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Parshas Balak 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 8:15 pm
July 3, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 30  
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Dvar Torah


  

Can't Have It Both Ways  
 
By Rabbi Shmuel Sussman
 

In this week's parsha we learn about Bilaam. Although Bilaam was great in prophecy, he was quite great in evil as well. The Torah tells us (Bamidbar 22:12) that Hashem told Bilaam not to curse the Jewish people, yet Bilaam defied the word of Hashem and cursed anyway. How many people hear directly from Hashem not to do something, and completely disregard it? Further, the Mishna (Pirkei Avos 5:22) tells us that there are three qualities that make someone a "student of Bilaam". They are 1) an evil eye, 2) an arrogant spirit, 3) a greedy soul. Bilaam, who epitomized these three traits, certainly wasn't righteous or noble in any sense.The mishna refers to Bilaam as Bilaam Harasha (the wicked Bilaam).

 

Bilaam made an interesting request. Bilaam asked Hashem (23:10) "Tamos Nafshi Mois Yesharim Usihi Achrisi Kamohu, May my soul die the death of the upright, and may my end be like his". The Gemara (Avodah Zarah25a) teaches us that the "upright" that Bilaam referred to are our forefathers. Bilaam asked to merit a portion in the World to Come. Not only did he want a regular portion, he wanted a portion like our forefathers! The question begs to be asked, how could Bilaam, who was such a wicked man, ask to die like the righteous and merit a most prestigious portion in the World to Come? The Ohr Hachaim explains that Bilaam was not asking for a free pass. He was saying that although he didn't live a satisfactory life, he was going to turn it around before he died. He wanted to repent at the end of his life and then all would be good. He wanted to live the good life, and then die the good death. The Ohr Hachaim relates that many people told him that they would repent if they knew that it was their last day. But, since they didn't know when their time would come, they didn't repent because they couldn't live such a life for a long time.

 

Unfortunately, many people feel this way. During their lifetime they want to indulge in all the pleasures this world has to offer, without giving too much thought to the mitzvos and Torah study. Although they believe in the concepts of punishment, reward, and the World to Come, they aren't too concerned. They feel that there is much time to deal with Torah and mitzvos. This is the attitude of Bilaam and it doesn't work. A person must give a din ve'cheshbon (full accounting) for his whole life, and can't just bank on repenting later in his life.

 

On a similar note, the Seforno explains the latter part of Bilaam's request. Bilaam had asked "and may my end be like his". The Seforno understands this to mean that may my children be like the Jewish people. (He understands the word "achrisi", which literally means my end, to refer to his children.) Many people fall prey to this mistake. Many people live one type of life, while advocating to their kids to live a different and better life. This too is not proper. We must live the correct lifestyle ourselves while teaching our children the proper path. (This is besides the fact that if we don't practice what we preach it simply won't work.) May we all merit to take the lesson from this week's parsha and learn from Bilaam's mistake. May we all live a life completely dedicated to avodas Hashem and pass that on to our children.

 

 

  

 
Dvar Halacha
 
Laws of the Nine Days   

 

  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
 

 

 

There are five levels of aveilus (mourning) observed during the Hebrew calendar dates between the17th of Tammuz until the day after TishaB'Av. This period is referred to as Bein Hamitzarim or The Three Weeks. The closer to Tisha B'Av it gets, the degree of mourning intensifies. The halachos being discussed here are exclusively for the "The Nine Days", whichbegin at shkiyah (sunset) of Rosh Chodesh Av and continue thru the day after Tisha B'Av. It is important to note, all the restrictions of "the Three Weeks", which begin on Shiva Assur B'Tammuz are still in place.

 

One should not buy any type of new clothing (Rama 551:7) even if he does not plan to wear them until after Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:49). However, there are certain instances where one is permitted to purchase new clothing. This includes: purchasing for a newborn that has no other clothing; a sale item that will not be available after Tisha B'Av; someone travelling who is able to buy a specific item only in that place (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 67). Similarly, someone who forgot to buy non-leather shoes [for Tisha B'av] may purchase a pair (Igros Moshe OC 3:80).

 

Non-clothing items that are relatively inexpensive [e.g. pots and pans] may be purchased (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 69 quoting Harav Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l). Additionally, any items of necessity may be purchased (Igros Moshe OC 3:80).

 

One may not tailor or repair new clothing (Shulchan Aruch 551:7) even if the garment will not be completed until after the Nine Days (Mishneh Berurah 551:49). One may sew a tear, sew on a button and the like (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim 1: pg. 422, 22).

 

One may not launder clothing even if one will not wear it until after the Nine Days. Additionally, one may not give clothing to a laundering service or dry cleaners (Rama 551:3). According to some Poskim one may give clothing to a non-Jew [e.g. dry cleaners] during the Nine Days if one plans on wearing them only after Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:34). Included in garments are: clothing, towels, sheets, and tablecloths (Shulchan Aruch 551:3). It is permissible to polish scuffed shoes, but one may not shine them (Igros Moshe OC 3:80).

One may remove a stain from a garment even with water. (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 77 quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach, zt"l and Harav Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l). Additionally, one may wash clothing for young children who constantly get their clothing dirty. One should not add in extra clothing [e.g. of an adult] while washing the children's clothing (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 80 quoting Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l). If one does not have any clean clothing, he may wash before the week of Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:29).

 


 

 

 

 

 

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