The Western Wall Heritage Fund

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Korach


Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites


“Aaron, who is he that you complain against him?”

Many lessons can be learned about the quarrel of Korach, the arguments of Moshe our teacher, and the punishment meted out to those responsible for the quarrel. Our sages, in Pirke Avot (Chapters of the Fathers), used this as a prototype of a quarrel that is not for the sake of Heaven, i.e. one motivated by the desire for personal gain.
Moshe said to Korach and his followers: “God drew you and your brethren the Levites near to Him, yet you desire priesthood as well?” Moshe claimed that the appointment of Aaron was God’s command, and continued: “You, and all of your assembly that opposes God; Aaron, who is he that you complain against him?” Your complaint is against God, and not against Aaron...

 



Hukkat


Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites


A Bronze Snake – at Your Own Expense

Our sages teach us (Avodah Zara 44) that Moshe, our teacher, was commanded to make a bronze image of a snake at his own expense. They explain: “Make for yourself –  at your own expense”. Why is this so? The bronze snake was to be made in order to save the people from the terrible punishment meted out to them because of their slanderous speech about God and Moshe – if so, why should Moshe, about whom they spoke, have to provide the funds for the snake rather than the people themselves that he wishes to save from the plague?...



Pinhas

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

A man over the congregation

The rabbi of Gustinin once asked the rabbi of Kotzk: why did Moshe pray: ‘May the God of the spirits of all flesh appoint a man over the congregation’? Would it possibly occur to us that the Holy One, blessed be He would leave his people Israel without a leader? The rabbi of Kotzk answered him: When Moshe saw how much God valued Pinhas, he feared that Pinhas would be appointed in his place, and therefore he prayed: “May the God of the spirits of all flesh appoint a man – appoint a leader who can suffer each one according to his own character” a leader who is patient and not a zealot, a man and not an angel...

 



Matot

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

“And God’s counsel will prevail.”

Moshe, our teacher, was commanded to avenge the attack on the Children of Israel by the Midianites before his death. Rashi comments that even though Moshe knew that his death would follow, he did this with joy and did not procrastinate. How did Rashi know that Moshe acted joyfully? Perhaps he felt sadness and only did this because of God’s command...

 



Balak

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

Now is it said of Jacob and of Israel

This Torah portion is very significant – to the extent that our rabbis wished to include it in our daily prayers, accompanying the recital of Sh’ma Yisrael. If it were not for their reluctance to burden the community with such an onerous obligation, we would be reciting it twice a day. Moreover, the entire portion bears the name of evil Balak, and this is significant as well! Many Torah insights can be brought to shed light on the reason for this...



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