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Parshas Chukas 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 8:15 pm
June 26, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 29  
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Dvar Torah


  

Living for the Future 
 
By Rabbi Yakir Schechter
   

  

At the end of this week's Parsha the Torah tells us about the battle of Sichon. The pasuk says that "Israel settled in all the Amorite cities, in Cheshbon, and all its walls. For Cheshbon was the city of Sichon, king of the Amorite, and he had warred against the first king of Moav and took all his land from his control, until Arnon" (21:25-26). In addressing why the Torah needs to tell us that Sichon fought the king of Moav and conquered his land, Rashi, citing the Gemara, explains that the Jewish people are not allowed to engage Moav in battle. Lest we think that the Jews wrongfully took the land of Cheshbon directly from Moav, the Torah informs us that Sichon conquered Cheshbon and only then did the Jews take it from him. Although this seems like an innocent factoid, beneath the surface lies an invaluable lesson.

 

The next pasuk reads "Al kein yomru hamoshlim, bo'u cheshbon tibaneh visiconein ir Sichon" - Regarding this, the poets would say 'Come to Cheshbon, let it be built and established as the city of Sichon.'" The Gemara homiletically expounds upon the words of this verse: The term for "poets," Moshlim, which can also mean rulers, referencing those who rule over their evil inclination. The term for "come to Cheshbon" is "bo'u cheshbon" which can also mean to come and calculate, referencing those who calculate and weigh each of their actions, assuring they are always acting appropriately. The term for "let it be built and established" is "tibane visiconen" which can also mean to build and prepare, referencing those who measure their actions, ensuring that they will build and establish themselves in this world, and prepare themselves for the next world - the World to Come.

 

The seferImrei Baruch explains that the point of the Gemara is to teach us that often when we set out to do a mitzvah the yetzer hora- the evil inclination - places countless obstructions in our way of performing that mitzvah. However, with a bit of foresight and prudence, and a focus on the potential reward in the future, we will have the fortitude to perform that mitzvah.

 

Although the Gemara's expounding of the verse is not its literal meaning, Rav Eliyahu Lopian zt"l explains that it is directly related to it. When Sichon conquered the land of Cheshbon from Moav he was certainly exuberant.   Little did he know that that very city would be the cause of his downfall. He didn't look to the future and take precautions to fortify the city.   So it is with transgressions: in the moment we enjoy it. But the punishment afterwards will be unbearable.

 

Let us internalize the lesson of the story of Sichon and not only live in the present, but look at the bigger picture, how our actions today might affect our future.

 

 

 

  

 
Dvar Halacha
 
Introduction to the 3 weeks  

 

  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
 

 

In Sefer Shmuel [Shmuel Beis, Chapter 24] we read about a deadly pestilence that killed 70,000 people. Dovid Hamelech had called for a national census, thereby upsetting Hashem. However, it is clear from the posukim that Hashem was upset at Klal Yisroel even before the census occurred [see 24:1], however it does not state why.

 

Ramban, in last week's Parsha [Bamidbar 16:21-22] suggests, by way of reason, that it seems this was a punishment for the Jewish people not building the Bais Hamikdash. At that particular period in history, the Aron Hakodesh was roaming from tent to tent, like a stranger in a land, without a permanent residence; yet the Jewish people did not bestir themselves to say, "Let us seek out Hashem and build the Bais Hamikdash for His sake." The idea of building a proper edifice only occurred many years later, after they had settled in Eretz Yisroel. Ramban adds, had they truly wanted a permanent residence, Hashemwould not have been angry with them, the Bais Hamikdash would have been built, and they would never have suffered.

 

Does this pertain to us? The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, in his Kuntris Tzepesa L'yeshuah (Chapter 3) writes, Hashem has complaints against a person who is not yearning for Hashem's Kingship. The Medrash [Yalkut She'moni, Eichah 997] relates, at the time of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, Yitzchok Avinu asked Hashem, "Perhaps Klal Yisroel will never return to a Bais Hamikdash?" Hashem answered, "There will be a generation that seeks My Kingship and they will be redeemed immediately." This idea was also conveyed by the prophet Yirmiyah [31:16] "Yeish tikvah l'achareisecha, n'um Hashem, v'shavu vanim l'gvulam" (and those who yearn for the redemption, says Hashem, will return to their borders). We see that if one awaits Hashem'sKingship, it hastens the Final Redemption!

 

Additionally, the Gemara [Shabbos 31a] teaches, one of the questions each person will be asked at their final accounting in heaven is "were you m'zapeh l'yeshuah" ("did you long for the Final Redemption")? The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, points out the language of "tzipeesa" means someone who is eagerly awaiting something, similar to a person going to a high point in order to have the best view to see if there is any change occurring. We see that it is expected of each Jew to eagerly await Hashem'sKingdom to be revealed speedily.

 

The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, adds that we recite numerous prayers each day for the redemption. This includes, several brachos of Shemoneh Esrei, and Aleinu. Our Torah demands us to "Stay away from falsehood" [Shemos 23:7]. If a person is not honestly awaiting the geulah, how can one lie each time he stands before the King of the Universe, who knows each person's precise intentions?

 

With the impending period of the "Three Weeks" approaching, a time when, as a whole, we are more focused on our lack of the Bais Hamikdash, may we keep these ideas in mind; at least when are saying the words of these tefillos. With just a little thought we can make a world of a difference!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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