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 “Vayeshev Yisroel B’Shitim-Israel settled in Shittim.”

It was here that many of the men of Israel began to sin with the daughters of Moav. It is difficult to fathom how a people growing up in the Midbar and seeing all of the miracles they must have seen, could sin with the first sight of seductive women?The Midrash Tanchuma interprets the words “Vayeshev Yisroel B’Shitim-Israel settled in Shittim.” to indicate that there was a fountain at Shittim which caused people who drank from it to develope into adulterers, just as we know there are fountains of water which cause the people who drink from it to become strong or weak physically, or to influence their character in various ways. The waters of that well were the ones the people of Sodom had been drinking which affected their behavior. Seeing that it had such spiritually negative effects on the people drinking from it Hashem caused it to stop flowing. (RabeinuBachya)

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“Zos Chukas H’Torah"

   (19:2) “Zos Chukas H’Torah-These are the statutes of the Torah.” This week’s Parsha deals with death. The ashes of the Para Adumah that purify someone who came into contact with death, the death of Miriam and Aharon and the decree of Moshe’s death are all major themes here. With this parsha the sefer Bamidbar seems to change direction. Until now we have been dealing with the generation that emerged from Egypt. But from here on, the remainder of the Chumash recounts the history of the next generation. All of the events described from here on take place in the 40th year of the midbar wanderings. The point of this transition is the mitzvah of the Para Haduma. It is called a “Chok” because the meaning behind it has eluded even the greatest of minds. Rashi says that no reason is given for these “Chukim”. Yet he does say that if the nations of the world would mock the Torah saying, look at these mitzvos that make no sense, we precede this by saying that although they are a Chok beyond our comprehension, Klal Yisroel were still willing to comply.This could be the connection to last week’s parsha. In parshas Korach we learned that Korach challenged Moshe by using his own logic. He would tear down anything he could not understand. If a room is full of Torah scrolls how can it need a mezuzah? This is why our parsha begins with “Chukim” these are laws beyond human comprehension.

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(13:2) “Shelach-Send out.”

The incident concerning the spiesis the forbearer of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. The numerical value of the word Shelach is equal to 338. Not coincidently the year of the destruction was 3338.

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My father ob”m Shlomo Ben Boruch (Abish) passed away 27 of Tamuz 5774, July 25, 2014.  

My father ob”m was a man of many choices. To the casual observer, he seemed to live a charmed, serene and successful life, with a wonderful family. Yet, behind the scenes, he had many choices to make. Born in Czechoslovakia, he chose to listen to his mother, and flee his house and family to the forest in advance of the murderous Germans and their henchmen, and merited to survive the war. His parents, seven of eight siblings and some aunts and uncles were all murdered. He chose to be active and joined the Russian irregular partisans. He chose to identify himself as a Jew, notwithstanding that after fighting the Germans by day, the Jewish kids had to rotate and post watchmen by night to prevent their own comrade-in-arms from murdering them for their boots or some whimsical motive. He chose to carry his Tfillin in his pocket throughout the war. As my father said; if all else fails at least I’ll have my Tfillin to wear daily. Later he found in the pocket of a German he killed, a camera, which upon developing, found pictures of his own friends being hung, and all the cultured Germans posing and smiling.

(Astounding; An advanced culture with flexible moral foundations, can dehumanize themselves in their quest for advancement, and how ironic in that they had a proactive policy to dehumanize their victims, the very thing that they were failing in.)  (If you can’t compete; destroy)

Later, having risen to the rank of personal driver to a Russian General, after the war in the four state Berlin, he slipped over to the American side and instead of frolicking in post war Vienna, an era of parties; he chose to take up studies in a Vienna university.

Subsequently, when he succeeded to arrive in Montreal, in the early 50’s, at a time of minimal religious development in North America, he chose to join and become president of a shul called “Tiferes Bochurim” a shul of great influence in the development of post war Jewry in Montreal and Toronto.

He chose, at great sacrifice and serious depravation, to not work on the Shabbat, and merited to open his own successful and long running (till this day) business. My father was a dapper young man, later with a pocket full of money, yet chose to not follow his friends into the nightlife scene (See Talmud Berochos 32a which insinuates that a young man in such a situation is practically expected to sin).

He chose to marry my mother, (Rachel Blau, daughter of Horav Moshe Blau one of the official Rabbis of Bnei Brak Israel and its surrounding suburbs- Pardes Katz,) a woman of noble lineage, and fine reputation, and merited to have all his descendants to be moral, religious and upstanding citizens. He chose to be in shul every morning at 527 am, (and one year, to bring me along to be in cheder at 630 am!) and merited a long life (See Talmud Berochos 8a), which speaks of men who pray in shul morning and evening merit long life. He chose to have his house next to shul, and merited to keep going to shul till the end of his life. In his 90’s, he still was able and did drive independently to New York (from Montreal). He lived till a ripe age of 90’s, when, after a brief illness he passed away peacefully in his own bed at home, faithfully attended to by his wife. Father ob”m passed away Friday morning at 940, and had the great merit to be buried with full Jewish rites and funeral by 4 in the afternoon ready to meet his maker, as was his custom every erev Shabbat; being ready in time or early. (And chose to always close his business on Fridays at one.) My father ob”m had an expression he was wont to say; “a yeder De’rum, hot zein V’rum – “Every therefore - has its because”. How apropos to what we are saying; choices have consequences. My father ob”m can be characterized as being very deliberate. He wasn’t seen to create grandiose or flamboyant changes. When one is mindful of what one does, then one has the mindset and hopefully the Divine assistance to choose wisely. We are familiar with the adage (Talmud- Tomid32a) “who is wise? One who sees the future”, and in this case, I would like to add, from the very first Mishnah in Ethics; “be deliberate in Judgement”. Take this to also mean judging one’s own actions. This characteristic of my father also allowed him to be known as never getting into any argument with anyone, ever. Not all choices are momentous, yet never the less some are. One does not need only the wisdom of wise choice, but also the mindset of realizing that there are choices to be made. May we use this week’s Parshah, and this role model to be mindful of the choices we make, and may we merit to receive Divine assistance in making the right choices.                                    Shabbat Shalom J

75 By; Bryan Abish.  For comments / free subscription or to unsubscribe; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Subject; Dvar.

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In this week's Parshah of “SHELACH”, we read of the tragic series of events surrounding the incident of the spies. The Jews; notwithstanding the miracles witnessed, did not totally trust Hashem, and wanted to judge the Land of Israel for themselves. Having initiated this mission with bad intentions, the spies, as the Jewish nation’s representatives took on and owned this negative nature of the quest (Ohr Hachayim hakodosh 1st verse) , and turned (as in wine to vinegar) from great men to evil, and were seeking bad, and when one seeks bad one generally finds it. Instead of appreciating oversized fruit, they saw overwhelming resistance. Hashem caused some prominent funerals at that time to provide cover for the spies, yet they saw the negative of a land with excessive morbidity. And so it came to pass; with their negative report, they predictably engulfed all of Israel to lament and bemoan entering Israel. Hashem then decreed; if you initiated unjustified lamentations, your creation stands, and I will cause/allow you to wallow in it, and on this date the 9th of Av was the date set aside for the destruction of both temples, and many other unfortunate events in Jewish history. We have in 135c.e. the destruction of the ancient city of Betar in which a ½ million Jews were killed. In 1096 ce the Crusades happened with 1-2million dead. We had the expulsion from England in 1290, from France 1306, and the expulsion from Spain and the inquisition 1492, the start of WW1 in 1914 which led to WW2 and the holocaust, and the initiation of failed final solution in 1941. All the same date; 9th of Av.                                             The term used is “Shelach Le’cho”; send them on your own conscience/reasoning. When Moshe Rabeinu (MR) Moses, consulted Hashem, whether to send the spies or not, Hashem answered, “I’m staying out of this”. MR followed through and used the same approach. The Jews had the free choice and they not just sent the spies, but were the instigation of sending. We know the concept; “all is in the hands of Hashem including each person’s station in life, but for the fear of Hashem”. In other words, a person’s circumstances are usually predetermined and altered only with prayer. However, his reaction to circumstances always remains within man’s realm, and that determines the mettle and composition of the person. Occasionally one finds himself at a crossroads, and has the moment of choice, which will greatly determine his flow of events. Choice was given to Israel, and they chose wrong. And the rest is history. We find similarly, when Prophet Jeremiah (Ch 19-20) was commanded by Hashem to publicly purchase and then break a pottery utensil. This had the Jewish King so enraged, that he had him jailed. Why? (As I heard from Rabbi Riesman). Until now it was assumed, no matter how poorly they conducted themselves, eventually all would be forgiven and good. Now they were being foretold; No! Some things can reach a breaking point, and then break. This eventually came about when the temple was destroyed. Similarly, when Adam, on that fateful Friday afternoon, ate the forbidden fruit, he permanently changed the course of history, and caused the world to enter plan B. The Torah itself was offered and available to all the nations of the world, which they refused. Only the Jews accepted it, and the rest is history. The Talmud (Chagigah 9b) quotes and discusses (Ecclesiastes 1’ 15”) “a wrong that can not be righted”.

            This is the concept of choice. Yes, we make many daily choices, and many mini corrections throughout our travel through time. All this leads us to be in position and prepared, for when a consequential choice does present itself which will effect our position and course in life.  We must prepare and pray to be ready. Just as a sports team can not sit by idly, and turn it on for the playoffs; for by then it’s usually too late. A groom can not say, “On the day of my marriage (Known to be a bride and bridegroom’s private Yom Kippur) I will pray a prolonged and holy Mincha and become a changed person”. He must train for it. Maybe he won’t merit to game the system, and will have various standard interruptions. We find in Prayers by the taking out of the Torah, we pray “Save us from bad moments”. This is usually meant; to be in a holy state of mind at the moments we pass away, to be able to return our Neshomah/soul in a state of purity and holy thought. We can also include those consequential moments of choice; Hashem save and help us be prepared and in a proper state of mind. Simple decisions yet at times monumental consequences. And there are times when we falter, and Hashem in His kindness repeats the test over and over until we get it right. If we snarl at someone, come late for prayers, lose our temper or are late yet again for Shabbat, we will shortly find ourselves yet again faced with the challenge, and Hashem cheering on the sidelines; GO my creation GO, pass the test, and then we can move on to a higher capacity level.                We can see how important choices are, and how vigilant we must be, to be ready for that unexpected and brief moment.      Shabbat Shalom J 

76 By; Bryan Abish.  For comments / free subscription or to unsubscribe; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Subject; Dvar.

 

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(8:2) “Behaloscha es-Ha’neros-When you light the lights.”

Rashi explains the connection between this Parsha and the end of the previous one. That when Aaron saw all of the donations made by the Nesiim he felt bad that neither he nor his shevet had any part of it. This is why the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah was directed exclusively towards him. The Ohr Hachaim asks why was it this mitzvah when there was so many others that Aharon had to perform? The Nesiim only brought their Korbaonos this one time, while Aharon and his descendants were to perform them for all time? He answers that the Mitzvah of cleaning and lighting the Menorah was even greater than bringing the Korbonos because each day it was necessary to dismantle the Menorah in order to clean it. So in effect Aharon, by reassembling the Menorah, was completing the Mishkon every day.

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