Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25-27 )
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GOOD MORNING! You may have heard of the Darwin Awards. They are given (usually post-humously) once a year to those people who have removed themselves from the gene pool by doing something stupid, which usually costs them their lives.
You also may or may not be familiar with Psalms. They are praises and supplications written largely by King David. In times of trouble, especially when someone is sick or having an operation, people will recite Psalms. They bring a closeness to the Almighty and articulately convey the emotions that we have when we are scared, worried, excited, grateful, happy. People not only say them for the comfort of knowing that they CAN rely upon the Almighty, but because there is great merit in reciting Psalms.
What do the Darwin Awards have to do with King David's Psalms? When King David wrote Psalms, he wrote them with an element of ruach Ha-Kodesh, a level of prophesy, granted to him by the Eternal One. In Psalm 117 in states, "Praise God, all of the nations, give credit - all of the peoples - for the Almighty has overwhelmed us (the Jewish people) with His kindness - and the truth of the Almighty is forever."
One can understand that those nations of the world who have positive feelings for the Jewish people and appreciate their own benefit from the blessing that the Almighty gave the world through the Jewish people ("Those who bless you will be blessed") will praise the Almighty for His kindnesses to us. However, there are those who don't like the Jewish people -- why should they be called upon to give credit to the Almighty and praise Him for what He does for us?
Here is the answer - and one step closer to explaining the connection between the Darwin Awards and the Psalms. Throughout history many nations and peoples of the world set out to harm or destroy the Jewish people only to have their plans foiled through "circumstances." These failed plans rarely come to light and only those people who set out to do us harm can truly recognize how the Jewish people are miraculously protected from the intent of their plans. They are the ones called upon to give praise and credit to the Almighty and to recognize Him and the truth of His Eternal covenant with the Jewish people!
How is this connected to the Darwin Awards? Having lived in Israel, it is a frequent occurrence to read in the paper of miraculous near-misses, non-explosions, early explosion of bombs intended to harm Jews. Infrequently, do we hear the rest of the story on how we are saved from our enemies. An incident 9 years ago in Israel won a Darwin Award (http://www.darwinawards.com):
"(5 September 1999, Jerusalem) In most parts of the world, the switch away from Daylight Savings Time proceeds smoothly. But the time change raised havoc with Palestinian terrorists.
"Israel insisted on making a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of Slihot, involving pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians unequivocally refused to 'live on Zionist Time.' Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the 'correct' time.
"At precisely 5:30 Israel time on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. It was initially believed that the devices had been detonated prematurely by klutzy amateurs. A closer look revealed the truth behind the untimely explosions.
"The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set on Daylight Savings time. The confused drivers had already switched to standard time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to enquire whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, delivering to the terrorists their well-deserved demise."
The Jewish people are known for three character traits: merciful, kind and morally-sensitive. It is incumbent upon us to look upon all of humanity with kindness and compassion - after all, every human being is created in the image of God. It would be nice if the nations of the world would emulate this and then fulfill the words of the psalm to praise the Almighty - rather than trying to kill the messenger.
For more on "Psalms" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah portion begins with the laws of Shemitah, the Sabbatical year, where the Jewish people are commanded to not plant their fields or tend to them in the seventh year. Every 50th year is the Yovel, the Jubilee year, where agricultural activity is also proscribed.
These two commandments fall into one of the seven categories of evidence that God gave the Torah. If the idea is to give the land a rest, then the logical plan would be to not plant one-seventh of the land each year. To command an agrarian society to completely stop cultivating all farm lands every 7th year, one has to be either G-d or a meshugenah (crazy). No sane group of editors would include such an "insane" commandment in a set of laws for the Jewish people; only God could command it and ensure the survival of the Jewish people for following it.
Also included in this portion: redeeming land which was sold, to strengthen your fellow Jew when his economic means are faltering, not to lend to your fellow Jew with interest, the laws of indentured servants. The portion ends with the admonition to not make idols, to observe the Shabbat and to revere the Sanctuary.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"You shall not hurt the feelings of one another, and you shall fear the Almighty." (Leviticus 25:17)
Why does the verse end with the words, "and you shall fear the Almighty"?
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger commented: Some people are careless with the feelings of other people; they think that they only have to be careful to observe those commandments which involve man's obligation to the Almighty. The Truth is that if a person is not careful with his obligations to his fellow men and speaks against them and hurts their feelings, he will eventually be careless with the commandments between man and the Almighty. This is why the Torah adds the admonition to fear the Almighty at the end of the verse. Failure to observe the first half of the verse will lead to failure to observe the latter half of the verse.
Since verbal abuse can cause so much suffering, much care must be taken not to say things that will hurt feelings. The more sensitive someone is, the greater care we must take when speaking to not cause pain with our words. Not only is it important to watch what you say to someone, but also your tone of voice is crucial. If you shout at someone or speak in an angry voice, this causes hurt feelings and is included in this prohibition.
Every time you speak to someone you have a choice of saying things that will make him feel good (which is the fulfillment of an act of chesed, kindness) or you might say something that will hurt him (and violate this prohibition). Utilize your power of speech to build people up, not to tear them down.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 16
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:05 - Hong Kong 6:38 - Honolulu 6:45
J'Burg 5:10 - London 8:28 - Los Angeles 7:31
Melbourne 5:01 - Mexico City 7:47 - Miami 7:43
New York 7:49 - Singapore 6:49 - Toronto 8:19
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Tact is the art of recognizing
when to be big and
when not to belittle.
-- Bill Copeland
Congratulation on your graduation!
The Simkovitz Family