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Parshas Balak 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 8:15 pm
June 28, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 30
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Dvar Torah

A Five Star Lesson


By Rabbi Yirachmiel Lichtman 



              In this weeks parsha, the Torah relates that following the plague resulting from the sin of Baal Peor which killed 24,000 people,Hashem commands Moshe to count the children of Israel. Rashi likens this counting to a shepherd whose herd has been attacked by wolves who counts the herd to determine the remaining number of sheep. Likewise, we find numerous times throughout history, Hashem counting his beloved children, the bnei Yisroel.

Hashem blessed the Jewish people that they should be as numerous as the stars. Besides the implied blessing of prolificacy, there are other lessons which can be gleaned from this association with stars. For one, the Nesivos Shalom explains, the comparison to stars is to teach us the importance of individuality. From all the myriad thousands of stars in the sky, no two stars will ever actually touch each other. They are all separate, each with a unique shine and radiance. So too every Jew has his unique ability to grow in the service of Hashem in a way that is not dependent on another. Chazal tell us that every Jew must say, "Bishvili nivra ha'olam," which literally means the entire world was created for me. Homiletically, the word Bishvili canalso mean my path, as if to say the world was created for my path in life.


              Rav Avraham Yaffen, zt"l Rosh Yeshiva of the Novardok Yeshiva, gives us further insight into the Jewish people's similarity to the stars. A star can be perceived as being very small. Yet in truth a star is a large ball of fire like the sun; we only see it as small because of the great distance between us and the stars. So too the potential a person has in this world to accomplish is a lot greater then may be realized. The Rambam writes that everyone has the ability to become like Moshe Rabeinu, but often we don't maximize our potential. We think to ourselves "who am I? "what can I become?" If we would take a closer look at who we can become we will realize our opportunities for growth are endless.


              A third lesson from the stars can be derived a Gemarah in Chulin. The Gemarah tells us that after the creation of the sun and moon the moon complained to Hashem saying, "how can two rulers reign under one crown?" Hashem therefore punished the moon by diminishing its size. In order to appease the moon, Hashem created the stars to "help out" with giving light. The lesson is clear. The essence of the stars creation was to assist the moon. So too the hallmark of a Jew is chesed - helping out a fellow friend and brother. 


               A fourth lesson to be taken from the stars is based on a verse in Psalms (chapter 147). King David writes "He is the healer of the brokenhearted, He counts the number of stars, to all of them He assigns names." A star is one of billions in the sky and can feel insignificant; that its contribution of light is unimportant to the world. Therefore Hakadosh Baruch Hu names each and every star to show that they do indeed make a difference. So too each and every individual in K'lalYisroel has the power to make a difference in the world!


                Rav Yosef Tzvi Salant, zt"l in his sefer, Be'er Yosef offers our fifth and final explanation.  Stars are only visible at night when all is dark. The Baalei Mussar teach us that nighttime symbolizes galus, exile. Just as the stars have the power to light up even the darkest of nights, so too K'lalYisroel, even in the darkness of galus, subjugated by other nations of the world, can stand apart as the chosen nation. It is for this reason that Hashem counted b'nei Yisroel at the time of entry into Egypt. He wanted to convey this message, that although we may be surrounded by the dark cloud of galus, we are still His children and chosen nation. A nation that will always shine and sparkle even in the darkest of times. May we internalize and take to heart the lessons of the stars, and merit speedily in our days the true radiance of K'lal Yisroel with the building of the Bais Hamikdash.






Dvar Halacha


 Halachos of The Nine Days   

part 1


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



As we get closer to Tisha B'Av, Chazal instituted additional activities in order to help us feel the aveilus (mourning) and destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.  These additional restrictions begin at shkiyah (sunset) of Rosh Chodesh Av [This year Sunday, July 7th, 8:32 PM in Bala Cynwyd] and continue until chatzos (halachic midday) of the 10th of Av [July 17th, 1:07 PM].  This period is commonly known as "The Nine Days."  All the restrictions of the Three Weeks 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).  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, etc.] 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 [for example 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 someone does not have any clean clothing, he may wash before the week of Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:29).




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