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Parshas Shelach 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 8:12 pm
June 13, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 30
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Dvar Torah

Too Good?   


By Rabbi Yosef Prupas



                 This week's Parsha features one of the most infamous sins of the Jewish People, the sin of the miraglim, the spies. The result of that needless cry would resonate with pain, sorrow, and destruction for centuries to come. We read the parsha with frustration and ask, "How could they, why did they do it, and how could they have fallen so low?"


                 We will try to convey, with some additional commentary, the words of the Nesivos Shalom on this topic. He asks, what was the need for miraglim, were the Jewish Nation not used to living a supernatural existence? How would a report on the physical prowess of the Canaanite nations have any impact on their chosen path of conquest? Additionally, is it not a tactical error to send the holiest of men on, what would seem, a basic reconnaissance mission?


The Nesivos Shalom answers that the call for great men stemmed from a deeper understanding of the potential perils that might result from invading the land. Moshe understood that just as the land had phenomenal positive spiritual potential; it had a similar amount of possible negativity. To properly assess the impending danger required men of tremendous spiritual height. Only the greatest would be able to understand and diagnose what would be needed to remain impervious to the potential danger. Just as Sara  (through receiving the land of Goshen) and Yehuda (by establishing a Yeshiva in Goshen) laid the groundwork for the Jewish People, to protect them from the evils of Egypt, the same process would be required in the land where true free choice would now be possible again.


So what went wrong? What was their error? Their mistake lay in the feeling of incapability to take on a land filled with tremendous physical potential and desire. The flavour of the fruits of the land were irresistible.  The fruits' enormity represented physical pleasure to an extreme. Additionally, the Canaanite people were devoted to immorality on a level beyond comprehension. It was to this forbidden land that the Jewish People, coming literally from under G-d's shadow and nourished spiritually, were supposed to enter. A land that devoured its inhabitants with its pleasures, how could the Jewish People ever make proper choices there?


Yet, as well meaning as they were, that was their mistake. Just as they were to have full trust in G-d in conquering the land on a physical level, they should have had the same degree of confidence on a spiritual level. As the Talmud (Shabbos 104a) states, "One comes to purify himself, G-d helps him." Similarly the Talmud states elsewhere (Succos 52b), "A man's inclination threatens everyday to overpower him and seeks to kill him... And if not for the fact that the Holy One Blessed is He aids him, he would be unable to withstand it."


It was the will of G-d that they enter this testing ground. Their goal was to take all the seemingly mundane and elevate it for spiritual purposes. This is what Yehoshua and Calev referred to when they cried out in defense of entering the Holy Land, "For they are our bread." Those puzzling words alluded to the potential that the tantalizing food of Eretz Yisrael could become basic nourishment represented by bread. The fruit could be used to nourish the Jewish People on their quest for spiritual greatness and closeness to G-d. But they failed in the face of possible achievement, not wanting to leave their cocoon in the Clouds of Glory and test the waters of EretzYisrael. May we always remain undaunted by seemingly impossible spiritual tests and know that if we do our best, G-d will assist us with the rest.




Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Tachanun      Part 1



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


The Torah [Devarim 9:9, 10:10, & 9:18] relates that MosheRabbeinu davened to Hashem in three different positions: sitting, standing, and falling down ["V'asheiv(and I sat) bahar"," V'anochi emadti(stood) bahar" and "V'esnapel(I threw myself down) lifnei Hashem"].  Our Chazal instituted the recitation of Tachanun [during Shachris and Mincha]to reenact these three different positions, in order to invoke Hashem's mercy.


The Aruch Hashulchan [131:9] explains that after we physically daven in each of these 3 positions, we proclaim "Ma naaseh ke aylecha einaynu.  Zechor rachamecha etc."  We are beseeching Hashem: now that we have davened the 3 different ways of Moshe Rabbeinu, "Ma Naaseh" (what else can we do), and therefore "aylecha ainaynu" (to You are our eyes), "zechor rachamecha" (remember Your Mercy).


There are many different minhagim regarding Tachanun (see Mishneh Berurah 134:1).  Some people say Viduy before saying Tachanun.  Others recite the Viduy on Mondays and Thursdays only.  As a general rule, each person should follow his minhag.  If one whose minhag is not to say Viduy,davens at a minyan that is saying Viduy, he should recite it along with the tzibbur (Igros Moshe OC 3:89).


We increase our supplications on Monday and Thursday, because they are "Yemei Ratzon" (Days of Favor)(Rema 134:1), since at the second set of Luchos Moshe Rabbeinu ascended on Thursday and came down on Monday (Tur OC 134).  Minhag Ashkenaz is to say V'hu Rachum before saying Tachanun and minhag Sefard is to say it after Tachanun.  If one is davening at a minyan that does not daven the way that he usually davens, he may daven the way he is accustomed to, unless it is obvious  that he is not davening the same way as the rest of the minyan (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25:5 & ftnt. 21 quoting Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l).


One only bends over in a place where there is a Sefer Torah present [e.g. shul].  There is an opinion that if someone is in front of seforim [e.g. he is davening at home] one should lean (Mishneh Berurah 131:11).  The minhag Yerushalayim is that even in a place where there is no Sefer Torah, one would lean (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25:ftnt. 39).  As an aside, Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, ruled that children who are davening may bend down even when there is no Sefer Torah present (Igros Moshe OC 5:20:5).


One should not talk in between davening Shemoneh Esrei and saying Tachanun (Shulchan Aruch 131:1), for talking causes his prayer not to be completely accepted (Mishneh Berurah 131:1).  We see this idea expressed in the Gemara [Bava Metziyah 59a-b].   There was a halachik dispute between the great Sages, Rebbi Eliezer and the Chachamim which resulted in putting Rebbi Eliezer into excommunication.  Rebbi Eliezer's wife, Ima Shalom, was the sister of Rabban Gamliel [who was the head of the Chachamim who put Rebbi Eliezer into chayrim], did not allow Rebbi Eliezer to say Tachanun from the time he was put into chayrim, for the fear that he will daven that her brother would be harmed. The Ritva explains, Rebbe Eliezer did say Tachanun each day, only his wife interrupted him each day in between Shemoneh Esrei and Tachanun.  One day she mistakenly thought it was a day that you do not say Tachanun [Rosh Chodesh] and she did not interrupt her husband.  That day Rebbi Eliezer said Tachanun without interruption and Rabbi Gamliel died. We see how careful one must be!




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