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MAY 31 - JUNE 1, 2002 21 SIVAN 5762

Pop Quiz: For how long did each Levi train in order to serve in the Bet Hamikdash?


"The people took to seeking complaints; it was evil in the ears of Hashem" (Bemidbar 11:1)

No one likes a complainer. This is especially true when all you are trying to do is make it easier for that person. Our perashah brings us a case in point. The Israelites had left Mount Sinai and ventured into a desolate wilderness. They traveled a few days, of course surrounded with Hashem's protective clouds, and began complaining, as Rashi explains: "We have become so worn out from the road; three days we traveled, without rest from the difficult road." Rashi continues to explain why Hashem became angry: "I was only trying for their own good to enter them into the land right away." I would like to share with you a story from Israel that was carried by the Associated Press about a year ago. "Eli Yadid is the luckiest guy in Israel, or perhaps the unluckiest. When a wedding hall floor collapsed in Jerusalem two weeks ago, killing 23, Yadid was standing just beyond the killing zone. When a suicide bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv Friday night, killing 20 Israelis, Yadid was just arriving. The collapse of the Versailles wedding hall in Jerusalem May 24 was his closest call. A friend had invited him to join in the dancing just after the ceremony was completed. Yadid said no thanks, he had a headache - and headed for the tables next to the dance floor. Within seconds the floor caved in and his friend disappeared. Then Yadid felt the floor give way under him. He managed to escape the building through a window, clambering down a fire department ladder to safety. 'I said to myself, if I sit at home depressed, I'll never get over it, so I decided to return to work right away,' Yadid said. Though he had just escaped with his life a few days before, tragedy was the farthest thing from his mind Friday night in Tel Aviv. Suddenly he saw a huge ball of fire and heard a tremendous explosion. Standing near the carnage shortly after the Tel Aviv blast, Yadid said, 'I don't understand...I feel like tragedy is chasing me.'" (AP)

Poor Yadid! Obviously Hashem loves this little guy a lot. Hashem is practically begging him to return to religious observance and he doesn't realize how much Hashem loves him. Don't complain! Hashem loves you! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Moshe heard the people weeping in their families" (Bemidbar 11:10)

When the Jewish people complained to Moshe about the mann, the Torah says that Moshe heard them crying "l’mishpehotav - in their families." The Rabbis explain that in reality they were complaining about their family lives. They were really complaining about the fact that, after they received the Torah, their relatives had become forbidden to them to marry. But on the surface they were just using the mann as an excuse to be unhappy. That's why there were such devastating results in this episode. Because when one is bothered by something and yet uses something else as an excuse, we can never appease him fully, since we are only addressing the issue he mentioned and in reality the problem lies somewhere else.

It is always wise to remember this lesson when listening to complaints or criticism. We must learn to read between the lines and see whether there is some underlying problem rather than the one which is apparent. This applies both on a personal and on a communal level, and when addressed correctly, will provide a great chance of solving the real problem. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"According to Hashem's commandment they camped and according to Hashem's commandment they journeyed" (Bemidbar 9:20)

The Talmud in Shabbat (31b) discusses the melachah (labor) of demolishing. Usually, any form of destruction is not categorized as prohibited labor on Shabbat. However, when this destruction is performed in order to correct or prepare for another labor then it is prohibited. Demolishing for the purpose of construction is therefore prohibited on Shabbat. The Talmud contends that demolishing in order to rebuild on the same site is destroying and therefore prohibited, while demolishing in order to rebuild elsewhere is not considered destroying. The Talmud questions this, since all forms of labor are derived from the various forms of labor performed in the building of the Mishkan, yet the Mishkan itself was dismounted for the purpose of rebuilding elsewhere. To this the Talmud responds that since it is stated "according to Hashem's commandment they camped" it was considered as demolishing in order to rebuild on the same site. The implication is the Jews were so subservient to Hashem's Guiding Presence and influence over their lives, that there was a unique sense of security.

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz poignantly draws an analogy between Klal Yisrael's relationship to Hashem in the wilderness to that of a child in its mother's arms as it is carried from place to place. If we were to question the child as to its whereabouts at any given moment, it would likely respond, "In my mother's arms!" This response would be received at every juncture of the journey, be it in the city or on the road. For all intents and purposes this child is only cognizant of one place in the world - his mother's arms. When we realize that every aspect of our lives is directed by Hashem, then, whatever situation, or wherever we find ourselves, we are cognizant of our whereabouts in relation to Hashem. Our consciousness of His Presence and our dependency on Him enable us to transcend wherever we may be. As Klal Yisrael journeyed in the desert from place to place, they were only aware of being situated in one place - the shadow of Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)


This week's Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

Our perashah begins with a description of the daily lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan. In this haftarah, the prophet Zechariah has a vision of a Menorah. Next to the Menorah were two olive trees which provided a continuous supply of oil. This was to symbolize that Hashem provides for all of our needs at all times, even though we sometimes do not see it.

Answer to pop quiz: Five years (from 25 years old to 30 years old).

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