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JULY 5-6, 2002 26 TAMUZ 5762

Rosh Hodesh Ab will be on Wednesday, July 10. No meat meals are permitted (except on Shabbat) from Wednesday night, July 10, until after Tish'ah B'Ab.

Pop Quiz: Which nation was Moshe told to conquer before his death?


When the Jewish people went to war with Midyan, Hashem commanded them to send one thousand men from each tribe. The word "one thousand" is repeated in the Torah and so the Rabbis deduce that there should be two thousand men per tribe, one thousand to do battle and one thousand to pray for the soldiers' success. What an amazing thing! The battle of the Jews against Midyan was surely Divinely directed. Pinhas was the general and all the soldiers were righteous. Yet they needed prayers for the soldiers to win, and indeed every soldier came back safe and sound, due in great part to those prayers.

Today, when our people in Israel are threatened every single day, when our soldiers are asked to put themselves on the line every time they go on duty, we have to have an equal amount of prayers to protect our brothers and sisters. Let us strengthen our Tehillim, our prayers at the Torah and our prayers in general, for the people of Israel, so that we should also see victory and peace in our days, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"So there were delivered from the thousands of the Children of Israel a thousand from each tribe" (Bemidbar 31:5)

After the Israelites were drawn into sin by the Midianite women, Hashem declared war on Midian. Each tribe sent one thousand soldiers to the war. Rashi comments that the wording "were delivered" implies that the Jewish warriors had to be coerced into going to war. This is to their credit, because they knew that Moshe would die when the war was won and they did not wish to go, so that their triumph would not be at the cost of their leader's life. For much of the forty years in the wilderness they complained to and about him, but now they showed their love for him and had to be delivered against their will.

The hate that was shown to Moshe was only on the surface, but deep down they really loved Moshe. This is found at times in families between parents and children, or between siblings. The hatred that is sometimes expressed is only on the surface, but deep down at the time of need or crisis the true love comes out.

We learn from this episode that there is a natural love between the Jewish people and its leaders. Therefore, the leaders should not be discouraged from actively leading the people and should not be overly sensitive to their comments. To be a leader one must give up the desire to be popular. The leader must truly love his people and must be sensitive to their needs and must listen to their complaints. After weighing all of this the leader can make his decision and feel confident that the people love him. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"And Hashem spoke to Moshe at Arbot Moab by the Jordan at Yericho saying" (Bemidbar 33:50)

The Torah previously listed all the places the Israelites traveled during their forty years in the wilderness. Now Hashem gave them the commandment to dwell in the land of Israel. But before they were told about dwelling in the land they were commanded to destroy all forms of idolatry. Note that the Hebrew word kol, meaning every last one, is used four times in verse 52. No form of idolatry should be left; they must be totally eradicated. Failure to do so could lead to people following some of the idolatrous practices of those who dwelt there previously. Here we see the principle of removing all forms of temptation before a problem arises. It is important to avoid an environment that is potentially dangerous to one's spiritual well-being. Even if there are many positive aspects to some environment, no one would want to live there if it were dangerous to his physical health. All the more so, we must make certain that there is no danger to our spiritual health. (Growth through Torah)


This Week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 2:4-28, 4:1-2

This week's haftarah is the second of the series of three haftarot that are read during the three weeks between the fasts of Shib'ah Asar B'Tamuz and Tish'ah B'ab. These haftarot speak of Hashem's rebuke and warning of punishment for the nation's sins, a theme which is clearly pertinent during the Three Weeks. In this haftarah, the prophet Yirmiyahu rebukes the people for abandoning Hashem and the Torah, and following other gods. He warns them that if they do not correct their ways, Hashem will bring destruction and exile.

Answer to pop quiz: Midyan.

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