PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 8
6 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
2 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 111
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1747
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6865
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 49:14- 51:3 (ותאמר
ציון). This is the second of seven Haftorot,
- the שבע דנחמתא - the Seven Haftorot of Consolation, that precede Rosh HaShana.
This week we study Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
In our last episode Moshe reviewed the Aseret Hadibrot
(Ten Commandments) for a new generation to hear. The Prince of Prayer,
"Shema", made its appearance, bringing with it two top-20
Mitzvot: Mezuzah and Tefillin.
Moshe continues his five week speech with some sound advice: Guard All of the Mitzvot. Everybody's got their top-10 Mitzvot. But every Mitzvah is equally important. As a reward, Hashem will grant many children, long life, plentiful harvests, and herds that will multiply, making you rich (of course, sheep won't start to appear in your 20th floor city apartment, but you get the picture!).
As the Bnei Yisroel prepare for a Canaanite conquest, keeping the Mitzvot is one of the conditions for the Jews to have Hashem's help.
Just a couple of strategic previews: Hashem will confuse the nations of Canaan. He will send hornets ahead of the Bnei Yisroel and when the Canaanites hide, the hornets will hunt them out and poison them. The Canaanite soldiers will be blinded from this poison and easily defeated.
This Sefer is full of one liners and here's a biggie: Benching (Birchat Hamazon).|
Moshe commands Bnei Yisroel: - Bless Hashem after you've eaten, for the good land He's given you. This one liner explodes into a whole set of rules about washing for bread, saying brachot (Blessings), and of course, benching. But at least you don't have to wing it. Just pull out a bencher and follow the script. Five minutes later this Mitzvah is yours.
We go from a top twenty mitzvah to the number one sin in the desert: The Eigel Hazohov, (the golden calf).|
At Har Sinai, Hashem, Himself, gives the first Aseret Hadibrot to the Jewish people. But it's too much for the Bnei Yisroel to handle. They beg Moshe to be an intermediary. So Moshe goes up Har Sinai. For forty days and nights Moshe stays at the summit of the mountain without food or drink. He is given two sapphire tablets - the luchot - upon which are engraved the Aseret Hadibrot. But trouble is brewing at the base and Hashem tells Moshe to rush down quickly because there's a terrible sin being committed. The Jews who witnessed a miraculous Exodus have made the image of a golden calf!
Hashem is ready to destroy the entire nation and start over with Moshe. Moshe's not impressed. He goes to bat for the Bnei Yisroel. He reminds Hashem of His promise to the Avot (forefathers). It takes a lot of begging and dealing, but finally, Hashem agrees not to destroy the Jews.
Moshe now rushes down the mountain to see what the commotion is all about. He is shocked to find that the center of celebration is the golden calf. Moshe becomes infuriated and smashes the luchot. Moshe burns the graven image and throws its dust into a river. He makes the Jews drink from its waters. Those who have sinned die.
Moshe now returns to heaven for another forty days and asks Hashem to forgive the sin of the golden calf. Moshe is told to carve out a new set of Luchot. On these stones Hashem once again engraves the Aseret Hadibrot. Moshe builds an Aron (Ark) to store the Luchot. On Yom Kippur, Moshe comes down with the second set of luchot. Hashem has forgiven the sin of Bnei Yisroel.
| The Jews are forgiven
with a condition attached: One must fear Hashem. How do
you fear Hashem? Not just by fear of punishment, but when
you realize what an insignificant creature you are in Hashem's
magnificent universe and you remind yourself that Hashem
is always with you, and that you are always in His hands, - that
is fear of Hashem. He knows everything you do and think.
There is no escape from Hashem's knowledge.
Moshe warns the Bnei Yisroel that a Jew must be especially careful not to hurt the feelings of a ger (a convert).|
A ger is a non-Jew who decides to keep all of the Torah and mitzvot. Once a Beit Din (an Orthodox Jewish Court) has converted the ger, that newcomer must be treated as an equal to any Jew. In fact, a Jew must go out of his way to be nice to a ger because the ger has given up everything to keep the Torah. Never remind a ger of their past, because you, Bnei Yisroel, were also a stranger in Mitzrayim (Egypt).
Also included in this Mitzva is a reminder to treat all newcomers well, such as a new student in school and a newcomer to your neighborhood.
In Egypt, where the land is flat, people are used to one big overflow of the Nile fertilizing the ground and providing enough water in the irrigation ditches for the entire farming season. Eretz Yisroel doesn't work that way.|
The land of Eretz Yisroel is hilly. A farmer relies on the rain to water the crops. That's why praying for rain is so important. Hashem holds the key to rainfall.
If you need proof of Hashem's power over nature, Moshe brings up three examples:
It was Hashem who caused the Yam Suf to split, leaving a dry path for the Bnei Yisroel to cross. When the Jews were safely out of the sea bed, Hashem commanded the walls of water to come crashing down, drowning the entire Egyptian army.
The second example is the Mann. For forty years, this miraculous "heavenly bread" sustained the entire nation. The Mann could taste like steak or chicken or pot roast - anything you desired.
The third example is the way Hashem punished Datan and Aviram. These two troublemakers met their deaths when Hashem caused the earth to open underneath them and swallow the two fiends.
Just in case the Jews decide to desregard the mitzvot and worship idols they should remember that Hashem has His finger on the rain button and will cut the water power.
| Just when you thought
it was safe to enter the water, part two of that top ten prayer,
"Shema Yisroel", comes on the scene.
"V'Haya Im Shamo'ah" offers a good deal for those who take Torah and mitzvot to heart. Hashem wants us to review them over and over again. Through Torah and Prayer, you will learn to love Hashem and to serve Him with all your heart and soul.
Hashem will then offer you a good life. He promises lots of rain for the crops and healthy produce. Not only that, but other nations will pour gold and silver into the economy when they come to purchase food in their times of famine. The herds of the land of Eretz Yisroel will have plenty of pasture land to feed on and the people will be satisfied with smaller portions because the food will be so rich.
But here's a warning: The good life can lead to trouble and a lazy person will forget that it is Hashem who is behind all the goodness and plenty. The Yetzer Hora will try to drag you to idol worship.
So be on the lookout and protect yourself with a healthy diet of Torah, Prayer and mitzvot.
Again, the Mitzvot of Tefillin and Mezuzah make a one line appearance in these verses.
Green pastures, food, money... they're all great, but the Bnei Yisroel are focused on one goal right now and Moshe knows it - the conquest of Canaan. Moshe knows that the nation is "pumping up" for war and, even with faith in Hashem, they need every bit of courage to put their lives in the hands of Hashem. That's why he reminds them of the mighty giant Og who came a'tumblin down like a pile of jello.|
The Jews may have to face giants, but if Hashem could bring down Og, He can bring down any giant who stands in the path of conquest!
Tune in next week when Moshe mussars on about idols, prophets and kashrut in the next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Maven on Eikev
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