JUNE 15-16, 2001 25 SIVAN 5761
- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"You shall not explore after your heart and after your eyes." (Bemidbar 15:39)
In the third chapter of the Shema, which is found at the end of this perashah, we read the commandment, "You shall not follow your heart and eyes." Indeed, this is one of the 613 misvot, and this commands us not to look at people who are exposed indecently, or pictures thereof. The interesting thing to note is that first it says not to follow our heart, and then our eyes, when in reality we would assume that we first see with our eyes, and then our hearts act upon it.
The Rabbis teach us that from here we see an amazing thing: the eye only sees what the heart wants it to see. If a person doesn't care what he looks at, meaning his heart has given him carte blanche to see whatever it desires, then his eyes will find many forbidden things to look at. If, however, his heart dictates that he shouldn't see immodesty, he will be able to watch his eyes from straying after those very things. He will be on guard not to let images which are suggestive of immorality come his way. So truth be told, his heart must come first, and then his eyes will follow the proper guidelines.
This is extremely important in this kind of weather, when the streets are full of people who are not dressed properly. If we put in our heart that we only want to see the proper things, our eyes will not stray where they should not, and Hashem will protect us in this very area. Shabbat Shalom.
- Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And it shall be for you a fringe (sisit)" (Bemidbar 15:39)
Our perashah ends with the misvah of sisit. This misvah is performed in two ways. When we pray we put on a large prayer shawl, a talet, that has a sisit on it. This enables us to have the important misvah of sisit on us while we pray with our tefillin. In addition to this we wear a four cornered garment, called a talet katan, or sisit, under our shirts. This enables us to perform this misvah constantly, all day, everywhere that we go. This is probably the easiest way of performing a Torah-level misvah in a constant way.
At times you hear a story that occurred long ago, about great people who performed a certain misvah, and we feel it doesn't happen anymore. But, here is a story that happened recently, about a young yeshivah student in Israel. This young student became ill and suffered an enormous amount of pain. It was discovered that he had cancer and needed to undergo chemotherapy. When he arrived at the hospital, the nurse in that department told him that in order to receive his treatments he would have to put on special sterilized garments instead of the clothes that he was wearing.
He accepted the garments without a problem. However, he had brought with him a sisit to wear that had been cleaned very well so that he could wear it in the hospital during his treatments. The nurse said that under no circumstances would he be allowed to wear that sisit. He tried to explain that it was very clean and could qualify, but she adamantly refused. The student refused to remove the sisit, so he sat in the hallway not receiving treatment. After three long hours, the head doctor of that department walked by. Upon seeing the patent he asked him why he was waiting. The student explained his problem and the doctor immediately went in to talk to the nurse. Moments later, the doctor emerged in a very agitated state and told the student he could go in and receive his treatment while wearing the sisit. After the treatment, the doctor approached the patient with tears in his eyes. He said he is not a religious man yet, but he is truly amazed to see how Hashem protects the people that observe the misvot. When he went in to convince the nurse to allow the treatment, he also requested to know what treatment he was about to receive. To his horror he discovered that the nurse unknowingly was about to administer a type of chemotherapy that would have killed the patient. He was thoroughly amazed that if not for the fact that the patient was so adamant about not removing his sisit, he might not be alive right now! My friends, this misvah is within our reach. We should cherish it. Never remove it, any day of the year. Shabbat Shalom.
"And Caleb stilled the people towards Moshe and said, 'We should certainly go up and possess the land for we are well able to take it'" (Bemidbar 13:30)
Caleb spoke to the people on behalf of Moshe and said that they would be successful when they tried to conquer the land of Israel. Why didn't Yehoshua speak up? He was also one of the spies and he and Caleb agreed about the positive qualities of the land and about how they would certainly be able to conquer the land. Why did only Caleb speak to the people now and not Yehoshua?
The Ari z"l, explained that Yehoshua preferred that Caleb speak to the people because he felt that if he spoke up, the people would respond, "You only want to enter the land because of your desire for power. You want leadership for yourself, but it is not in our best interests to go to the land."
When you try to influence others to do something, it is important that they view what you say as being for their welfare. If someone you are trying to influence feels that you are motivated by self-interest, he will not heed you. Even if you are truly concerned with the other person's welfare, be aware of the possibility that since you might gain from the other person's listening to you, he will not trust you. In such instances it is preferable to ask someone else who is wholly unbiased to speak to the person instead of you.
There is another important lesson to be learned form Caleb's speaking to the people. Rashi explains that the first few words that Caleb said gave the people the impression that he was going to speak against Moshe. Since after hearing the negative report of the spies they were feeling resentment towards Moshe, they eagerly listened to someone whom they thought would also be speaking against Moshe. This gave Caleb the opportunity to praise Moshe for all the wonderful things he did for them.
This strategy needs to be used in many instances. Very often when a listener is not open, the speaker immediately starts out with a statement that is a direct attack on the listener's point of view. This just creates more hostility and the listener does not pay any attention to what the speaker has to say. Learn to start by speaking to people in a way that seems to agree with them. (Note that Caleb did not say anything that was not true. He just said, "Is this the only thing that Moshe did to us?" Although they thought he was going to say something negative, he said positive things about Moshe.) Then, when they are open to what you have to say, you can tell them how you disagree with them. If you start by attacking them, they will frequently not give you a hearing at all. Be aware of your goal, which is to have a positive influence on others, and use strategy to reach that goal. (Growth through Torah)
"You should not fear the people if the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them" (Bemidbar 14:9)
If they wanted to compare them to bread, why the emphasis on our bread? Throughout the sojourn of the Jewish people in the wilderness, they were sustained through the manna which Moshe described as "the bread which Hashem has given you to eat" (Shemot 16:16). They gathered it morning by morning and when the sun grew hot it melted. The spies instilled a fear in the Jewish people about the inhabitants of Eres Yisrael. Yehoshua and Caleb dispelled this by telling them they are like "our bread" - the manna. It is only solid as long as it is in the shade, but once exposed to the heat, it melts. Similarly, the shade of the inhabitants of the land - i.e. protection - has departed from them and it would be extremely easy to conquer the Canaanites, because, like "our bread," they would melt in the Jews' presence. (Vedibarta Bam)
This week's Haftarah: Yehoshua 2:1-24.
Our perashah tells the story of the spies who brought back an evil report of the land, leading to Israel's 40 year wandering in the desert. In this haftarah, Yehoshua sends two spies to the city of Jericho. This mission was not for military purposes. Rather, the purpose of this mission was to find out if the residents of the land feared B'nei Yisrael, which would be considered a sign from Hashem that the time was right to attack.
Answer to Pop Quiz: One year for each of the 40 days of the spies' mission.
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