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Chukat(Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Chukat 5764

Two Torah scrolls torn and desecrated. Germany 1938? NO! London 2004. One week ago on Friday night the Aish Center was torched.

Over $400,000 in damage. Anti-semites have vandalized 100 Jewish synagogues and institutions in the last year in England. If it hurts you, if you care, if you want to be amongst those who just say "no" to mindless fanatics, and you want to help rebuild, either send a check to:

Aish HaTorah,
3150 Sheridan Avenue,
Miami Beach, Fl. 33140

or

"click here" for a secure server to donate. Mark your check or on-line donation: REBUILD! Every cent will go to rebuild the center! (see the arson article on aish.com)

If you would like to support the Shabbat Shalom Weekly, please click here:

GOOD MORNING!   We all want to be great. Most of us just don't want to pay the price. We want to be comfortable - to sleep, to relax, to vacation. Greatness takes work. One must have goals, make plans, take the pain to accomplish - and continually rethink and reexamine one's goals and the means to reach them. Most people, however, will go to any lengths to avoid thinking.

Our sages tell us that if we want to be great, we need to do a nightly cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting for our deeds. We need to ask ourselves (and answer) four questions:

  • What am I living for?
  • What did I do towards my goal today?
  • What did I do counter to my goal today?
  • What is something that is more important to live for?

Do that every night before you go to sleep and you have a guarantee of making more out of your life.

There is an old witticism, "Remember, you are unique - just like everyone else." Every human being is precious and special. However, there are inner aspirations which are common to all of us. These are needs and desires common to mankind. If you recognize that these are beliefs or values that are a part of you, then focus on how you could lead your life towards greater fulfillment by living them.


Q & A: WHAT ARE UNIVERSAL BELIEFS COMMON TO MANKIND?

  1. We All Need Meaning. Did you ever ask yourself "What is it all about?" "What is the point of it all?"

  2. We Are Not Fulfilling Our Potential. Will making more money or improving your golf score really make you feel better? Is there something more important in life that you can accomplish?

  3. We All Want To Be Great. Nobody wants to be mediocre. We want to be special.

  4. We Turn To God For Help. If you turn to God in a pinch, then don't wait for the pinch. Ask yourself, "What does God want?"

  5. We Want To Be Good. People are willing to die to be good. If there is something you would be willing to die for, then it becomes worth living for it.

  6. We Feel Responsible For the World. People give up with "What can I do about it?" or "It's too much to take on." If you knew that if you took off six months that you could bring peace to the world, you would do it, wouldn't you? And if you didn't, how would you feel about yourself?


QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR LIFE

  1. You dreamed at 20 what you would like to do or be. Are you living that dream?

  2. What would you want said at your eulogy?

  3. Who is your hero? Why?

  4. When do you feel most meaningful?

  5. If you could make a difference, what would you do?

Combine the Universals and the above Questions with the nightly Accounting ... and you'll be on the road to greatness!


Torah Portion of the Week
Chukat

Another week of action, adventure and mystery as the Jewish people wander the desert in their 38th year. First, the laws of the red heifer (Parah Adumah) which was burnt with cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet thread. The ashes were then used in a purification ceremony for those who had come in contact with the dead. Strangely enough, all who were involved in the making of the ashes became ritually impure, but all who were sprinkled with them became ritually pure. It is a lesson that we must do the commandments even if we can't understand them. God decreed the commandments. They are for our benefit. We may not always know why.

Miriam, Moshe's sister and a prophetess, dies. The portable well which had accompanied the Israelites on her merit, ceases to flow. Once again the people rebel against Moshe and Aharon because of the lack of water. The Almighty tells Moshe to speak to the rock for water. (There are two episodes with the Almighty commanding Moshe concerning the rock. The other time, Moshe was commanded to hit the rock.) Moshe gets angry and hits the rock and water rushes forth. The Almighty punishes Moshe and Aharon for not sanctifying Him by forbidding their entry into the land of Israel. (It pays to follow instructions and to withhold anger!)

Aharon dies. His son, Elazar, is appointed the new High Priest. The Canaanite king of Arad attacks the Israelites and later is soundly defeated. Then there is another rebellion over the food and water which is answered by a plague of poisonous snakes. Moshe prays for the people and is instructed by God to put the image of a snake on a high pole. All who saw it would think of God, repent and live.

The Israelites then annihilate the Amorites and Bashanites who not only would not let us pass peacefully through their lands, but attacked us. There are many questions which need to be asked. Please consult the original work and a good commentary.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

After the war with Sihon, king of the Amorites, the Jewish people took all the cities and settled in the Amorite cities. The Torah, in speaking about the city of Cheshbon, says:

"Because of that, they who speak using parables (HaMoshlim) say: 'Come to Cheshbon (Bo-ooh Cheshbon). Let the city of Sichon be built and established" (Numbers 21:27).

The Talmud (Bava Basra 78b) uses a play on words to teach us a lesson in life:

'Hamoshlim' refers to those who rule over their impulses. 'Bo-ooh Cheshbon', is telling us to come and make an accounting of our behavior. Think about what you lose by performing a mitzvah (a commandment) and weigh that against all that you gain from it. Think about what you gain from transgressing and weigh that against what you lose. If you do this, you will be built up in this world, and will be established in the world to come.

Regarding making an accounting of one's behavior, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes that a person needs to keep an eye on all that he does; he should work on overcoming his negative habits and traits. Successful businessmen keep close track of all of their investments and constantly weigh their financial situation. Likewise, a person should make an accounting of his behavior each day to work on self-improvement.

When you do make an accounting of your behavior, feel joy in every bit of improvement. Do not allow yourself to become discouraged when you see your faults and mistakes. When you keep your focus on how you have already done something positive, you will be motivated to keep on improving.



CANDLE LIGHTING - June 25:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)

Jerusalem  7:11
Guatemala 6:15  Hong Kong 6:52  Honolulu 6:57
J'Burg 5:07  London 9:01  Los Angeles 7:50
Melbourne 4:48  Miami 7:56  Moscow 8:59
New York 8:12  Singapore  6:56



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Failure is when one stops trying,
not when one doesn't succeed.






Published: June 19, 2004

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