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GOOD MORNING! It has been said that "Education is what you have left after you forget everything you've learned." Our goal in life is to perfect ourselves as human beings and to emulate the Almighty in our character and actions. Unfortunately, too often we're so busy with human doings we don't focus on developing as human beings.
In Pirke Avos, Ethics of the Fathers (six chapters of pithy wisdom about life found in the back of most prayer books ... or available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242):
"Rabbi Shimon says, 'There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of kingship. The crown of a good name is greater than them all" (4:17).
How do we perfect ourselves? To create that good name? How do we develop our personalities and character to such a degree that even the undertaker is sorry to see us go?
The Torah is instructions for living. Each of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) is a means of personal growth. By learning Torah and thinking about the mitzvah before performing it, one builds character and a filter for viewing life. We all have "tapes" running in our heads with subliminal messages that we have integrated. Often times they are negative: "I'm a failure, I'm not smart enough, I can't succeed, if people really knew me they wouldn't like me ..." Those "tapes" are the messages we get from our society and those are the messages that we have to change to enjoy life and reach our potential. The Torah teaches positive messages for our "tapes."
In the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, there are 6 events which the Torah tells us to always remember. These "Six Remembrances" can be found following the morning prayer service in the prayer book. The Kabbalah (mysticism) teaches that by reciting these verses and remembering these events we change our consciousness in life. Here are the "Six Remembrances" and the ideas which we need to integrate into ourselves:
- REMEMBER THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT - "In order that you remember the day of your going out of Egypt all the days of your life" (Deuteronomy 16:3). The consciousness: There is a God Who cares about our lives, loves us, has redeemed us in the past and will redeem us in the future.
- REMEMBER RECEIVING THE TORAH AT MT. SINAI - "Only guard yourself and guard your soul very much lest you forget the things what your eyes saw and lest they stray from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and grandchildren - the day you stood before the Lord your God at Mt. Sinai" (Deuteronomy 4:9-10). The consciousness: The Jewish people's raison d'etre, our existence and redemption is in fulfilling the covenant with the Almighty and keeping His Torah.
- REMEMBER AMALEK'S ATTACK - "Remember what Amalek did to you as you left Egypt. He met you on the way, struck down the weak ones lagging behind you while you were tired and exhausted and he did not fear God. When it will be that when the Almighty will allow you to rest from all the enemies that surround you, in the land that the Lord your God gives to you as an inheritance to bequeath - wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the Heavens. Do not forget" (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). The consciousness: Amalek represents evil and atheism. Strengthen yourself to stand against evil and to know God and God's Torah.
- REMEMBER THE GOLDEN CALF - "Remember, don't forget how you angered the Lord, your God in the wilderness" (Deuteronomy 9:7). We were told to wait for Moshe (Moses) to descend from 40 days on Mt. Sinai, but grew impatient and built the Golden Calf to replace Moshe as an intermediary to God. The consciousness: Trust in God, don't veer from God's commandments even if you think there is a better way.
- REMEMBER MIRIAM - "Remember that which the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way when you left Egypt" (Deuteronomy 24:9). The consciousness: Miriam spoke against Moshe. Never slander another person!
- REMEMBER THE SABBATH - "Remember the Day of the Sabbath to sanctify it" (Exodus 20:8). The consciousness: God created the world and rested on the Shabbat. He determines our success. Our success comes through learning and fulfilling the Torah.
For more on "The Six Remembrances " go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Aharon is commanded in the lighting of the Menorah, the Levites purify themselves for service in the Tabernacle (they trained from age 25-30 and served from age 30-50), the first Pesach is celebrated since leaving Egypt.
The Almighty instructs the Jewish people to journey into the desert whenever the ever-present cloud lifts from above the Tabernacle and to camp where it rests. Moshe is instructed to make two silver trumpets to be sounded before battle or to proclaim a Yom Tov (a holiday).
The people journey to the wilderness of Paran during which time they rebelled twice against the Almighty's leadership. The second time they complain about the boring taste of the manna and the lack of meat in the desert. The Almighty sends a massive quantity of quail and those who rebelled died.
Moshe asks his father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro) to travel with them in the desert, but Yitro returns to Midian. (It has been said that the difference between in-laws and outlaws, that at least outlaws are wanted ... Of course, in this case the father-in-law was wanted.)
Miriam, Moshe's sister, speaks lashon hora (defaming words) about Moshe. She is struck with Tzora'as (the mystical skin disease which indicated that a person spoke improperly about another person) and is exiled from the camp for one week.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"According to the word of the Almighty, the Children of Israel traveled and according to the word of the Almighty, they encamped." (Numbers 9:23)
What can we learn from the phrase "the word of the Almighty"?
The Talmud (Shabbat 31b) discusses the various forms of creative acts that are forbidden on Shabbat. All of the prohibitions of creative acts on Shabbat are derived from the creative acts required for the building and maintenance of the portable Tabernacle in which we worshipped during the 40 years in the desert. The prohibition against tearing down a building applies only when it is planned to be rebuilt on the same spot.
Since the Tabernacle was taken apart only to be rebuilt on a different spot, likewise the prohibition on Shabbat should be against tearing down a building to rebuild it in a different place. Why is the prohibition only for the same place?
The Talmud answers that since they traveled and encamped according to the word of the Almighty, it is considered as if it were in the same place. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz likened this to a baby who travels with its mother. As long as the baby is with its mother, it doesn't matter what city it is in. Since they did everything according to the word of the Almighty, they were totally with Him. He was their place and even though they moved from one spot in the desert to another, their place was really always the same - with the Almighty.
When one has a constant awareness that he is always with the Almighty, the exact place where he is will not make a major difference. His main focus is on the Almighty and not on the superficial differences between one spot and another.
CANDLE LIGHTING - June 26:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:14 - Hong Kong 6:50 - Honolulu 6:56
J'Burg 5:04 - London 9:01 - Los Angeles 7:48
Melbourne 4:49 - Mexico City 6:58 - Miami 7:56
New York 8:11 - Singapore 6:54 - Toronto 8:43
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Learn from the mistakes of others-
you won't live long enough to
make them all yourself.
Asher HaLevi ben