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Rabbi's Weekly Message

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Perashot Matot-Masei 5777

Friday, July 21, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

In Perashat Matot it seems like everyone is in a race against time. As the era of the desert is almost over and 'Am Yisrael are about to enter the Land of Israel, everybody feels that time is running out and that they must grab as much as they can before it will be too late. The astute businessmen of the tribe of Gad and Reuben, having caught wind of the chance for opportunity, make a contingency plan. As true businessmen they make a brilliant economic calculation. They have a lot of sheep and cattle and in the Trans-Jordan there are great pastures and lush open fields. It's a simple calculation; they want to grab this deal quickly before it ends. In order to seal this deal, they agree to leave their families and neglect their children's education so that they can fight alongside their brethren in securing the west bank of the Jordan and the rest of the Land of Israel for the other tribes. All of a sudden, the holiness of the Land of Israel and their children's education is not important to them; they are even ready to forgo the physical and spiritual security that the Land of Israel has to offer them and their posterity. All they see in front of their eyes are the potential economic gains of more plentiful fodder for their animals. The smell of cheap hay has gotten to their heads....

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Perashat Pinhas 5777

Friday, July 14, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

This week's perasha, Pinhas, is a continuation of last week's perasha which described the wicked sorcerer Bil'am's failure to curse Benei Yisrael. Despite his failure, he had one last hope. Knowing that sexual morality is the foundation of Jewish holiness and that Hashem does not tolerate immorality, Bil'am advised Balak to entice Jewish men to engage in debauchery. Balak was so determined to destroy Benei Yisrael that he succeeded in convincing the aristocracy of his people to send their daughters to carry out this plan. In the beginning they were only successful in enticing the masses, the young and the restless, but their intent was to entice the major leaders such as Moshe. Having failed to do that, they turned to the leaders of lesser rank and finally succeeded in ensnaring Zimri, a prince of the tribe of Shimon. In a shocking exhibition of brazenness he brought his paramour Kozbi, a Midianite princess, right in front of Moshe and the elders at the entrance of the Tent of Assembly and sinned in public view. Moshe and the elders were shocked to the point that they were at a loss as to how to react. At the same time, a plague started in the Israelite camp as a reaction to these sins. Nobody reacted to this event except for Pinhas, the grandson of Aharon. Pinhas could not tolerate the blatant disrespect to Hashem, and he slayed Zimri and his paramour right in front of these leaders. Thus the plague was stopped. ...

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Perashat Balak 5777

Friday, July 07, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

Our perasha this week, Balak, deals with an extraordinary event in the Torah. While most of the Torah deals with stories that are happening within the nation, this week we are dealing with a narrative that takes place outside the encampment of the nation of Israel in an enemy territory called Moab. ...

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Perashat Hukkat 5777

Friday, June 30, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

The beginning of Perashat Hukkat deals with the laws of Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, and the ritual through which it purifies one from the impurity of the dead. The perasha opens with the words, "Zot Hukkat HaTorah", "This is the Law of the Torah." Later in the perasha, the Torah stresses again: "Zot HaTorah, adam...", "This is the Law of the Torah regarding a man...". All of the commentaries ask the obvious question: Why does the Torah need to single out this missva and give it the title of "The Law of the Torah"? The Torah should have said, "This is the law of Parah Adumah" or "This is the law of Purity"! ...

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Perashat Korah 5777

Friday, June 23, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

In this week's perasha, we read the story of the rebellion of Korah and his assembly. Korah persuaded 250 fellow Levites to join him in opposing the leadership of Moshe and Aharon by attempting to overthrow them. Korah was a great man. Our sages tell us he had "Ruah HaKodesh", Divine inspiration. Korah was one of the bearers of the Holy Ark. Only the holiest of men were allowed to carry the Ark due to its holiness. How then did such a worthy man cause dissension and undermine the leadership of Moshe and Aharon that was Divinely assigned? Rashi was puzzled by this and answered that jealousy was the cause of this sin. When his cousin, Elissaphan, son of Uzziel, was placed in charge of the Kehatite family, Korah in effect became his inferior. Korah thought this to be unfair since he was the son of Yisshar who was older than Uzziel. We learn from this that even the righteous are not immune from the bad trait of envy and jealousy. ...

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Perashat Shelah 5777

Friday, June 16, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

This week we read Perashat Shelah-Lekha. The perasha begins with the episode of the Meraglim, the twelve spies that were sent to report back to Moshe about the nature of the land of Kena'an and its inhabitants. As it turned out, ten out of the twelve spies that were sent gave a bad report on the land and in turn were severely punished to die in the desert. Why? Did they really do something wrong? Weren't they asked to make their own personal observations? If so, why should they be punished? ...

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Perashat Beha'alotekha 5777

Friday, June 09, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

Our perasha, Beha'alotekha, opens with the fashioning of the golden Menorah for the Tabernacle. The Menorah was the most complex utensil to be built for the Tabernacle. The Menorah, which was intricate in design and featured many delicate details, had to be hammered out from one special talent of gold. The Midrash says that Moshe Rabbenu had a hard time making the Menorah and was therefore shown a prophetic vision of the Menorah's design. Yet, Moshe was still not able to execute the task, so Hashem told him to throw a block of gold into the fire, from which a beautiful Menorah miraculously emerged. ...

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Perashat Nasso 5777

Friday, June 02, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

This Shabbat comes right after Shabuot, during the forty days Moshe sat up on Har Sinai and did not have food or drink. The sefarim say that these are days of mercy and kindness, shown by the fact that we do not recite Tahanun for another week. ...

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Perashat Bamidbar 5777

Friday, May 26, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

The Shulhan Arukh writes that, "Perashat BaMidbar is always read before Asseret (Shabuot)." The Shulhan Arukh provides us with a mnemonic device to remember this: Menu Ve'issru - meaning "count" - as in the counting of Bene Yisrael in this perasha, and Ve'issru - then "pause" - which refers to "Asseret"; one of the names by which the Torah refers to the holiday of Shabuot. Many comment that if Hashem's will is that Perashat BaMidbar be read before Shabuot then there must be a connection. ...

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Perashat Behar-Behukotay 5777

Friday, May 19, 2017 Author: Rabbi David Stav

This Shabbat, we'll read Perashat Behar-Behukotay. Most of the social andeconomic issues in Biblical discourse and the Jewish world are addressed in this reading. The first part of the Torah portion discusses the laws of the Shemitta, the Sabbatical year, which recurs every seven years. This is the year that farmers stop tilling their fields. The populace is free to visit the orchards and help themselves to all kinds of fruits. Many reasons were given for this unique year. ...

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