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05.06.2013 14:39    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  parasha  shiur  


One Minute on this Shabbat with Rabbi Cowen:


Korach, Datan and Aviram, and 250 leaders of Israel rebel against the authority of Moshe and Aharon. The rebellion results in their being swallowed by the earth. Many resent their death and lay the blame on Moshe.

The “anger” of HaShem is manifest by a plague that afflicts the nation, and many thousands perish. Moshe intercedes once again for the people. He instructs Aharon to atone for them and the plague stops. Consequently, HaShem commands that staffs, each inscribed with the name of one of the tribes, be placed in the Mishkan/Tablernacle. In the morning the staff of tribe of Levi, bearing Aharon's name, sprouts, buds, blossoms and yields ripe almonds. This provides Divine confirmation that Levi's Tribe is chosen for Priesthood and verifies Aharon's position as Kohen Gadol, High Priest.

The specific duties of the Levites and Kohanim are stated. The Kohanim were not to be landowners, but were to receive their sustenance from the tithes and other mandated gifts brought by the people. We are also taught in this week's Parsha the laws of the first fruits, redemption of the firstborn, and other offerings.


Points to Ponder on the Month of Tamuz:


Ideas on the 40-day period we begin this Shabbat:


A. With the commencement of Tammuz, we recognize not only that nine months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go. Indeed, as some write, “Tammuz” is an acronym (juxtaposed) for “Zeman Teshuva Mimashmesh U’Ba”/ “The Time of Repentance is gradually approaching.”--and likewise for “Zerizim Makdimim V’Osin Teshuva”/”Those who are eager go ahead and repent.”--both spell “Tammuz” in the Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time. We provide another possible outstanding accomplishment. For instance, the entire English work titled, Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle starting today, the first of Tammuz and concluding on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Uplifting and upgrading your praying, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the High Holidays and grow in the coming year! Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling titles ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore. Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.


B. According to many, the first day of Tammuz is the date of the birth and passing of Yosef HaTzadik, Joseph, the son of Jacob our Patriarch. Our Sages teach that Yosef was mekadesh shem shamayim b’seter--sanctified Hashem’s name in private--by not falling prey to the wife of Potiphar and withstanding this great test. As a result, he merited to have a letter of Hashem’s name added to his name--and is known in Tehillim as “Yehosef” as well. Accordingly, it would be extremely appropriate this Rosh Chodesh to remember Yosef--and memorialize the day--by performing a Kiddush Shem Shamayim B’seter--by undertaking an act of Sanctifying G-D’s Name that only you know about. We leave it up to you!


C. As we all know, if the Spies would have come back with the proper report, Tisha B’Av would have been marked as a day of eternal celebration, rather than a day which now lives in infamy. In the time of Second Temple, Tisha B’Av was, in fact, celebrated. As it is referred to as a “Mo’ed”, it will be certainly celebrated again--may it be this year. The Ancient Aramaic Translation, Targum Yonatan on last week’s Parasha explains that the Meraglim/Spies set out on their journey on the 29th day of Sivan. Thus, these very days--i.e., the next 40 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av, which parallel to the Meraglim’s 40-day trip (as Rav Dessler, Z’tl, explains, they are more than points of recollection in time, but an actual reliving of these times), are full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and recharacterize these days into days of building rather than days of destruction; days of finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of snide or hurtful remarks; days in which we show our love towards the Land of Israell and its inhabitants in some unique and special way. We know what we have to do. Like the Meraglim, we have a mission. Let’s succeed with flying colors--it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and rewards will far exceed the investment and effort--as we will see when the Mashiach comes, speedily in our Days!


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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