GOOD MORNING! Last week I included excerpts from The Bible For The Clueless But Curious (available in bookstores or by calling toll-free: 877-758-3242.) I hope you enjoyed Rabbi Nachum Braverman's insightful and pithy answers to important questions people ask about Judaism and religion. Here are a few more:
Q: What makes me special? Where do I fit in?
A: The rules say each of us must forge a relationship with God. Each must give to others. Each is challenged to sanctify and uplift the world.
But each of us has unique assets, and each contributes something unique to the vision of God's presence in the world. Harness your skill-set to the task, and give it all you've got.
Q: What's the meaning of life?
A: God created us to have pleasure. Now go study what that means.
Q: What difference does it make that there's a God?
A: It means you're not an animated hunk of meat and fat on a rock orbiting the sun. It means you're more than top predator on the food chain.
Q: If there's a God, why do good people suffer? In general, why isn't God's presence more obvious?
A: Inherited wealth is a mixed blessing. Our own achievements are the ones we value most. God is concealed in the world so we can find Him.
Suffering forces us to think more deeply about what really matters. Speaking personally, the most important things I know, I learned through pain.
Q: I went to Sunday School and hated it. Why should I learn more now?
A: Kids love candy, but most gourmet pleasures are acquired tastes. This is true of wine, cheese, cigars and coffee. Wisdom is an acquired taste.
Q: Who or what is the Messiah?
A: The Messiah will be a human being descended from King David. He will unite the Jewish People and lead them back to their relationship with God and Torah. When that occurs, the nations of the world will also acknowledge the truth of God's Law, and then the world will live in peace. (This is the meaning of the prophecy that the wolf will lie down with the lamb.)
Q: Isn't it enough to be a good person? Why do you have to believe in God?
A: The rudiments of moral goodness are within us. But it takes more than natural ability to get into the NBA. It takes instruction and training. God's instructions and God's assistance help us to become great.
Q: Does the Bible believe in life after death?
A: Yes. Think of the soul as a lens. Every act -- every choice -- either polishes the lens or scratches it. When the body dies, the soul remains. If we burnish the soul's lens, the soul's vision of God is glorious and beautiful. That is heaven. If we scratch the lens and occlude it, we obscure the soul's vision forever. The pain of that loss is hell.
Portion of the Week
This week's portion is exciting! There are two rebellions. First, Korach, a Levite who was passed over for the leadership of his tribe, challenges Moshe over the position of High Priest. No good rebellion can be "sold" as a means for personal gain, so Korach convinces 250 men of renown that they must stand up for a matter of principle -- that each and every one of them has the right to the office of High Priest (which Moshe had announced that God had already designated his brother Aharon to serve).
Fascinatingly, all 250 followers of Korach accept Moshe's challenge to bring an offering of incense to see who God will choose to fill the one position. This meant that every man figured he would be the one out of 250 to not only be chosen, but to survive the ordeal. Moshe announces that if the earth splits and swallows up the rebels it is a sign that he (Moshe) is acting on God's authority. And thus it happened!
The next day the entire Israelite community rises in a second rebellion and complains to Moshe, "You have killed God's people!" The Almighty brings a plague which kills 14,700 people and only stops when Aharon offers an incense offering (thus demonstrating that it is not the offering of incense itself which kills (i.e., the 250 followers of Korach), but the Almighty's decision upon those who rebelled.
To settle the question once and for all, Moshe has the head of each tribe bring a staff with his name on it. The next morning only Aharon's staff had blossomed and brought forth almonds. The people were shown this sign. Aharon's staff was placed in the ark as testimony for all time.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "Korach, the son of Yitzhor, the son of Kohas, the son of Levi separated himself, with Doson and Aviram, the sons of Eliav, and Ohn, the son of Peles; the sons of Reuven ... and they assembled themselves together against Moshe and against Aharon" (Numbers 16:1,3). What was Korach's motivation?
Korach tried to arouse others to rebel against Moshe. He protested that Moshe was taking too much glory and power for himself and his brother Aharon. "The whole congregation is holy and God is among them," said Korach. He tried to give the impression that he was interested in equality and the welfare of the entire nation.
Rashi cites the Midrash Tanchuma in which it explains that Korach rebelled against Moshe because he was jealous of the princeship of Elitzofon, the son of Uzziel. Moshe had appointed Elitzofon over the family of Kohas by the command of the Almighty. Korach, however, said, "My father was one of our sons. Amram was the first born and his two sons (Moshe and Aharon) received high office. One was a king and the other a High Priest. On whose shoulders should the next honor devolve? Surely, it is I, the son of Yitzhor, who is the second born son. Yet, Moshe appointed Elitzofon as prince of the family of Kohas, even though he stemmed from a younger brother. Therefore, I will rebel against him and nullify his words."
Often when a person instigates a dispute, he is motivated by the desire for personal gain. In order to attract followers, however, he claims that he is interested in the good of others. A person should be aware of this tendency so that he will not be misled by people who desire to create a dispute!
CANDLE LIGHTING - July 7:
Jerusalem 7:08 Miami 7:59 New York 8:13
L.A. 7:49 Hong Kong 6:51 Singapore 6:57
Guatemala 6:18 Honolulu 6:59 J'Burg 5:05
Melbourne 4:56 Moscow 8:54 London 9:03
Atlanta 8:34 Toronto 8:45 Montreal 8:30
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
A real leader faces the music,
even when he doesn't like the tune.
Do You Have a Sefer Torah?
Young Israel of Bal Harbour (Miami, FL)
would like to buy or borrow it
305-866-0203 or email@example.com