JULY 27-28, 2001 8 AB 5761
- Rabbi Reuven Semah
"A song of Assaf, O G-d! The nations have entered into Your estate, they defiled the Sanctuary of Your holiness"
A parable: Once a man was arrested and thrown into jail. The verdict was the death penalty. A kindly man accepted upon himself to redeem the prisoner for a huge sum of money. The friend had to pawn all of his valuables to gather the great sum that was needed to save his life. When he produced the money, the prisoner was sent free. Naturally the man was overjoyed to be alive and free. Upon learning that his benefactor had pawned all of his valuables, his first obligation would be to get busy to work and earn money in order to get the valuables back to the owner. He should not rest; he must try every means to raise the money, one dollar at a time, until he can restore to his friend all of his valuables. All this he should do. If he doesn't, and merely wastes his money on trivial things, it would be wicked and disgraceful.
Our Sages teach us that the Mishkan was called the Mishkan because it served as collateral to save the Jewish people. The Mishkan and both Temples in Jerusalem were pawned by Hashem. Hashem was angered by the actions of the Jewish people. Instead of taking out His anger on the Jews by destroying them, He destroyed the Temple. The above-mentioned chapter of Tehillim is called the "song" of Assaf instead of "a dirge of Assaf," because we are happy that Hashem took out His anger on the wood and stones of the Temple instead of on our bodies. However, now that we were freed from the clutches of death, all of our efforts should be to restore the valuables to the owner. We must direct all of our prayers and hopes to one cause, to restore the Shechinah, Hashem's holy presence, to His Temple and to His city of Jerusalem.
Our hopes and aspirations for the coming of the Mashiah and the rebuilding of the Temple are not for the end of our personal problems, but the return of Hashem's glory. May it be very soon, Amen. Shabbat Shalom.
"And I commanded your judges at that time saying: Listen among your brothers" (Debarim 1:16)
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin writes that some judges may see themselves as elevated people and the litigants who come to them as wicked. Therefore the Torah states, "Listen among your brothers." That is, consider anyone who comes to you as a brother and treat him accordingly.
This concept applies to anyone in a position of authority. It is very easy to treat people as objects. But our attitude towards others should be, "How would I feel, act and talk if this person were my brother?" This is especially important for someone to whom people in financial need or emotional pain come for assistance. The person you are talking to is suffering and often might feel embarrassed that he needs to come to someone for help. Be extremely sensitive to his feelings. If you are able to make him feel that you feel towards him as a close relative, it is a great kindness.
Two middle-aged Torah scholars, whose fathers were butchers on the East Side, remember being sent to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein with questions pertaining to the kashrut of the chickens. As children, they knew him as the nice, friendly man who never made them feel like unimportant intruders. As they grew older, they realized with a shock that their "friend" was one of Jewry's greatest people. One woman used to call him every Friday afternoon about the time to light candles; he would answer and pleasantly wish her Shabbat Shalom, as he would have done as a young Rabbi. (Growth through Torah)
This week's Haftarah: Yishayahu 1:1-27.
This haftarah is the third in the series of three haftarot dealing with rebuke that are read between the 17th of Tamuz and Tish'ah B'Ab. In this passage, the prophet Yishayahu tells the people that Hashem doesn't need their sacrifices. Rather, He wants them to refrain from evil and seek justice.
On Tish'ah B'Ab, we read the book of Eichah (Lamentations). It is no coincidence that in Parashat Debarim (which is always read on the Shabbat before Tish'ah B'Ab), Moshe uses the word eichah when he tells Hashem that he cannot single-handedly carry the nation. In the haftarah, Yishayahu also uses the word eichah, asking how the nation has fallen so low that she has become like a harlot.
In their travels in the desert, B'nei Yisrael were commanded to walk around the land of Se'ir (Esav) by passing along the southern side and then travelling along the eastern side of the Jordan. The literal meaning of the command "p'nu lachem safonah" is "turn yourselves northward." The Keli Yakar offers a different interpretation which is applicable to us today. If a person finds himself in exile, as we are today, and is financially successful, he should keep it hidden from others to avoid arousing jealousy.
He adds that it is a common problem (this was written a few hundred years ago) for someone who has one hundred dollars to try to make himself look like he has thousands. Keeping our wealth hidden from others is a source of blessing, and helps to prevent many hardships.
Question: How could we comply with this principle more than we have in the past? What message would we be giving to our family and friends?
Answer to Pop Quiz: Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashah.
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