Dear Readers: You may remember how we once did an experiment with a story (about a monster fire in Arizona) without Jewish protagonists, but containing a universal lesson that I believed worthy to record for the readers of Chodesh Tov. We are there yet again, this time directly north in Wisconsin. Please bear with me as we once again record a story we investigated in the hope that the lesson is unique and worthy of our attention. It is going to take us five full columns to complete the tale, and I thank you in advance for your patience.
Elevated Train Tracks And Eruvin (Eruvin 94b)
(Please note: The question has been modified to reflect amendments suggested by a reader, Yisrael Levi, in last week’s column.)
Korach, carried away by jealousy, led two hundred fifty men in rebellion against Moshe and Hashem. These were all great individuals; they had all witnessed Moshe going up to Har Sinai to accept the Torah, and they all heard Hashem speak through Moshe. Yet they willfully and intentionally set out to depose Moshe – to prove he had veered off from that which Hashem had told him. Moshe, recognizing the danger they were placing themselves in, did everything he could to get them to back down. Nevertheless, they remained steadfast in their revolt, and marched to their destruction. In the end the entire congregation – man, woman, infant and child – died a terrible death.
What is it that God expects of us and what is the mission He assigned for us?
For the first and only time, Moses invokes a miracle to prove the authenticity of his mission
With so much to do before our recent trip, I was walking on a cloud. It must have been evident to one and all, since my feet barely touched the ground. Who would have believed that I would arrive at this special time – so grateful am I to HaKadosh Baruch Hu?
On this Shabbos, Parshas Shelach, we bentch Rosh Chodesh Tammuz which falls on the following Shabbos Kodesh and Yom Rishon (June 8 and 9 on the English calendar).
One of the most studied intelligence failures of the past fifty years is Israel’s performance in the lead up to the Yom Kippur War. Despite numerous indicators that Egypt and Syria were planning an actual attack, Israel’s intelligence establishment continued to dismiss them as acts of deception. To be sure this failure was not one of “collection.” Israeli intelligence had collected many facts and identified numerous “dots.” Rather, this was a failure of analysis. The question is why did this happen?
In this week’s parshah we read about the episode of the meraglim. The meraglim were sent to spy on Eretz Canaan to see if it was militarily feasible for the Bnei Yisrael to conquer the land by defeating the nations that were living there.
One of most tragic events in the history of our people was the sin of the miraglim (spies). When we left Mitzrayim we were exalted and untouchable, feared by all the nations, respected by the world. Forty-nine days later we gathered at the foot of Har Sinai to accept the Torah. The plan was for the Chosen People to then march right into Eretz Yisrael. Had the events transpired as planned, the conquest would have taken root so deeply that we never would have been thrown out.
Whose Fridge? ‘If the Owner Retains a Holding There’ (Eruvin 85b)
Question: As Shavuot is fast approaching – a holiday on which we dwell on the story of Ruth and the origins of the royal house of David – I was wondering if you could help me resolve something. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David, purposely kept any mention of Chanukah and the Hasmonean kings out of the Mishnah because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves and ignored the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. Is this true? Menachem (Via E-Mail)
Tradition has it that a bat kol declared that we follow Beit Hillel’s rulings over those of Beit Shammai.
There is a story about a man full of worry who goes to his Rebbe to seek his advice. “Rebbe,” he cries, “I have parnassah problems. Yankel opened the same store as mine just down the block and his business is thriving while mine is going down.”
Soon after Hurricane Sandy’s devastation was just starting to sink in, news of a second approaching powerful storm called a “Nor’easter” was heard around the tri-state area. Another probable loss of power, hot water and other conveniences left us anxious and worried. In Lakewood, New Jersey there is a small mikveh building near the lake, and the woman working there shared this story about the storm’s impact.
This week’s sedrah, Shelach Lecha, ends with one of the great commands of Judaism – tzitzit, the fringes we wear on the corner of our garments as a perennial reminder of our identity as Jews and our obligation to keep the Torah’s commands.
Do you say Shema before you go to sleep? I’m sure you do. But perhaps you, like many, feel too tired at night to say the entire tefillah of Kri’as Shema as it appears in the siddur. If you do say the entire tefillah, you will recognize a pasuk in this week’s Haftorah. And if you don’t say the whole Kri’as Shema al Hamitah, perhaps after this column, you’ll re-consider and find yourself connecting with the following very comforting pasuk.