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GOOD MORNING! At Mount Sinai the Jewish people encamped "as one person with one heart" (Rashi, Exodus 19:2). To engender this unity we must love each other. How do we go about it?
___This week I share with you a beautiful story from Voices in the Silence by S.Z. Sonnenfeld (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). The book is the story of a Jewish family that strove to fulfill the commandments of the Torah despite the terror reigned against religion by the Communists after taking over Russia. The Communist forbade having guests sleep over in your home. Visitors to a town were required to register with the police where they were staying. The family took in a widow and her 2 daughters for one night - which stretched out to one year. And they weren't easy guests with whom to share their one room apartment.
___The daughter writes that she asked her father, "How is it possible to keep the Torah's command, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'? Isn't that against basic human nature? And if it is, then why does the Torah command it? Not one of the Torah's mitzvot (commandments) asks us to live in opposition to natural law; that's not the Torah's way."
___Her father replied, "The way to learn love is to give to others. A newborn baby knows only how to take. That is why his mother loves him more than he loves her. She gives and gives to him all the time, while he only takes from her. The one who gives loves the taker far more than the taker loves the giver.
___"A mother gives her baby so much that to her he seems to become a part of herself, for whatever he has, comes from her. So, if you want to love your neighbor as yourself, give him so much that you feel he has become a part of you, and then you cannot help but love him any more than you can refuse to love your own self." The daughter then goes on to tell how she took his lesson to heart:
___"I was longing for a certain kind of leather belt that was popular. I knew that I must not ask my parents to buy it for me, but like any girl of eleven I dreamed of this 'luxury.' So, for two months straight I put aside the daily kopeck that mama gave me to buy a pretzel during school recess. At last I bought the dream belt.
___"I put it on, and it fit perfectly. Of course, I ran to Mama right away to show it off. Mama complimented me on my good taste in choosing a belt that would go with any dress, and for making such an independent effort to get it. Just then, one of the Wollach girls heaved a great sigh and said, 'How beautiful!' Then, as if she couldn't help herself, she murmured the rest of what she was thinking: "How happy I would be if I had a belt like that..."
___"I thought it over just for a moment or two. Then my mind was made up. I took off the belt and gave it to the girl who so longed or it. Mama looked at me in amazement. She knew how I had dreamed of that belt and how many pretzels I had given up in order to get it.
___"Mama," I explained later, "now that I have used this belt for such a special mitzvah, making an orphan girl happy, all the days that I went hungry without my afternoon snack have become part of the mitzvah. What a profit I made on one little belt! I wouldn't sell this wonderful mitzvah even for ten thousand rubles."
___If you want to love another human being you can give to him; if you want another human being to love you, ask for his help. If he will help and give to you, it will engender love for you.
___Love is the pleasure one has in focusing on the good in another person. A mother will love her child though he is failing in school, in trouble with the police and doesn't make his bed, because she will focus on "he's a good boy, he has a good heart." As to the faults, she'll explain them away. "He's in with a bad crowd, I should have gotten him tutors, I should have disciplined him more." If you want to love someone, make a list of his or her qualities, adding one new quality each day for a month. Then prioritize the qualities. If you focus on the good, you cannot help but to have some feelings of love for him or her.
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Torah Portion of the Week
___This week's portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.
___Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given: (1) Restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin - goes to the Cohanim. (2) If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony. (3) If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow. (4) The Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing:
|"May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace."|
___The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___The Torah states regarding a Nazir (the person who takes a vow to abstain from wine):
|"For the crown of the Almighty is on his head" (Numbers 6:7).|
___What can we learn from this?
___The Ibn Ezra writes, "The term nazir comes from the Hebrew word meaning crown. You should know that almost all people are slaves to the pleasures of the world. The only person who is truly a king and has the royal crown on his head is someone who is free from desires."
___People who are addicted to pleasures might mistakenly view themselves as fortunate that they have so much pleasure. The truth is that they are enslaved by those pleasures When they don't have them, they feel the suffering of deprivation. Their thoughts are fixated on what they can do to obtain their desires. They spend more time worrying about how they can obtain pleasures than actually enjoying themselves. Seeking pleasure is an illusory goal. A pleasure-seeker will never be fulfilled.
___Happiness is a much more sensible goal than pleasure, and the way to acquire happiness is by being in control of one's desires. When you derive pleasure from self-discipline, your situation is reversed. You will be free from worrying about obtaining desires and you will constantly experience the pleasure of being the ruler over yourself!
___Every time you experience self-discipline, view yourself as a king. You are obtaining mastery over yourself. The pleasure you have from self-discipline will enable you to rule over your desires.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 25
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:08 - Hong Kong 6:42 - Honolulu 6:48
J'Burg 5:06 - London 8:41 - Los Angeles 7:36
Melbourne 4:55 - Mexico City 7:50 - Miami 7:47
New York 7:57 - Singapore 6:50 - Toronto 8:27
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Faults are thick where love is thin.
In Loving Memory of my father|
Avraham ben Natan
- Nathan Zemel