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Parshas Matos Masei 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 8:14 pm
July 5, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 31
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Dvar Torah

Oh! The Places You'll Go


By Rabbi Yosef Prupas



                         If you recognize the title it is probably because you are either one of the 300,000 people who each year purchase Dr. Seuss's last book, or one of the many high school and college grads who received it as a graduation present . The book's popularity stems from its theme, which involves the journey of life and its challenges. This week is a double Parsha. The first Parsha concludes with the request of the Tribes of Gad and Reuven to settle outside the borders of Eretz Yisroel. The second begins with an account of the forty two places the Jewish People traveled throughout their forty years of "wandering" in the desert. The juxtaposition of these two topics conveys a lesson as to the  tools one should employ in the journey of life and the goals we should pursue.


                         Moshe received Tribes' request with displeasure. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler points out that Moshe was not upset by the request to live outside of Eretz Yisroel. Rather, Moshe was concerned by the fact that it seemed that they also wanted to refrain from participating in the battle for Eretz Yisroel, which might affect the morale of the other Tribes. Why wasn't the fact that they wanted to live outside the land a reason for concern? And furthermore, shouldn't a request of such magnitude be directed to Hashem?


                         Rabbi Dessler answers that the Tribes of Reuven and Gad were on a truly elevated level, and as was common at that time due to the heightened level of prophesy, they understood very clearly their goal in life. They knew that their large amount of livestock and holdings were given to them for a higher purpose. The Tribes and Moshe both knew that they belonged just outside the borders of Eretz Yisroel. Their goal was to turn the area, and all that they owned, into vehicles for sanctification of Hashem in this world. But there was one slight problem, their request.


                      Their request was predicated on the fact that they needed a place for their animals and possessions, not a place to settle their families. Thus, although they had the right motives, they confused what was primary and what was secondary. That is why Moshe was disappointed.


                       We can now understand the juxtaposition of the episode of the Tribes of Reuven and Gad at the end of the first Parsha with the log of the travels of the Jewish people at the beginning the next.  It is to advise us on the path one should take to fulfill one's mission in life. The second Parsha describes the forty two places the Jewish people traveled to in their journey to Eretz Yisroel. The Nesivos Shalom describes at length the specific reason for each stop and the length of time spent in each place, which was dependant on how much was needed to be accomplished there. That is the analogy of our lives. Oh, the places we'll go. We all have places to go in life and things to do. Some of us live in-town, some out-of-town. There are among us those that have a lot, and others, little. But what we all have in common is a mission in life. And to survive intact throughout this journey we need to remain focused on our long-term goals. All our materialistic possessions and jobs were given to us to serve as vehicles for sanctification of Hashem's name in this world, which is our true goal in life. Let us learn from the mistake of the Tribes of Gad and Reuven, and never forget what is primary in life and what is secondary, and never confuse the two.  



Dvar Halacha


 Halachos of The Nine Days   

part 2


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.  Some opinions rule that this prohibition applies to undergarments.  Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l (oral ruling, Shu"T Rivivos Ephraim 3:340) holds that one may wear freshly laundered undergarments.  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, may switch his clothing [many times] on Shabbos [when it is permitted to wear freshly laundered clothing] so that he may wear those clothing during the week.  Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky ,shlit"a, holds one may do so and 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 his 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).  Building for basic dwelling purposes, to prevent damage, and basic upkeep of a house or for a mitzvah is permitted.  Included is planting for pleasure, or buying plants for decorative purposes.  However, planting, etc. for regular upkeep is permitted (Laws of Daily Living pg. 97- 98).



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