Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 )
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GOOD MORNING! This week is Rosh Chodesh Elul (August 14 and 15), the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul. This means that there is one month and counting to Rosh Hashanah (Wednesday evening, September 12th). Many people might ask, "So, what?" or might think, "Thanks for the reminder to buy a brisket!" However, the answer to "So, what?" is that we have one month to prepare for Rosh Hashanah ... and Yom Kippur.
___Why would one want to prepare for Rosh Hashanah? Rosh Hashanah is the day of judgment when the Almighty decides "Life or death, sickness or health, poverty or wealth." Does it make sense to prepare for a day of judgment? You bet! However, for many it has the same emotional impact as their cardiologist telling them that they need to lose weight to avoid heart attacks and strokes ... a wonderful idea between meals!
___There is a tremendous benefit to living in Miami Beach. It's a hurricane zone. Around May you get the annual predictions - 21 tropical storms, 11 hurricanes, 7 major hurricanes. They actually have ways of measuring, correlating and predicting the number and size of storms. At the beginning of the season we start buying bottled water and batteries to prepare. We put a new battery in the weather radio which broadcasts the position and strength of the storms. We even have a chart where we mark off the present location of storms out there in the Caribbean.
___Why is living in a hurricane zone a benefit? It teaches you a very important lesson: Be real with life! Usually, the weather bureau (N.O.A.A. - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) gives a week's heads up. You know that in 7 days a Force 3 or 4 or 5 hurricane will hit. You generally know for sure whether it will hit land, you just don't know whether for sure it will hit YOU until perhaps a day or a few hours before landfall.
___What happens during that week? The hardware store sells out all of its plywood (used for covering windows) and batteries. They have to make special shipments from neighboring states! The grocery stores shelves are cleared out or seriously diminished of canned goods and water. People are scrambling to buy generators to provide electricity needed to keep the lights on, fans going and the refrigerator and freezer working. There is a mad dash for last minute preparations because the STORM IS COMING!
___What's the difference between a hurricane and Rosh Hashanah? The hurricane MAY hit your area; Rosh Hashanah DEFINITELY will touch you!
___So, if one believes in a God who has set a standard for behavior and observance in the Torah and who will judge us, does it make sense to make some preparations? You bet!
___How can one prepare for the Day of Judgment? Here are:
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO
tell you ... but in a nice way!
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Torah Portion of the Week
___Topics in this week's portion include: Judges and Justice, Sacred Trees and Pillars, Blemished Sacrifice, Penalties for Idolatry, The Supreme Court, The King, Levitical Priests, Priestly Portions, Special Service, Divination and Prophecy, Cities of Refuge, Murder, Preserving Boundaries, Conspiring Witnesses, Preparing for War, Taking Captives, Conducting a Siege and the Case of the Unsolved Murder.
___This week we have the famous admonition: "Righteousness, Righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and possess the Land that the Almighty your God, gives you" (Deut. 16:20).
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___The Torah states:
|"Do not erect a 'matzaivah' (a pillar of one stone upon which to bring an offering)." (Deut. 16:22)|
___What lesson for life can we learn from this verse?
___Rabbit Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov commented: There are people who are rigid and inflexible. They have certain habits and customs and are unwilling to deviate from them. However, this is a mistake. This day is not similar to any previous day, and no two situations are exactly alike. What is the right thing to do in any situation is dependent on all the unique circumstance of that situation. This can be understood from our verse. Do not erect a way that is rigid or stubbornly unbending regardless of the situation ('matzav' - which has the same root as 'matzaivah' - means 'situation'). Rather, you should always take action according to the needs of that particular moment.
___What could be a mitzvah (proper behavior) in one situation, could be a transgression in another situation. At times a certain act could be a Kidush HaShem (a sanctification of God's name), and in other situations where some factors are a bit different, similar behavior would constitute a Chilul HaShem (a profanation of God's name).
___A person who does things compulsively without wisdom will make many mistakes. Only someone who has a grasp of the full panoramic view of Torah principles will have the necessary wisdom to judge what is the correct thing to do in every situation. The more Torah you learn the greater will be your ability to make distinctions between different situations.
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HOW TO STAY SAFE IN THE WORLD TODAY
___You will be pleased to learn that only 0.01 percent of all deaths occur in a synagogue, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders.
___Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is in Synagogue services. Torah Study is even safer. The number of deaths during Torah Study is too small to register.
___For safety's sake, go to Shul as often as possible, and attend Torah Study. It could save your life!
CANDLE LIGHTING - August 17
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:09 - Hong Kong 6:35 - Honolulu 6:42
J'Burg 5:30 - London 8:01 - Los Angeles 7:20
Melbourne 5:28 - Mexico City 7:45 - Miami 7:38
New York 7:34 - Singapore 6:56 - Toronto 8:01
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
What you are afraid of
is never as bad as
what you imagined
In Loving Memory of
Rachel bas Rav Yakov
-- Sol & Anna Zuckerman