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30.05.2013 18:02    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  parasha  shiur  

One Minute on this Shabbat with Rabbi Cowen:

At the persistent request of the Children of Israel, and with G-d's permission, Moshe sends 12 spies, one from each tribe, to investigate Canaan. Anticipating trouble, Moshe changes Hoshea's name to Yehoshua, expressing a prayer that G-d not let him fail in his mission. They return 40 days later, carrying unusually large fruit.

When 10 of the 12 report that the people in Canaan are as formidable as the fruit, the men are discouraged. Calev and Yehoshua, the only two spies still in favor of the invasion, try to bolster the people's spirit. The nation, however, decides that the Land is not worth the potentially fatal risks, and instead demands a return to Egypt. Moshe's fervent prayers save the nation from Heavenly annihilation. However, G-d declares that they must remain in the desert for 40 years until the men who wept at the spies' false report die. A remorseful group attempts an invasion of the Land based on G-d's original command. Moshe warns them not to proceed, but they ignore this and are massacred by the Amalekites and Canaanites.

G-d instructs Moshe concerning the offerings to be made when the nation will finally enter the Land. The people are commanded in the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challa, to remove challa, a gift for the kohanim, from their dough. The laws for an offering after an inadvertent sin, for an individual or a group, are explained. However, should someone blaspheme against G-d and be unrepentant, he will be cut off spiritually from his people.

One man is found gathering wood on public property in violation of the laws of Shabbat and he is executed. The laws of tzitzit are taught. We recite the section about the tzitzit twice a day to remind ourselves of the Exodus.

Points to Ponder on the Parasha:

a.  Our Sages teach that the basis for a Minyan consisting of ten adult Jewish males for a Davar SheBekedusha, a holy service, is from this week’s Parasha.  The Meraglim who came back with negative findings were ten adult Jewish males whom the Torah refers to as an Aidah, a congregation.  Through a Gezera Shavah (similar words in two different verses), our Chachamim learn that any time Hashem’s Name is--to the contrary--to be sanctified Betoch Bnei Yisroel/Within the Nation of Israel, then the same number and kind of people are required.

There are great lessons that may be learned from this teaching.  To name just a few:  Firstly, one should learn the lessons from his negative experiences and apply them in a positive way going forward.  Secondly, it is really just as easy to do a good a thing as a bad thing.  It is the Evil Inclination that convinces you otherwise.  Thirdly, we can learn something from everyone--even those who may be erstwhile wicked individuals.  Almost everyone has some redeeming qualities--”Aizo Hu Chacham HaLomeid Mikol Adam. - Who is wise? One that learns from every person.”

b.  Our Sages teach that while the Spies were gathering their information, Kalev went to be ‘Mishtateiach’--spread himself out on the gravestones of our Patriarchs.  HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, teaches that Kalev spread himself out on the land so that he could get a greater appreciation of it--so that he could develop a Chiba--an endearment--of it in a way which was more than that of a spy or just a visitor.

He thus demonstrated to us for all time that we should develop a special love for the Land of Israel--seeing only its goodness, as the Pasuk teaches “ U’Re’eh BeTuv Yerushalayim--and you should see the good of Jerusalem.”  Especially in our time when Eretz Yisrael and its residents are maligned and scorned, we must strengthen ourselves in always feeling its goodness, and projecting this steadfast and unwavering feeling to others.

Your Prayer. Your Heritage. Your People. Good Food.

With Blessings and Success,

Rabbi Dr. Eytan M. Cowen

and the Staff and Volunteers of

Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation

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