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The weekly share – 26 Shvat

The weekly share – 26 Shvat

Food For the Soul

Not Yet

In this week’s Torah reading, Mishpatim, the Almighty tells the Jewish people that they will not inherit the land of Canaan immediately. It will be to their benefit that the conquest of the Promised Land be gradual and deliberate. To settle the land successfully would take time and they were cautioned up front to be patient

Every Jew has a share in the Promised Land; not only geographically but spiritually. There is a piece of Jerusalem inside each of us. We all have the capacity for holiness, sanctity and spirituality. But sometimes we may be discouraged from beginning the journey to our own personal promised land. The road seems too long and arduous. Here G‑d is giving us wise words of encouragement. Don’t expect overnight miracles. Don’t say, “I have a whole country to conquer! How will I do it?” Rather say, “Where should I start today?” Don’t look at the end of the road; look at the first few steps you need to take right now. 

If you asked an optimistic entrepreneur, just starting on his first business venture, “Are you a millionaire?” he wouldn’t say, “No.” Most probably he’d say, “Not yet, I’m working on it!” It should be the same in our Jewish journeys. 

The not yet approach is a good one. There is no one who does it all. We all have room for growth. So if someone asks, “do you put on tefillin,” or “do you keep kosher,” or “do you observe Shabbat,” and you don’t, please don’t say no. Say not yet.

From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldman

Shabbat Shalom

The Melaveh Malkah

On Saturday night we sit down to a special meal called a melaveh malkah, meaning “Escort of the Queen”—the queen being the day of Shabbat, whom we greeted as she entered on Friday night. Optimally, we would serve a full meal…setting the table once again with a fine tablecloth and candles, enhancing the occasion with songs and stories. Many continue wearing Shabbat finery on Saturday night. 

Shabbat is more than a day of rest; it is a foretaste of the messianic era. As the day departs, we hope and yearn for the real thing—Elijah’s announcement of the arrival of Moshiach, the righteous scion of the House of David. According to tradition, there is a small and utterly indestructible bone in the body called the luz, sitting at the base of our skull, where the knot of the tefillin rests. It is from this bone that G‑d will reconstruct the entire body when the time arrives for the Resurrection of the Dead. The luz is nourished from the melaveh malkah alone. Feed it while you can.

Mind Over Matter

Intelligence Liberated

Blind faith is intellect’s most deadly foe. Intellect that would surrender to faith has forfeited its very nature.

True faith is intellect’s most vital partner. To travel beyond its boundaries, intellect must find a vision that transcends itself.

That is the meaning of true faith: A perspective that surpasses the field of intellect’s vision, a sense that there is something not only unknown, but unknowable; something before which all our knowledge is an infinitesimal point of nothingness.

And so, the mind that fears faith will choose a truth with which it is most comfortable, while the mind that has found a partner in faith will choose truth that is absolute.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

“When you acquire a Jewish bondsman, for six years he shall work and in the seventh year he shall go free…” (Mishpatim 21:2) 

“Six years,” an allusion to the 6000 years of the world’s normative existence, “he shall work”.

That is, during this period, in the present time of this existence, there is the opportunity of serving G‑d with Torah and . By virtue of this service: “In the seventh year,” i.e., in the seventh millenium, “he shall go free…”-we shall be released and be free of all the obstacles and hindrances that presently are dominant in the world, and we shall merit the sublime manifestations of the Messianic future.

Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet

Have I Got A Story

The Laws and The Reincarnations

The Maggid of Mezritch once asked the Baal Shem Tov to explain the Zohar passage referring to the opening verse of parashat Mishpatim: “These are the laws,” refers to “the mystery of reincarnation.” The Maggid wondered: What connection is there between the straightforward meaning relating to the monetary and other financial issues discussed subsequently, the laws of torts, and the alleged mystical one of multiple incarnations of souls? In reply the Baal Shem Tov sent him to a forest and told him to seek out a certain tree next to a spring, and to remain there until evening.

When the Maggid arrived at his destination he saw there an armed man with a horse. The man was tired and had stopped to rest, eat and drink. When he moved on he left his wallet behind. After a while, another man came, found the wallet and took it with him.

Shortly thereafter, a third man arrived. He was obviously poor and exhausted. He sat down under the tree, ate some bread, drank from the well and lay down to sleep. However, just then the armored rider returned and demanded his wallet from the poor traveler. The latter knew nothing of the wallet, but the rider, not believing him, proceeded to beat him mercilessly before moving on.

As the sun set Rabbi Dov Ber returned home and told the Baal Shem Tov what he had seen. The master now explained: The rider, in his previous incarnation, owed the second man a sum of money equal to that in the wallet but refused to pay him. The creditor then charged him before their local rabbi—none other than the third man in his previous incarnation. But the rabbi failed to investigate the claim as thoroughly as he should have done and dismissed the charge.

That is why in their present reincarnation, the Baal Shem Tov concluded, the first man wound up ‘paying’ his debt to the second one and the third, rabbi-judge, received the punishment he deserved. Now, he added, the connection between G-d’s justice and reincarnation should be clear.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles

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