I often become startled – if not embarrassed when I find myself around those who hate to give. Pirkei Avot 5:13 teaches us that there are four types of givers. There is one who wishes to give but that others should not. He begrudges others! There is one who believes that others should give, but that he does not have to. He begrudges himself! There is one who gives and believes that others should give too. He is a Chassid (pious person)! Finally there is one who believes that he does not have to give, nor should others. He is wicked! When I find a situation of someone asking for help (especially a person dressed in rags – God forbid) other than considering my own responsibility to give, I find myself reciting this Mishnah. Indeed, the Mishnah is telling us the truth!
The Baal Shem Tov teaches: The 42 journeys of Bnei Yisrael from Egypt to the Land of Israel are a reflection of the 42 journeys that each person experiences throughout their lives…
Parshat Balak tells us the story about a king ready to destroy the Jewish people. His reasoning – without any provocation or cause – based on made-up images that perhaps only a lunatic could consider. Having seen that Bnei Yisrael were successful in destroying the two kings – Sichon and Og, he imagined that he was next in line. His plan – to hire a magician to curse the Jewish people into oblivion.
Chukim… These are the laws of the Torah that have no reason to them – much like the fact that we are forbidden to eat pork, to mix meat and milk, or forbidden to wear a garment made of Shatnez – a mixture of wool and linen. There’s no reason why these things should be forbidden. Not, at least, according to human logic! However, the Torah is not the mind of a human, it is the instruction book (as well as the Book of Mysteries) given over to us from the Creator of the world – of the universe, and really of everything one could ever imagine to exist.
Death! A word that conjures up little feelings of excitement – for most. Life – on the other hand, is the very purpose of existence. That word – when expressed in its most fullest manner, takes on feelings of joy and blessing.
Parshat Shelach begins with a story. Hashem tells Moshe he may send in the leaders of each of the tribes to investigate more about the land they are entering into. This is the Land that Hashem will bring them to – the one He had promised since the time of Avraham Avinu (our father). There really was no need to have them scout the land. Surely Hashem already knows what’s best! Nevertheless, God gives Moshe the opportunity to take the initiative if he so wishes and to have people from the nation of Israel see how wonderful it is themselves. With all this – the scouts – save for Kaleiv ben Yefuneh and Yehoshua bin Nun bring back a negative report, ultimately causing the entire nation to wander in the desert for forty years, and in fact die without meriting to enter the land!