Be'halot'cha (Numbers 8-12 )
Giving warmth and care to senior citizens.
GOOD MORNING! One of the greatest kindnesses the Almighty gave humankind is not living forever. Knowing that we have an expiration date (especially not knowing when that expiration date is) and a deadline (literally), is a constant reminder to think about life. If we lived forever, we could always put something off for tomorrow ... and then the next day ... and then ... forever. The reality of death -- and the too frequent reminders as those who we know and love pass on -- hopefully remind us to be serious with life and use it well to be all that we can be.
Many of us live as if we will live forever focusing on the now, on our careers, on making money. One wit once said "We spend the first part of our life sacrificing our health to make money and the latter part of our life sacrificing our money to regain health." It's proverbial that a person's last words won't be, "I should have spent more time at the office." Why wait until it's late in the game to set our priorities and our values -- and live by them?
If you have ever visited a senior citizen home you will likely see that the residents get excellent care. However professionally they are treated, there is not always the warmth and caring that we would want for our loved ones ... or ourselves.
It would be wonderful if each of us could find someone senior to us who we could make a priority in our life. It would give more meaning to our life and to their life to have someone to care about them -- to feel loved, needed, a part of someone's life. The following piece was given to me years ago by a dear friend, Earl Pertnoy. It should be posted in every senior home and geriatric ward.
Beha'alosecha, Numbers 8:1 -12:16
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 maneh 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.
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.
* * *
The Torah states, "The man, Moses, was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). How is it possible that Moses was humble after writing these words that the Almighty dictated to him to write in the Torah?
Humility is not feeling lowly or worthless or denying one's capacity. Humility is recognizing your strengths and capability -- and knowing that they are a gift from the Almighty.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg, founder of Aish HaTorah, would illustrate: Two people are in front of you. The first one asks you, 'Do you want to see me do something really special?' and then proudly waves his hand in front of his face. The second person says, "That's nothing" ... "I have an IQ of 168!" Asks Rabbi Weinberg, "What is the second person so proud about? The Almighty gave him a gift of greater intelligence -- but, it's just a gift, the same as our ability to move our limbs. Did the second man do anything to deserve greater intelligence? No! If we appreciate that everything is a gift, then we can take pleasure in them, but not be prideful."
Writes Rabbi Abraham Twerski, "There is only one character trait that repels the presence of God: vanity (Talmud Bavli, Arachin 15b). Rabbi Twerski then offers the following quotes about humility:
Rabbi Yehoshua of Ostrova said that a vain person is worse than a liar. "A liar does not believe his own lies, whereas a vain person is convinced of his superiority."
Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk said, "A person who seeks recognition is much like a goat that wears a bell around its neck to announce its whereabouts."
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
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Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself.
It means thinking of yourself less
-- C.S. Lewis