Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20 )
GOOD MORNING! Have you ever wondered about the uniqueness of Jewish history? For 3,800 years virtually everyone hates the Jews and wants to destroy the Jews - yet all of our enemies eventually disappeared off the face of history while the Jewish people survive. And to top it off, the world adopts and pays homage - at least in theory -to the Torah ideals on how we should live - that each life has value, the goal of world peace, justice and equality, education, family, and social responsibility.
The epic sweep of the Jewish people's progress through time violates all the laws of human history. Mark Twain wrote, "All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
Now comes the Crash Course in Jewish History by Aish HaTorah's resident historian, Rabbi Ken Spiro, to answer that question - to unravel the miracles and explain the significance of our past and its impact on the future of both the Jewish people and humanity. Written from a traditionally Jewish perspective, this book is highly readable, informative and fascinating as it takes the reader on a meaningful journey through time. The book is scholarly, enlightening and enjoyable!
A few excerpts from the book:
The earliest personalities in Genesis define the model for the collective nature of the Jewish people throughout history. Abraham was the prototype Jew which is instilled through a metaphysical DNA into every Jew through history - kindness, a sense of mission, idealism, uncompromising drive, strength of character to stand alone against the world. Abraham didn't care what people thought. He chose to lay his life on the line for the ultimate cause - to elevate the world to the highest moral and spiritual level possible - to bring humanity back to its relationship with God. This also helps explain the concept of "the chosen people." Abraham, in effect, said to God, "I choose to live with the reality of You and to bring all of humanity back to that reality." God then said to Abraham, "Then I choose you and your descendants."
Social philosopher Ernest Van den Haag observed that "Jews may call themselves humanists or atheists, socialist or communists ... they may even dislike their Jewishness and deny it in scientific terms. But, rarely do they refuse to carry it.... They won't give up being Jewish even when they consciously try to - when they change their names, intermarry and do everything to deny Jewishness.... Jews continue to feel the yoke, the task, the moral mission of being Jews - of preserving themselves as such, and to the surprise, scorn and at times hatred of the rest of the world, of refusing to become anything else."
The moral mission of the Jews was called into action when God spoke to Abraham (then called Abram) and sent him on a journey of a lifetime - a journey which still continues for his descendants.
John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote in praise of the Jews: "I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation.... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern."
If you would like to know Jewish history and the key lessons and profound relevance that the past hold for the future of both the Jewish people and humanity, then you would probably like to get a copy of Rabbi Spiro's Crash Course in Jewish History - from your local Jewish bookstore or at http://j.mp/BuyCrashCourse.
For more on "Jewish History" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
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.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
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."
"This," wrote Rabbi Moshe Chaifetz, author of Meleches Machsheves, "is the idea of our verse. Each man should be the head of his family's lineage. He should be an elevated person in his own right." Rather than boasting about one's prominent lineage, one should focus on making oneself into an elevated person.
Lineage has been compared to a carrot - oftentimes 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. Your lesson: You should live your life so that your descendants will be proud to consider you their ancestor!
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 14
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Guatemala 6:04 - Hong Kong 6:36 - Honolulu 6:43
J'Burg 5:10 - London 8:25 - Los Angeles 7:28
Melbourne 5:02 - Mexico City 7:45 - Miami 7:40
New York 7:47 - Singapore 6:49 - Toronto 8:16
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Some people like the Jews, and some do not.
But no thoughtful man can deny the fact
that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable
and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.
-- Winston Churchill
With Deep Appreciation to
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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