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Parshas Balak 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 8:15 pm
July 4, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 33
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Dvar Torah

An open Letter  


By Rabbi Avraham Weiss


    Dear Eyal, Gilad, and Naphtoli. הי"ד


It hurts so much to write to you under these circumstances. Eighteen days have transpired since the awful night of your abduction and murder. In the course of these eighteen days, your names have become synonymous with Achdut, Tefillah, and a sacred re-dedication to our Creator that was felt so tangibly throughout every Jewish community the world over. We all tried harder in these eighteen days. We all upped the ante of our Avodat Hashem with the primal hope and prayer that our efforts to better ourselves would result in the ecstatic news of your return, alive and well, to an entire nation that wanted to embrace you and tell you how much you had come to mean to all of us. But Hashem, in incomprehensible Hester Panim, deemed otherwise. I want you to know that while we are all reeling from the pain of your loss, something positive will emerge. The dedication, the promise to be better, and the promise to continue to stand in unity will endure.


Your holy bodies were found in the week that Am Yisroel reads Parshat Balak. Contained within this Parsha is the story of other diabolical madmen who, then as now,  stood poised and ready to destroy us as a nation. In this instance, Hashem granted salvation, and through the process, taught us some crucial lessons about ourselves as a people. The evil Bilam imparted to us the secret of our strength in unity. Bilam, of all people, proclaimed the immortal words, מהטובואוהלךיעקב, "How beautiful are the tents of Jacob" as he beheld the encampment of the Jewish people spread with glorious precision in the expanse below. He beheld how the tents were so assembled as to afford the maximum privacy to each family, with each tent meticulously positioned with its entrance facing away from that of its neighbor. He beheld a nation that lived with the single minded devotion and presence of mind to sculpt their lives around the will of a Higher power, in good times, and even when they stood aghast and confused in the wake of incomprehensible terror and pain.


Dearest Eyal, Gilad, and Naftoli, the senseless brutality and hate with which your murder was committed might have within it the ingredients to destroy our morale.  This will not happen.  I humbly promise you the following: Your lives and deaths will continue to illuminate us as a people.


We will raise the level of our love and caring for each other, and in your merit, allow true Achdut to reign supreme. We will continue to daven and learn with unsurpassed vigor and strength. And last, we will wait with ever greater yearning and determination for the hastening of Moshiach, the ultimate resurrection, and the return of our King to his lofty abode in Jerusalem forever. I envision that great day. Together, with all of your Jewish brothers and sisters, we will all run to hug, love, and embrace you. On that day we will personally express the humble gratitude we all have for you for having been such noble teachers who touched all of us in such defining and meaningful ways. Dearest Eyal, Gilad, and Naphtoli, until that great day, may you rest in the closest proximity to His Heavenly Throne.  


With dreams of Geulah sustaining us,


Knesses Yisroel

True Justice
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 


Among the "blessings" Bilaam, we find the praise "He (G-d) perceived no iniquity in Jacob, nor saw travesty in Yisrael." The commentaries question the validity of Bilaam's observation, for the Talmud (Baba Kamma 50a) states in the strongest terms, "whoever says that G-d is disregarding of sin shall have his life disregarded?"


The answer can be found in an essay written by Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler in which he poses the following question: We Jews are taught to pray three times a day. A major point in our prayers is when we invoke the merit of our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. What are we trying to gain? Can we honestly think that G-d, who epitomizes truth, will pervert justice because of whom we descend from? 


The answer Rabbi Dessler gives is penetrating in as well as enlightening.  As opposed to the secular court system, G-d takes the whole picture into account. Because the Jewish people's DNA is imprinted by the positive actions of our forefathers, full rectification of our sins is more likely. It is the individuals who come from homes that don't espouse the right values that are likely to repeat the crime and therefore a stronger process of behavior modification is required. By mentioning our forefathers, we "remind" G-d of our rich heritage and greater probability of return and therefore should not need a stronger punishment.


With this, our original question is resolved. Bilaam was praising the fact that G-d does not focus on the sins of the Jewish People, rather He takes the whole picture into account. This allows a different course of action in the event that they do sin, as opposed to the rest of the world.



Dvar Halacha
 Halachos of the Three Weeks      Part 2


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


One may not cut his hair (Rama 551:4), however, combing one's hair is permitted (Mishneh Berurah 551:20). This prohibition applies to any hair on the body (Shulchan Aruch 551:12), applies to both men and women (Mishneh Berurah 551:79), and even l'kavod Shabbos (Mishneh Berurah 551:32). An adult should not cut a child's hair [even if he has not reached the age of chinuch] (Shulchan Aruch 551:14).

A married woman may cut her hair for tznius purposes [e.g. hair is coming out of its covering] (Mishneh Berurah 551:79). Married women, or single women of marriageable age, may shave their legs if the hair causes her embarrassment (Igros Moshe YD 2:137 s.v. b'davar). Additionally, a woman may tweeze her eyebrows since this is not considered haircutting (Laws of Daily Living, Three Weeks, pg. 32 ftnt. 14 quoting Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l).

If someone ended his shloshim [after the death of a close relative] it is permitted to shave and get a haircut (Shulchan Aruch 551:15). Additionally, parents, mohel, and sandik may shave or get a haircut in honor of the bris (Laws of Daily Living pg. 32 quoting Harav Eliyashuv, zt"l). If the bris is on Sunday, it is permitted to shave and take a haircut on the preceding Friday (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 6:10).

If by not shaving or getting a haircut one will end up losing money [e.g. he has a job interview], he can shave (Igros Moshe OC 5:24:9). However, if it will not cause him to lose money, even if it is uncomfortable and embarrassing [and people poke fun of him] one may not shave (Igros Moshe OC 1:93 & 5:24:9).





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