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     Torah Parasha Comment.
      (If you would like to comment on this week's Parasha this is the place.)

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Aug. 28, 2002 Jerusalem Post
EDITORIAL: "Resign, Rabbi Sacks."

      As chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, Dr. Jonathan Sacks holds one of the more prominent, and highly visible, rabbinical positions in the Western world.....
  (submitted by David Schulman)

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See letter from Israel
We only print superb articles. Read them!

We are indebted Rabbi Label Lam for his Commentary on
 Rosh Hashanah
   Waking Up in Time

     I am asleep but my heart is awake... (Song of Songs) I consider it a gift from heaven. I don't know where it came from or why I was fortunate enough to be able to retrieve it. That year, I had an ambitious study partner that had me up early in the morning at a time bordering on late night. I'm still a little tired from that epoch, though I don't regret the learning a bit. We agreed to allow ourselves to sleep a little later on the Eve of Rosh Hashana so we can be rested and calm to deal with our families in the important days ahead. The inner alarm clock, however, woke me at the usual holy hour, and I immediately pressed the inner snooze alarm, thankful I still had plenty of time.

     While I lay there in a state of half sleep, I became aware of a thought that was percolating there in the back of my brain. Had I fallen back asleep it would have gone as geese and flown away. At that moment, amazingly a thunderstorm whipped up outside and with a brief crackle there followed an explosive boom that rocked the whole house. Everyone was shaken awake. The children started to cry and I was sitting up in bed consciously aware, now, of a new idea, not knowing, yet, what it really meant: "Rosh HaShana is the Krias Shema Al HaMita (The bedtime reading of Shema Yisrael) for the entire year!" Later that morning I shared what I thought it meant with one of my teachers who patted me on the back a said earnestly, "It's the real truth, Label!" I didn't dare argue with him.

     The Code of Jewish Law begins with the requirement to "wake up like a lion" hungry for life's important tasks. The only problem is that the law is directed at a sleeping man. How does one wake up in the morning like a lion? Simple! Go to bed like a lion! If one goes to sleep like a lion, he stands a fighting chance to wake up like a lion. If one goes to bed like a slug, he'll probably wake up like a slug. Therefore, before we go to bed at night, we have a custom to say a "bedtime shema". This helps set our mind on what we are getting up for. If we go to sleep with a sense of purpose we wake up on purpose.

      If you were in a hotel in some far off city and the next day there was an important early morning business meeting, before retiring for the night you might do two necessary things: 1) Set that alarm clock there on the night table, and 2) Set off the alarm. Why set off the alarm clock at night? Two reasons: 1) To see if it actually works; 2) To tune your ear to the sound you will need to respond to in the morning when you are deep asleep.

      That's what the evening "bedtime shema" is meant to accomplish, and it could be what the blast of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is doing as well. On Rosh Hashana we are arousing our consciousness, if even temporarily, to be clear and intensely aware of our sublime mission here on earth collectively and individually. In accepting The Almighty as our sovereign authority, we are simultaneously crowning ourselves with a supreme sense of purpose. The Shofar, playing the conscience, hauntingly articulates the urgency implied by its potential.

     Then (no cynicism intended) we are apt to fall asleep for the rest of the year, losing consciousness of the original who, what why, where, when, and how did we get into this, anyway? The Shofar installs that signal that will stir us from slumber, no matter how deep the exile of sleep. Just as Rosh Hashana impacts the whole year so too the Shofar. It has something strong to say almost all and every day.

      Just where do we hear that call and cadence in the course of our daily lives? It's no mistake that emergency vehicles know just how to get our attention. The tender infant has a song that opens a mother's heart.

Buzzers and birds nudge with a similar subtle urge.

      Even as I write, workmen saw and hammer. Elsewhere the traffic jams and a chorus of carsclamor. What one person can do to stall or advance the flow of history!

      Ask not for whom the phone rings...

     When the ear and heart are properly sensitized on Rosh Hashana we may merit to hear the ubiquitous and poetic message of the Shofar speaking directly to us at any time, and hope to wake up just in time.

"JEWISH Teachings on Animals"
(See "Vegetarianism" )

Irv Matlow will be giving a D'var Torah in the Board Room at Beth Tzedec Synagogue Toronto on the Parasha at 9.30 am (17th Aug.)

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(submitted by Honest Reporting)
................this week the United Nations issued its long-awaited follow-up report. The 42-page document has established that there was no massacre, and puts the Palestinian death toll at 52, more than half of them armed combatants. See the UN report at:
See letter from Israel
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We are indebted to Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetsky for his Commentary on Parasha Ki Tietze
This week's parsha is replete with a potpourri of commandments, all
encompassing both negative and positive directives that affect our dealingswith fellow humans as well as our Creator.
Among the directives is the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah, returning the lostitems of your fellow Jew.
"You shall not see the ox of your brother or his sheep or goat cast off,
and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return them to your brother.
If your brother is not near you and you do not know him, then gather it
inside your house, and it shall remain with you until your brother inquires
after it, and you return it to him. So shall you do for his donkey, so
shall you do for his garment, and so shall you do for any lost article of
your brother that may become lost from him and you find it; you will not be able to hide yourself" (Deuteronomy 22:1-3).
The Talmud spends a great amount of time and effort detailing this mitzvah in the second chapter of Tractate Bava Metziah. But the last few words of the commandment needs clarification.
The Torah tells us to return lost items and not to shirk our
responsibility. But it does not tell us you are not allowed to hide,
rather it tells us, "lo suuchal, you will not be able to hide."
Why not? Who is stopping you? Surely Hashem does not intervene in our free choice to shun our responsibilities?
The Chofetz Chaim travelled across Poland to distribute his
works. Throughout his travels, he came across a variety of characters and experienced many incidents that he retold in his many lectures on Lashon Harah, and fear of Heaven.
He recounted that once he was going in a wagon, when the driver saw an orchard with delicious fruit trees. The driver turned to his passenger and schemed. Listen, my friend. I am making a short detour. I am going into the field to help myself to some of that fruit. If anybody is watching me, let me know immediately. I don't want to get in trouble here!"
The man parked the wagon on the side of the road and stealthily moved toward the orchard with a small sack in his hand. He was about to fill it with the fine, pilfered fruit when the Chofetz Chaim shouted from the wagon, "Someone is watching!" The man quickly ran back to the carriage and meandered around as if he were just taking a rest.
A few moments later, he snuck back into the orchard, and slowly made his way toward the fruit-laden trees. Once again, as he was about to snatch the fruit off the tree, he heard the old man shout! They're watching! They're watching!"
This time the man dropped his sack and looked all around. He saw no
one. Hands on his hips, he approached the wagon.
"I don't see anyone! Who's watching?" he demanded.
The Chofetz Chaim, shrugged, smiled, and rolled his eyes heavenward as he pointed his finger upwards.
"He is!" he replied.
As the saying goes, "you can run, but you can't hide." The Torah is
telling you more than dos or don'ts. It is telling you what you can do,
and what is virtually impossible for you to do. When you want to look
away, and make it appear as if you do not see, the Torah, in addition to a prohibition, reminds him of the simple fact. Not only are you prohibited from making it appear as if you did not see, but in fact, "you cannot hide!
You cannot look away." We sometimes forget that Hashem is everywhere and his vision is ever peripheral. We think He is focused on one place and is not interested in the tiny details of a man and a lost object.
Such thinking is as silly as the story of the kids at a Bar-Mitzvah, when
the rabbi stacked a bunch of apples on one end of a table with a sign
saying, "Take only one apple please G-d is watching." On the other end of the table was a pile of cookies where a friend of the bar-mitzvah boy had placed a sign on saying, "Take all the cookies you want - God is watching the apples."
When it comes to involving ourselves in communal responsibilities whether it is returning lost souls or lost items, we may try to appear as if we do not know what is happening around us. We may act lost ourselves. But we are hiding from no one. Because if we play the fool, "the only thing we have to fool is fool ourselves."
"JEWISH Teachings on Animals"
(See "Vegetarianism" )

Henry Alkin will be giving a D'var Torah in the Board Room at Beth Tzedec Synagogue Toronto on the Parasha at 9.30 am (10th Aug.)

See new page "Inspiring Stories from Israel"
"Torah in the 21st Century" Website at

Some of you know the Muslims and their Jihad symapthizers have launched a StarBucks boycott campaign. Why?
(submitted by Anne Maurer)
See letter from USA/Canada
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We are indebted to Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetsky for his Commentary on Parasha Shoftim
This week, the Torah teaches us about royalty and its symbiotic relationship with humility. The concept of the Jewish king is discussed in this week'sportion, He is given a tremendous amount of power, but there are caveats as well. He is told not to amass a large cavalry, nor shall he have too many wives lest they sway his heart. Third, he is warned against amassing an excess fortune of gold and silver. But in an interesting addendum, Hashem puts a roadblock to haughtiness in front of the king in a surprisingly different manner. "It shall be that when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah in a book, from before the Kohanim, the Levites. It shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life, so that he will learn to fear Hashem, his G-d, to observe all the words of this Torah and these decrees, to perform them so that his heart does not become haughty over his brethren and not turn from the commandment right or left, so that he will prolong years over his kingdom, he and his sons amid Israel. (Deuteronomy 15:15-17). It seems that this Book of chastisement and its message of restraint need be with the king everyday of his life.Need that be the case? Why not have a court castigator, a prophet or clergy who would sermonize monthly or even weekly. Does the King truly need to constantly carry and read a Book of ethics to forever keep him in check?
Rav Yosef Poesner, was the son-in-law of the Nodeh B'Yehuda, the esteemed Rav of Prague. He was a brilliant scholar and an amazingly righteous individual. During his entire life, he seemed to be plagued by a nagging wife who would belittle him at every opportunity. After a brilliant lecture, she would come into the room, and belittle him. During meetings at which his opinion was prominently sought, she would serve the company food, but at the same time she made sure to deride him. During all these outbursts, he never said a word. He never defended himself. In fact, he hung his head low, as if to agree with her words of derision.
Then, suddenly, he passed away. Hundreds came to the funeral. All of the gathered contrasted his greatness to the difficult life he had led, by being married to a shrew of a wife who was about to bury him. After the eulogies, his wife suddenly appeared before the coffin, crying uncontrollably. She begged his permission to speak and then burst into tears. "All these years," she cried, "I fulfilled the adage that a loyal wife fulfills the wishes of her husband. And due to my loyalty and respect to you and your greatness, I did whatever you had asked me to. But now that you are in the world of the truth, I can finally say the truth." She began to declare her respect for his greatness and humility, his piety and patience, his kindness and compassion.
The people near the coffin were shocked to see this woman transformed into a loving, grieving widow. And then the true shock came. She continued hersoliloquy. "Despite, how difficult it was for me, I kept the promise and commitment you had asked me to make. Any time you were treated honorably, or were asked to fulfill a prestigious role, you told me to come in and belittle you as strongly as possible. You were afraid that the honor they afforded you would make you haughty. I only complied because that was your will! "But now I can finally say the truth!" But that was only in front of people! You know how much I appreciated and cherished you! She continued to cry over the great tzadik and lifelong companion she lost.
The stunned grievers were shocked at the tremendous devotion of the Rebbitzin, who deemed herself a harrying nag all for the sake of her husband's wishes.
Humility is not easy to attain. And for a man thrust in the limelight of power, flashbulbs popping, the media pressing, and servants waiting, it is an even more arduous task. The only antidote is constant mussar, day in day out. The Torah "shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life." Every day. All mussar all the time. No weekly speeches nor sporadic sermons. If the Torah must be cherished like a wife, it also must be asked to nag us into reality. And then, it will serve its men not only delicious desserts, but also humble pie.
"JEWISH Teachings on Animals"
(See "Vegetarianism" )

Dr. Phillip Martin will be giving a D'var Torah in the Board Room at Beth Tzedec Synagogue Toronto on the Parasha at 9.30 am (27th July) H.

See new page "Inspiring Stories from Israel"
"Torah in the 21st Century" Website at

Media Mogul Ted Turner Accuses Israelis Of "Terror" Tactics
Israeli Spokesman Calls Turner's Comments 'Stupid'
See letter from Europe
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We are indebted to Rabbi Mordechai
for his Commentary on Parasha Eikev
This week's Parsha features the second paragraph of the Shema, the
essential prayer which is said twice a day, along with the first
paragraph which we read last week in Parshas Va'eschanan. In both
passages, the Torah tells us to love G-d with 'all your hearts', using
the plural. The commentators explain that this means the dual
inclination which each of us has within us - the inclination to do
good, or the inclination to do the opposite. It is not sufficient for
us to be devoted just with our 'good inclination' but rather we are
instructed to take our 'negative inclination', our animal instincts,
and subdue them, using them to achieve good things. The mystics
explain that this is the very essence of our existence.
The name of this week's Parsha, Eikev, can be translated as a heel.
Rashi explains that the phrase 'vehaya eikev tishmeun' - 'it shall come
to pass, when you shall pay heed...' is talking about the seemingly
minor precepts which a person is tempted to dismiss, to trample on,
hence the idea of a heel.
The Torah is coming to warn us that when it comes to well-known, major
ideas and precepts, we need no reminder - we are well aware of these
concepts and how to apply them in our lives. It is the areas of our
life which may initially appear insignificant - which we tend to
dismiss, to 'trample on' - which we need to be the most careful about.
It is these seemingly small areas where we can make a difference, where
there is more temptation to be dismissive. By overcoming this tendency
and focusing more on the minor details in our dealings with others,
with G-d and even with ourselves, we become more sensitive and
fine-tuned as people. Through this, we will find that our commitment
to our ideals and principles is not just an intellectual notion, or
something which expresses itself at lofty, spiritual moments, but it is
a constant reality which permeates to the lowest level - the heel - of
our very being.
"JEWISH Teachings on Animals"
(See "Vegetarianism" )
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I will be giving a D'var Torah in the Board Room at Beth Tzedec Synagogue Toronto on the Parasha at 9.30 am (20th July) H.

See new page "Inspiring Stories from Israel"
"Torah in the 21st Century" Website at

Submitted by Frank Baigel
When Menachem Begin paid his first visit to president Jimmy Carter as prime minister, Carter spent much of the time pressing Begin to "freeze the settlements." Begin's reply was simple: "You, Mr. President, have in the United States a number of places with names like Bethlehem, Shiloh, and Hebron, and you haven't the right to tell prospective residents in those places that they are forbidden to live there. Just like you, I have no such right in my country. Every Jew is entitled to settle wherever he pleases."
See Letter from USA/Canada
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We are indebted to Rabbi Yaakov Menken
for his Commentary on Parasha Va'eschanan
"And you shall love HaShem your G-d, with all your heart, with all your
soul, and with all your resources." [6:5]

Our Sages say, in the Midrash, that we must love G-d completely. Whether we
receive something good or bad, we should accept it with joy. As the Mishnah
says in Pirkei Avot, the Chapters of the Fathers, "Who is rich? He who is
happy with his portion."The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, is
bothered by two aspects of this saying. First of all, how can we expect a person
who is poor, and who provides for himself with difficulty, to be happy with his situation?
And second, why does the saying refer to "his portion," rather than simply "he
who is happy with what he has?"
To answer these questions, the Chofetz Chaim offers a parable. As we know,
a carpenter needs a saw. But a carpentry saw is a simple instrument,
available from any hardware store for a few dollars. Why not give him
something better? Imagine if we were to replace his simple, cheap saw with
the type of high-precision cutting instrument used by diamond cutters --
worth hundreds of times the value of the original.
Have we done him a favor? Of course not! It may be true that a carpentry
saw is inexpensive, but it is a necessity if the carpenter is to do his
job. He can't earn a living with a diamond-cutting saw. He can't cut wood
with it, and no one would entrust their diamonds to him. In order to get
his job done, the carpenter needs his plain, simple instrument -- a
diamond-cutter is useless.
The Chofetz Chaim says that we must learn to look at the world the same
way. The Holy One, Blessed be He, stands over every creature, and He knows
exactly what each of us needs, and what tests each person needs to face.
Some must be tested with poverty, to see if they will withstand difficult
situations. Others must be tested with wealth, to see if they will open
their hands to the poor. Every detail of a person's life is apportioned to
respond to his or her unique needs, in order to enable each of us to
perfect ourselves and the world around us.
Were a person to suddenly find himself in someone else's situation, in
someone else's shoes, he would certainly be much worse off! This is why the
Sages tell us that a wealthy person is one who is happy with his portion -
using the language "portion" quite intentionally. That which each of us
has, is apportioned.
Thus whenever we find ourselves in difficult situations, even those capable
of causing great pain and anguish, we should not permit them to break us -
for just the opposite, whatever we receive is for our benefit, so we should
realize that we will profit from these tests like all others.
Obviously it takes a person on a high spiritual level to truly feel this
way about every situation. But every person can take comfort in recognizing
that G-d never abandons us, never leaves us in difficult times -- and quite
the opposite, we often feel G-d's closeness during the greatest trials.
And, says the Chofetz Chaim, if a person is able to pass through such tests
and not despair, this will stand as living testimony to that individual's
trust and reliance on G-d's limitless love, care, and ability to help us.

"JEWISH Teachings on Animals"
(See "Vegetarianism" )
Visit Our Website at:

See new page "Inspiring Stories from Israel"
"Torah in the 21st Century" Website at

"As you will shortly see, the CNN perfected its ability to report only one side of the story (the EVIL side), thereby supporting only that side's cause and SHOWING THE WORLD HOW BIASED THE CNN IS."
(See "Letter from Israel" )
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We are indebted to Rabbi Yaakov Menken
for his Commentary on Parasha Devarim
Each year, we begin reading the Book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, on the
Sabbath preceding our observance of Tisha B'Av, the Ninth of Av -- which
falls on Sunday this year. In Chapter 1, verse 12 of our reading, Moshe
says: "How can I alone carry your toil, your burden and your
argument?" This verse begins with the same Hebrew word, "Eichah," that
opens the Book of Lamentations read on 9 Av.
In the Midrash, our Sages tell us that both occurrences of "Eichah" recall
a still earlier use of the word. In Genesis, when Adam and Eve violate the
single Commandment they were given, G-d calls to them in the Garden of
Eden: "Ayekah? Where are you?" In Hebrew, the consonants are the same;
only the vowels are different.
The connection between "Ayekah" and "Eichah" runs much deeper than letters
alone. When there is division and discord, and when tragedy falls, G-d is
saying, "where are you? What has happened to you?" When we see divisiveness
or tragedy, it should inspire our return to G-d. And for this to happen, we must, first
and foremost, remember.
Let us think about the greatest communal tragedy of this century -- the
Holocaust. In only another few years, the survivors will no longer be with
us to share their stories.
Baltimore lost a humble hero -- Menashe Yosef ben Avraham Yaakov zt"l,
Menashe Schamroth. Those who knew this outgoing, witty, scholarly man,
or who heard him blow the Shofar each Rosh HaShanah in Congregation
Beth Abraham, "Hertzberg's Shul," may not have known how he got that job.
After the war, a survivor told Rav Hertzberg an incredible story. In
Auschwitz, he said, he saw a young man blow the shofar on Rosh HaShanah --
something which could surely have cost him his life.
Out of the corner of his eye, Rabbi Hertzberg saw Menashe smiling. "Do you
find this funny?" the Rabbi asked.
"Well, Rebbe," said Menashe, "that was me."
Menashe went on to blow shofar, daven and give Torah classes in Beth
Abraham for decades. How many of our children will ever meet someone who
risked his life, as Menashe did, in order to live as a Jew?
On an Internet discussion list not long ago, a _Jewish_ participant denied
that there had been acts of spiritual heroism in the camps. These stories,
he claimed, were merely invented afterwards. When Menashe was with us, it
was simple to say, "you're mistaken." But now he is no longer here, and
preserving his memory is now our responsibility.
If a conductor can present Wagner at the Israel Festival, and whitewash
Wagner as merely "Hitler's favorite composer," then we are already failing.
The reality is that Wagner was one of the primary agitators concerning "the
Jewish problem," for which Hitler proposed his "Final Solution" a mere 50
years later.
Yet Wagner is being played, and Holocaust commissions and services are
already themselves beset with conflict. "How should we memorialize the
martyrs?" is the title of the debate. But what they are really asking, or
really _should_ be asking, is: how can we be certain that our memory of
this Jewish tragedy will truly never be lost?
One thing is clear: if we do not remember the Ninth of Av, we have no
guarantee that our descendents will remember the Holocaust. Indeed, "where
are we?" When people declare that "we will always remember" -- and head
for the beach this Sunday -- it is nothing if not painfully naive.
The history of the Ninth of Av is one of calamity upon disaster throughout
our history, ever since the Jews believed the false report of the Spies and
sat down to mourn on that day. G-d said then that the mourners would not
enter the Land of Israel, and instead would die in the desert. And
furthermore, He said, the Ninth of Av would remain a day of mourning until
the Final Redemption, when it will become a national Holiday.
And so it has been. Both the First and Second Temples were set ablaze on
the Ninth of Av. The city of Betar, the last stronghold against the Romans,
fell on Tisha B'Av, and thousands died by the sword. The deadline for the
infamous Expulsion from Spain, by which all Jews were forced to abandon
their property and leave the country on pain of death, was the Ninth of Av,
1492. And, as students of European history are well aware, the start of the
process of destruction of Germany, and the rise of Naziism, was World War
One -- which broke out on Saturday evening, August 1, 1914, the Ninth of Av.
The Ninth of Av is not a pleasant holiday. It is not a day of joy. But it
is a day when we must set aside time to think about the tragedies which
befell the Jewish people over these past thousands of years. If we cannot
remember the destruction of 1930 years ago, then who will preserve for us
the memory of recent destruction, 1950 years from now?
"JEWISH Teachings on Animals"
(See "Vegetarianism" )