MARCH 20-21, 2009 25 ADAR 5769
"For the cloud of Hashem would be on the Mishkan…before the eyes of the House of Israel in all their journeys" (Shemot 40:38)
As we finish the Book of Shemot, the Torah reminds us that the cloud of Hashem's Presence rested on the Mishkan. If the cloud rested on the Mishkan they would not travel and if the cloud would rise, then the Israelites would travel. Rashi seems to be bothered by the wording of our verse. It says the cloud would be on the Mishkan in all of their journeys. But, wasn't the cloud on the Mishkan only when they were not traveling? Rashi therefore explains: "In all of their journeys, at any stage of the journey that they would travel, the cloud would rest at the place in which they were to encamp; the place of their encampment is also referred to as a 'journey.'"
Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch explains that Rashi is learning from our pasuk that there is no pause in the service of Hashem. Rest is not a goal unto itself, it is a rest to regain our strength to serve Hashem. The encampment is a rest for the coming journey. Therefore the encampment is also called part of the journey.
The Jew, as he rests, continues to progress and travel from one level to the next. The Jewish home has the cloud of Hashem's Glory resting on it always. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
This Shabbat, we read an additional portion of Torah dealing with the month of Nisan, since Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be this coming week. This Shabbat is therefore called Shabbat HaHodesh, which refers to Nisan.
However, there is an additional significance to this Shabbat. The word Hodesh is related to the word hadash, which means "new". The Passover season has within it the ability for one to renew and to revitalize oneself. The Jewish People were slaves to the Egyptians, and for a slave there is nothing new; everything stays the same. However, when we were freed, we became a new nation, and in addition, we were given the ability to rejuvenate ourselves. This is a very important trait in a human being, and especially in a Jew. In business, the word "new" seems to be on every standard package. When we see someone we know, it's always "what's new?" To renew oneself insofar as Judaism is concerned means to reevaluate our practices and customs, and to improve upon them. It means taking a fresh look at our surroundings, appreciating what we have, and looking forward to each new day for what it can bring us. It means we don't have to be the same today as we were yesterday; rather, each of us can become a new person.
Just as we see nature renew itself in the coming weeks, let us rejuvenate and revitalize ourselves this Passover season, bringing out the best that's in us in many new ways. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And the heads of the tribes brought shoham stones, and stones to be set, for the efod and for the breastplate" (Shemot 35:27)
Rashi cites the words of the Sages who note that the heads of the tribes brought the last donations for the Sanctuary. They said, "We will let the other people donate whatever they will donate, and we will bring whatever is missing." But the people brought all that was needed. The heads of the tribes then asked, "What can we still do?" The only things remaining were the special stones that were needed and this is what they brought. But because they procrastinated at the beginning, the letter yud is missing from their name in this verse (nesi'im).
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented that their original thought appears to have been virtuous. They said they would bring whatever was needed at the end. This appears to be a very generous proposal on their part. But we learn from here that since their behavior touched on the negative trait of laziness, their behavior was considered incorrect and they were censured for it.
Whenever a negative character trait could be an underlying factor in your behavior, be very careful to clarify what your true motivation is. This applies especially to the trait of laziness. It is easy to give many good-sounding reasons for not doing things. But when laziness could be the real reason for your lack of action, be suspicious that your reasons are actually rationalizations by which you are trying to excuse yourself.
If the Alter of Nevardok had difficulty deciding whether he should go to the Bet Midrash to study Torah or to go someplace else, he would first go to the doorstep of the Bet Midrash. By this means he would remove the bias of laziness and only then would he reach a decision about what to do. (Growth through Torah)
Our Sages instituted various types of blessings that are to be said by all Jews throughout each day of their lives. We have blessings that we say before performing a misvah. We also have blessings that we say when we partake of the pleasures Hashem has provided for us.
Some complain that they cannot keep up with all the blessings they have to say in a single day. Well, it becomes easier to do if we realize how much reciting the blessing does for us. The Kuzari says: "Surely a mature person experiences pleasure far more than a baby or an animal. Similarly, if a drunkard were to be given all possible pleasures while he was intoxicated, when he sobers up and realizes what he has missed, he will surely regret the fact hat he was numb to the enjoyment."
"This is the benefit of berachot (blessings). They are instrumental in helping us take notice of life's many pleasures…One who does not take to heart the meaning of each and every blessing does not enjoy life like a human being, but rather like an animal or a baby."
Enough said? When you are about to partake of one of the pleasures of life, stop for a moment. Appreciate the simple pleasure as the kindness of your Maker. If appropriate, say a blessing - with feeling. This appreciative pause will increase the joy factor in your life as you begin to consider how much good you receive every day. (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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