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FRUMToronto Articles Parsha Pearls

Devrei Torah relating to the weekly Parsha.

Blog Image: Thoughts.JPG
Reb Shlomo Zalman Bamidbar 5769

Hi Kids,                                                                                                                               

I hope you are all well and happy. Again I had an incredibly busy week and have not had enough time to talk to you all as much as I like - please forgive me and allow me once again to be a part of your Shabbos table and discussion. I don't know if I will get a chance next week to write you because of Shavuos, so this is more geared to Shavuos than the parsha. So that the parsha won't be offended, my challenge to us all is to create or find a connection from this message to Bamidbar. Anyway, first I'll tell you a story from R' Vallach and then my own explanation as to why it is relevant to Shavuos.                                           
A true story. A brother and sister, close in age, had reached the age of 'freedom'. Young secular Israelis, eager to explore the world, went off backpacking to India ( I hear that at any given time there are around 40,000 Israelis in India touring and backpacking ). Once there, they split up. In her travels, the girl visited a temple headed by a charismatic guru, where they practiced some form of idol/inner-self worship. She became enamored by the guru and the peaceful, soft description of life in the ashram. She decided to stay there and become one of them. Her brother in his journeys, 'chanced' upon a "bayis Yehudi" - a Jewish house (similar to the one that was recently massacred in Mumbai). It was in this unlikely place that this young Israeli boy heard a lecturer from the group "Arachim" and first came to know about his own religion and heritage. In India he began to wear tfillin, keep Shabbos and learn Torah. After a few months, he returned to Israel a new person, a ba'al teshuvah in the fullest sense.                         
His sister however, stayed on at the ashram, an avid follower of her guru. Her brother, having come to know the truth about being a Jew, was desparate to try and get his sister freed from the empty, idol-worshipping lifestyle she had chosen. He saved up for a few months until he had enough to offer his sister a trip home, hoping that just getting away from her environment might cool her off from her infatuation with the cult. He offerred her the ticket to come home to at least visit their parents. He only attached one condition - that she attend at least one "Arachim" lecture in their hometown of Haifa ( He scheduled the ticket for the same time as a particularly good speaker was coming to Haifa ). She agreed and came home to visit. The brother's plan however, did not work out. Her enthusiasm for the cult did not wane at all and she was very annoyed at the lecture she was forced to attend. After waiting over an hour for the lecturer to show up, the organizer announced that the lecturer called from the road that his car had broken down and that it would be impossible for him to make it. The organizer did not want the audience to go emptyhanded, so unprepared, he learned with them the gemarah he had learned that morning. The subject was how Jewish law treats a lost object and our responsibilities vis-a-vis returning them to their rightful owners. She tried listening just to be courteous but was very bored - she chalked it up to 'payment' for the trip. The visit ended uneventfully - she returned to the ashram in India and her brother enrolled in a yeshiva.                                                                                                                            
Not long after that, one of the boys in the yeshiva came running into the bais medrash to tell our young ba'al teshuvah that he had a visitor waiting outside. He was shocked to see his sister, "what are you doing here", he asked showing his joy at seeing her. "I need you to find me a school like this one for girls - I too want to come back to the Torah", she said sheepishly. "What happenned", he asked afraid that something traumatic may have happenned to her. She explained that she was fine but this is what happenned." A few days ago, I was walking with the guru in the streets of a holy hindu city. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks - he noticed an obviously stuffed purse that some tourist must have dropped. He picked it up and found in it lots of cash and also a passport. Without hesitation, he put the purse in his own knapsack. I asked him what he intended to do with the purse - after all, with the passport he could easily return it to the police or the appropriate consulate.( She expected this man who constantly preached love and peace toward others, a man who wouldn't hurt a fly and who had great respect for all living things, to surely make the effort to return the purse to its owner.) The answer I got was a bunch of doubletalk about karma and how it was meant to be that he should be the one to find such a treasure and use it for the good of the temple and congregation and how the purse will be spiritually elevated…blah blah blah. At that moment I recalled that boring lecture which I 'accidentally' heard in Haifa - how the Torah respects each individual's property rights and how the finder of a lost object has the responsibility to watch the object until the owner comes for it (not in all cases, but certainly in this case where the passport was there). The truth suddenly became so clear, the contrast in the honesty of the approach was so stark - I knew I had to come home and join your way."                 R' Vallach brings this story to illustrate "Na'aseh Vinishmah" - the signifigance of saying "we will do" before "we will hear". The sister discovered that any guru can sell a religion which doesn't demand any REAL commitment to the ideals preached, but the Torah is selling actual responsibility and adherance to truth.                                                        
 I B"EZH drew another thought from the story if you'll indulge me another minute. Why am I telling you a story of hashgacha pratis now, before Shavuos? I learned a gemara this morning that made me decide to tell this kind of story. In brief, the gemara says that (despite the fact that they said "Na'aseh Vinishmah") the original acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish people at Har Sinai was somewhat coerced and therefore was to some degree, incomplete. The complete acceptance of the Torah did not take place until some 800 years later during the story of Purim. Rashi explains that out of the love of the miracle that happenned to them at that time, they fully accepted the Torah.But there were so many other miracles in the years preceeding the Purim story - why did they not generate this special reaction?                                                                                             
The reason I think is, that the Purim story was the first and second generations after the exile. There were people there who experienced the actual exile ( I think I am factually at least close ). Before the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed, miracles were daily occurances in Israel. From the days of the desert all the way to the destruction, the Schinah was amongst the people for all to see. After the destruction, it looked like Hashem was hiding. The generation of Purim made an awesome discovery through the 'miracle' of their story. When they read the narrative and put it all together they realized that just because we were no longer worthy of the Bais Hamikdash, did not mean that Hashem stopped loving us. They thought that the miracles had stopped forever but found out that they never stopped at all - we just need to improve our ability to find them. Their affirmation that Hashem's love for the Jewish people IS forever, and H-S commitment to them IS forever, is what inspired them to complete their absolute commitment  to Hashem and H-S Torah.                                                                                                              
Hashgacha Pratis stories are like the Purim story - when you see how it all unfolds and how everything fits into place, you realize that Hashem loves us and watches over us always. So you've read this story and I hope you read more Hashgacha Pratis stories for yourselves and for the kids. Each story adds inspiration in your life, an inspiration which naturally leads to greater commitment and closeness to Hashem and the Torah.                                                                  
I wish you all a wonderful Shabbos Bamidbar which always falls out the week before Shavuos and I wish you all an inspirational as well as delicious Yom Tov.                                                                                                            I love you all,  'd'       

Posted 5/23/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls | Comments (0)

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