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Devarim 5762

Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  It looks like the "Don't Be a Quidnunc" bumper sticker campaign is not going to be the new "Pet Rock" fad. I do want to thank the three people who requested bumper stickers. My wife thinks that I should not have mentioned the idea of sending a contribution, so if you would like some "Don't Be a Quidnunc" bumper stickers, just send your self-addressed stamped (37 cent stamp) to: Quidnunc, 3150 Sheridan Avenue, Miami Beach, Fl 33140-3946. If you've forgotten, a quidnunc is a gossip.

We are now approaching Tisha B'av, a national day of mourning. Throughout our history we have been holocausted, pogrommed, crusaded against and massacred. It makes one ask, "Why did our ancestors so tenaciously insist on staying Jewish when for a few words they could have converted -- except for the holocaust -- and saved their lives and the lives of their children?" What did they know? What do we need to know? To learn more, go to:

Q & A: What is Tisha B'Av, What Happened on That Day and How is it Observed?

July 17th, Wednesday evening starting at sunset, begins Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. It is the saddest day in the Jewish year. On this same day throughout history many tragedies befell the Jewish people, including:

  1. The incident of the spies slandering the land of Israel with the subsequent decree to wander the desert for 40 years
  2. The destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem by Nevuchadnetzar, King of Babylon
  3. The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE
  4. The fall of Betar and the end of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans 62 years later, 132 CE
  5. The Jews of England expelled in 1290
  6. Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, and many Jewish communities obliterated.
  7. The Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492
  8. World War One broke out on Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Russia declared war on Germany. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
  9. On Tisha B'Av, deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Tisha B'Av is a fast day (like Yom Kippur, from sunset one evening until the stars come out the next evening) which culminates a three week mourning period by the Jewish people. One is forbidden to eat or drink, bathe, use moisturizing creams or oils, wear leather shoes or have marital relations. The idea is to minimize pleasure and to let the body feel the distress the soul should feel over these tragedies. Like all fast days, the object is introspection, making a spiritual accounting and correcting our ways -- what in Hebrew is called, Teshuva, returning, to the path of good and righteousness.

Teshuva is a four part process:

  1. We must recognize what we have done wrong and regret it
  2. We must stop doing the transgression and correct whatever damage that we can
  3. We must accept upon ourselves not to do it again
  4. We must verbally ask the Almighty to forgive us.

On the night of Tisha B'Av we read in the synagogue Eicha, the book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah). We also say Kinot, special poems recounting the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.

Learning Torah is the heart, soul and lifeblood of the Jewish people. It is the secret of our survival. Learning leads to understanding and understanding leads to doing. One cannot love what he does not know. Learning Torah gives a great joy of understanding life. On Tisha B'Av we are forbidden to learn Torah except those parts dealing with the calamities which the Jewish people have suffered. We must stop, reflect, change ourselves and only then will we be able to make a better world.

You will find The Complete Tisha B'Av Service by Rabbis Avrohom Chaim Feuer and Avie Gold helpful to understand the day and the service. Available at your local Jewish bookstore or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242.

Torah Portion of the Week
Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22

This week we begin the last of the Five Books of Moses, Deuteronomy (which is the Greek name for the book of Devarim "Words" -- as it is called in the original Hebrew). The Book is the oration of Moses (Moshe) before he died. It is the preparation of the Jewish people for entering and living in the Land of Israel.

Moshe reviews the history of the 40 years of wandering the desert and gives rebuke so that the Jewish people will learn from their mistakes. It is always good to give reproof right before one dies. People are more inclined to pay attention and to take it to heart.

Moshe recalls what happened at Mt. Sinai, the appointment of judges and administrators, the story of the spies, the prohibition to attack Edom and Moav, the defeat of the Kings Sichon and Og, and how the land of Gilad was given to the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before Moshe' appoints judges and administrators, he says, "How can I carry by myself all of your contentiousness, your burdens and your quarrels" (Deuteronomy 1:12). What was Moshe referring to?

Rashi cites the Sages: If Moshe came out of his house early, they would say, "Why is Moshe early? Perhaps he is having family problems at home." If Moshe came out late from his house, they would say,
"Moshe stays home longer in order to devise negative plans against you."

It is amazing how someone with a tendency to judge people negatively will always find ways to see faults in others. The reality is that whatever someone does or does not do, you can always find some negative motivation or interpretation. There are always positive ways to interpret the behavior of others. For
instance, if Moshe came early they could have said, "Look at Moshe's willingness to make great sacrifices for the welfare of others. He is even ready to minimize the amount of time he is at home with his family in order to give his time for others." If Moseh was late, they could have said, "He wants to prepare himself properly in order to be most effective in giving good advice to the people."

The way you interpret events has more to do with your character traits than it does with the reality of what someone else is like. There is a commandment in the Torah to judge people favorably. Of course, we are allowed and even obligated to guard ourselves from harm. In most instances our judgments of others will not have practical effects on us. The more good you see in others the better you yourself will feel. Your entire world will be much sweeter. Moreover, people frequently live up to your expectations of them. Assume that someone is inconsiderate towards you and he probably will act that way. If you assume the good in others, they will feel positive towards you and act accordingly. Be resolved to master the art of seeing the good in

(or go to

Jerusalem  7:10
Guatemala 6:18  Hong Kong 6:52  Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:13  London 8:56  Los Angeles 7:48
Melbourne 4:59  Miami 7:57  Moscow 8:50

New York 8:10  Singapore  6:58


Luck is
when preparation meets opportunity

With Special Thanks to
Melvin Fastow
for dedicating this edition


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