Bamidbar 5763

June 23, 2009

6 min read


Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20 )

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I saw an interesting bumper sticker:
"Hug Your Kids at Home; Belt Them in the Car". (I don't know how
well the pun on the word "belt" will translate in the Russian, Farsi
and Portuguese editions of the Shabbat Shalom...) Obviously, the
bumper sticker is a safety message to parents and not an invitation
to child abuse. It is important to hug kids and to tell them "I love
you!" I suspect very few kids in detention complain that their
parents hugged them too much or told them too many times "I love

Physical contact is important for the well-being of kids (as
well as other human beings...). I remember a psychological study
from my college days of a post-WW2 orphanage in Romania where
the babies were fed and changed, but never held. Virtually every
child suffered mental retardation. So, I decided to share with you a
fun game that I play with my little kids. It's called the "Rah
Game." (We made it up.)

Here's how it goes: 1) the parent thinks of a spot on his face
(i.e.., the end of his nose) 2) the child touches a spot on the
parent's face (i.e.., the right eyebrow) 3) if it is the wrong spot,
the parent makes a funny face. 4) the child tries again; if the
wrong spot, the parent makes a different funny face. When the child
touches the right spot, the parent says, "RAH!" Then they switch
roles and the child thinks of a spot on his face and has to make
funny faces. We have a variation on the game called the "Boo Game."
It's just like the "Rah Game," but instead of "RAH!" you say "BOO!"

A child needs to feel loved and safe. I try to ask each of my
children at least once a day, "Do you know who loves you?" By now
they know that the first answer is "G-d" (G-d loves each of us even
more than we love our kids! It's important for kids to know this.).
Then I ask them, "And who else?" And the child replies, "Daddy and
Mommy!" I hope after 120 years (the proverbial blessing for a long
life -- because Moses lived until 120) that my children will sit
together at the Shiva (the week of mourning) and talk about how their
father drove them "crazy" with hugs and kisses and asking them "who
loves you?".

Perhaps the most precious moments of the day are sitting with
my children on their beds before they go to sleep. I and/or my wife
hold them and listen to them say the Shema ("Hear O Israel, the Lord
our G-d, the Lord is One" and the first paragraph following in the
Siddur/prayer book) and the blessing before going to sleep. One says
the Shema and the blessing to affirm trust in G-d and that He should
watch out for you while you sleep. What a wonderful way to end the
day for a child -- to be held and kissed by his parents and to go to
sleep knowing that G-d is watching over him. (The Artscroll prayer
book has the Bedtime Prayers in English and Hebrew. You can get it at
your local Jewish bookstore or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. By
the way, as long as you're calling up to order the prayer book, buy a
copy of To Raise A Jewish Child by Rabbi Hayim Donin; you won't
regret it!)

The old saying goes that "no one ever said on his death bed,
'I wish I spent more time at the office'". There is no greater
pleasure and no better investment in future pleasure than spending
time with your children. Kids get the message loud and clear as to
what your priorities are if you spend more time at work or on the
golf course than with your kids. People talk of "Quality time" vs.
"Quantity time" with their kids. Here's the truth: Quality time IS
Quantity time! The more time you spend with your kids, the more
your kids know that they are priorities in your life and that you
love them!

Torah Portion of the Week
Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1 - 4:20

In the second year of travel in the desert, Moshe and Aharon were
commanded by the Almighty to count all male Israelites between 20 and
60. There were 603,550 available for military service. The tribe of
Levi was exempt because of their special duties as religious leaders.
(It is probably from here that countries give divinity deferments to
clergy and divinity students.)

The twelve tribes were directed regarding the formation (three
tribes were on each side of the Portable Sanctuary) in which they
were to camp and travel.

The 22,300 Levites were commanded in the Sanctuary service.
The family of Gershon was to transport the coverings of the
Sanctuary. The family of Kehos carried the Ark, Table, Menorah and
Altars. The family of Merari transported the boards, pillars, bolts
and sockets.

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

The Torah states, "And with you shall be one man from each tribe,
each man should be the head of his family." (Numbers 1:4). What
lesson about life is the Torah conveying with this verse?

A simple and boorish person who came from a distinguished
lineage was arguing with a wise scholar who came from a non- distinguished family. The coarse ignoramus boasted about his
illustrious ancestors. "I am a scion of a great people. Your
ancestors are nothing compared to mine," he arrogantly boasted.
The scholar retorted, "True, you come from a long line of great
people. Unfortunately, the line ends with you. My family tree
begins with me."

Rabbi Moshe Chaifetz, author of Meleches Machsheves,
elucidates that this is the idea of our verse. Every person should
be the head of his family's lineage. He should be an elevated person
in his own right rather than depend upon the stature of his ancestors
for his status and sense of self-worth. Our lesson: You should live
your life so that your descendants will be proud to consider you
their ancestor!

Lineage has been compared to a carrot -- often times the best
part is in the ground. In truth, lineage is like the number "zero".
If you make something of yourself you place a "one" before the zero.
If you are a "zero" then all you have are two zeroes.

(or go to

Jerusalem  7:00
Guatemala 6:09  Hong Kong 6:43  Honolulu 6:50
J'Burg 5:05  London 8:47  Los Angeles 7:39
Melbourne 4:52  Miami 7:48  Moscow 8:40

New York 8:01  Singapore  6:50


Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.
-- Benjamin Franklin

With thanks to
Jerry and Perry Green
Anchorage, Alaska

Happy Anniversary!
Rabbi Eliot & Judy Pearlson

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