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PARASHAT MASEI
Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2

JULY 25-26, 2014 28 TAMUZ 5774

Rosh Hodesh Ab will be celebrated on Monday, July 27. No meat meals are permitted (except for Shabbat) from Monday night, July 27 until Wednesday night, August 6. It is also forbidden to buy or wear new clothing on these days.

RABBIS' MESSAGES

"And he called it Nobah after his name. These are the journeys of the Children of Israel." (Bemidbar 32:42, 33:1)

At the end of last week's perashah, Matot, the Torah tells us about the cities that were taken by the tribes of Gad and Reuben. The last verse tells us about a man named Nobah who captured a city called Kenat and he renamed it Nobah after his name. The next pasuk begins the perashah of this week, Mas'ei. As we know, when one subject follows another, there is a connection between them. What is the connection between the story of Nobah and the subject of Mas'ei, which is the counting of the journeys and the encampments of the Israelites during the forty years in the desert?

Rabbi Matis Blum has an interesting idea. There is an important comment by the Kli Yakar in the perashah of Debarim. Basically, his advice is based on a pasuk that implies that while in exile the Jewish people should hide their wealth (Debarim 2:3). Showing off wealth tends to arouse the jealousy of the gentiles. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be low key. The Kli Yakar sadly comments that sometimes a Jew has only hundreds and spends like he has thousands. He concludes that the wise person should learn this lesson.

Nobah named a city after himself. If you look at Rashi on the pasuk about Nobah, the word "lah (), which means "he called it Nobah," is missing a dot in the letter "heh;" the usual form of the word lah includes a dot in the heh. Rashi comments "that the dot is missing to tell us that this name did not last for it, that is why it is weak (missing a dot), for the implication of the way it is expounded is that it is like the Aramaic word ", no."

The message is glaring. The story of Nobah was of a man who wanted to show off his wealth to others by naming a city after himself, which is the opposite of the advice of the Kli Yakar. One should not do what he did when one is in exile, which is hinted to in the beginning of our perashah, "These are the journeys of the Children of Israel." So this is the connection: And Nobah named a city after himself, which didn't work out, because of the times of exile of the Israelites.

Low key is the key word for us today. 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

FLATTERY GETS YOU NOWHERE

"For blood pollutes the land." (Bemidbar 35:33)

The word ;hbjh (yahnif) is a derivative of the Hebrew word vpubj (hanufah) which means flattery. It seems peculiar that the Torah uses such a word in regard to murder. Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l cites the contrast between the perspectives of the Torah and contemporary society regarding murder as the Torah's basis for the use of this word. Current society deplores murder because of its damaging effect on the world. However, if a nation feels that another nation is a threat to its future, it will wage war against that nation. Indeed, many nations feel that war is constructive, for it rids the world of various threats to humanity.

The Torah, however, has a different viewpoint on this subject. The prohibition against taking human life is founded in the great value of an individual human personality. Man is created in the image of Hashem, and he is endowed with the highest potential. A human being that has the opportunity to attain such high goals is highly valued by the Torah. Man's place in the universe is too significant to surrender even one human life.

In this context, we recognize man's distinct place in the world and we profoundly respect the value of life. When a man takes a human life, he indicates a disdain for his potential contribution to the world. He views him as secondary to national loyalties and of no importance to civilization. When man acts this way, he ascribes greater importance to the land, thereby "flattering" it. The Torah admonishes us against this perverse outlook. The world was created solely to serve as the forum for the spiritual growth of each person. Denying man's superiority over the land constitutes a distorted sense of value, which reflects a misguided servitude to the land. (Peninim on the Torah)

REFLECTION

How could she make such a mistake? Didn't she know better?

Shifra plopped herself into the den recliner, ignoring the chores that were clamoring to be done. Over and over she mentally chastised herself for her blunder.

When Tamar dropped by around noon, she immediately sensed crisis in the air.

"Would you like to tell me what's wrong?" she offered gently. The story came gushing out, and within moments Tamar was privy to Shifra's perception of her own behavior. Disregarding her busy schedule, Tamar spent the better part of the next hour consoling her friend. By the time she was finished, Tamar had convinced Shifra that whatever had occurred was really not her fault. Although damage had been done, she was certainly not to blame.

Shifra's behavior is not typical. Most people do not shoulder the blame for their errors. Excuses, finger pointing, arguments, and faulty reasoning are employed to direct responsibility elsewhere. Most people cannot endure the psychological pain of being wrong. Psychologists call this syndrome "denial."

Our Sages say (Nega'im Chapter 2, Mishnah 5): "One does not see one's own faults." The inability to see our own character defects is a widespread spiritual malady that is dangerous to the soul because it prevents us from working to improve. Even the most dedicated among us may fail to correct a personality defect because of denial.

The Ba'al Shem Tob said that Hashem provided a means to see past the protective fence of denial. "The world is a mirror; the defects you see in others are really your own." While most are incapable of assessing their own defects, they are expert marksmen when it comes to spotting the shortcomings of their peers.

The wisdom of the Ba'al Shem Tob provides the solution for denial. When you see a defect in another, realize that it is merely a reflection of your own weakness. Look in the mirror of the world - and work on yourself. (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.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email kol18@attglobal.net (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.


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