Monday, April 24, 2006
Rabi Kalman Packouz
Last week we dealt with the anomaly that the Jews have been the most hated and persecuted people throughout history, yet have paradoxically been a Light Unto The Nations and have helped civilize the world - and that both phenomena were prophesied!
We also dealt with the Torah prophecy that the land will be barren and only produce when Jews lived there, though in the natural course of the world the land should have produced for subsequent dwellers. And now to our final prophecy in the "Seven Wonders of Jewish History" - that the Jews will be dispersed to the four corners of the world to eventually return to the Land of Israel...
7. RETURN FROM EXILE
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be exiled from the land and that they would return to the land:
"And it shall come to pass when these things shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have placed before you, you will take it to heart amongst all of the nations where God has scattered you; you will return to the Lord your God and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your children with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Then the Almighty will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you; and He will return and gather you from among all of the nations where he has dispersed you. If your dispersed ones will be even at the ends of the heavens, from there God Almighty will gather you and from there He will take you. And God your Lord will bring you to the land that your fathers inherited and you shall inherit it and He will do good for you and make you more numerous than your forefathers." (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)
No other people has ever gone into exile and survived for thousands of years to come back to reestablish a national homeland. The return of the Jews from exile to the Land of Israel was nothing short of a miracle.
When we look at Jewish history, we see a history where the Jewish people have defied the laws of nature and the laws of history! We have survived and impacted this world - though we have been thrown out of our land not once, but twice! We have impacted the world perhaps more than any other people in history - the concepts of the value of human life, universal education, justice and equality, the importance of and goal of world peace (as opposed to glorifying war), the importance of a strong stable family as a basis for a moral foundation for society, individual and national responsibility for the world - though we were beaten, killed and exiled from one nation to the next. Though few in number and spread to the four corners of the earth, we survived as a people, never assimilating into anonymity. Even our land, the Land of Israel, defied the laws of nature, only fertile when the Jewish people inhabited it.
Coincidence? Good luck? A roll of the dice? Perhaps - except that each and every phenomena was prophesied and predicted in the Torah hundreds and thousands of years before the events. Does it make you think that perhaps something is going on here? That perhaps there is a special relationship between the Almighty and the Jewish people?
The Almighty, the Jewish people and the Torah are intertwined. In the past 3,300 years there has been effort after effort - from within as well as from without - to redefine and redirect our people. Each and every one has failed.
The Torah is not only our heritage, it is the game plan for the Jewish people and the world!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. The focus of this portion is upon tzora'as, a supernatural physical affliction sent to warn someone to refrain from speaking badly about others. The disease progressively afflicted home, clothes and then one's skin -unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah.
There are two types of speech transgressions: 1) Loshon Hora (literally "evil tongue") - making a derogatory or damaging statement about someone even though you are speaking the truth. 2) Rechilus (literally "tale bearing") - telling someone the negative things another person said about him or did against him.
The second Torah Portion, Metzora, continues with the purification process for the metzora, the person afflicted with tzora'as and then the home afflicted with tzora'as. The portion ends with the purification process for discharges from the flesh.
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Dvar Torah based on Growth Through Torah
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
As mentioned above, if one speaks slander, in Biblical times an affliction of tzora'as would progressively afflict his home, then clothes and finally his skin - unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah. The Cohen is consulted to determine if the affliction is actually tzora'as; if it is tzora'as on the walls of the home, then everything inside requires purification. When the Cohen is called to make the determination, the Torah tells us that:
"The Cohen shall command that they empty the house, before the Cohen goes in to see the plague so that everything in the house will not become tamay (require purification). Afterwards the Cohen shall go in to see the house." (Leviticus 14:36)
Why does the Cohen order them to empty the house before making his determination of whether or not the affliction is tzora'as?
Rashi cites the Sages that the main reason the Torah tells the owner of the house to remove all that is inside is because of the earthenware vessels. Even if the house is rendered in need of purification, other vessels besides those made of earthenware can be purified. However, once earthenware vessels become tamay they remain in that state. We see here how the Almighty has compassion for a person even if only a very small amount of money is involved and that person is even a transgressor!
This is a lesson for us to be careful not to cause other people any financial loss. Tzora'as of the house comes because of a person's transgressions. Even so, the Almighty is careful not to cause the person any unnecessary loss. Having this awareness will make us more careful with the money and property of others.
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 28:
Jerusalem 6:42Guatemala 6:00 Hong Kong 6:30 Honolulu 6:37J'Burg 5:28 Porto 7:48 Los Angeles 7:11Melbourne 5:22 Mexico City 6:40 Miami 7:33New York 7:30 Singapore 6:51 Toronto 7:58