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AUGUST 30-31, 2002 23 ELUL 5762

Pop Quiz: Who read from the Sefer Torah during hakhel?


"For you know how we dwelled in the land of Egypt...and you saw their abominations...perhaps you have among you...whose heart turns away" (Debarim 29:15-17)

Our perashah has a warning against idolatry. The passage warns against an astounding aspect of human behavior. Having lived in Egypt and soon to live in Canaan, Israel will know first hand of the abominable nature of idolatry. People might still be tempted to experiment with philosophies and life-styles of its followers.

Rabbi Gifter adds that the Torah is talking to a nation that lived in the desert for forty years under the influence of Moshe Rabenu. After receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai and witnessing numerous miracles, there still is a fear of the influence of Egypt - an influence that the Ramban says was the cause of the sin of the Golden Calf. How reckless it is of our generation that parents who are Torah observant are willing to expose their children to influences of anti-religious teachings and immorality. How na?ve they are to think that they will not be influenced by this depraved atmosphere. This is the strategy of the yeser hara that convinces us that we are immune. It is still the same today as it was then. People know right from wrong, yet they devise rationalizations to legitimate the enjoyment of evil and immorality. We must try to protect ourselves and pray that Hashem will help us remain pure, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Assemble the people, the men, and the women, and the little ones." (Debarim 31:12)

Rashi explains that although the little children were clearly not capable of comprehending the experience, they accompanied the adults. Thus, those who brought them would be rewarded. In truth, the children that came along probably disrupted the adults to the point that they could not listen as intently as they would have desired. We may, therefore, wonder at the Torah's insistence that the children be present. Would it not have been preferable for the children to remain at home, in order to enable the adults to properly concentrate on their service to Hashem?

Rabbi N. Adler, z"l, suggests that herein lies the actual reward. The adults were implored to "sacrifice" some of their personal spiritual experiences, so that the children would be availed the opportunity to see, hear and experience the sublimity of the moment. Torah education takes precedence over parents' personal needs. Many times, we won't bring our children (the ones who don't run around) to shul, because we want to "relax" and not worry about them. Or we will come home from work, wanting to take it easy, while our children have homework and other needs. This is a point well worth remembering. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


This week's Haftarah: Yishayahu 61:10 - 63:9.

This haftarah is the last of the series of seven haftarot which discussed consolation. Hashem says that He has always been with Israel in its exile, and always shares in their suffering. He will take vengeance on Edom, and bring us back from our exile.

Answer to pop quiz: The king of Israel.

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