DVAR TORAH: SEEING IS BELIEVING
by RABBI S. WEISS
If only there was an Olympic competition in complaining, we might finally get those gold medals we so crave! Our Sedra, sometimes called parshat Ha’mitlon’nim, the saga of the complainers, has Bnei Yisrael grousing at every turn. We complain about the hurried journey through the harsh desert; the lack of meat, the absence of all the delicacies we had in Egypt (cucumbers are a delicacy?!).
Even Miriam and Aharon get in the act, when they complain that Moshe is neglecting his poor wife, Tzipora.
But perhaps the most perplexing protest is that about the Mahn. “Nafshenu y’vaysha; ayn kol – bilti el ha-mahn aynenu – Our souls are parched, we have nothing, only this Mahn to look at!” they moan and groan.
But what are they saying? If their throats were parched, from lack of water, I could understand that. But their very souls being parched?! What is THAT all about? And why this focus on what the Mahn looked like; the main thing is that it miraculously TASTED like anything they had a craving for!
DVAR TORAH: THE CIRCLE OF LOVE
bt RABBI S. WEISS
Is there any blessing/prayer more beautiful than the “Y’varech’cha,” delivered by the Kohanim (each day in Israel, and several times annually in the rest of the world)? In just 15 succinct words, Hashem promises to shower us with an abundance of gifts. These include:
Material success (“Y’varech’cha”);
Protection of our assets (“Yishm’recha”);
Wisdom and insight (“Ya’er”);
ASK THE RABBI
Question: MAY A KOHEN WHO KILLED SOMEONE DELIVER THE BIRKAT KOHANIM?
Answer: The Gemara (Brachot 32) cites a pasuk in Yeshayahu, “When you spread your hands, I will look away from you; your hands are filled with blood,” as indicating that a Kohen who killed another person cannot use those same hands to bless the people. But this is in a case of intentional homicide. However, if a Kohen killed someone accidentally (e.g. he pushed someone in anger and that person died as a result) there is a dispute:
DVAR TORAH: COMING CLEAN BEFORE G-D
by RABBI S. WEISS
Mitzvot, as we all know, require preparation. Shabbat, for example, must be properly prepared for; the right Arba Minim must be selected before Sukkot (and the Sukka must be built!), we wash our hands and even meditate a bit before Tefila, etc. In many ways, the quality of any Mitzva is directly proportionate to the prep that precedes it.
Ask the Rabbi
Question: WHY IS THE NIGHT OF SHAVUOT (THIS TUESDAY NIGHT) CALLED “TIKUN LEIL SHAVUOT?”
The word Tikun means “fixing.” By learning Torah deep into the night on Shavuot and sleeping less, we “fix” 2 flaws that occurred at the original Matan Torah:
1) Instead of eagerly anticipating the giving of the Torah, many people complacently went to sleep early!
2) At Har Sinai, we wanted to accept only the written Torah. G-d had to lift the mountain over our heads and threaten us before we would also accept the Oral Law. Thus we concentrate on studying Talmud in our Shavuot learning to show our acceptance of Torah sheh’b’al’peh. While many do stay up all night, others learn into the night but go to sleep at some point, in order to have proper kavana for the morning Tefila. The Zohar notes that Shavuot is the wedding day of Israel and HaKodesh Baruch Hu; our hours of Torah study constitute the dowry” we bring to the marriage!