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Be'halot'cha 5776

Be'halot'cha (Numbers 8-12 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  What does a person need to live? Air, water, food, a sense of purpose -- and encouragement! Encouragement provides hope and increases self-esteem.

When I was about 12, I read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. It tremendously impacted my life. It helped me to understand and appreciate people -- to see things from other peoples' points of view. If memory serves me, in Chapter 5 he tells the story of the Queen of England telling a "pimply" chambermaid (the image has never left me...) "You don't know what greatness you have within you." Mr. Carnegie then relates how that one sentence changed her life. It increased her self-image and confidence ... and she ends up marrying a Duke!

We all need encouragement -- and we all need to give encouragement. Life is difficult. It has challenges and tests that hopefully build our character. We can't make it through alone. Belief and trust in the Almighty give us self-worth and meaning, but for many of us, we need help from our fellow human beings. It has been said that a friend doubles the joy and halves the grief.

My beloved friend, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, just published his 26th book on ... you guessed it! Encouragement --Formulas, Stories and Insights. It is a delightful book that teaches us how to be aware and use the massive power of encouragement, to encourage ourselves and others, particularly when we feel overwhelmed or depleted. Rabbi Pliskin shares meditations and affirmations, true stories and wise practical advice to help us help ourselves and others become more confident, optimistic and upbeat people.

In Pirke Avos, Ethics of the Fathers 5:26 "Explore it and explore it again -- for everything is in it." Rabbi Ben-Bagbag is referring to wisdom in the Torah. Rabbi Pliskin has thoroughly explored the topic of Encouragement to give us 69 chapters, 69 different approaches to encouraging ourselves and others.

So many people go through life thinking of themselves as losers who haven't fulfilled their potential and are unable to succeed. Why? Their parents and teachers told them so ... and they still believe it. They have a tape -- or for the younger generation, a digital file -- playing negative messages over and over! We are what we think. Whether you think you can or you think you can't -- you are right!

We have to be so careful with what we say to our children, our family, our friends and strangers. Writes Rabbi Pliskin, "When you use your power of words to make someone feel good, you are doing an act of kindness. You are elevating yourself spiritually and emotionally. You are making a friend or strengthening an already existing friendship. You are doing a great mitzvah. You are being a positive factor in someone's life. When people misuse the power of words to make someone feel bad, it is an act of meanness and even cruelty. They are lowering themselves spiritually and emotionally. They are making an enemy or strengthening hate. They are committing a serious transgression. They are being a negative factor in someone's life."

Writes Rabbi Pliskin, "It's what you currently believe about yourself, your abilities, and your talents that count. Not believing in yourself in the past prevented you from succeeding back then. But with encouraging self-talk you can succeed now. And if you can't find ways to encourage yourself, be open to listening to the encouraging messages from others."

"Every person has the potential to bring out inner greatness. Anyone with a negative attitude toward life is just one thought away from transforming his life. But that one thought has to be heartfelt. It has to be real for the person who says it, and not just paying lip service to that idea.

"One thought that has worked for many people is: 'I am more grateful, joyful, and kind each and every day.' To integrate and internalize this idea, a person needs to be willing to actively repeat it over and over again, many times a day. Someone who is willing to pay the price of consistently repeating a positive thought will improve the quality of his life."

I have excerpted just a few insufficient paragraphs. Encouragement is vital to one's life. So is the book!


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Torah Portion of the week

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.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And the people were complaining in a bad way in the ears of the Almighty" (Numbers 11:1).

Why were the people complaining?

Rashi comments that when the people were complaining, they had no real cause to complain; they were just looking for an excuse to separate themselves from the Almighty. By finding what would sound like a complaint, they felt justified in keeping a distance from the Creator.

When someone realizes all that the Almighty does for him, he will not have a complaining attitude. There are times when a person has unfulfilled needs and times when he is suffering. That is a time for action and prayer.

Complaining, however, is wrong. The underlying theme behind a complainer is not necessarily that he wants the situation to improve, but that he wants to have the benefits of complaining -- to feel free from the obligations for all the good that the other person (or the Almighty) has done. Ultimately, a person who goes through life complaining does not appreciate the good in his life.

When one focuses only on what he is missing, he blinds himself to what he does have. No matter how much you do have, there will always be something to complain about if you look hard enough. This attitude is not merely a means by which a person causes himself a miserable existence. It is a direct contradiction to our obligation to be grateful to the Almighty. Anyone having this negative attitude must make a concerted effort to build up the habit of appreciating what he has and what happens to him. This is crucial for both spiritual reasons and for happiness in life. This especially applies to one's relationship with his or her spouse!


Candle Lighting Times

June 24
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:13
Guatemala 6:16 - Hong Kong 6:53 - Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:07 - London 9:04 - Los Angeles 7:51
Melbourne 4:51 - Mexico City 8:00 - Miami 7:58
New York 8:13 - Singapore 6:55 - Toronto 8:45

Quote of the Week

Nothing is more frequently
"opened by mistake"
than the mouth



In Loving Memory of

Shmuel ben Berel Leib

The Manger Family

In Loving Memory of

Dr. Irving Moskowitz


Happy Birthday

Hizkiyahu Packouz

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