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Shlach 5775

Shlach (Numbers 13-15 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  There is a very beautiful prayer we say every Yom Tov (holiday) before taking out the Sefer Torah. It contains just about everything for which a person would want to pray. So, I decided to share it with you. Perhaps keep a copy in your wallet -- or in the upper right hand drawer of your desk!

"Master of the universe, fulfill the requests of my heart for good, satisfy my desire and grant my requests for me, Your servant, and merit my spouse and family to do Your will with a complete heart. Rescue us from base desires and grant us our portion in Your Torah. Merit us that Your Divine Presence rests upon us and spread upon us a spirit of wisdom and understanding. Let it be fulfilled in us the verse that is written: And the spirit of the Almighty shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of God. And let it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that we merit to do good deeds in Your eyes and walk in upright paths before You. Sanctify us with Your commandments in order that we merit a good and long life until the days of the Mashiach and to the life of the World to Come. Guard us from evil deeds and bad times that spread out upon the world. May kindness surround the one who trusts in the Almighty."

It fascinates me that this prayer doesn't specifically mention health. So many times people tell me, "Health is the most important thing. If you have your health, you have everything." Maybe health isn't the most important thing? Maybe living a meaningful and righteous life is more important?

Many people mistakenly feel that they should only pray for big things like medical emergencies. Not so. Prayer is about creating a relationship with the Almighty; it's about understanding and appreciating the Source of all blessing. It focuses us on recognizing from where comes our good and makes it easier to ask. God is the loving Parent who wants only good for us. Knowing and focusing on God's love and His being the source of our blessing, strengthens the relationship with the Almighty. It changes us and makes us more worthy of receiving His bounty.

Prayer not only helps create the relationship with the Almighty, it keeps the relationship strong. Imagine the difficulties of asking your father or mother for help after not speaking with them for years? God will listen to us when we call out to Him. It is just easier to ask Him if you keep your relationship current.

A prayer has three components: 1) Praise of God. (He doesn't need our praises; it focuses us on to Whom we are talking.) 2) Requests. 3) Thanks. It is the height of good manners to show appreciation. A short prayer might go something like, "Almighty, Master of the Universe, Who has given me all good things, please help me find a parking space so that I do not keep people waiting. Thank You for this and for all that You have given me."

Man proposes and God disposes. (The Yiddish version: Man plans, God laughs...) Everything that God does for us is for our good ... even when the answer to our prayer is "No!" If the answer is "No" we should ask ourselves "Why?" and try to improve. Prayer focuses us on what we want out of life and what is good for us.

Here are 5 Steps to Genuine Prayer: 1) Feel God's presence. You are talking to a loving, all-powerful Being who wants to give you everything that's good. All over the world God is answering prayers because He loves His children. 2) Expect results. God has a track record. If you don't really believe God can and will help you, you're not really praying. 3) Pay attention to what God is teaching you. Everything that happens is for your good. If you are in need, realize God is teaching you something. If you trust Him, you will hear what He is telling you. 4) Get in touch with what you're really after. Know your bottom line. You're talking to the awesome Creator, so don't ask for nonsense. He wants you to grow up. 5) Being serious about what you're praying for means that you're doing everything you can to make it happen. God will lend a hand only when you put in the effort. He'll never take away your independence because that's His ultimate gift to you.


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Torah Portion of the week

Shelach, Numbers 13:1 - 15:41

The Jewish people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai and were ready to enter the land of Israel. There was a consensus of opinion amongst the people that we should send spies to see if it was feasible to conquer the Land. Moshe knew that the Almighty's promise to give the Land included a guarantee to conquer it. However, one of the principles of life which we learn from this portion is: the Almighty allows each of us the free will to go in the direction we choose. Even though one man and the Almighty is a majority, Moshe -- by Divine decree -- sent out the princes of the tribes (men of the highest caliber) to spy out the land.

Twelve spies were sent. Ten came back with a report of strong fortifications and giants; they rallied the people against going up to the Land. Joshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefunah (Moshe's brother-in-law) tried to stem the rebellion, but did not succeed. The Almighty decreed 40 years of wandering in the desert, one year for each day they spied in the land of Israel. This happened on the 9th of Av, a date noted throughout Jewish history for tragedy -- the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain amongst them.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And the Almighty spoke to Moshe, saying: Send for yourself men, that they may spy out the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Children of Israel; one man, one man of every tribe of their fathers you shall send, every one a prince among them" (Numbers 13:1-2).

The Torah is not written in chronological order. What is the meaning of the juxtaposition of this section to the previous section?

Rashi cites the Midrash Tanchuma to elucidate the juxtaposition of sending the spies to the land of Canaan to the section of Miriam's speaking loshon hora (derogatory speech) about Moshe. Even though Miriam was publicly punished for speaking against her brother, these wicked people who witnessed her punishment did not learn a lesson.

The question arises: How could the spies be expected to learn from Miriam's loshon hora? Miriam spoke against a person, while they spoke against a land. Rabbi Yisroel Ordman, of Telshe Yeshiva in Lithuania, comments that one must acquire the attribute of always seeing the good in everything. A person who finds fault with things (meals, accommodations. etc.) will also find fault with people. Conversely, a person who always seeks to find the good in all phenomena will also see the good in his fellow man. That is the lesson the spies should have learned: to notice virtues rather than seek out faults.

As a pious man once noted, "We were given two eyes -- one very powerful for introspection, so we should find our smallest faults; the other very weak, for viewing others. Only too often we switch their functions."

* * *

In Response to Last Week's Edition

Last week, I shared the poem "See Me" from an elderly woman who felt that the nurses and aids were not seeing her as a person. One of my dear friends who tries hard to keep me from making errors, sent me the following retort poem from a nurse:


A Nurse's Reply to 'A Crabby Old Woman'

A careless word may kindle strife:
What do we see, you ask, what do we see?
Yes, we are thinking when looking at thee!
We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss,
But there's many of you and too few of us.
We would like far more time to sit by you and talk,
To bathe you and feed you and help you to walk,
To hear of your lives and the things you have done;
Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son,
But time is against us, there's too much to do
Patients too many and nurses too few.
We grieve when we see you so sad and alone,
With nobody near you, no friends of your own.
We feel all your pain, and know of your fear
That nobody cares now your end is so near.

But nurses are people with feelings as well,
And when we're together, you'll often hear tell
Of the dearest old Gran in the very end bed,
And the lovely old Dad, and the things that he said,
We speak with compassion and love, and feel sad
When we think of yours and the joy that you've had.
When the time has arrived for you to depart,
You leave us behind with an ache in our heart.

When you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care,
There are other old people, and we must be there.
So please understand if we hurry and fuss--
There are many of you and too few of us.


I also received the following email from a nurse:

"I am a retired geriatrics nurse, and worked in long-term care. I found the attitude among co-workers was frequently, while professional, less than understanding of the situations of the aged and aging. I grew up among older people, which gave me insights at an early age into what aging was like. When I took care of my patients later on, I tried to always keep in mind that here was someone who had lived a productive life, raised children, loved and laughed. I tried to make time to listen to them, and always treated them with patience, courtesy and respect.

"This piece brought tears to my eyes. I printed it off and placed copies in the company break room, because I work for a non-emergency medical transportation company, and a large number of our clients are seniors. If that piece can make even one of our drivers think about how they interact with our clients and, by extension, other seniors in their lives, it will have made the world a slightly better place."


Candle Lighting Times

June 12
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:09
Guatemala 6:13 - Hong Kong 6:49 - Honolulu 6:55
J'Burg 5:04 - London 8:59 - Los Angeles 7:47
Melbourne 4:49 - Mexico City 7:57 - Miami 7:55
New York 8:09 - Singapore 6:52 - Toronto 8:42

Quote of the Week

Character is made by what you stand for;
reputation by what you fall for ...
--  Robert Quillen



In Honor of

Dror & Miriam


With Special Thanks to

Raphael & Dorothy




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