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JUNE 28-29, 2002 19 TAMUZ 5762

Pop Quiz: What animal was used for the Shabbat mussaf sacrifice?


"Therefore say: Behold I give him My covenant of peace" (Bemidbar 25:12)

In the beginning of our perashah the Torah tells us that Hashem granted Pinhas a covenant of peace. As we all know, there is no greater blessing than peace. We find that the blessing of the Kohanim to the people ends with a blessing that Hashem will grant you peace, because if Hashem will grant you everything, it is worthless without peace. This gift to Pinhas was in reward for saving the Jewish people. The Torah tells us that the Jewish men were sinning with the Moabite women. It reached a climax when Zimri, a leader of the tribe of Shimon, declared publicly that he was taking a woman into his tent. Pinhas, however, put a stop to this by killing Zimri and the woman. Hashem declared that because of his great act, Pinhas would be rewarded with the greatest reward, a covenant of peace between Pinhas and Hashem. If Pinhas hadn't acted, Hashem would have punished the people very severely.

We can learn two important ideas. First of all, we learn of the great love that Hashem has towards the Jewish people. Hashem was about to bring a tremendous catastrophe on the Jewish people. Hashem was so grateful that he didn't have to punish the Jews that He took Pinhas in as a partner in a treaty of peace. Hashem truly loves us and never wants to punish us. Secondly, we learn how a punishment from Hashem is the last resort, only done when there is no other choice. When a doctor, at times, must take drastic measures to save the life of the patient, everyone understands that necessity forced his hand. If Hashem loves us so much and at times punishes His people, it must be that there is absolutely no other choice. The Talmud in Sanhedrin relates that when a person feels pain, Hashem feels the pain himself.

In our times we witness great suffering. Our Sages tell us that this is the pain of the coming of the Mashiah, just as a woman feels great pain during childbirth. If we respond with teshubah and prayer, this could end our pain and Hashem's pain as well. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The daughters of Selofhad drew near." (Bemidbar 27:1)

Before the Jews entered the land of Israel, Moshe had the task of dividing up the land amongst the tribes and families of B'nei Yisrael. The daughters of Selofhad, who were not yet married, were not given a portion of land, since Selofhad had died without any sons. The daughters sought out Moshe to present their case and found him teaching Torah. They waited until he began teaching the topic of inheritance, and then they made their claim to Moshe. Their claim was upheld and they were granted the land.

The daughters of Selofhad were praiseworthy for many reasons. They demonstrated a clear grasp of Jewish law, and they had a sincere love for the land of Israel. The Midrash, however, highlights one virtue in particular - their timing. They waited for the most opportune time to approach Moshe and only then did they present their case. What is so special about this trait that the Midrash treats it as their greatest virtue?

The Midrash is teaching us that the crowning virtue of a great person is common sense. Without this, a person can be intellectually brilliant, be packed with knowledge and have beautiful intentions, yet fail in his endeavors. The daughters of Selofhad knew that they must approach Moshe at the right time, and they understood enough to know the best time for their presentation.

It has been noted that common sense is very uncommon. A man can master the complexities of a supercomputer, yet not be able to interface with his fellow man. Through the study of Torah, with the analysis and honest introspection of musar, we can deepen our understanding of human nature and increase our common sense. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3.

Generally, the haftarah is related to the perashah in some way. However, after the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash, the Rabbis decreed that during the three weeks between Shib'ah Asar B'Tamuz and Tish'ah B'ab, special haftarot would be read. These haftarot detail the punishments that B'nei Yisrael would receive for their sins. Each haftarah, though, ends on a positive note with Hashem giving his guarantee that he will eventually redeem us. This week, Hashem declares that Israel is sacred to Him, and he will bring retribution to the nations that afflict Israel.

Answer to pop quiz: Two male lambs, less than one year old.

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