The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin
This week parsha is shelach
We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!
If anyone has relatives or friends that have passed away, please consider them for Our Special Connections. The weekly column is written after “The Schmooze Table” below.
Special thanks to Marc Gronich for his help with editing this bulletin!
Check out our new weekly article called “A Mitzvah Straight from the Heart” right after “Our Special Connections”.
Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the Schmooze Table we would like to share:
A large family, the Pfieffers, with seven, thank G-d, healthy children, moved to America from Europe. They were having a difficult time finding an apartment to live in. Many apartments were large enough, but the landlords objected to such a large family. After several days of unsuccessful searching, the father asked the mother to take the four younger children to visit the cemetery while he took the older three to find an apartment.
After they had looked most of the morning. they found a place that was just right. Then the landlord asked the usual question: “How many children do you have?” The father answered with a deep sigh, “Seven … but, four are with their dear mother in the cemetery.”
He got the apartment…………………………………….
The local bar was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1,000 bet.
The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron.
Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money.
Many people had tried over time (weight lifters, longshoremen, wrestlers, etc.) but nobody could do it.
One day this scrawny little man wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit came in and said in a tiny, squeaky voice, “I’d like to try the bet.” After the laughter had died down, the bartender said, “OK,” grabbed a lemon and squeezed away. He then handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man. The crowd’s laughter turned to silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the bartender pays the $1000, and asked the little man, “What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weight lifter, or what?”
The man replied, “I’m a fund raiser for the United Jewish Appeal……………………………………………
A shadken goes to see a poor man and says, “I want to arrange a marriage for your son.”The poor man replies, “I never interfere in my son’s life.”
The shadken responds, “But the girl is Lord Rothschild’s daughter.”
“Well, in that case…”
Next, the shadken approaches Lord Rothschild. “I have a husband for your daughter.”
“But my daughter is too young to marry.”
“But this young man is already a vice president of the World Bank.”
“Ah, in that case…”
Finally, the shadken goes to see the president of the World Bank. “I have a young man to recommend to you as a vice president.”
“But I already have more vice presidents than I need.”
“But this young man is Lord Rothschild’s son-in-law.”
“Ah, in that case….”……………………………………….
A man is struck by a bus on a busy street in New York City. He lies dying on the sidewalk as a crowd of spectators gathers around.
“A priest. Somebody get me a priest!” the man gasps. A policeman checks the crowd—-no priest, no minister, no man of God of any kind.”A PRIEST, PLEASE!” the dying man says again. Then out of the crowd steps a little old Jewish man of at least eighty years of age. “Mr. Policeman,” says the man, “I’m not a priest. I’m not even a Catholic. But for fifty years now I’m living behind St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church on First Avenue, and every night I’m listening to the Catholic litany. Maybe I can be of some comfort to this man.” The policeman agreed and brought the octogenarian over to where the dying man lay. He kneels down, leans over the injured and says in a solemn voice: “B-4. I-19. N-38. G-54. O-72. .” …………………………..
Our Special Connection of the week
This portion is in the Parasha of Emor (not Shelach) but there is so much to learn from this article!
Abba Koblenz Z”L
Abba Koblenz passed away on the first portion of the Parasha Emor. In this portion, the Kohanim are instructed to educate their children in such a way that they will teach their children as well. The young Kohanim would learn from example by seeing the duties that their fathers would do with great enthusiasm. The young Kohanim were surrounded by an atmosphere of the Temple that was thick with the intensity of holiness. Their lives at home had only one focus, to serve in the Bais Hamikdash. Yet with all this absorption and education, “What is the turning point where the child can take what he or she has learned and generate this learning from their inside out?” To understand this, let us look at the life of Abba Koblenz.
Abba Koblenz grew up in Albany, New York to a family where the concept of appreciation and responsibility toward their community was very important. Both Abba and his brother became lawyers to help people advocate for their rights. While he was still studying to become a lawyer in the late 1940’s, Abba got involved in gun smuggling with others in his extended family to help the Jews in what was then called Palestine. He, his brother, and cousins would pay for guns with funds provided by the Hagganah from people in New York State, where guns were plentiful after the war. They would then take them to a certain pawn shop owned by a cousin in downtown Albany, where the guns would be placed in fabricated “pawn” status (to avoid police detection) until they could be shipped to Palestine. This was very illegal and truly went against the nature of Abba. The consequences of being caught could ruin Abba’s future! But Abba and his brother Kibby were willing to sacrifice everything because they saw that the survival of Israel depended on these guns to defend themselves.
Abba’s great love of his Judaism was expressed throughout his life by taking the responsibility to run major Jewish institutions in his community, The Community Council (the forerunner of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York), the Albany Jewish Community Center, Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center, and Temple Israel. He took responsibility in community issues as well in the greater Albany community through his law firm and even in politics. Although he always structured his time to be with his family and raise his two boys, dinners and nights were very often interrupted by urgent phone calls. Abba’s children learned by example of the great devotion and responsibility their father had toward community and with dealing with people ethically, with respect and appreciation. But how did Abba pass these qualities to his children in a way that they would generate these qualities to their children?
An example of Abba’s style of education can be seen in this following story. Abba’s son Mark grew up going to Hebrew School. After his Bar Mitzvah he continued to go to the Hebrew High School that finished on a weekday night at 7:50pm. At the Jewish Community center, Mark wanted to be initiated into a Jewish fraternity. This ceremony was very important to him and was to take place on the night of his Hebrew High school at 7:30. Mark really wanted to go, so he asked his father if he could. His father told him that he should speak to the principle of the Hebrew high School and see what can be done. Mark had to take charge to find a responsible solution to his dilemma. The principal told Mark that he could leave the Hebrew School at 7:40 and that the principal would make arrangements at the Jewish Community Center to accept Mark a little later for the ceremony. Abba at that time was the president of the Jewish Community Center and could have pulled all the strings necessary to help Mark. But instead Abba cultivated in Mark how to face and take responsibility for their own circumstances. This active participation in learning then becomes a part of a person’s perspective of how they view the world and becomes a part of their life style to share with their future children! This concept helps answer our question of how students can generate from what they learn from their teachers. We see this with the young Kohanim that were given responsibilities to help in certain duties even before they had official active service. We also see this in the method of Jewish learning where students are paired up and have to figure out the logic of what the sages taught through their own discussions.
Our Special Connections is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your loved one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones. Please call Leible at 518-894-3490.
A Mitzvah from the Heart
A new project shows how a Jew’s life was involved with a particular Mitzvah in a very passionate way.
The Mitzvah to Love a fellow Jew
Juan Falcon the Elder (el Viejo)
In the City of Ciudad Real, Spain. 1480
To give you a glimpse into his life, we fictionalized a letter that he could have written to his niece (at the end of this article). As far as we know Juan was not an official Rabbi, he was a simple layman. He stood up when the Jewish community suffered. He offered his house as a meeting place for prayer and Jewish rituals (kosher slaughtering, bris, teaching Torah. ect) He knew prayers mostly in Spanish, not Hebrew. He set himself up as a person to go to if any Jew or Converso needed his help.
These times were very dangerous for the Jews. There were many anti –Jewish riots, and hundreds of Jews were killed.
During this time The Inquisition was being set up to question anyone who was a converso (forcibly converted to Christianity). If he/she were found to be “unfaithful” Christian, their property was confiscated and they would be given a penance. (Sometimes forced to were a piece of clothing that was yellow and had red devils painted on it to humiliate the Jews. This article of clothing had to be worn for several months and sometimes for a year.) For those that the Inquisition felt there was no hope of reintegrating back into the Christian fold they would be burnt at stake .
Many people were terrified, as the threat of death (being burnt at stake) loomed over their heads.
This information was found in “records of the trials of the Spanish Inquisition in Ciudad Real ,Spain. By Haim Beinart
volume one 1483-1485 Jerusalem 1974
Juan Falcon the Elder (el Viejo)
June 1484, Ciudad Real, Spain
To my dear Catalina Gomez,(his niece)
As I write this, with my ink and quill, I can’t help but think what am I doing? “I lift up my eyes to the mountains from where will my help come? My help is from Hashem who makes the heavens and the earth. He will not let my foot falter. He will guard me… (Psalm 121). I take a deep breath. I continue to open my house to both Jews and conversos (Jews who were converted to Christianity by force). I don’t know much. But I heard that if I know even one mitzvah that I should teach it. So I teach what I know. It is only time before the Inquisition will find out what I am doing. And then? I shudder I don’t want to know. So I will continue to teach, help and advice as many of my fellow Jews as I possibly can. Who knows which mitzvah that I help someone with, won’t be the turning point to bring Moshiach?
Juan Falcon El Viejo
Story of the week
Lessons of the Geese
In the fall when you see Geese heading south for the winter flying along in the “V” formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
Quite similar to people who are part of a team and share a common direction get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the trust of one another and lift each other up along the way. Whenever a Goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go through it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the power of the flock. If we have as much sense as a Goose, we will stay in formation and share information with those who are headed in the same way that we are going.
When the lead Goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wings and another Goose takes over.
It pays to share leadership and take turns doing hard jobs. The Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep their speed. Words of support and inspiration help energize those on the front line, helping them to keep pace in spite of the day-to-day pressures and fatigue. It is important that our honking be encouraging. Otherwise it’s just – well ..honking!
Finally, when a Goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out, two Geese fall out of the formation and follow the injured one down to help and protect him.
They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, then they launch out with another formation to catch up with their group. When one of us is down, it’s up to the others to stand by us in our time of trouble.
If we have the sense of a Goose, we will stand by each other when things get rough We will stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. The next time you see a formation of Geese, remember their message that:
“IT IS INDEED A REWARD, A CHALLENGE AND A PRIVILEGE TO BE A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF A TEAM”
Shelach in a Nutshell
Moses sends twelve spies to the land of Canaan. Forty days later they return, carrying a huge cluster of grapes, a pomegranate and a fig, to report on a lush and bountiful land. But ten of the spies warn that the inhabitants of the land are giants and warriors “more powerful than we”; only Caleb and Joshua insist that the land can be conquered, as G‑d has commanded.
The people weep that they’d rather return to Egypt. G‑d decrees that Israel’s entry into the land shall be delayed forty years, during which time that entire generation will die out in the desert. A group of remorseful Jews storm the mountain on the border of the land, and are routed by the Amalekites and Canaanites.
The laws of nesachim (meal, wine and oil offerings) are given, as well as the mitzvah to consecrate a portion of the dough (challah) to G‑d when making bread. A man violates The Shabbat by gathering sticks, and is put to death. G‑d instructs to place fringes (tzitzit) on the four corners of our garments, so that we should remember to fulfill the mitzvot (divine commandments).
A Deeper Overview For Parsha Shelach
From the Lubavitcher Rebbe via Chabad.org
Notwithstanding the two delays in the previous parashah—one lasting a month and the other a week— this parashah opens with the people ready to enter the Land of Israel. As the final preparation before embarking on the conquest, the Israelites send their most distinguished and refined leaders to scout out the land. But as a result of this mission, the people suffer their third and most serious setback, causing their whole generation to die in the desert and delaying entry into the Promised Land for another 39 years.
The bulk of this parashah is devoted to the details of this dramatic and tragic story. The latter part of the parashah, however, abruptly departs from the historical narrative and discusses a number of laws and events that seemingly have no connection with each other or with the events recounted in the beginning of the parashah:
- the requirement to bring grain and wine offerings with animal sacrifices,
- the requirement to give part of every batch of dough (challah) to the priests,
- the laws pertaining to offerings that atone for the sin of idolatry,
- the incident of the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath, and
- the commandment to affix tassels (tzitzit) to the corners of garments.
The laws would seem to belong in the Book of Leviticus, and the incident of the stick gatherer—which took place shortly after the giving of the Torah—would seem to belong in the Book of Exodus. Why are these placed here, and how are they connected to the name of the parashah, Shelach, which simply means “send”?
To understand this, let us recall once again that the purpose of the soul’s descent into the body, the creation of the Jewish people, the exile in Egypt and the Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the entry and conquest of the Land of Israel are all in order to make this world into a home for God, which means to disseminate Divine consciousness to the entire world.
In other words, we are all—both individually and collectively—emissaries of God to accomplish His purpose on earth. It is therefore quite fitting that on the eve of the entry into the land where this purpose is to be consummated, God tells Moses to send representatives of the people on a mission. This assignment encapsulated the essence of what the entry into the Land of Israel is all about: fulfilling our Divine mission as God’s emissaries in this world.
There are many explanations why the scouts failed in this mission, some of which we will see in our exposition of the narrative. But the underlying thrust of their tragic mistake was they thought the emissaries (i.e., the Israelites) were not capable of fulfilling their mission, that the Sender somehow overestimated the abilities of His agents or underestimated the difficulties they would face.
The generation of the Exodus attained the highest level of Divine consciousness of any generation in history. God sustained them with the heavenly manna, which taught them daily the lesson of His constant involvement in even the mundane facets of life. This made them the ideal recipients for the Torah.1 They had witnessed God’s absolute control over the “immutable” laws of nature and His ability to suspend them for His people. And finally, they had witnessed the Divine revelation of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. How, then, could such people, exposed daily to God’s miracles, suddenly turn into frightened skeptics? And how could their spiritual elite fall so low as to question God’s omnipotence?
The answer is that it was specifically their heightened spiritual orientation that led them astray. They wished to experience life and pursue Godliness unencumbered by the distractions of materiality. In the desert, they were protected by the clouds of glory, sustained by the manna and the well of Miriam, and all their physical needs were fully attended to. All of their time was spent in Torah study, meditation, and prayer. They were repulsed by the notion of entering the real world, where bread must be wrested from the earth and life cannot be a heavenly paradise.2
Thus, the scouts described the land as one that “consumes its inhabitants,” fearing that once they entered the land they would fall prey to its earthliness and no longer be spiritual beings. Their sentiments were echoed centuries later in the words of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who said: “If a person plows when it is time to plough, sows when it is time to sow, reaps when it is time to reap, threshes when it is time to thresh, and winnows when it is time to winnow, what will become of the Torah?”3 Indeed, this aspiration has inspired us to yearn throughout the ages for the messianic era, when the materiality of the world will no longer distort our spiritual focus.4
It is indeed commendable to yearn for such a time, but this yearning must be balanced with humble submission to God’s plan for creation. The purpose of life is to live within mundane reality and reveal the G-dliness concealed within it. The spies and their generation were not willing to carrying out the mandate given at Sinai—to bring heaven to earth and earth to heaven—because they did not recognize the advantage of entering the material world, where God’s essence can be found through fulfilling His commandments on the physical plane, and because they were afraid of the pitfalls accompanying this task.
It was precisely this misconception that had to be proven wrong once and for all before the entry into the land. It is very easy, when we consider the wide range of the Torah’s demands on our life and the effort we have to expend to fulfill them properly, to fall into the trap of thinking that God is asking too much of us. After all, the Torah seeks to govern every aspect of our life, in all its myriad details. Even learning the Torah per se seems impossible, for “its measure is longer than the earth, and it is wider than the sea.”5 And on top of this, the Torah requires us to vanquish our inborn animal instincts and resist the pervasive pull of society and its norms. How can the faint voice of the few that are faithful to God be heard over the din of those who ignore Him?
Strong arguments, to be sure, but upon even momentary reflection, they crumble. For even a human dispatcher, if he has any sense, will not give an emissary a charge too difficult for him to accomplish. And while a human dispatcher can err in the estimation of an emissary’s capabilities, God knows us better than we know ourselves: as our Creator, He is fully aware of both our strengths and weaknesses. It is therefore inconceivable that He could or would assign us a task that we cannot fulfill.
By failing in their mission, the spies ironically succeeded in a much more profound way. Their failure allowed the very value they disregarded—God’s purpose of making the world into His home—to be accomplished more fully than their success ever could have.
The ultimate way of making the world into God’s home is by revealing our own Divine natures and thereby making God’s perspective, goals, and desires our own. When we do this, we follow God’s will not only because we are told to, but also because our own minds and hearts impel us to.
The problem is that remaking ourselves over this way is a process of self-refinement, which is long, hard work. It is much simpler and quicker to submit carte blanche to God’s will than to gradually refine our intellect and emotions by training them constantly to see through the world’s materiality. But this is exactly what the spies’ sin enabled us to do in a straightforward manner.
First of all, the spies succeeded in exciting the Jewish people about entering the Land of Israel.6 Thanks to them, the people heard from eyewitnesses that the land flowed with milk and honey, and they did not have to take God’s promises on mere faith. Once they were shaken from their momentary doubt, they were swept up with the desire to enter the land. Their children carried this knowledge of the land’s virtues when they joyously entered it with Joshua. The spies that Joshua sent were only for strategic purposes, since the people did not need another report of the land’s beauty and beneficial properties.
Secondly, the very fact that the spies—as Jewish leaders—walked through the land prepared it spiritually for the eventual entrance of the people as a whole. The spies’ mission thus had the immediate effect of beginning the conquest of the land and paving the way for the actual conquest.7
Thirdly, had the spies and their generation not sinned, the people would have indeed entered the land headed by Moses and would have been led to a miraculous victory by God’s cloud of glory and pillar of fire. But then, the victory and the conquest would have been God’s alone, rather than the people’s, aided by His constant support. Because of the spies’ sin, the land now had to be won by military prowess, but the ensuing victory would be the result of the people’s efforts. And because they would fight for it, they would value it more than they would have had they received it only as God’s gift.
And finally, the spies’ error taught us the invaluable lesson that we can all indeed fulfill God’s mission, that we should never make the mistake of thinking that we do not measure up to His calling.
Thus, in this light, it was crucial that the spies should “sin”: it was the only way the objective of making the world into God’s home could be accomplished, the only way the historical process could proceed in exactly the best manner possible. Their real fault was not in what they did but in the fact that they focused on only one side of the coin.
Perhaps they can be forgiven for this; this was the first time a generation was called upon to live out this paradox of yearning for heaven while toiling on earth, of acknowledging the importance of the self while abrogating it in raw obedience—and as our sages say, “all beginnings are difficult.”
In any case, the lesson we must learn from the spies is the importance of both ardently aspiring to the spiritual life and humbly submitting to God’s desire to make this world into His home, and attaining the proper balance between them. Both acting as a self-interested agent and operating on blind obedience have their drawbacks: Blind obedience has its place as the bedrock of our commitment to God, but a life based solely upon it does not involve the entire person; acting in our own interests allows God’s perspective to permeate our whole being, but doing so exposes us to the risk of letting our egos lead us astray.
The goal is to remain aware of our supra-rational and unconditional commitment to God even while making His reality our own. When we undertake the quest to manifest our Divine dimension as God’s mandate rather than an exercise in furthering our self-interests, our mission is guaranteed to succeed.
As always, call us at if you need anything
Have a great Shabbos.
Elisheva and Leible Morrison
The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin
This week parshais
We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!
If anyone has relatives or friends that have passed away, please consider them for Our Special Connections. The weekly column is written after the story of the week below.
Special thanks to Marc Gronich for his help with editing this bulletin!
Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the schmooze table we would like to share:
Moishe walks into a post office to send a package to his wife. The postmaster says, “This package is too heavy, you’ll need another stamp.”
Moishe replies, “And that should make it lighter?!”……………………………………………
Lying in the hospital bed, the dying man began to flail about and make motions as if he would like to speak.
The Rabbi, keeping watch at the side of his bed leaned quietly over and asked, “Do you have something you would like to say?” The man nodded to the affirmative, and the Rabbi handed him a pad and pen.
“I know you can’t speak, but use this to write a note and I will give it to your wife. She’s waiting just outside.”
Gathering his last bit of strength, the man took the pad and pen and scrawled his message which he stuffed into the Rabbi’s hands. Then, moments later, the man died.
After administering the last rites, the Rabbi left to break the sad news to the wife. After consoling her a bit, the Rabbi handed her the note. “Here were his last words. Just before passing on, he wrote this message to you.”
The wife tearfully opened the note which read “YOU’RE STANDING ON MY OXYGEN HOSE!!”………………………………………………………
A woman from Brooklyn decided to prepare her will and make her final requests.
She told her Rabbi she had two final requests.
First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered over Bloomingdales. “Bloomingdales!” the Rabbi exclaimed. “Why Bloomingdales?”
“Then I’ll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week.” ……………………………………………………
David called his mother in Florida.
He said to his mother, “Ma, how are you doing?”
She said, “Oy, not too good. I’ve been very weak.”
David then asked, “Why are you so weak?”
She said, “Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days.”
David then asked, “Ma, how come you haven’t eaten in 38 days?”
She said, “Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food when you called.”…..………………………….
Our Special Connection of the week
Harry Stanley Weiner Z”l
Harry Stanley Weiner Z”l passed away on the fifth portion of Parsha Beha’alotecha. In this portion, the Torah tells us how the Jewish nation traveled in the desert after they received the Ten Commandments. With two to three million people the traveling had to be very structured and organized.
The Jews traveled by the tribe they were in and the tribes were assigned different positions in the order they traveled. The unifying force and the focus of all these many different travelers was the Ark of the Covenant. This ark was a chest that housed the tablets of the Ten Commandments that were broken by Moses during the idol worship of the Golden Calf.
This was the ark that always led our people throughout the desert miraculously by the revealed will of G-d. The ark and seven special clouds that surrounded the Jews when they traveled would protect them from the dangers of the desert. People could get lost in a desert very easily. The main function of the ark was to guide us to a place that we could grow in a deep meaningful way towards G-d, toward each other and to generate this guidance for our future generations as a legacy.
How does this sincere guidance work in our world today? The life of Harry Stanley Weiner Z”l best illustrates the concept of guidance.
Harry was born in Queens, NY. His father was a very outgoing man that helped people. Harry had this spark to him as well. Harry’s father passed away at an early age but told Harry that he wanted him to go to college. Harry went to the University at Albany and found his niche in teaching. For 40 years he taught in Shenendehowa High School.
Harry had a great care and concern for all his many students. He would teach them in ways that they could relate to, often with song and theatrics. He taught mainly students in the 12th grade. He wanted these students to understand different perspectives and to think “out of the box” when encountering a situation.
His sincerity to help and care for others on their level had a very big effect on everyone he met. Harry’s goal was to bring out the best in everybody so they can fulfill their potential. Even when Harry was not well in the Glendale Nursing home, he helped many of the staff with their college courses and always boosted the moral of the residents.
Harry not only amplified the spark that his father had but brought out this quality in his daughter as well.
True guidance and education must come from the depths of the mind and heart of the educator so that it can go into the depths of the mind and heart of the student.
G-d provided the Ark of the Covenant, the light of Torah, out of his love to each and every one of us on our level. The Torah, however, must be taught and studied. G-d gave us great teachers to help accomplish this.
Teachers studied out of love of G-d and taught others with this same love so that the students should learn. Then these students would become teachers and carry out this love further to their students. Jews have been doing this as a way of life for thousands of years. Through Torah, the Jewish people bond to each other through their bond to G-d and the Torah. We can see how the Ark of the Covenant was essential as a guide to our people. We can also see how Harry’s love for his students is a good example of how Torah must be taught to bring out its true light for us.
Our Special Connections is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your loved one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your
life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones. Please call Leible at 518-894-3490.
Story of the week
True Jewish Guidance
A Change of Clothes
By Yanki Tauber Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society
And Moses spoke to G-d, saying: “Let the Lord, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the people… so that the congregation of G-d shall not be as sheep that have no shepherd”(27:15-17)
Why does Moses address the Almighty as the “G-d of the spirits of all flesh?” Moses said to G-d, “Master of the universe! You know the soul of each and every individual. You know that no two are alike. Appoint for them a leader who can relate to each and every one of them in accordance with his individual spirit.”
– Rashi’s commentary
Evening had fallen, and Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch was receiving those who came to seek his counsel in yechidus, the private meeting of souls between a rebbe and chassid. Scarcely an hour had passed, and already the Rebbe was
exhausted. He called a break and asked for a fresh change of clothes.
The Rebbe’s secretary emerged from the room carrying the clothes which the Rebbe had removed. They were drenched in sweat. “Master of the universe,” muttered the secretary, “why does he exert himself so?! Every hour he needs a new change of clothes. Why does the Rebbe sweat so much?”
The Rebbe’s door opened, and Rabbi Shmuel stood in the doorway. “Go home,” he said to his secretary. “You have not the slightest understanding of my work. I will continue to pay your salary, but I no longer desire your services.”
“Don’t you understand? In the past hour twenty people came to see me. Each of them poured out his soul to me and asked for my assistance in curing it of its spiritual ills.”
To relate to each one’s dilemma, I have to see it through their eyes. So I must divest myself of my own personality and circumstances and clothe myself in theirs. Then, in order to answer them, I must reassume my own persona otherwise, why would they come to consult with me?
“Did you ever attempt to change your clothes forty times an hour? If such physical dressing and undressing would exhaust you and bathe you in sweat, can you imagine what it involves to do so in the mental, emotional and spiritual sense?”……………………………………………..
Behaalotecha in a Nutshell
Aaron is commanded to raise light in the lamps of the menorah, and the tribe of Levi is initiated into the service in the Sanctuary.
A “Second Passover” is instituted in response to the petition “Why should we be deprived by a group of Jews who were unable to bring the Passover offering in its appointed time because they were ritually impure?
G-d instructs Moses on the procedures for Israel’s journeys and encampments in the desert and the people journey in formation from Mount Sinai, where they had been camped for nearly a year.
The people are dissatisfied with their “bread from heaven” (the manna), and demand that Moses supply them with meat. Moses appoints 70 elders, to whom he imparts of his spirit, to assist him in the burden of governing the people.
Miriam speaks negatively of Moses, and is punished with leprosy; Moses prays for her healing, and the entire community waits seven days for her recovery.
A Deeper Overview For
From the Lubavitcher Rebbe via Chabad.org
The first half of Parsha Beha’alotecha completes the first part of the Book of Numbers, which describes the people’s formation as an army on the eve of their journey through the desert.
The second half of the parsha begins the second part of the Book of Numbers, in which we watch the people set out on their momentous trek toward the Promised Land.
No sooner do they set out, however, than we see them make a quick succession of mistakes, which continues into the following two parshiot. The tragic result of this downward spiral is G-d’s decree that the entire generation perish in the desert and the entrance into the Promised Land be postponed for 38 years. This distressing drama contrasts sharply with the optimistic tone of the first half of the parsha.
In particular, Parsha Beha’alotecha opens with the commandment of kindling the candelabrum of the Tabernacle. Aaron is told to kindle the lamps until the wicks catch flame and burn on their own and as we will see, this is an allegory for our purpose on earth; to kindle the flame of Divine consciousness until all of created
reality burns on its own with the enthusiasm required to fulfill its Divine purpose.
In this sense, kindling the candelabrum encapsulates the entire purpose of creation — to make the world into G-d’s home.
How is it that such opposing passages are comprised within the same parsha? The question becomes especially pertinent when we consider the fact that the parsha’s
Name — Beha’alotecha, taken from the commandment to kindle the candelabrum — means “When you raise up,” referring to the instruction to make the flame “go up” on its own.
How does the image of raising the world’s Divine consciousness until it is burning with it on its own fit with the moral decline that unfolds as the narrative progresses?
We can begin to understand this by recalling that the Divine mission to make the world into G-d’s home applies to all aspects of reality. Indeed, the only way it can be accomplished is if we transform all aspects of life into facets and elements of our relationship with G-d. It is not enough to feel close to G-d or teach others to feel close to G-d when we or they are explicitly involved in holy acts —learning the Torah and fulfilling G-d’s commandments.
Divine consciousness must permeate our mundane pursuits as well.
This attitude toward life can be acquired through practice, by training ourselves or others to overcome the natural tendency of material reality to obscure G-d’s presence in our lives. Divine life then becomes second nature, ultimately as natural as the material outlook was before.
The more profound way of remaking our selves or others, however, is by revealing our innate Divinity. When we are made fully aware that G-d’s existence is the only true reality, and all other reality is merely contingent on His reality, we uncover our true nature. As part of G-d’s absolute reality, our consciousness is Divine consciousness. We discover that the attitude of seeing G-d everywhere and being aware of Him in everything we do is not second nature — something that supersedes our first nature — but is in fact our primary nature, our real self, that is even more deeply part of us than what we thought was our “first” nature.
This is the inner meaning of “kindling a wick until it burns on its own.” We must strive to refine ourselves, others and the world around us until everyone and everything is intrinsic. His Divine nature is revealed, and therefore burns with Divine consciousness as part of its own inherent nature. Only when we have accomplished this have we truly and fully made this world into G-d’s home.
This means revealing the inherent Divinity within our rebellions, as well. To be sure, mutiny (or thoughts of mutiny) must be quashed as quickly as possible, and if this requires that we “force” ourselves to acquire a second,
Divine nature, so be it. But the more profound way of quelling rebellion is by exposing its true nature – our refusal to be satisfied with our present understanding of G-d and our revulsion against the shallowness of our relationship with Him.
Our rebellion articulates our despair. “If this is all there is to the Divine life, I want nothing of it!”
Seen in this light, our rebellions—and the rebellions of the Jewish people so soon after they set forth on their journeys are a cry for sincere return to G-d (teshuvah), for reestablishing our relationship with Him on a much deeper level than it ever was before.
This is one of the reasons why the Torah mentions Aaron as the one who kindles the candelabrum, even though in fact anyone, even a lay person, is technically allowed to do so.
Aaron was known for his unbounded love for all people, even those who had no redeeming qualities other than their being G-d’s creations.
“Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving all creatures and drawing them to the Torah.”
Aaron related even to people who were far from holiness, and lovingly raised their Divine consciousness, setting their souls aflame until they too were drawn to G-d’s ways.
When we reveal the inner, Divine essence of even the lowest ebbs in our Divine lives, when we feel the least enthused by all things holy, we gain the ability to “kindle the wick” of reality “until it burns on its own.” This way the lowest as well as the highest points in life become part of the same, ongoing process of “kindling the lamps.”
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Have a great Shabbos.
Elisheva and Leible Morrison