GOOD MORNING! Our hearts go out to the parents, friends -- and to each other -- over the murder of the three Israeli boys, Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach by Arab terrorist kidnappers. For a compendium of articles: http://www.aish.com/united-in-grief/
We had prayed for their safe return and after 18 days of unbearable anguish and anxiety, we heard the tragic news. Jews world-wide, however, have felt during these last 18 days an unprecedented outpouring of love, compassion and unity amongst Am Yisroel (the Jewish people). To this end, perhaps you'll want to be a part of a world-wide movement to strengthen these feelings by developing more tolerance, respect and integrity for those who are unlike yourself. Go to: BeaMensch.com
We are now entering into a period that has historically been one of sadness for the Jewish people -- the Three Weeks. This is the time between the 17th of Tamuz (observed Tuesday, July 15th) and the 9th of Av (starting Monday night, August 4th until Tuesday night). This is a period when many tragedies happened to the Jewish people. Why do we mourn the loss of the Temple after so many years? What did and does it mean to us?
The Temple was a central focal point of the Jewish people. Three times a year -- Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot -- the Jews living in the Land of Israel came to worship and celebrate at the Temple. It offered us the ultimate opportunity to come close to the Almighty, to elevate ourselves spiritually. It represented the purpose of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel -- to be a holy people united with the Almighty in our own land ... a Jewish state. That is what we seek to regain and that is why we mourn and remember the loss of what we once had.
On the 17th of Tamuz, five calamitous events occurred in our history: 1) Moshe broke the first Tablets of the Ten Commandments when he descended from Mt. Sinai and saw the worshiping of the Golden Calf 2) The Daily Sacrificial Offerings ceased in the First Temple due to lack of sheep 3) The walls of Jerusalem were breached during the siege of the Second Temple 4) Apustumus-the-Wicked burned a Sefer Torah and 5) An idol was placed in the Sanctuary of the Second Temple.
In Jewish cosmology, the Three Weeks are considered to be such an inauspicious time period that one is not allowed to get married. From the 1st of Av (July 28th), one is even advised to push off court cases until after the 10th of Av (August 6th). We refrain from hair-cutting, purchasing or wearing new clothing, listening to music and pleasure trips. It is a time for self-reflection and improvement.
The 17th of Tamuz is a fast day. The fast begins approximately an hour before sunrise and continuing until about an hour after sunset. The purpose of the fast is to awaken our hearts to repentance through recalling our forefathers' misdeeds which led to tragedies and our repetition of those mistakes. The fasting is a preparation for repentance -- to break the body's dominance over a person's spiritual side. One should engage in self-examination and undertake to correct mistakes in his relationship with God, his fellow man and with himself.
To learn more about the Three Weeks and Tisha B'av -- go to: Aish.com/h/9av/ If you would like a book: Guidelines: Three Weeks -- over four hundred of the most commonly asked questions about the Three Weeks between the 17th of Tamuz and the 9th of Av. Voice of Weepers: Megillas Eichah -- gain a deeper understanding and bring new meaning to the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av with the wisdom of the Dubner Maggid. Laws of the Three Weeks, Tishah B'Av and other Fasts -- a comprehensive halachic guide. For more on the history and understanding of the holidays -- read Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. All are available from your local Jewish book store, JudaicaEnterprises.com or 877-758-3242.
It is interesting to note that Saddam Hussein was a student of Jewish history. He named the nuclear reactor (from which he planned to create a bomb to drop on Israel) -- you guessed it, Tamuz 17! (Want the source? Two Minutes Over Baghdad by Amos Perlmutter).
Pinchas, Numbers 25:10 - 30:1
In last week's Torah portion, Pinchas acted to stop a public display of immorality. He thus stemmed the plague of retribution which was killing the multitudes. He is rewarded by being made a Cohen -- by Divine decree.
The Almighty commands Moshe to attack the Midianites in retribution for the licentious plot the Midianites perpetrated upon the Israelites. A new census is taken of the Jewish people revealing that there are 601,730 men available for army duty. God directs the division of the Land of Israel amongst the tribes. The Levites are tallied. The daughters of Tzelafchad come forward to petition Moshe regarding their right of inheritance. Moshe inquires of the Almighty Who answers in their favor.
Moshe asks the Almighty to appoint a successor and the Almighty directs Moshe to designate Yehoshua (Joshua). The Torah portion concludes with the various offerings -- daily, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and holidays.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Following Pinchas's action to stop a public display of immorality, the Torah states:
"And it shall be for him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he (Pinchas) was zealous for his God, and he atoned for the children of Israel" (Numbers 25:13).
Why does the Torah use the words "for his God"?
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman, of the Hevron Yeshiva, answers, "This tells us that Pinchas's zealousness was entirely with pure intentions. He had no other motivation whatsoever other than doing the will of the Almighty. Without pure intentions an act of zealousness can be a crime in itself. Therefore, one must be very certain of one's true motivations before acting zealously."
There are many personal motives that could transform an act of zealousness from a mitzvah to a transgression. For example, someone might want glory and therefore acts zealously to be in the limelight. Another person might enjoy excitement. He is bored and wants to be involved in some action. Yet another person might have a grudge against someone or feel envy or personal hatred. He therefore, views this moment as an opportunity to embarrass the other person. A fourth person might see some financial gain for himself.
Regardless of what the personal motivation is, it renders an act of zealousness a sin for personal gain. Frequently, it could cause a chilul HaShem -- a desecration of the Almighty's name. This is especially so when irresponsible youths take action without consulting Torah scholars. Because of the potentially negative side-effects of zealousness, it must be used with great care!
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 6:18 - Hong Kong 6:52 - Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:12 - London 8:57 - Los Angeles 7:49
Melbourne 4:58 - Mexico City 8:00 - Miami 7:58
New York 8:10 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 8:41
We must translate pain into action,
and tears into growth
-- Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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