Matot 5768

June 24, 2009

4 min read


Matot-Masay (Numbers 30-36 )

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GOOD MORNING! We are now in the "Three Weeks" -- the period of time between the 17th of Tamuz and the 9th of Av. It is such an inauspicious period throughout our history that the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, advises us to avoid court cases and forbids the performance of weddings. It is a period of introspection with thoughts to correcting one's mistakes in life. During this period both of the Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.

The Second Temple was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam, unwarranted hatred. People did not treat others with respect or kindness. The Sages tell us that for the Third Temple to be rebuilt there needs to be Ahavas Chinam, unconditional love.

What is love? Love is the pleasure one has in focusing on the good in someone else. We have the ability to see something positive in others and by reflecting on that trait, it engenders love. (After all, even Atilla the Hun's mother loved him.) By sharing with the person what we value in him or her is a kindness and can have far reaching effects. I heard the following story from Dr. Bernie Siegel, cancer surgeon turned holistic healer:

A woman gave her boss a card which read "You make a difference! The world is a better place because of you!" and told him that she appreciated his concern for his employees. She then asked him to please pass the card on to another deserving individual within 24 hours.

That night the boss came home late. As he was walking down the hall he noticed his teenage son's light shining from under the door. He knocked and asked if he could come in to the room. "Son," says the man, "I know that I haven't been a very good father. I work late and don't spend much time with you. However, I want you to know that I love you and that you make a big difference in my life. I received this card today and I want you to have it." They hug, they kiss, they cry.

As the father is about to leave the room, the son says, "Dad, there is something that I want to give you that I won't be needing." He then pulls a loaded revolver from under his mattress. "I was going to use this tonight because I didn't think you loved me. Now I don't need to."

One often doesn't know what effect a kind word or a kind deed has on another's life. There are similar stories to the above story. However, every kindness has an impact big or small whether we see it or not. If each of us would have in mind to do just one act of gratuitous kindness each day -- hold a door for someone, smile, say hello, help another with a heavy package or suitcase, give someone a ride, call someone who might enjoy hearing from you -- it would definitely be a better world.

If you are interested in having some cards to give out to some deserving people, I had some printed up. Just send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Aish Cards, 3150 Sheridan Avenue, Miami Beach, Fl. 33140. I will send you half a dozen cards. Together we can help make this a kinder, better world -- and even hasten the building of the Third Temple!

For more on "The Three Weeks" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

Matos includes the laws of making and annulling vows, the surprise attack on Midian (the '67 War wasn't the Jewish people's first surprise attack!) in retribution for the devastation the Midianites wreaked upon the Jewish people, the purification after the war of people and vessels, dedicating a portion of the spoils to the communal good (perhaps the first Federation campaign), the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their portion of land to be east of the Jordan river (yes, Trans-Jordan/Jordan is also part of the Biblical land of Israel). Moshe objects to the request because he thinks the tribes will not take part in the conquering of the land of Israel; the tribes clarify that they will be the advance troops in the attack and thus receive permission.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states,

"And Novach went and captured Kenas and its surrounding villages and he called it Novach after his name" (Numbers 32:42).

Why did the Almighty include this verse in the Torah?

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch elucidates: Throughout the world powerful leaders have wanted to leave monuments to themselves through statues and buildings named after them. Kings and conquerors have even named large cities after themselves. However, names can very easily be changed and then nothing is left, as happened to Novach. (Neither Novach or the city he named after himself are remembered to history.) The good deeds of a person and his spiritual attainments are the only true everlasting monuments.

When you view the good that you do as your eternal monument, you will feel greater motivation to accomplish as much as you can. A life of spiritual attainments is everlasting. Feel joy in every positive act you do, for it gives greater splendor to your monument!

Some Thoughts from Pirkei Avos:

"The world stand on three things: on Torah, Avodah (prayer) and on Gemilas Chasadim (deeds of kindness)."
-- Shimon HaTzadik (the righteous) ... Chapter 1:2

"There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship. And the crown of a good name is superior to them all." -- Rabbi Shimon ... Chapter 4:17

(or go to

Jerusalem 7:06
Guatemala 6:15 - Hong Kong 6:49 - Honolulu 6:56
J'Burg 5:18 - London 8:43 - Los Angeles 7:41
Melbourne 5:08 - Mexico City 7:58 - Miami 7:53

New York 8:00 - Singapore 6:59 - Toronto 8:30


Kindness consists of loving people
more than they deserve.
-- Jacqueline Schiff

With Deep Appreciation to
James & Patricia Cayne

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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