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JULY 19-20, 2002 11 AB 5762

Pop Quiz: What part of this perashah do we recite twice every day?


"And I implored Hashem at that time" (Debarim 3:23)

Moshe Rabenu was not permitted to enter the land of Israel. Moshe implored Hashem with five hundred and fifteen different prayers. Each prayer was more powerful than anything we could imagine. Hashem, however, told Moshe that His decree will stand. The Torah uses an interesting word to describe Moshe Rabenu's prayers, vaet'hanan - I pleaded. Rashi explains that pleading implies that one is asking for something undeserved, like a gift. From here Rashi derives an important lesson, that whenever the very righteous pray to Hashem for something, their approach is to ask for a gift. Never do they try to ask Hashem for something because they deserve it; never do they rely on their misvot.

Let us try to fully understand the comment of Rashi. It doesn't mean that the righteous are so good that they give up what is coming to them because of their loyalty to Hashem. On the contrary, the righteous realize that they truly don't deserve anything in return, because the misvot that they have done are so very beneficial to them. How can one ask for reward for something that was done for one's own benefit? The misvot make our lives so sweet it would not be right to ask for reward on top of that.

Imagine when we were little and our mothers prepared a delicious meal for us. The meal is both tasty and nutritious. On top of that we are promised that if we eat we will get a prize. Does it make sense to ask for the prize if we eat and say we deserve it? In addition to this, the righteous realize that the strength and ability to perform the misvah was from Hashem. Given this understanding, we must be always grateful to Hashem that He gave us the misvot which sweeten our lives. This will help us to be loyal to Hashem through thick and thin. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And you shall watch yourselves very carefully." (Debarim 4:15)

From this verse, the Rabbis teach us that it is a misvah to watch our health. Even though it may seem unnecessary to command us to protect our health, the Torah felt it important enough to emphasize that we guard our welfare. This should encourage us to watch what we eat in terms of our weight and in terms of nutrition, especially as we get older. The evil inclination doesn't mind if we indulge in the wrong food and drink and then are unable to serve Hashem the next day. This admonition should help us strengthen our resolve to stay healthy , for it provides us with a misvah every time we do something beneficial for our health. Not coincidentally, the Torah doesn't say, "Watch your bodies," rather, "watch your souls," which is learned out to mean our bodies, in order to explain that the main reason we should be healthy is in order to use our souls properly to serve Hashem. A healthy body and a healthy soul, what a combination! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


This week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:1-26.

After completing the series of three haftarot that dealt with rebuke and punishment, we now begin a series of seven haftarot, from Tish'ah B'Ab to Rosh Hashanah, that deal with consolation. Each one is a prophecy which gives comfort to the nation after the destruction of the First Bet Hamikdash.

This Shabbat is widely known as Shabbat Nahamu because the haftarah begins with the words "Nahamu nahamu ami - Comfort, comfort My people."

Answer to pop quiz: The first verse of the Shema (Ve'ahabta...).

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