Friday, September 16, 2016

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Dear Friend,                                                                                                                                                                                    
We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, just a few weeks away from Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays – a time of reflection, introspection and taking on new resolutions with which to enhance our lives, spiritually and meaningfully. 

Cheder Chabad of Monsey hopes that these weekly Torah thoughts will help inspire to achieve those goals. All the students, staff and administration of Cheder Chabad of Monsey wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May this year be the year of the full and complete redemption with the coming of our righteous Moshiach - NOW! 

There is a rather curious juxtaposition of ideas in our Parshah this week, Ki Seitzei (Devorim [Deuteronomy] 21:10-25:19). The Torah cautions us against allowing Ammonite and Moabite men to convert and join the Jewish people. The reasons? Firstly, “because they did not greet you with bread and water on the road when you were leaving Egypt”. And secondly, “because they hired Balaam . . . to curse you.”

Such a diverse set of crimes lumped together. In the same breath we are told to shun them because they didn’t play the good hosts when we were a tired and hungry nation trudging through the desert from Egypt, and because they hired the heathen prophet Balaam to destroy us. How can we possibly compare these two reasons? The first is simply a lack of hospitality, while the second is nothing short of attempted genocide!

The answer is that the two are indeed interrelated.  If it was only a matter of not showing us any generosity during our journey, we could possibly justify it by their own poverty. Perhaps Ammon and Moab were in an economic depression. Maybe they were broke, and therefore were not in a position to offer hospitality. If they didn’t have enough for themselves, how can we expect them to have fed others?

But when we see that they hired Balaam the prophet to curse the Jewish people, then we know that money was not the problem. Do you think Balaam came cheap? “A houseful of gold and silver” was his asking price. If you found money for him, you could have found a few shekels to give some bread and water to tired, hungry travelers. The fact that they were prepared to pay such exorbitant fees to Balaam proves the enormity of their crime.

Ammon and Moab may be extinct, but their legacy lives on.

Sadly, we have a problem in our own community too. How often is a Jew approached for a worthy cause, and he pleads poverty, but the very next day he blows a fortune at a casino? We are too busy to come to a lecture or Shiur at Shul, but to kill a night watching a sports game — we have plenty of time.

Like the story of the fellow who asked the rabbi if he really needed to put up mezuzahs on all his doorways inside his house. When answered that he did, he gave a huge krechtz. “Oh Rabbi, but I just built a new house with eighteen rooms. Do you realize how much the mezuzahs are going to cost?!”

We are now in the month of Elul, a time for introspection, coming right before Rosh Hashanah, our Judgment Day. Let us reflect on how we spend our money and our time, and let us try our best to be consistent and honorable to G‑d and our fellow men and women.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from Rabbi Yossy Goldman)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

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