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Hanna's Dvar Torah

The enemies of Moses and Aharon - Korach

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Someone acted against you. A higher authority got involved in order to punish him. How would you react?

In the weekly Torah portion Korach, Korach swayed hundreds of Jews to rebel against Moses’ and Aaron’s authority. G-d was angry and wanted to punish them severely. How do you think Moses and Aharon reacted?

They asked G-d to not punish all the rebels, since the rebellion was started by Korach only and the rest of them simply got carried away.

Of course, the fact that they got carried away is not an excuse. A person should be strong enough and do the right thing even under social pressure. Nevertheless, Moses and Aaron asked that only the leader of the rebels gets punished and that the rest, who merely got influenced, shall be forgiven. This distinction, of who initiated the rebellion and who got carried away, is something that only G-d, who knows the thoughts of every one of us, can make.

Wow. Even though this is about the people who rebelled against them, Moses and Aaron pray for them and try to justify them. Among those that they try to defend are Datan and Aviram. Both were known troublemakers that were involved in every complaint, protest, and fight against Moshe, even back in Egypt. Yet, they prayed even for them, saying that they were just carried away.

There is so much we can learn from Moses’ and Aaron’s example. They searched to find the good, even in the people who opposed them on a personal level. There is usually a way to understand and justify the other, without necessarily agreeing with him/her.

Today, Thursday 3 Tamuz, is the anniversary of the passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. The Rebbe always saw the good, but also the potential in every one. On such a day, let us think how we can emulate the example of the Rebbe, seeing the good in everyone around us and keeping the Mitzvot to bring Moshiach now!

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

A life without efforts - Shelach

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Have you ever dreamed of a life where you don’t need to wake up early to go to work? A life where you could dedicate your time only to subjects that really interest you?

You are not the first one.

When the Jews approached the land of Israel, Moses sent spies to explore the land, in order to plan the best way to conquer it. The spies returned with a pessimistic report: the land is indeed good, but its inhabitants are very strong. They concluded that: “We won’t be able to overcome them”. The people started mourning until G-d got angry and decided that all this generation would stay in the desert for 40 years and only their children would merit to enter the Holy land.

But… these Jews had just seen with their own eyes the Ten Plagues, the Split of the Red Sea, the giving of the Torah. How could they question G-d’s power?

Chasidut explains the deeper meaning of the Jews’ unwillingness to enter the land of Israel:

As long as the Jews were in the desert, they had all what they needed in order to live with no effort. The bread (the Manna) descended from the sky. Miriam’s Well accompanied them miraculously throughout the desert. Their clothes were growing together with them. In this way, they could completely dedicate themselves to study Torah and do Mitzvot. But when they would enter Israel, all these miracles would stop. They would have to cultivate the fields, graze the animals and generally get involved in physicality. They would have the ability to study Torah all day anymore…

The Jews didn’t want that. They preferred to stay in the desert and continue this spiritual way of life. It sounds ideal. Why were they punished so hard?

G-d has enough angels that fulfil His will without making any mistake, since they don’t have the “evil inclination” that we humans have. When G-d created us, humans, He was looking for something different.

G-d wanted a material world, where the good is hidden and the human reveal it. This can only be through keeping Torah and Mitzvot in this physical world, without separating ourselves from material life.

Let’s think of a way to bring G-d close to the material world this week, by doing a Mitzva.

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

What do YOU think? - Beaalotecha

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One of the interesting rules I learned in my teaching studies is not to answer students’ questions. It is better to return the question and ask the student: what do you think? In the different classes I have taught so far, I saw it happening again and again. Most of the times, the only thing a child needs is some encouragement and/or direction. Returning the question to the students helps them get by themselves to the right answer, while improving their thinking skills so in the future, they are able to solve even problems that were never taught in the classroom.

This is exactly the message of the weekly Torah portion Behaalotcha. We learn about the lighting of the Menorah in the Holy Temple. The high priest who lit it daily had to make sure that every flame was lit well enough so it could continue to shine by itself, without external help.

Every one of us is like the Menorah – we have to shine and light the world around us. The Menorah consists of the body (the object) and the light. We too have our body and our soul. We always need to remember that our body is not the purpose, it is there just to serve the soul and allow its light to shine.

G-d “lights” us and gives us the power to accomplish His mission in this world. But we need to shine with our own light. This is why G-d gave us free choice and set up the world in a way that the right thing to do isn’t always easy. G-d gives us the power, but we need to decide to use it for the good.

When we help or teach someone, let’s have in mind to educate him/her in a way that in he/she will be able to stand on their own in the future .

Even when we are not in a friendly and encouraging environment, we can and must shine with our own special light.

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

Wealth or waste? - Naso

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If someone wins 10.000.000 € in the lottery, can he start spending it without thinking and calculating?

In the weekly Torah portion Naso, we read about the donation of the Leaders. The Leaders of the twelve Tribes of Israel donated 6 wagons for the transportation of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) during their way in the dessert.

When we study the sizes of the planks, the fabrics and all the rest of the parts of the Mishkan we find out something strange. These few wagons had to carry an unbelievably heavy and bulky load. The Talmud makes different mathematical calculations to understand how it was possible to have all these items in such a little space. Our Sages explain that the Levites in charge had to accompany the wagons to make sure nothing falls out during the trip, since they were put up to the edge.

The big question is why? Couldn’t the Leaders find another place to save money?  The Mishkan was made of the best and most expensive materials: gold, silver, precious stones etc. Why did the Leaders bring just half a wagon each?

The answer is 6 words: Yes, to wealth, no to waste.

G-d’s house should be nice and luxurious, that is why the best materials were used. But even then, needless waste was forbidden, even of one gram.

The leaders were not being stingy. Since the parts of the Mishkan could be carried by 6 wagons, having one more wagon would be a waste, there would be there some extra and unutilized space. And waste is not ok.

G-d created every single thing for a purpose. Our responsibility is to utilize everything in the best way.

Let us take for example our time. We have 10.080 minutes per week. Even when we are waiting for the microwave to heat our food or when we are riding the bus, these are still minutes that need to be utilized. G-d did not create them without a reason.

Or our money. Even if someone wins the lottery, he still should not waste it without thinking. It needs to be utilized properly – G-d did not create it without a reason.

Just like our talents. One person has an exceptional voice, someone else has “golden hands”, the third has an amazing explaining skill and generally, we all have a talent(s). We should utilize them for doing good, not let them to rust. G-d did not create them without a reason.

Last Tuesday was my birthday. A friend of mine reminded me of these 6 chariots, reminding me of something important. Since G-d brought me into this world, and G-d does nothing without a reason, this means there is a special mission that just I could fulfil here. Our birthday is the day that G-d decided that the world cannot go without us – we are needed. No one here is useless.

Let us utilize our gifts and time for G-dly purposes. Let us decide that this week, when we’ll have 2-3 “empty” waiting minutes, we will utilize them productively, for instance, by reading a Psalm of David – Tehilim.

It may seem to us “just” 2-3 minutes, but G-d created them for a reason.

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

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