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MAY 3-4, 2002 22 IYAR 5762

Pop Quiz: On what day of the Yobel year was the shofar blown?


"If you behave casually with me" (Vayikra 26:21)

When describing the decline of the Jewish Nation after they sinned and were exiled from their land, the Torah uses the word "keri" a few times, which means coincidence. Whenever the Jewish people say that the punishment which befalls them is only a natural occurrence, a coincidence, Hashem has to resort to stronger methods in order to show us that He is the cause of everything. Just like a father first chastises his son with a slight tap, and if there is no response has to resort to stronger methods, so too Hashem, who is our Father, "talks to us" and wants us to get the message before it becomes harsher. Whenever we hear of tragedies in our community, fighting in the land of Israel or other calamities, we must realize it is not natural, it is a message. Each one must take the message to heart and apply it based on his or her own way of life, to try to improve and find favor in the eyes of Hashem. Even when we see the weather drop 40 degrees in one day, or the stock market go up (hopefully) or down many hundreds of points from day to day, theses are happenings meant to show us that there is no natural occurrence which doesn't have a Creator masterminding His plan. Let's keep our eyes open! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"You shall perform My decrees...then you shall dwell securely on the land" (Vayikra 25:18)

Our second perashah is Behukotai. We are told that if the Jewish people follow the Torah they will live a life of peace and bounty. However, if they abandon the Torah, Hashem will bring about a great amount of suffering that will force His people to return to Him. As mentioned, the Torah first begins with the better scenario. The verse quoted above states that if the people observe the laws, it will be followed by peace and security in the land. The next verse continues, "The land will give its fruit ... and you shall dwell securely in the land." Why is the promise of security stated twice?

The Meshech Hochmah (quoted in Torah Ladaat) explains: There are two reasons why nations harbor hatred and animosity toward each other. One is an animosity that stems from different religions. Another is resentment caused by jealousy when one nation has more abundant resources or produce than the other. Therefore, the Torah promises that if we strictly adhere to the misvot of the Torah, we will not suffer persecution at the hands of the other nations because of our beliefs. Secondly, as a result of our observance we will be blessed with a wide variety of physical blessings, and in spite of this, we will live in peace, undisturbed by other nations and peoples. It is now clear why we have a repetition of that blessing of peace and security. It is telling us we will have peace and will not suffer, not because of our beliefs, and not because of our wealth.

It seems that today, we are suffering from the Arabs from two directions, religion and jealousy. The Torah is promising us that we can solve both problems with one answer: Torah observance. We know that when Hashem promises, He delivers - in spades. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"If in My statutes you will walk, and observe My commandments and perform them, then I will give your rains in their time" (Vayikra 26:3-4)

According to Rashi, the proper time for rain is Shabbat night. What is the link between observing Torah and rain on Shabbat night?

The Midrash Rabbah (30:9) relates that a heretic once asked Rabbi Akiba, "On Shabbat it is forbidden to transfer something from one domain to another. Why does Hashem desecrate the Shabbat and bring rain from heaven to earth?" Rabbi Akiba responded, "The entire world belongs to Hashem and thus the concept of different domains does not apply to Him."

According to a Midrash, Hashem warned the Jewish people that if they do not observe the precepts of the Torah, He will, G-d Forbid, "divorce" them. Commentaries question: For a divorce to be valid, the get (bill of divorce) must leave the domain of the husband and enter the domain of the wife. If the entire world belongs to Hashem, how can Hashem possibly divorce the Jewish people? To make the get valid, it will obviously be necessary for Hashem to give away the earth to the Jewish people. Thus, the get will be given on their property.

Consequently, when Torah and misvot are not observed, Hashem will be unable to give rain on Friday night without violating Shabbat by bringing rain from His heaven to their earth. Therefore, the Torah states, "If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them, then I will be able to provide your rains in their time - on Shabbat night." (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: Yom Kippur.

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