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Be'halot'cha 5763

Be'halot'cha (Numbers 8-12 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!  This week I have a fascinating story to share with you - one that I have wanted to tell for 20 years. Two years ago I asked permission to tell it and recently I received the letter of permission which was written 2 years ago and finally arrived!

My wife has a very close friend who got married 3 months before us. The night before her own wedding, she prayed to the Almighty that her father who had passed on one year previously would come to her in a dream and give her a sign that he was happy for her. Before her father died, she dreamed that he was going to pass away and felt she at least deserved a happy dream, too.

At the time of our wedding in Jerusalem, my wife's friend and new husband were in the United States visiting his family. Comes the night of our wedding and my wife's friend dresses up in her Shabbat finest, sets the dining room table with the nicest tablecloth and best china, buys flowers, plays music and prepares a feast. Her new in-laws are wondering what is going on with the girl their son married ... so they ask her.

She replies, "My best friend is getting married in Israel and I can't be there. However, I want to celebrate her simcha (joyous occasion)." Perhaps the in-laws were a little bewildered, but their minds were set at ease.

That night my wife's friend had a dream. She saw her father, a noted and well-respected rabbi walking in a Gan Eden (the garden of Eden) with Rabbi Akiva Eiger (one of the most distinguished, learned and respected rabbis in the history of the Jewish people) discussing Torah. He looked well and happy. Though she couldn't hear the animated discussion, she was enraptured by the colors and the atmosphere.

She woke up puzzled. What did her father have to do with Rabbi Akiva Eiger who lived centuries before? How did she know her father was talking with Rabbi Eiger? She never saw a picture of Rabbi Eiger. She was overjoyed with the dream, but puzzled. She told no one of the dream.

Several years later at their Shabbat table in Jerusalem, the guests were discussing customs pertaining to weddings. Out of the blue, one guest says, "Rabbi Akiva Eiger felt it was so important to partake in the joy of a wedding that when he couldn't attend, he would make a celebration at the same time as the wedding!" Shocked! Immediately she understood her dream and why it was Rabbi Akiva Eiger who her father was with! Her father was telling her that when he saw that she was happy in her friend's simcha though she was far away, that he was celebrating her simcha though far away!

And then she thought some more on lessons she could learn from this. First, when we care for another person, it makes a big impact in the heavenly world. Second, feeling joy for another person's happiness is a goal that each of us has to reach. When she focused on her own wedding and own concerns, her father did not appear to her. Only after she focused on her friend's wedding, did she merit for her father to appear in her dream.

The Almighty tells us in the Torah "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). Who knows what great benefits will accrue to us in this world and the next if we follow it?

Torah Portion of the Week

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 manna and the lack of meat in the desert. The Almighty sends a massive quantity of quail and those who had rebelled died.

Moshe asks his father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro) to travel with them in the desert, but Yitro returns to Midian. (It has been said that the difference between in-laws and outlaws, that at least outlaws are wanted ... Of course, in this case the father-in-law was wanted.)

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 Moshe cried unto the Lord, saying 'Please God, heal her (Miriam), I beseech you" (Numbers 12:13)

Miriam just spoke against Moshe! And what is Moshe's response? He prays for her to be healed! What can we learn from Moshe's behavior?

The Ralbag (Rabbi Levi ben Gershon, who lived 1288-1344) shares with us an illuminating insight. From here we learn that even if someone acts against you and is punished for his act, you should do all you can to assist him.

The Ralbag is referring to someone who regrets his act and wishes to make amends both in his personal life and to the one he has harmed. Aiding those who wish to hurt you is definitely not a Jewish value, a praiseworthy behavior nor a beneficial idea!


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There is no package so small
as a person tied up in himself.

Dedicated on the First Yahrzeit
in Memory of
Dr. Philip Mendel Kurlansky
his gentle perseverance and
warm optimism remain an inspiration
to all who knew him
--  Helaine & Paul Kurlansky

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