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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Be'halot'cha

Parshat Be'halot'cha

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter   Print Version

Parashat Be'halot'cha
16th of Sivan, 5777 | May 10, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff
Like Father, Like Son

אל נא תעזב אתנו

Please do not forsake us (Bamidbar 10:31)

For one father whose work had been going well and a decent income was coming his way, the tables turned when he was informed that he would no longer have a job. Without any other option, he returned home downcast with only a sliver of hope that he would sooner than later rebound and find a position to support his ever-growing family.

But as time passed, the father remained jobless. Matters became increasingly difficult as the family struggled to subsist. Until one day when the father received a phone call. It was a headhunter asking if the father would like to receive an interview with a certain corporation. Of course, the answer was yes.

The interview went very well. It was only towards the last few minutes that the interviewer turned to the father and very bluntly said, “Let me ask you something. Nineteen other people are vying for this position. Why should you be given the job?” The father, unsure exactly what to answer, kept quiet. No answer was given as the interview came to a close.

11pm later that night the phone rings. The father picks up. It is the interviewer who clears his throat and optimistically says, “The job is yours.” Elated, the father relays the news to his wife, asking if she would be able to head to the local supermarket tomorrow and buy some of the family’s favorite foods so they can celebrate and enjoy a nice meal. For the past while, the family had just barely gotten through the week with enough. “And please,” added the father, “make sure to also buy a seven-layer cake.”

The following day was a busy one. Trips were made to various supermarkets as a sumptuous meal was prepared and thoroughly enjoyed by the family. Now it was time for dessert: the seven-layer cake. “Everyone should know,” exclaimed the father, “that the cake is for Shlomi.” With the children unsure what their father meant by this remark, he went on to relate the real story.

“Last night I received a phone call at 11pm. It was my job interviewer informing me that I had received the job. Why did he choose me out of all the other applicants? The interviewer proceeded to tell me the following:

After I finished a long day of interviewing applicant after applicant, I closed the office’s doors and went to daven Maariv. As I neared the shul, I noticed that the parking lot as well as the entire side street was parked with cars bumper to bumper. There simply was no place available. It was only after much circling around and around that I found one. I was by then exhausted and without any energy.

As I opened the shul’s doors, I was greeting by a packed room. Scanning the area, there was literally no seat available. With no other option and without the strength to start searching high and low for somewhere in the corner to sit, I leaned against the back wall. But just then a little boy came up to me. “Here,” he said, “you look like you could use a break. You must be tired; take my seat.” I was pleasingly taken aback. Here was a little boy who acted with such consideration and kindness. I then asked for his name, which he told me.

Thinking that this boy must be the rabbi’s son as I had just donated a fair sum of money to the shul, I took a seat. But then I began to think to myself, “This boy’s last name sounds very familiar…”

And then it hit me. This boy must be the son of one of my interviewees. Touched by the boy’s thoughtfulness, I rushed back to my office after davening. Looking though the list of everyone I had interviewed that day, I discovered that I was right. The boy who had offered me his seat was the son of one of the applicants.

“And so,” concluded the father, “the interviewer called me right then and told me I have the job. He said, ‘If your son acts that way, it must be because he got it from you. And if you act like that, I want you to work for me.’”

Sometimes we think that a small little act only goes so far. But in truth, it goes farther than we ever could have imagined. Putting a smile on another’s face, acting with thoughtfulness, and yes, offering them our seat even when we are already comfortable goes a long way. When we do so, we not only infuse our own lives with happiness, but the lives of so many others as well. And you never know, maybe that little gesture will land you a wonderful job.

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro
Small Steps

ויסעו בני ישראל

And the Children of Israel journeyed… (Bamidbar 10:12)

A few years ago, I headed off to shul one Shabbos afternoon with my seven-year-old daughter, Gila. Despite the heavy hurricane-like winds blowing and pelting rain, my daughter enthusiastically trailed alongside me, eager to attend the Torah class I was planning to give.

It was about halfway to shul that I turned to her and said, “Gila, do you realize that we are taking steps to hear the word of Hashem? Can you imagine how in Heaven they are counting every step we take. Each one is a mitzvah!” Looking back at me with a glowing smile, Gila had clearly heard the message. We continued briskly walking with a tinge of excitement accompanying our every step, until Gila turned to me. “Tatty, can I ask you a question then?” “Sure,” I replied, “what is it?” “If every step we take is a mitzvah, maybe then we can take smaller steps?”

The same is true on a broader scale as it relates to our journey in life. Spiritual growth and development takes place by taking small steps and making incremental changes and improvements. Big and grandiose accomplishments result from measured and minor growth. Once this is realized, we have already taken that first step along the road to greatness.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
A True Leader

שאהו בחיקך כאשר ישא האמן את הינק

Carry them as a nursemaid carries an infant… (Bamidbar 11:12)

I have always felt that Moshe Rabbeinu is someone I draw much inspiration and guidance for life from. In fact, the Zohar teaches that every single Jew has a DNA flag, a spark from Moshe Rabbeinu. Otherwise, he or she could not learn Torah and draw close to Hashem.

Yet why do we need DNA from Moshe Rabbeinu? We already have DNA from our Avos and are an innately compassionate people (Yevamos 79a). What does Moshe Rabbeinu especially give us?

The Midrash tells the story of Moshe Rabbeinu who once counted his flock and realized that one of the sheep was missing. He understood that the little sheep had run back to the water hole they had just come from. Returning to the hole, sure enough, Moshe found the little sheep all by himself. He proceeded to put the sheep on his shoulders and carry it back to the rest of the flock.

The Midrash remarks that when Hashem saw Moshe Rabbeinu do this, He said to the angels, “That is going to be the leader of Klal Yisrael. The person who puts a sheep on his shoulders and doesn’t make it walk by itself is fit to lead the Jewish nation. Even though the sheep was wrong and ran away from the flock, Moshe still cared for it. He didn’t get angry and take a stick and say, ‘What did you do? Why are you running away from everyone else?’ He simply picked the sheep up on his shoulders and returned it back home.”

The story in this Midrash is much deeper than appears. Was Moshe Rabbeinu the first shepherd ever to put a sheep on his shoulders? Weren’t there were many other shepherds who tended to sheep and carried them? What did Moshe Rabbeinu do that made Hashem say, “He is going to be the leader of Jewish people”?

Reading further into the Midrash, however, reveals that Moshe did more than simply retrieve the lone sheep. He gently said to it, “I am carrying you on my shoulders and asking for forgiveness. Had I let you drink long enough when all the other sheep drank, you would not have needed to run away. The reason you are thirsty and ran away from the flock is my fault. And since it is my fault, it is my job to let you drink your fill and carry you back.” When Hashem saw that, He declared, “That is a true leader.”

This Midrash teaches a profound lesson. Before throwing a child out of school or class, it is wise to consider, “Could it be my fault that this kid is out of hand? Did I not give this little sheep which is running away enough time, enough love and enough care?” That is a teacher, a principal, a leader and a parent. Parents often say when a child misbehaves, “Do you know what you are doing to your father and me? Do you know what you are doing to us?” What does the child oftentimes hear when he or she is told this? Blah, blah, blah. They don’t hear a word because it is all about the parent, school or teacher. “I am not interested in what I am doing to everyone else!” the child says. “I am suffering and it is about me, and all you are talking about is you and dad and school and the name of the family. I don’t care about the name of the family. I am suffering!”

Moshe Rabbeinu teaches us that we should instead say, “Do you know what your behavior is doing to yourself? It is not about me or your father or the name of family. It is about you yourself.” Moshe Rabbeinu did not think about himself, but about the sheep. “It is not about me having to come find you drinking water; it is about you. If I would have known that you needed to drink more, I would have let you.”

That is what Hashem saw in Moshe as a leader. A leader is someone who looks at a problem and accepts responsibility. If there is an issue, it is on his shoulders. In numerous instances, Moshe blamed himself for what was happening to Klal Yisrael. That was who he was.

This is how we must be as teachers and parents. If something is wrong with a child, maybe we didn’t say hello this morning; maybe we said we will call back and didn’t; maybe we promised the student a prize and never gave it to him. Maybe it has to do with me. That was Moshe Rabbeinu: a true leader. That is what we must learn from this Midrash.

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Schwab
Milk Mysteries

Have you wondered why in fact you ate dairy products over Shavuos? What is the secret behind it?

The Torah prohibits consumption of a limb from a live animal (ever min ha’chai). Anything which falls off from an animal prior to ritual slaughter is forbidden. Why then are we permitted to drink milk, eat eggs or consume honey from a bee? They also derive from an animal while it is still alive?

Addressing this issue, the Oral Law explains that the Pasuk, “Eretz zavat chalav u’devash – A Land [of Israel] flowing with milk and honey,” permits consumption of these items (Bechoros 6b). Based upon this Pasuk which praises Eretz Yisrael for its unique products, and perforce allows us to eat of its bounty, our Sages derive that milk and honey are excluded from the normal rule that anything which emanates from a living organism is prohibited. Torah she’baal peh interprets this Pasuk to supersede the universal rule which prevails all throughout the rest of the Torah. Were it not for the Oral Law clarifying this, however, we would conclude that milk and honey enter under the same rubric of meat from a living animal and would be prohibited. It is thus Torah she’baal peh which lends insight into the true meaning of the Torah as we are meant to observe it.

While Shavuos celebrates the Giving of the Torah, it in fact is really the Yom Tov of Torah she’baal peh. Without the Oral law, many verses would be misinterpreted and taken at a superficial, face value. It is so vital a component that without it the Written Law would remain open to misunderstanding and obscurity.

For example, the Torah states that we are to observe the fast of Yom Kippur from the eve of the ninth of Tishrei until the eve of the tenth of Tishrei (Vayikra 23:32). However, the Talmud (Berachos 8b), corpus of the Oral Law, explains this verse to be equating fasting on the tenth of Tishrei, the real day of Yom Kippur, with eating on the ninth of Tishrei. In essence, the Torah means to imply that one who eats and drinks on the ninth of the month to gain strength to fast on the tenth is considered as if he has actually fasted on both the ninth and tenth. The simple meaning of the Pasuk, though, is not to be construed as implied.

Further examples which speak to the indispensability of Torah she’baal peh include the wearing of Tefillin. How do we know that they are meant to be black, square and worn as we do on our arms and on our heads? How do we know that the Torah’s requirement that the Tefillin be placed “between your eyes” is not literal? The Oral Law. What about ritual slaughter? What steps are needed to carry it out? These are all extensively discussed in Torah she’baal peh whose explanations are undeniably crucial to making out the meaning of countless Torah laws and principles.

Shavuos thus marks our celebration of Torah she’baal peh. Recognizing that without its explanation, the Written word would remain close to an inexplicable, closed book, we consume dairy products. Having arrived through the interpretation of the Oral Law that eating milk and honey is permitted, we seek to emphasize its ever-important part of our chain of tradition by eating such dairy products.

A Short Message From
Mrs. Joanne Dove

Whenever a young child becomes agitated and loses their self-composure, a parent may be inclined to look at the child and think, “Why are you doing that? Why are you throwing such a tantrum?” The parent may then get upset and angry, causing the child to look back and have the exact same train of thought, “Why are you doing that? Why are you throwing such a tantrum?” What must we therefore do? I used to count with one of my children just about every day, breathing in and breathing out to the count of ten. Who was I doing this exercise for? While it certainly helped equip the child with a tool for relaxing, even more so, it was for myself. By keeping ourselves in a calmed state of control and composure, we stand the chance of educating and guiding our children at a moment of anxiety and stress. That is one of the great secrets to managing minor stresses and major crises faced throughout life.

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