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Parshas Pinchas 5775
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July 10, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 31   
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Dvar Torah


Divinely Qualified  
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

Rashi tells us that Moshe, after seeing what the Bnos Tzlafchad accomplished, felt it was an opportune time to put forth his own request. Moshe wanted his children to become the leaders of the Jewish People. Moshe approached Hashem and requested; "May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh appoint a man over the congregation, who shall go out in front of them and come in before them".... Hashem responded by saying "Take for yourself Yehoshua bin Nun".... Rashi explains that Hashem was telling Moshe that the most appropriate person to lead the Jewish People was Yehoshua bin Nun. Why? Because he never left the tent, and he never strayed from Moshe's side.


From the above dialogue we can learn several lessons, important traits integral for leading the nation of Hashem. By breaking down the verses, phrase by phrase, we can extrapolate these valuable lessons. Our first lesson lies in Moshe's request, "May Hashem, G-d of all spirits..." One can ask, why does Moshe make reference to the fact that Hashem is G-d of all spirits? Rashi and others tell us that Moshe was requesting a specific leader, one that only Hashem, before Whom nothing is hidden, can pick out, one who can relate to and understand each individual. A leader must be a leader of everyone. By individually relating to each member, the leader promotes a cohesive congregation and ensures the happiness of the whole community.


This leads us to lesson number two. One can ask the question, isn't Yehoshua the least qualified for the job? Rashi tell us that Yehoshua "never left the tent"? Doesn't that sound a bit too sheltered? Further, a leader needs experience. Shouldn't Yehoshua become an "assistant rabbi" first? A possible answer can be found in the writings of Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRambam. When discussing the trait of "abstinence," he makes the following comment. "A communal head, who supervises all other leaders and officials, can maintain real abstinence only with tremendous effort. He has so little time for outward training since he is primarily occupied with his responsibilities...Do not challenge me by citing David (hamelech) and those like him, for they trained in abstinence until it became natural before they became prominent and great..." We see here that rather than jumping into positions of leadership, the leader much first achieve the self-perfection that is essential for the position. In order to attain a level of self-perfection, one should shy away from time consuming positions of leadership and focus on themselves by being a "sitter in tents," like Yehoshua. In this way, one can focus on inner and outward growth. In fact, some commentaries tell us that there is actually a degree of envy on the part of those who did jump into such positions and realized in retrospect that the right thing would have been to follow Yehoshua's example. As we see from the example of David Hamelech, once one is worthy, he can be chosen for leadership either by direct or indirect Divine intervention. A worthy leader will definitely have Divine assistance, despite the lack of direct experience in the new role.


The final lesson can be derived from Moshe's request, "...appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out in front of them and come before the people"... Such an interesting request. What is so important about having such a leader? Rabbi Moshe Mandel, a Rosh Hayeshiva in the city of Vilna, quotes Rabbi Yisroel Salanter to explain the following Gemarah. The Gemarah in Sanhedrin (daf 98b), in describing what will be the prevalent situation preceding the coming of Moshiach, states "and the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog." Rabbi Yisroel Salanter explains that the nature of a dog is to constantly run in front of its master. It gives the impression that it is leading its master in the direction of its choice. However, when it arrives at a crossroad and looks back at its master for guidance as to where to proceed next and follows its master's direction, it becomes obvious to all that it is not the dog that is leading its master. Rather the master leads the dog.


Rabbi Salanter adds that this is going to be the situation at "the footsteps of Moshiach." Rather than the people looking to the leader for leadership, the leader will turn around and look at the people for guidance. This is prevalent today, political leaders look to polls for guidance to direct their policies. This was not what Moshe had in mind. What Moshe was asking for was a leader who didn't look back. A leader who intuitively knew better than the people what was best for them . This was someone who would go before the people always. May we merit a reverse to our descent, to recognize, respect, and follow the right leader back to Yerushalayim speedily in our day.


Dvar Halacha
Laws of the Nine Days   


  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


It is prohibited to wear new or freshly laundered clothing, in order to show signs of mourning. This prohibition applies to men, women, and children who have reached the age of chinuch [i.e. can understand the concept of mourning]. This includes all outer clothing [e.g. shirts, pants], coats, towels, tablecloths and bed sheets. According to Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, one may wear freshly laundered undergarments (oral ruling, Shu"T Rivivos Ephraim 3:340). One may give fresh linen for a guest sleeping at his home (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 88).


One may wear any clothing that is not freshly laundered. Therefore, if one wore clothing before the Nine Days, he can wear it during the Nine Days. There is a dispute amongst the Poskim how long one needs to wear them. Harav Y.S. Eliyashiv, zt"l, holds for 30 minutes (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 85). Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, holds that it is not dependent on how much time one wears them, rather as long as while he was wearing them he is not thinking about that he is wearing a freshly laundered shirt (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 11:27). Wearing many pairs of clothing at once does not help, unless he is sweated up (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 11:28).


There is a machlokes haposkim if one who did not prepare enough clothes beforehand, does the option of switching his clothing [numerous times] on Shabbos [when it is permitted to wear freshly laundered clothing] so that he may wear those clothing during the week. According to Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky,shlit"a, one may do so. It is not considered hachanah (preparing on Shabbos for weekday) because he is benefiting from wearing the clothing at the time (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim 11:29).


Another option available is to place your clothing on a floor which is not freshly cleaned [but does not have to be definitely dirty] (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim 11:30). Additionally, one may step on his clothes or sleep on them, or place them together with dirty laundry [e.g. in a hamper] to make the clothing not fresh (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 87).


Bathing, swimming, and showering for pleasure, even in cold water, is prohibited. Refraining from these activities and being a little uncomfortable is in order to remind ourselves about the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash (Shulchan Aruch & Rama 551:16).


One who showers daily, and finds it very difficult not to shower, maypossibly take a non-hot shower with soap (Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 14:4). One does not have to have an exclusively cold shower; one may add some hot water in order to take away the chill. One who normally takes a hot shower every Erev Shabbos (Friday) may take a hot shower on ErevShabbos of the Nine Days (Halachos of Three Weeks [Rabbi Shimon Eider, zt"l] pg. 13, # 7).


Swimming for pleasure is prohibited even for very young children (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 96). However, they may play in a sprinkler(Koveitz Halachos, Bein Hamitzarim, 14:3).


Construction or decorating should be postponed until after the Nine Days (Shulchan Aruch 551:2). Included is planting for pleasure, or buying plants for decorative purposes. Building for basic dwelling purposes, to prevent damage, and basic upkeep of a house or for a mitzvah is permitted.   Therefore, one may plant, etc. for regular upkeep is permitted (Laws of Daily Living pg. 97- 98).









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