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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Shelach

Parshat Shelach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Shelach                                                                                 Print Version
26th of Sivan, 5779 | June 29, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Asher Sinclair 
Beauty in Your Eyes

A few years ago, a family friend from England came to visit me in Jerusalem. He was shocked. “I don’t know how you live in this country!” he exclaimed. “You live in the third world! It is dirty and dangerous. I don’t understand why someone with a decent standard of living would uproot himself and live here!”

Why is it that some people see the Land of Israel as so beautiful, while others struggle to see its beauty and are disappointed? 
There once was a beautiful princess who had many suitors for her hand in marriage. Obviously, though, she could only marry one of them. As such, she devised a plan to select the right man. The servants would usher the young man into an antechamber with food placed in front of him on the table and some books of Torah. The servants told the young man that the princess would be with him shortly, and they bid him to make himself comfortable and help himself to some fruit.

What the suitor did not know was that there was a spy hole in the wall of the room, from where the princess would observe the aspiring groom to see if he took a fruit and made a blessing with proper concentration or if he took out a Torah book and began to learn intently. Then the princess would emerge in her finest attire and appear as a rare beauty.

However, if the suitor would pick up an apple and wolf it down without a blessing or he would sit there twiddling his thumbs, idling away his time, then she would put on torn rags, blacken her face and emerge looking unkempt.

The Land of Israel is that princess.

If a person comes to the Land of Israel looking for spirituality, he will be enchanted even by its physical beauty. If, however, a person carries the opposite attitude and fails to see the bounty of spirituality on every street corner, then everything will look dirty and dingy in his eyes. The Land of Israel will never embarrass a person by rejecting him; she will rather merely allow him to see how he has rejected her.

Rabbi Meyer Yedid 
Become That Person

I was in Deal, New Jersey, helping my son along before his flight to Israel which was to take off at 10:50 pm in Newark. That week, Shabbat ended at 8:45 and I had yet to take my son about an hour away to the airport. As you can already see, we were up against the clock.

Right after Shabbat was over, we rushed into the car with his luggage and took off. When we arrived, it was already 10:00, well passed the two-hour international flight suggested arrival time. With no other option, we raced to check in his luggage.

But as we soon realized, there had been heavy winds earlier in the day and many flights had been either delayed or cancelled. That may have seem good, but it was far from it. Instead of the luggage check-in line being short and quick, it was as long as could be with people waiting to catch later flights and book new ones. There was no way my son was making his flight. But we decided to wait anyway and see if anything could happen.

As this was all occurring, I noticed a lady off to the side who was helping move the luggage around. I approached her and said, “Excuse me ma’am, my son has a flight to Tel Aviv at 10:50.” “That’s great!” she replied, “but you’ll have to wait on line.” “I know,” I went on, “but it is 10:05, and if we wait on line, he’ll miss the flight.” “Sir,” she said. “I am very sorry, but those are the rules.” “Thank you very much,” I ended. “Shavua tov (have a good week).” After all, she was right. Those were the rules.

My son and I continued waiting on line, until, all of a sudden, an idea popped into my head. I headed back to the same lady, called for her attention and said to her, “Ma’am, you are unbelievable! The amount of patience you have is remarkable, even when there is a lot going on around you. Thank you!” 
The woman couldn’t believe my words. And with that, I headed back to stand in line.

A few minutes later, one of the airport representatives was finishing up with someone, and I quickly went back to the lady and asked if it would be possible to have my son’s passport be looked at, so as to allow him to proceed through security. “Sure,” the lady said. “Let me see what I can do.”

My son made his flight.

What happened? It is a matter of principle. If you recognize someone for who they can be, they will become that person. They will want to live up to what they know they can personally achieve. When I made this woman aware of how patient and diligent she worked at her job, it motivated her to excel more and offer the best service she could. In the realm of relationships, carrying the respect for what someone can become will help them truly become that person. It is a golden rule.

Rabbi Fischel Schachter 
Look Again

As we know, Yaakov Avinu spent fourteen years learning in the yeshiva of Shem and Ever, after which he traveled off to the house of Lavan to find a wife. Chazal tell us that he did not sleep one night during those fourteen years. He diligently learned day and night and was arguably one of the top learners in the yeshiva. Why then would he need to travel away and marry Lavan’s daughter? Why didn’t one of the Roshei Yeshiva or wealthy men in the community offer him his daughter and take him as a son-in-law?

The truth is, homiletically speaking, that whenever any of the respected Rabbanim or wealthy folk looked into Yaakov, they discovered a less than favorable background. His grandfather, Avraham Avinu, was a baal teshuva; his brother, Eisav, was off-the-derech, as was his uncle, Yishmael; his maternal grandfather, Besuel, didn’t have the greatest reputation either. “Yaakov is a nice boy, but not for my daughter…” they would say. 
Anyone who said this immediately discarded the potential of becoming an immediate and integral part of the dynasty and destiny of the Jewish people. They discounted Yaakov and thereby discounted themselves of becoming a valuable link and forebearer in the chain of the G-dly nation which would miraculously leave Egypt and receive the Torah.

The lesson is quite clear. We can often look at a picture and see all the problems and disregard it completely, writing it off without a second thought, but we would be wise to look again and not hastily jump to a conclusion. Sometimes the greatest potential and future rests in the hands of whom we think of least.

Rabbi Boaz Bardea 
Vacationing Away Your Problems

With the summer season upon us, vacations become a hot topic. But there is an important distinction to be made between two types of vacations that a person can take. One is a recreational vacation to spend quality time with family and friends, which offers a nice change of pace from the past year and recharges you for the upcoming year.

The second type is the vacation which is a get-away from your problems in life. You may be struggling in a variety of areas, and you intend to vacation your problems away. Unfortunately, that will not bear the greatest results, given that as soon as you return, your problems will await you. You might even return with a heaviness and sadness, knowing that you now need to face your problems. It’s time a new vacation as soon as you get back from the first one.

The antidote is evident. Deal with the problem head-on in whatever way you need and then enjoy a vacation. And you can bet, that vacation after you’ve taken care of your business will be more than good. It’ll be great.

Rabbi Yisroel Brog 
Hashem’s Baby

I had just finished exercising when I received a phone call from a father of one of my students. The exact local time was 8:05 pm. Among the things we discussed, he asked if I could give him some assistance. “My wife has now been in the hospital for twenty-four hours,” he said. “We are expecting a child, but it has been taking quite a while. Do you have anything you can tell me?”

“Of course,” I said. “Step one,” I went on to say, “don’t believe that doctors are G-d. Secondly, the Gemara tells us that there are three partners in the creation of a child: the father, mother and Hashem. Hashem graciously calls parents ‘partners,’ although it is really Hashem who grants a person life. Hashem is the boss.

“When people daven,” I told him, “they do so as if the child is theirs, without recognizing that it is Hashem’s baby. Therefore, ask Hashem to have His baby be born! That is the best prescribed way to formulate your prayers. G-d willing, you will be a father by 10 o’clock!” “That fast?” incredulously said the father. “Absolutely,” I reaffirmed. I then wished him well and hung up the phone.

I then went on to return a call to someone who had phoned me earlier in the day. Not coincidentally, this man was a co-worker of the father who I had just finished talking to. After speaking for a few minutes, the man said, “By the way, do you know that my business partner, Yitzchak, is in the hospital now? Do you have anything you could say to him?” I smiled to myself. “I just spoke to him!” I said.

As this was occurring, I received another call interrupting my current call. I looked down at noticed that it was no less than the awaiting father, Yitzchak, from the hospital I had spoken to minutes ago. The current time was 8:17. “I got to go,” I said, “Yitzchak is calling me back…” I figured that Yitzchak wanted me to repeat what I had just told him, as he may not have heard and understood correctly.

“Mazel Tov! It’s a boy!” “Wow!” I said I was surprised how fast he called me back, only 12 minutes later. But that was not the record.

Sometime before then, I received an emergency phone call from a man whose wife had been in the hospital for two days waiting to give birth. I gave him the above prescription of how to word his tefillah and then asked him, “Where are you right now?” “I’m in the hospital on the first floor, and wife is upstairs.” he said. “Say what you have to say,” I told him, “and then go to your wife and be there for the baby to be born.”

5 minutes went by, and my phone rang again. “Mazel Tov!” he said. “I couldn’t believe how fast it was. I went upstairs, and as soon as I arrived, I saw my wife being wheeled into the delivery room.”

People cry to Hashem and ask Him to save their baby. But it is Hashem’s baby. And if you understand that it is Hashem’s baby, then you’ll understand this story.

Rabbi Doniel Frank 
Internal Interference

Rashi explains that the story of the Meraglim is recorded in the Torah following the episode of Miriam receiving tza’raas to underscore that the Spies should have learned from Miriam’s consequence for speaking lashon hara and yet they didn’t. But what exactly were they supposed to learn?

In defending Moshe Rabbeinu’s greatness to Aharon and Miriam, Hashem explains that Moshe is unique for “mouth to mouth I speak to him.” But let us think about this. If the Torah means to highlight the special mode of communication Hashem shared with Moshe, why does the Torah not describe it as an interaction with took place “face to face” or “mouth to ear.” Who speaks from their own mouth to somebody else’s mouth? 

One implication of the phrase “mouth to mouth” is that Moshe’s words were so clear when conveyed to the Jewish people, it was as if G-d had literally placed those words into the mouth of Moshe. But now the question begs, how does that work?

The Torah additionally describes Moshe as being the humblest of all men. Rav Chaim Volozhiner writes that humility is the defining quality of a prophet, for in order to reliably hear the word of Hashem, the prophet needs to remove himself as much as possible from the process of G-d directly sending His message to the people. The humbler he was, the less got in the way and the clearer he comprehended the message from G-d.

For Moshe Rabbeinu, there was nothing that got in the way of Hashem’s communication to the people. It was akin to Hashem speaking directly to the people, as was evidenced by the clarity that came along with Moshe’s words. It was this message which was to be learned from the Spies.

The Ramchal explains that the Spies feared that they would lose their renowned status of leaders were the Jewish people to enter the Land. This deep-seated sentiment distorted their understanding and commitment to their mission and caused them to steer away from seeing that the Land was good.

Had the Jewish people fully recognized and appreciated how Moshe Rabbeinu prepared himself for prophecy – i.e. humility – they would have overcome their internal interferences and doubled their efforts to put themselves out of the way. And that would have allowed them to see the Land for what it truly was and avoid distorting their report which would sabotage the mission. And that is a valuable lesson to have learned.

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