Shabbat Shalom Weekly: V'Zot HaBracha 5765
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V'Zot HaBracha(Deuteronomy 33-34)

V'Zot HaBracha 5765

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GOOD MORNING!  Sukkot is the holiday of joy. One way to bring more joy into your life and into the world is through personal relationships. Speech is a way of drawing people close or pushing them away. That is why the Torah places so much emphasis on the Laws of Loshon Hora - the laws guiding speech.

It is interesting to note that a large percentage of the Al Chaits -the transgressions listed in the Yom Kippur prayer book for which we ask forgiveness - deal with speech. Gossip can ruin lives, assassinate reputations, split families, alienate friends and destroy businesses.

Last year a fabulous book was published - GOSSIP: Ten Pathways To Eliminate It From Your Life And Transform Your Soul By Lori Palatnik with Bob Burg (Simcha Press). The nationally syndicated gossip columnist, Liz Smith, even made positive mention of it! The book tells you how to expunge gossip from your lives in order to live in a gossip-free environment. It's available in major bookstores!

Would you like your words to soothe instead of sting? Heal instead of hurt? And build instead of burn? Here are the:


TEN PATHWAYS TO ELIMINATE GOSSIP

  1. Speak No Evil. Say only positive statements. Let words of kindness be on your tongue. This means to respond instead of react. Edit your speech before you speak.

  2. Hear No Evil. Refuse to listen to gossip, slander and other negative forms of speech. If you're on a diet, don't bring the cake and cookies into the house. If you're ending gossip, try and keep away from conversations that may tempt you to listen or chime in. If avoiding the conversation is impossible, have another topic of "positive' interest you can quickly bring up in order to change the subject.

  3. Don't Rationalize Destructive Speech. Excuses like "But it's true" or "I'm only joking" or "I can tell my spouse anything" just don't cut it. Gossip is gossip. The fact that it is true is what qualifies it as gossip. If it were not true, it would be libel or slander, depending upon the medium.

  4. See No Evil. Judge people favorably, the way you would want them to judge you. If you've ever been accused of doing something for which you know you were innocent, then you know how it feels to be misjudged. Remember, if you weren't there, you don't know. Even if you were there, you may have missed the context of what actually happened.

  5. Beware of Speaking Evil Without Saying An Evil Word. Body language, and even positive speech can bring tremendous destruction.

  6. Be Humble. Avoid Arrogance. These will be your greatest weapons against destructive speech. Take pleasure in your accomplishments, not pride. This way you recognize the Ultimate Source of your accomplishments. Those who are arrogant are so full of themselves, that there is no room for God in their lives.

  7. Beware Of Repeating Information. Even positive information needs permission before being repeated. Telling someone who's out of a job that your mutual friend got a raise, does not constitute proper speech.

  8. Honesty Really Is The Best Policy - Most of the Time. Be careful to always tell the truth unless it will hurt others, break your own privacy or publicize your accomplishments. Strive for honesty in everything you do. If it's between honesty and unnecessarily hurting another's feelings, it's better not to be so truthful. Those who boast about being "brutally honest" are usually more brutal than honest.

  9. Learn to Say, "I'm Sorry." Everyone makes mistakes. If you've spoken badly about someone, clear it up immediately. It might be embarrassing, but get it over with quickly. Apologize, ask for forgiveness, and let him or her know it won't happen again.

  10. Forgive. If you have been wronged, let it go. Forgive for your sake, if not for theirs. Those who can forgive live healthier, happier, and less stressful lives. Those who say they'll forgive but not forget are actually saying that they'll neither forgive nor forget.


Q & A: WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF SHEMINEI ATZERET AND SIMCHAT TORAH?

Friday evening, October 17th, begins Sheminei Atzeret which is actually a separate festival adjacent to Sukkot. Rashi, the great Biblical commentator, explains that atzeret is an expression of affection, as would be used by a father to children who are departing from him. The father would say, "Your departure is difficult for me, tarry yet another day." After the Jewish people prayed for the life and happiness of the 70 nations of the world, the Torah and the Almighty keeps us one more day for a special holiday to make requests just for ourselves.

Yizkor, the memorial service for parents and relatives - and Jews who have been killed because they were Jewish or in defending the Jewish people and Israel - is Shabbat morning, October 18th.

Saturday evening begins Simchat Torah, the celebration of completing the yearly cycle of Torah reading and beginning it again. The evening and again the next morning are filled with dance and songs rejoicing in the Torah and thanking God for our being Jewish and that the Almighty gave us the Torah! We read the last Torah portion in Deuteronomy, V'Zot Habracha and then begin immediately with Bereishit, starting the book of Genesis. If you take your kids to synagogue twice a year - one time should be Simchat Torah!


Torah Portion

Shemini Atzeret is the concluding Yom Tov of the Sukkot holiday. We read Deuteronomy 14:22 -16:17 which includes the topics of: tithing crops, remission of loans during the Shemitah year, to be warm-hearted and open handed to the destitute, Jewish bondsman, Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, going to Jerusalem for Shelosh Regalim, the three pilgrimage festivals - Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot - with offering to celebrate the festivals.

On Simchat Torah we read V'Zot Habracha to complete the Book of Deuteronomy and thus the whole Torah. This Torah portion begins with the blessing of Moshe, right before he dies, for the Jewish people and each tribe. Then Moshe ascends Mt. Nebo where the Almighty shows him all of the land the Jewish people are about to inherit. He dies, is buried in the valley in an unknown spot, the Jewish people mourn for 30 days. The Torah then concludes with the words: "Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Almighty had known face to face ..." and then we start again the yearly cycle of reading the Torah with the reading of Bereishit, Genesis!

 

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And this is the blessing, wherewith Moshe, the man of God, blessed the Children of Israel before his death." (Deuteronomy 33:1)

Why is Moshe called "the man of God" in this verse?

The Midrash Psikta D'Rav Kahane answers that, "Moshe was not called 'the man of God' until he spoke in defense of the Jewish people." Moshe pointed out the loyalty of the Jewish people to God in verses 33:3-4 - that the Jewish people cleave to the Almighty even in times of adversity and are loyal to the teachings of the Torah transmitting them to our children. The Midrash informs us, "Whoever speaks out in defense of the Jewish people is elevated."

Anyone can find fault with others. True greatness is to see the good points of others.



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

No one gossips about
other people's secret virtues.
--  Bertrand Russell



Published: September 26, 2004

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