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Parashat Beshalah


Benei Yisrael traveled in the desert, encircled by the Clouds of Glory, nourished by the "mann" which descended from the heavens, but they were thirsty. They needed water. Did they turn to the Al-mighty, the One who controls the entire Universe? No. They yelled at Moshe: "The nation fought with Moshe and they said, 'Give us water so that we could drink...' The nation complained to Moshe, and it said, 'Why did you bring us out of Egypt?'" How could they ignore Hashem, who miraculously rescued them from the bondage of Egypt and sustained them in the wilderness? "This maybe compared to a man who carries his son on his shoulders and goes along his way. His son sees an item and asks, 'Father, please give me this,' and his father gives it to him. And a second time, and a third time. They encounter another person and the boy asks, 'Have you seen my father?' His father tells him, 'You do not know where I am!?' and the father throws him off his shoulders. The dog then comes and bites the vulnerable child. Therefore, 'Amalek then came and waged war against Yisrael'" (Rashi, 17:7).

The Torah serves as an eternal source of guidance. Is history not repeating itself in our times? We wonder about the crises which unfortunately face us, both individually and collectively, financially and politically. However, when we take a closer look, we will realize how much good the Al-mighty has done for us, in all areas of our lives. Have we learned to appreciate His kindness? Do we realize that all our blessings come from Him? Do we not forget to thank Him, to ask favors of Him?

Whoever recognizes that we "ride on His shoulders," so-to-speak, then we can call to Him and He will answer. But if we go around asking, "Have you seen my father?" and ignore the source of our good fortune, we arouse His anger.

Let us thank Him and offer His praise, and He will then shine His face upon us forever!


Every Friday night, the students of the Lomzah yeshivah would visit the rabbi of the city, Rabbi Aharon Bakst zs"l, to hear inspiring words regarding the weekly parashah. On the Friday night of "Shabbat Shirah," they visited the rabbi as usual, but were quite surprised to see him walking back and forth in his room, disturbed and excited.

"What happened?" they asked.

"I don't understand," he cried, "I simply cannot understand! I am trying to understand what Pharaoh was thinking when he went into the sea." He explained, "He had already tried to resist, and consequently suffered ten plagues. In the dark of night he had to wake up and chase the people out of Egypt. He saw with his own eyes that Hashem has the power to kill and give life. Three days later, when Benei Yisrael turned around, he figured that they were trapped, that divine providence had left them. He then ran after them, but soon found that he was wrong. The Clouds of Glory surrounded Benei Yisrael, a pillar of fire guided their every step, a pillar of cloud stood behind them to protect them. Why did he continue his chase? Did he not realize that he stood not a chance? And when he continued further, the sea split before Benei Yisrael and they walked right through. How did he walk right into the trap? Did he really think that the same sea which split for them would allow their enemy to chase after them and kill them? What was he thinking?"

Rabbi Aharon banged on the table and exclaimed, "I will tell you the answer. It is, in fact, quite simple - he didn't think! He wasn't thinking!"

A person can see, know, and perceive but still fail to reach the proper conclusions. He may still walk straight into the trap. It is well known that the ostrich, when the hunter approaches, buries its head in the ground as if the danger will go away if it can ignore the threat. But the human being is sometimes even less intelligent - he sometimes ignores the threat without closing his eyes, without burying his head.

For example: "All of us, principals, teachers, the Ministry of Education, and parents, are acting like the ostrich," said a veteran teacher in the general school system in Israel in a recent interview which was published in the Israeli newspaper, "Ha'aress." She continues, "The sense is that we have not gone down a level, but we have fallen down into the lowest abyss. In my mind, there has been a total breakdown of the entire system. Teaching today in school is an impossibility. I know teachers who stand there in shock. In the schools there is some crazed spirit, an environment of profanity. There are riots as if in a war. It is already impossible to figure out who is the aggressor and who is the victim. Teachers, out of concern for their jobs, lower themselves before the students to the point of flattery. A teacher will not run the risk of trying to calm a violent outburst. Fear and concern have overcome us. The environment is simply despicable." This is the testimony of someone involved in the system. "A generation is growing whose inner world is pure vanity, made of purely artificial matter - fashion, luxuries. In their lives there is nothing real for which they get up in the morning. No one is working on behalf of the other, they are lost and foreign to even themselves. This is a generation which arouses compassion." It is simply a horror how some youngsters mistreat others. In just the last year there were reported 1,200 incidents of serious physical injury as a result of attacks on fellow classmates. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: "Once they used curses, stones, and chains. Today they are armed with knives, and there have even been incidents of grenades being thrown in the school yard," said Dr. Hurvitz, head of the department of education in Negev University.

So, what is going through the minds of the parents who register their children in the public schools? Would they be prepared to invest all their savings in a project which is in the process of "total breakdown of the entire system"? Certainly not! And their children, their most precious treasure of all, for whom they work so hard, in whom they place their hopes for the future, the source of their pride and joy, these children they are prepared to send to such a system which is falling apart at the seams? To a place of violence and total disarray?

Wake up, parents! Stop and think for a moment. Send your children to Torah educational systems, bring them along the safer path, and protect them from harm.


Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a

One Who Forgot to Mention Shabbat or Yom Tov in me'en Shalosh

One who forgets to recite "me'en hameora," the insertions for Shabbat, Yom Tov, etc. in birkat me'en shalosh, but remembers right after he says, "Baruch atah" before he recites the name of Hashem, should he go back and recite the me'en hameora and then finish the berachah, or should he complete the berachah without the me'en hameora? Rabbi Yosef Hayim, in "Ben Ish Hai" (Parashat Mas'ei, 3) cites a dispute among the later authorities. The Eliyah Rabbah rules that in such a situation the individual should not go back to recite the me'en hameora, but should simply continue and complete the berachah as is. The reason given is that the phrase in the berachah aharonah, "ki atah tov umetiv..." parallels the fourth berachah of birkat hamazon. So, just like one who forgot me'en hameora in birkat hamazon and remembers after saying "hatov ve'hameitiv" does not go back, similarly with regard to berachah aharonah, once "ki atah..." has been recited, one does not go back. However, the author of "Hesed La'Alafim" argues that there is a distinction between birkat hamazon and berachah aharonah in this regard. The third berachah in birkat hamazon concludes, "boneh yerushalayim, amen," which concludes the main body of birkat hamazon. Therefore, if one realizes at any point thereafter that he neglected to recite me'en hameora he does not go back. However, in me'en shalosh the entire berachah is one unit. Therefore, as long as the individual has not yet said Hashem in the conclusion of the berachah he still has the opportunity to go back and insert me'en hameora and continue from there. The Ben Ish Hai rules that one should think in his mind the insertion of me'en hameora and then conclude the berachah. However, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in Halichot Olam vol. 2 (forthcoming) Parashat Mas'ei, writes that Rabbi Yosef Hayim did not have to advise against actually verbalizing the me'en hameora, since, after all, this is not a situation where one runs the risk of mentioning Hashem's name in vain, for the individual has not yet said "Hashem" in the closing berachah. Therefore, one should follow the ruling of the Hesed La'Alafim, and one should go back to recite the me'en hameora and then continue from there. This is also the ruling of Rabbi Mordechai Karmi in "Ma'amar Mordechai" (208:24) and Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer in "Kaf Hahayim" (208:27) and is, indeed, the correct ruling. In summary, one who eats on Shabbat or Yom Tov and must recite a berachah me'en shalosh, but forgets to recite the insertion for Shabbat/Yom Tov in his berachah, and realizes his error just before reciting "Hashem" in this final berachah, he recites the insertion and then finishes the berachah.

The Martyr Benito Garcia

It has been reported that missionaries are increasing their efforts to capture pure souls who look for faith but, rather than turning to their ancestral beliefs, are educated according to the false, heretical beliefs. A minister in the Israeli government went to invite the pope to visit Israel. This is just what we need. Beyond the Israeli media's infatuation with foreign culture, we forget the rivers of blood which Christianity has brought upon us, we forget the torch of the Inquisition on which so many were burnt. Let us therefore quote the speech of Benito Garcia before he was burnt at the stake: I was born a Jew but was forced to convert to Christianity. I have been living falsely now for forty years. Christianity is a cheap form of idol worship. I saw the torch of the Inquisition which filled my heart with compassion for the victims who were murdered, and contempt for the murderers. Truth be told, I uphold the laws of Yisrael, I observe Shabbat, I eat and drink only kosher foods, even in prison. I fast on the Jewish fasts, and I pray their prayers. The torture which I suffer now I accept upon myself with love. I deserve them for I did not give up my life so as not to convert, and I allowed my children to be educated according to the Christian faith. It is accepted that one sentenced to death is granted one final wish. I have but one wish: That my children's eyes be opened so that they leave this cursed religion and return to their ancestral faith, the one true faith, the eternal Law which was given by the true Creator on Har Sinai. Forty years I lived a life of lies and falsehood, but now I am about to die a proud Jew, one who proudly returned to the faith of his forefathers. I will soon meet up with my parents, and I will tell them, "I am with you. For our faith I have given my life." Let the whole world hear my voice: Hear Israel, Hashem, our G-d, Hashem is One!" And with these words on his lips he was consumed by flames, and his soul departed. May Hashem avenge his blood.


"Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat"

The Or Hahayim zs"l writes that Moshe was told from the outset that on Friday the people would collect as usual but would find a double portion of mann. So why didn't he tell this to the people? He understood that Hashem did not instruct him to do so, because "Hashem wants to implant within them the plant of faith of the misvah of Shabbat, that its acceptance and knowledge be from Him, the Exalted G-d, and not through a messenger. Therefore, they would find a double portion and will see with their own eyes that Hashem does not want them to have to go out of their way on Shabbat."

"Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat"

"Has given," explains Rabbenu Ovadyah Seforno zs"l, refers to a precious gift, not just a commandment. The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat says that the Al-mighty said to Moshe, "I have a wonderful gift in my storage room called Shabbat. I want to give it to Yisrael - please go tell them." Shabbat itself is an absolute commandment, but the spiritual enjoyment of Shabbat is a precious and special gift. That is why the pasuk says, "Benei Yisrael will keep the Shabbat" - referring to the commandment, "to perform the Shabbat" - referring to the enjoyment, the precious gift. "Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat."

"Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat"

Rabbi Hayim Kohen zs"l of Aram Soba, one of the students of the Ar"i zs"l, explains that in order for Hashem's abundance from the heavens to have an impact down below we must prepare the receptacle. We must take the first step, take the initiative. Therefore, on Fridays, Benei Yisrael had to go out and prepare for Shabbat, and only then could the blessing take effect: "Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat, therefore He gives you on Friday food for two days."

The Egyptian Eagle

The Egyptian eagle is a bird of prey, which feeds off the bodies of animals which have died in the fields. Occasionally, the eagle will descend upon an elderly or sick animal and attack it.

This bird is especially known for its affinity for egg yolks. Therefore, at every opportunity it has, when it sees an egg with no birds around, it immediately gets to work.

The eagle prefers the large egg of the ostrich, despite the fact that many times it will have to work laboriously to crack the shell. This egg weighs around a kilogram and a half and its shell is particularly hard. The eagle's beak is not strong enough to break it. Therefore, its Creator has endowed it with the wisdom to use a stone for this task. It hurls a stone against the shell once, twice, or as many times as necessary until the shell cracks open. The eagle then thrusts his beak inside and enjoys the yolk.

Clearly, the wisdom of animals is limited and we cannot possibly compare the intelligence of other creatures to that of humans, even regarding animals which seem to have more intelligence than other creatures.

Each morning we recite a berachah thanking Hashem for giving the rooster the wisdom to distinguish between night and day. This way we appreciate the wonder and depth laden within each creature in the world, from its physical, external appearance, to its internal being, its wisdom.


The Repaid Debt (3)

Flashback: Naftali threw a stone into the general's chariot and injured him. By order of the general, the boy was imprisoned. After much effort on the part of the community, he was brought to the capital city for trial.

It was winter time. A thick array of clouds covered the skies, and pouring rain fell incessantly. The roads became swamps of mud, through which the guard and his prisoner trudged, soaked down to the bone. A treacherous wind blew, raw and chilling, as the fiery streaks of lightning accompanied the echoes of thunder. Their path was constantly interrupted by rivers of floodwater. They had to go out of their way to avoid the flash floods, to look for little islands on which to cross the huge masses of rainwater. And so, drenched and shivering, worn out and fatigued, they sought out a place to lodge for the night. As they traveled around and around they lost their way, and had no idea where they were. They knew not of any place nearby to lodge. "At least let us find a cave for protection," suggested the guard to his prisoner. Naftali, his hands locked in chains and his knees trembling, answered nothing. A cave could be a hideout for wild animals, and a haven for dangerous snakes. Certainly it would have been better to be back within the protective walls of his prison cell....What is this? he snapped at himself. Where is your trust in the Creator, where is the expression, "This, too, is for the best"? Where is the firm belief that "Even when I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, still I will not fear for You are with me"? "Keep up your spirits," he said to himself, "straighten your head proudly. Remember the words of the Midrash that a Jew, no matter where he is, his G-d is with him!" He picked up his head and continued walking. He pointed to the distance, to the dark horizon, and said to his guard, "Look, over there, is that not smoke in the distance?"

Smoke means that there is a bonfire. Is it a settled area or a gang of bandits?

"Come," said the guard. "Let's see where the smoke is coming from."

to be continued...

The Educated Patient

Once there was an intelligent, well-educated individual who had to know everything. He had to know how flowers grow, how the birds fly, why the sky is blue and why bread sustains life. He researched, studied, and became very knowledgeable. One day he became sick and his condition deteriorated steadily. The doctor came and found his patient fighting for his life. He quickly took out his syringe, took the patient's arm, and was ready to inject some penicillin to save his life. "Stop," ordered the intelligent patient. "What are you doing? I want to know how this works!" "It's a very lengthy, involved and complicated explanation," said the doctor. "I would first have to explain to you what the illness is, its causes and repercussions, what penicillin is, and how it deals with the illness. By the time my presentation is over and you understand everything properly, who knows if you will still be alive! Trust me, there is good reason why I have been paid for so many years to practice medicine. I have been in the field for several decades and I have saved hundreds of lives. Give me your arm, and allow me to save your life. Afterwards, I will explain everything to you." "No," insisted the patient. "I never do anything without knowing how it works." "Very well," said the doctor, and he began his presentation. In the meantime, the patient closed his eyes, forever... This is what is said in our parashah, as explained by the Hid"a zs"l: "He said, if you will listen to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and that which is right in His eyes you will do, and you heed His commandments, and you observe all his statutes, every illness which I placed in Egypt I will not place upon you, for I am Hashem, your physician." You should know, that the misvot are the cure. A person must trust the expert physician and, before anything else, must take the medication as prescribed by Him. Only afterward, if he wants, he can apply himself to understand how they work. But, before anything, he must follow them completely, without trying to outsmart them.

excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a

Five Kinyanim (part I)

Aaron: That is perhaps a reason for the lack of a Sanctuary today.

Mr. Goodfriend: Yes. It is better for them not too view the service of the offerings with their own eyes; but when they read the Talmud and see the Sanctuary service through the eyes of the great generations of the past, they better understand the importance of the offerings. Without Deah one possesses nothing; with Deah, one has everything. The true awareness brings the Shechinah closer.

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