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MAY 18-19, 2000 26 IYAR 5761

Day 41 of the Omer

Rosh Hodesh Sivan will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 23.

Pop Quiz: Which lands do not revert to their seller in the Yobel year?

- Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Your threshing will last until the ripening and the ripening will last until the planting. You will eat your bread until you are full and you will dwell securely in your land." (Vayikra 26:5)

Our perashah begins with the wonderful blessings that will be showered upon us as a result of our diligence in serving Hashem. Rashi, in his commentary on these blessings, says: The prosperity will be so great that you will still be busy threshing your grain when the time comes to harvest your grapes, and so on.

There is a very important comment made by the Ha'amek Dabar that I feel has great relevance today to our community. The Torah here stresses the fact that being busy is part of the blessing. When people are very busy they feel fulfilled and their health is better. As the Torah says, "You will eat your bread until fullness." These people will have neither the time nor the desire to go traveling abroad, as the Torah implies, "You will dwell securely in your land." In other words, these people will enjoy their homes. We all know the joy of being comfortable in our homes, surrounded by our families and friends, the children happily playing in the backyard. But, when people are idle they seek amusement and stimulation. Traveling tends to loosen the discipline of home, routine and community. It can increase the possibility of sin.

There is no question that the tremendous stress to which many people are subjected in their business is the cause for increased traveling and escape.

There is a true need "to get away from it all." However, the other extreme of idleness is also very dangerous. The key to reduce stress is to increase the concept of bitahon, which is relying totally on Hashem. It's not up to us to make it work. Work in a non-stressful atmosphere is the greatest blessing. As a person grows older and still feels well enough to work, the Torah is telling us it is a source of blessing and a great boost to good health. May Hashem bless all of us, young and old, with all of the good things mentioned in our perashah, Amen. Shabbat Shalom.

- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"If you will walk in my statutes..." (Vayikra 26:3)

The perashah begins a whole series of blessings promised to the Jewish people if they will "walk" in Hashem's statutes. Rashi tells us this means to toil in Torah study. This is the source of all the berachot, and conversely, when the section dealing with the curses begins, Rashi tells us it is because there was no toil in Torah study.

The question is asked: Why is this command called a "hok - statute" - which means something with no understandable reason? Isn't Torah study something which is logical, and yet the Torah calls this "behukotai - My statute"? The answer is, to learn Torah just to know what to do is not sufficient. There is a misvah to toil in Torah study, to involve ourselves in the wisdom and beauty of Torah, regardless of whether it is relevant at this moment or not. This may not seem comprehensible to some and therefore it is called a "hok". Yet here we see that this is the basis for all of the blessings and vice versa, G-d forbid.

We have to ask ourselves truthfully, are we involved in Torah study? Do we have a set time to toil in the understanding of the Torah? Especially now, when the holiday of Shabuot, which reenacts the giving of the Torah to our generation, is right around the corner, we should be prepared to have an answer to this question. As we read the perashah and see how many blessings and, G-d forbid, curses are involved due to toiling in Torah study or the lack of it, we should commit ourselves to a set time of Torah learning, with toil and effort, so that we should merit all these blessings for ourselves and our families. Shabbat Shalom.


"Your money you shall not give him upon interest" (Vayikra 25:37)

The Hebrew word for interest is "ribit"; why is "neshech" used here? Rich and poor alike sometimes need a loan, and a person may feel somewhat depressed when he has to ask for one. The word "neshech" can also mean "bite." The Torah is teaching that when you are approached for a loan, give it with a smiling countenance and a pleasant attitude. Do not make biting comments that will distress the borrower.

The same also applies when giving sedakah to the needy - give it with a smile, and don't say anything that would, G-d forbid, add to the pain of the poor person. (Vedibarta Bam)


This Week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 16:19-17:14.

The second perashah of the week, Behukotai, contains promise of prosperity for those who follow the Torah, and rebuke and punishment for those who transgress the Torah. Similarly, the prophet, Yirmiyahu, rebukes the people for their sins, and gives blessing to those who trust in Hashem and follow His ways.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Properties that are in a walled city.

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