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27.06.2013 20:38    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  shiur  pinchas  

One Minute on this Shabbat with Rabbi Cowen:


HaShem instructs Moshe to inform Pinchas that Pinchas will receive HaShem’'s "covenant of peace" as reward for his bold action - executing Zimri and the Midianite princess Kozbi. HaShem directs Moshe to maintain a state of enmity with the Midianites who lured the Jewish People into immorality and transgression.

Moshe and Elazar the High Priest (son of Aharon) are told to count the Jewish People. The Torah lists the names of the families in each tribe. The total number of males eligible to serve in the army is 601,730. HaShem instructs Moshe how to allot the Land of Israel to Bnei Yisrael. The number of the Levites' families is recorded.

Tzlofchad's daughters come forward with a claim to Moshe: In the absence of a brother, they request their late father's portion in the Land. Moshe consults with HaShem for the ruling, and HaShem tells Moshe that their claim is just. The Torah teaches the laws and priorities which determine the order of inheritance.

HaShem instructs Moshe that he will ascend a mountain and view the Land that the Jewish People will soon enter, although Moshe himself will not enter. Moshe entreats HaShem to designate the subsequent leader, and HaShem selects Yehoshua bin Nun. Moshe ordains Yehoshua as his successor in the presence of the entire nation. The Parsha concludes with special teachings of the service in the Beit Hamikdash.

Points to Ponder on the Parasha and the Three Weeks of National Mourning:


We provide below the following points and pointers relating to the special Three Week period that we are in:


1.  HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, once posed the following question:  “What is the greatest Chilul Hashem/Desecration of HaShem in the world today?!  What is the one thing that we should most ashamed of?!”  He answered that the greatest Chilul Hashem, the greatest shame to us today, is that we are still in Galut/Diaspora. The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah explains that the great remedy for Chilul Hashem is Kiddush Hashem.  Accordingly, it very much behooves us to focus on acts of Kiddush Hashem/Sanctifying HaShem--which is the antitheses of the Chilul Hashem of Galut, and which will, in fact, constitute the essence of Geulah.  Let us each remember the teaching of our Sages--he who bothers to prepare on Erev Shabbat, will be the one who eats on Shabbat!  Kiddush Hashem--work on it today--and every day!


2.  Our Halacha teaches us as a people how we are to conduct ourselves during the Three Weeks, the Nine Days, Erev Tisha B’Av, and Tisha B’Av itself.  The Halacha does not, however, provide the ‘four corners’ of the law, and accordingly, we can each take our own individual, personal steps to evidence our feelings, and to show our personal disenchantment/misery with the Galut we are in.  It is a custom among some, for instance, not to eat meat or drink wine not only during the Nine Days--but even during the Three Weeks (except, of course, on Shabbat). Others may make their hot shower just a little less hot.  Yet others may attempt to somewhat quash or limit their needs or desires in some way during this time--not putting on the mustard, ketchup or extra condiment, or perhaps by taking the second choice of food or drink--the roll instead of the bagel, the ginger ale rather than the coke--simply to demonstrate a recognition of Imo Anochi B’Tzarah (I am with him in anguish) with Hashem at least during this period--as the Shechina/Divine Presence continues in its tza’ar/anguish, exiled from its home, and awaiting the return of His children.


3.  Another important project is for one to especially look out for how often he makes excuses for his conduct during the day:  “I usually would not eat this, but…”; “I do not get angry, but…”; “I am doing this now because…”; or “I have the right, since…”; etc.  Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, teaches that the Shevatim/tribes at the time of their ordeal with Yosef recognized their mistake and exclaimed:  “Aval Asheimim Anachnu--but, we are guilty!”  This means, Rabbi Frand teaches--that the Shevatim recognized that what they had done to Yosef was full of inappropriate ‘buts’--”but he dreamt that…”; “but he said that…”; “but he wore that…”.  As we realize the ‘buts’ that brought us into Mitzrayim--let us reflect on how our reflection upon and Teshuvah from the ‘buts can bring us out of our current Galut!


4.  Here are some extremely important points about what to think about and what to do during this time of the Three Weeks of National Mourning:

A.  On Motza’ei Shabbat leading into Tisha B’Av, it is said that the Belzer Rebbe, Z’tl, waited and kept on his shtreimel, hoping desperately that the Geulah would come instead.  After waiting a long time, he sorrowfully exclaimed:  “Oy, Nach a Mal Tisha B’Av, Oy, Nach a Mal Tisha B’Av--again Tisha B’Av, again Tisha B’Av!”  We should not become complacent, feeling like we are going through a routine year in and year out.  We need to move ourselves to work on tikun, on repair.  You may want to repeat the phrase of the Belzer Rebbe throughout this period.


B.  We should think about the Bait HaMikdash/The Holy Temple--the majestic scene of the Kohanim doing the Avodah/Service, the Leviim singing, every Yisrael present being like a member of the royal family, welcome in the palace.  If we cannot be in the Bait HaMikdash, let us at least bring the feelings to mind.


C.  Our Sages teach:  “MeiIgra Rama LiBira Amikta--from the high floor to the bottom of a pit.”  Despite the relative comfort of one’s particular Galut--with modern cars, modern appliances, modern conveniences, and Glatt Kosher foods from all over the world--the reality is that we are in the bottom of a pit.  Think about how many Mitzvot we can perform now--as compared to the Mitzvot we can perform in Eretz Yisrael with K’lal Yisrael/The Nation of Israel together.  Think about the levels of Torah study that we cannot reach because of the cloudiness generated by Galut.  Think about how much higher you personally can go from a Bira Amikta to a Igra Rama!


D.  The Navi/Prophet teaches: “VaEshtomem Ki Ain Mafgiah--I was stunned that no one was praying.”  We have to pray for the Geulah, more and more and more.  Our relentlessness can demonstrate our sincerity and true need.  

E.  When eating, whether or not one is at a meal in which he washed, recite Al Naharos Bavel (Tehillim 137).  One should think about what he is saying--reciting it not only while sitting--but from a Siddur or a Tehillim as well.


F.  Reciting Tikkun Chatzot, or at least a part of it, even during the middle of the afternoon during the Three Weeks.


G.  Trying (perhaps at least once a day) to recite a bracha at which there will be someone there to answer “Amen”.


H.  In Galut, what Hashem has is the “Daled Amos Shel Halacha”/Four Cubits of Jewish Law--and as for us, “Ain Lanu Shiur Elah HaTorah HaZos.”/We have no measure other than this Torah.  One should accordingly try learning more--and especially beretzifut (consecutively)-at least for an hour a day.  If we can demonstrate that we value the opportunities we have now--then Hashem will give us the opportunity to value even more later!


I.  “VeShaveha B’Tzedaka--we will be redeemed through Tzedaka”--give some Tzedaka/Charity every day for the sake of Geulah.


The Three Weeks is an auspicious time to not only take action--but to accomplish Geulah, for as some interpret the verse in Eicha--Kol Rodefeha Hisiguha Bein HaMetzarim--all those who run after Tzion--will reach her during this time.  Let us take the steps that we can (perhaps one should read the above thoughts again, or put some of his own into place)--and may we reach Zion speedily and in our days--this year!


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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