JULY 9-10, 2010 28 TAMUZ 5770
"And you shall be clean before Hashem and before Israel." (Bemidbar 32:22)
The Torah requires us to behave in a manner that would not cause any suspicion of wrongdoing. Even though we are required to give our fellow man the benefit of the doubt when we see someone doing something that can be interpreted two ways, we are required to demand of ourselves not to act in a way that can be misconstrued. There are many examples of this double standard in the Torah. We are required to run away from honor but we must honor others. We must be happy with our lot but we must insure that our friend's lot is better than it is if it is insufficient.
Many times we behave in a manner that can be interpreted two ways and we don't realize it. I would like to relate a story that happened to me to show how easy it is to make this mistake. I was once visiting someone in his office in Manhattan. The person I was visiting graciously offered me a cold drink of water. I happily accepted his offer, made a berachah of Shehakol and downed the water. We finished our business, I thanked him and I took the elevator to the busy street. As I started walking I remembered that I didn't say Boreh Nefashot (the berachah that follows a whole glass of water). At that point I knew the halachah that I wasn't required to say it where I drank the water, so I said it in the street. As I continued walking I realized that my friend in his office saw me drink the water but he didn't hear me say the final berachah. I called him on my cell phone but I wasn't able to get him on the phone, so I left him a voicemail explaining that I said Boreh Nefashot in the street.
This story illustrates how easy it is to act in a way that causes suspicion and how we must be careful to always be guiltless in the eyes of Hashem and Israel. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And they traveled from Elim and they encamped by Yam Suf" (Bemidbar 33:10)
Elim hints to the word alimut, which means violence. Yam Suf hints to the word sof, the end. They traveled from the trait of violence. How? By coming to the trait of looking at the end of a person.
Violence induces both actions and words. There is the physical violence of hitting or pushing someone, and there is the verbal violence of shouting at someone or putting him down. Any form of violence not in self-defense is against the principles of the Torah. What is the main cause of violence? Frustration and anger! When you become frustrated or angry, you are likely to lash out at someone. When you remember your true purpose in this world, most things that get other people angry will not affect you very strongly. Also, the more you appreciate life and the more joyous you feel, the less angry you will become. By remembering the end of each person, you will gain a greater appreciation for life. You will value your time and utilize every opportunity for growth. This awareness will keep you far away from any form of violence. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Dissatisfaction with the status quo is healthy, because it prompts change for the better. A person who feels overweight may begin a new diet and exercise program to get into good physical condition. A professional who is working too hard to acquire the "big-boy toys" of this material world might embark on a daily Torah study program in order to infuse meaning into his life. Entrepreneurs who realize that their firm lacks excitement in the competitive world of business may hire a new design and merchandising team, or engage an efficiency expert as a consultant, in order to breathe new life into the company.
Making a positive change in any area of life can be productive. The real challenge, however, is to maintain momentum. Human nature is a lazy beast that prefers comfort to pain and gain. Therefore, the problem with most people is that once their new plan begins to yield the desired results, they slip back into bad habits. A salesperson who decides to bring performance up to potential, for example, might make some moves to improve presentation of product and promotional strategies, but a rise in sales might then lead to complacency and a return to the old ways.
Most people stop as soon as success knocks on their door. If you keep up the momentum, however, you can run miles ahead of the competition. The maintenance of positive momentum is a test of mettle, but it can yield material and spiritual success beyond your imagination. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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