, “You shall be holy, because H’Shem your Gd is holy,” this verse serves as a guiding principle, that continues to be expounded upon throughout the rest of the parasha. The principle of holiness is applied even to what might otherwise be considered as the mundane affairs of mankind. For example, the Torah calls for “equal weights and measures.” Although, we are not all merchants, called to right business practices, this specific commandment may be gleaned by the intellect through a symbolic rendering.

In regard to the positive character trait of honesty, an honest person will not try to cheat or disparage others in any manner. When measuring up to others greater than us, let us not rob the other of their status, by demeaning them. Nor, shall a person of integrity make himself out to be better than one actually is, by stacking the weights to his advantage, making it appear that he has more positive qualities than in actuality. Rather, let us make an honest assessment of both are positive negative qualities and attempt to improve ourselves altogether.

Ultimately, we will be judged by G-d Above, at the time of Judgment, so that it would be better to judge ourselves of our own accord today, tomorrow, and the next day, on a continual basis, so that we may repent and change for the better through teshuvah (turning towards G-d). In this manner, we should not have any sins left unrepented; therefore, our judgment will be lighter. Let us seek to be forgiven by H’Shem’s (the L-rd’s) provision for our atonement. For the means for teshuvah (repentance) was formulated even before the world came into existence. Amein. Shabbat shalom.

“Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them alike are abomination to the L-RD.” – Proverbs 20:10, JPS 1917 Tanach

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