Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 )
GOOD MORNING! What is courage? The year is 1929. It's Friday, August 23rd. The Grand Mufti is preaching to a packed crowd of worshippers on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. He is fomenting them into a boiling cauldron of hate, viciousness and cruelty. Finally, he charges them with their holy mission: "Itbah al-Yahud!" -- Slaughter the Jew! -- and sends them forth to have the streets run in blood!
Groups splinter off to attack Jews in the Old City, Jaffa Road, Talpiot and Mekor Chaim. The main body of eight thousand Arabs leave the Temple Mount wielding swords and clubs marching towards the new communities of Me'ah She'arim and Bais Yisroel. Heading through the Damascus Gate, their blood curdling cries are like a screaming locomotive in a piercing unison of "Itbah al-Yahud! Itbah al-Yahud!" They are led by a sword-wielding sheik on horseback who urges his shrieking followers to carry out judgment on the Jews sparing neither man, woman or child!
Who stands between this blood thirsty mob and the peaceful Orthodox residents? A small garrison of Hagana operating out of a flour mill near the south end of Me'ah She'arim. There is no way they imagine that they can fend off the huge Arab onslaught!
Two men, Rabbi Aharon Fischer and Binyamin Zev Yarden volunteer to stop the frenzied mob. The two walk out of the flour mill and determinedly walk towards the attackers. Reb Aharon stops and faces the approaching sheik. His payis (earlocks) blow in the wind from beneath his hat as he pulls out a revolver and ... shoots the sheik through the heart. Without their leader, the Arabs are confused and panic! Then Binyamin Zev throws a hand grenade in their midst as the fleeing mass stampede back towards the Damascus Gate, trampling their comrades in their rush.
What was going through the minds of these two young men? Did they really believe that they had a chance of stopping 8,000 marauding, frenzied, blood-thirsty Arabs? Did they think that they were going to a certain death? What was motivating them? I don't know. I can only imagine that they decided there was no choice, no other alternative and that they had to do whatever they could no matter what the cost. Though we cannot rely upon miracles when making decisions, it is true that one person and the Almighty is a majority!
We all need courage in life -- sometimes just the courage to face the coming day. However, to change ourselves or to risk a new direction, we definitely need courage. My favorite quote on courage comes from Mark Twain: "Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it."
I asked my friend, Reb Zelig Pliskin who wrote the book Courage, for a list of ideas to help people strengthen their courage. Here are:
And what was going through the minds of the frenzied Arab mob when opposed by these young men? Again, I don't know. Perhaps ... "It's an ambush! There are two of them!"
For more on "Courage" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Topics in this week's portion include: Judges and Justice, Sacred Trees and Pillars, Blemished Sacrifice, Penalties for Idolatry, The Supreme Court, The King, Levitical Priests, Priestly Portions, Special Service, Divination and Prophecy, Cities of Refuge, Murder, Preserving Boundaries, Conspiring Witnesses, Preparing for War, Taking Captives, Conducting a Siege and the Case of the Unsolved Murder.
This week we have the famous admonition: "Righteousness, Righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and possess the Land that the Almighty your God, gives you" (Deut. 16:20).
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"Judges and police you shall place for yourself" (Deut. 16:18).
What homiletic lesson can we learn from this verse to improve our own character?
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Parshicho commented: Make for yourself judges and police, that is, before you go and make judgments about other people, judge yourself first. As the Sages said, "First correct yourself and only then correct others" (Bava Basra 60b).
CANDLE LIGHTING - September 2
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 6:05 - Hong Kong 6:21 - Honolulu 6:28
J'Burg 5:37 - London 7:27 - Los Angeles 7:00
Melbourne 5:41 - Mexico City 7:32 - Miami 7:23
New York 7:32 - Singapore 6:51 - Toronto 7:35
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities...
because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
-- Winston Churchill
With Deep Appreciation to