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Rabbi's Weekly Message

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Perashat Pinhas 5776

Friday, July 29, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

This year, the United States is involved in a presidential election. As the world’s leading democracy, America has always taken pride in the seamless and peaceful transition of power between the outgoing and incoming executive administrations. In this week’s perasha, Pinhas, we read about the transition of power from Moshe Rabbenu to Yehoshua. Though not chosen by the people, a new leader is appointed by G-d himself to replace Moshe and lead the people into the land of Cana’an. G-d commands that this transition take place specifically in the public arena as follows ...

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Perashat Balak 5776

Friday, July 22, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

In this week’s perasha, Balak, we read about the curses of the heathen prophet, Bil’am, that Hashem turned into blessings for B’nei Yisrael. After some back and forth between G-d and Bil’am as to whether he was permitted to go and curse B’nei Yisrael, the Torah states that Bil’am went with the leaders of Moab as Hashem had commanded him, with the understanding that he was to utter, “only that word which I [Hashem] shall say to you.” [Bamidbar 22:20] Immediately thereafter, we read that, “G-d’s anger burned because he [Bil’am] went.” [Ibid. 22] These verses are difficult to understand; if Bil’am was following Hashem’s instructions, then why was He angry with him for going with the officers of Moab? ...

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Perashat Hukkat 5776

Friday, July 15, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

In this week's perasha, Hukkat, we read about the crisis caused by the lack of water during the 40th year of Bnei Yisrael's sojourn in the desert. The Torah relates: "Then the Children of Israel, the entire congregation came into the desert of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh, and Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation, and they gathered in opposition to Moshe and Aharon." [Bamidbar 20: 1-2] While it is possible that this lack of water was due to the fact that water is naturally scarce in the desert, the rabbis suggest that it was directly related to the death of Miriam. The Talmud in Ta'anit 9a states that it was due to the merit of Miriam that the Israelites had a well of water that miraculously accompanied them in the desert. When Miriam died, this well ceased, bringing about the circumstance wherein Hashem commands Moshe to speak to the rock in order to miraculously extract water from it: "And Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, take your staff, and gather the assembly together, you and Aharon your brother, and speak to the rock before their eyes and it shall give forth water." [Bamidbar 20:7] ...

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Perashat Korah 5776

Friday, July 08, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

Perashat Korah opens with the episode of the rebellion of Korah and his co-conspirators, in their attempt to overthrow Moshe and Aharon, G-d’s designated leader of the people and their High Priest. The Torah characterized Korah’s action as, “Vayikah Korah” - “And Korah took...” (Bamidbar 16:1) What exactly did he take? ...

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Perashat Shelah 5776

Friday, July 01, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

This week's perasha, Shelah, is bookended by the story of the "Sin of the Spies" at the beginning, and the missva of sissit, the command to tie special tassels to a four-cornered garment, at the end of the perasha. Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion, explains that the missva of sissit is directly connected to the episode of the spies, who returned with a negative report on the Land of Canaan. Furthermore, he asserts, that the missva of sissit is prescribed as a way of repairing the damage caused by their sin. How is the subject of sissit related to the story of the spies? ...

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Perashat Beha'alotekha 5776

Friday, June 24, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

The Torah uses three different expressions concerning the mahn - the miracle food that sustained B’nei Yisrael for forty years in the desert. In this week’s perasha it states, “u’beredet ha-tal al ha-mahane Layla, yered ha-mahn alav " - “And when the dew fell upon the encampment in the night, the mahn fell upon it." [Bamidbar 11:9] The implication in this pasuk is that there was no effort involved in gathering this staple food. In Perashat Beshalah it states, “v’yayss’eu ha-‘am v’laketu debar yom be-yomo” - "And the people went out and gathered a portion every day." [Shemot 16:4] The gathering of the mahnwas not as easy as in the other instance, but it was still done within the camp, i.e., within the reach of the people. The third verse says, “shatu ha-‘am v’laketu” - "The people scattered, and gathered it." [Bamidbar 11:8] This pasuk indicates effort. The people had to travel a distance; they had to go beyond the environs of the encampment, in order to gather the mahn that they desired. ...

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Perashat Naso 5776

Friday, June 17, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

One of the main topics of Perashat Naso is the sacrifices brought by the heads of each tribe in honor of the inauguration of the Mishkan. The Torah tells us that every day, for a twelve-day period at the beginning of the month of Nisan, the prince, or nasi, of each tribe brought an identical korban, sacrifice, as an offering to Hashem. ...

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Perashat Bamidbar 5776

Friday, June 10, 2016 Author: Rabbi Elie Abadie

Almost invariably, Perashat Bemidbar is read the Shabbat before the Holiday of Shabuot. In fact, our Sages established it that way for a reason. The Midrash comments that the Torah was given amidst three things: באש - fire, במים - water and במדבר - desert. Therefore, they set the reading of Perashat Bemidbar the Shabbat before Shabuot, the holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, so we could remember the connection between the Torah and the desert. Even though the English name of the fourth Book of the Torah is, Numbers - in Hebrew it is Bemidbar - in the Desert. ...

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Perashat Behukotay 5776

Friday, June 03, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

The main topic of this week's perasha, Behukotay, is the "Tokheha" - The Rebuke or The Chastisement; the basic structure of "Reward and Punishment" as outlined by the Torah. The Torah states, "If you will walk in my statutes and keep my commandments, and do them..." - then I will give you A,B,C as a reward, and conversely, "... if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all these commands... but you will break my covenant..." - you will be given X,Y,Z as a punishment. [Vayikra 26: 3 and 14] This "Tokheha" appears twice in the Torah; once in this week's perasha, in the book of Vayikra, and another time in perashat Ki Tabo in the book of Debarim. The main difference between the two versions, is that this one was communicated directly to us by Hashem, whereas, the version in Debarim was part of the farewell speech of Moshe Rabbenu to the nation prior to his death. Both, are the word of the Divine. The commentators further offer, that our version came to fruition during the First Temple Period, whereas the one found in Ki Tabo is being fulfilled even to this day. ...

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Perashat Behar 5776

Friday, May 27, 2016 Author: Rabbi Daniel Greenwald

One of the main topics of this week’s perasha, Behar, is the missva of Shemitta, the Sabbatical year, when we are commanded to let the land in Israel remain fallow and unworked once every seven years. Bitahon, complete trust in Hashem is required from us in order for us to be sustained during the Shemitta year in a blessed manner. Concerning this missva, the Torah states, “And the land shall yield her fruit, and you shall eat your fill and dwell therein in safety. And if you will say, What shall we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase.....

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