In Loving Memory of our Dear Parents

Benjamin Assa & Rebeca Assa z"L

Perasha Shoftim

As its name indicates, this Parasha speaks about the Judges (Shoftim) and the importance of justice in any society.

“.... and they will Judge the People according to The Law, without corruption or preferences...”

The Parasha continues by mentioning the prohibition of planting trees in the Beit Hamikdash and building statues.

It then goes on to explain the Judicial process:

1. The inquiry 2. testimony of the two witnesses 3. determining veracity of testimony 4. the trial 5. the sentence

The Torah warns: “Don´t depart from what they (the judges of the Great Sanhedrin) tell you, to the right or to the left!”

Then the Torah mentions, that once settled in the Land, the Jewish people are commanded to appoint a Jewish king, who will be chosen by Hashem´s prophet and by the Sanhedrin. It was the King´s obligation to carry a Sefer Torah at all times, and constantly read it, to respect Hashem and His Torah and to avoid feeling superior to others and not stray from the ways of Hashem and His mitzvot.

The Torah assures us that we do not need to consult diviners regarding our future, for we must trust that Hashem has prepared it in the best possible way for us.

The Parasha continues with laws regarding the Kohanim and the Leviim, “officials” dedicated to the Divine Service in the Beit Hamikdash.

Moshe warns the People against assimilating with the nations who will live side by side in Eretz Israel.

The next chapter discusses the prohibition against invading the rights of others. It also explains the rule of judicial testimony, which is only valid when there are 2 WITNESSES.

 

 

At the end of the Parasha, Moshe encourages the Yehudim by telling them: “Do not fear anything or anyone, because Hashem will be with you and will always lead you to victory !!

 

And certain laws concerning warfare are mentioned, for example: a person who has things pending, concerns, or is afraid to go to war, should return home. Hashem who loves peace, commands Bnei Israel not to wage war before making a peace offer to the enemy. The Torah mentions that we may not destroy the enemies´fruit trees, or anything useful, and that they must respect the victims.

 

The Parasha ends by mentioning “The Calf Whose Neck is Broken” Egla Arufa,which was sacrificed in order to atone for a murder who´s murderer´s identity was unknown, and so the judges and the sages of the closest city to the murder bring a one-year-old calf that never performed labor to sacrifice it so it could atone for the sin.

Perasha Ree

This Parasha begins as Moshe explains that a Jew brings blessings upon himself by fulfilling Hashem´s will and incurs a curse for a transgression, thereby exercising the “free will” Hashem gave each one of us.

Then Moshe warns The People against 3 transgressions:

1. When a false prophet predicts without Divine inspiration.

2. When a person incites another into idol worship.

3. When a nation practices idolatry. 

Moshe continues reminding The People that we are children of Hashem, and that we should take care of our body, without

disfiguring ourselves and by consuming forbidden foods.

The Kosher animals are mentioned, as well as the laws of “Shechita” and the mitzva of not “mixing meat and milk.”

Then the laws of “Maaser” (to set aside your tithe) are mentioned. And every three years you should settle your outstanding Maaser debts.

The Parasha continues mentioning the mitzva of Shemitta (Sabbatical year) in which all debts due to a loan expire.

“If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities... you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, open, open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking...

You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him; for because of this thing Hashem will bless you in all your work and in all your endeavors.”

The Mitzvot to provide for his Hebrew Slave and the offerings of first born animals (which were offered to the Kohen).

The Parasha concludes with the laws regarding the festivities of Pesach, Shavuot and Succot, in which each male needed to bring his sacrifice to the Beit Hamikdash.

Both men and women are commanded by the Torah to be in happy spirits on all the yamim tovim.

 

Perasha Ekeb

Eikev means “because.” Moshe promises that for fulfilling the Mitzvot, Am Israel will prosper.

Moshe speaks to the People and asks them not to fear the other nations they will be conquering since Hashem will be on their side.

Moshe warns Bnei Israel not to forget Hashem, His Torah and Mitzvot, even when living in prosperity, in beautiful homes, with flourishing businesses, Never forget Hashem, Who took you out of slavery.

Moshe reminds them about the mann that was given to them in the wilderness and tells them “By means of the mann Hashem trained you to trust him...” and he continues “the giving of the mann taught you a life long lesson:”

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by each saying that emanates from Hashem´s mouth does man live.” 

Moshe tells them that they will enter the Promised Land because Hashem promised our forefathers He would do so, and NOT because of our merits since we are a disobedient People.

Moshe reminds them about the terrible episodes that occurred in the wilderness: The sin of the golden calf, the rebellion upon the disappearance of Miriam´s well, the complaints when you wanted to eat more meat, and the sad and shameful incident of the unfaithful spies who spoke Lashon Hara about the Promised Land.

Moshe also reminds them about the destruction of the 1st set of tablets and the receiving of two new Tablets mande of stone to be placed in the Ark.

Immediately the following verse of the Shema Israel appears:

"Veahaya im Shamoa" where all the consequences of the future are mentioned. 

In the Parashah's closing verses, Moshe once again calls upon the people to love Hashem, to fulfill His commandments and to "walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him."

SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Vaetchanan

In this Parasha Moshe insistently implores (Vaetchanan) Hashem to let him enter the Promised Land.

But Hashem demands him not to beseech not one more time and orders him to ascend to the top of the summit to observe the Land which the Yehudim will enter with his successor Yehoshua ben Nun as their leader.

Then Moshe warns The People to keep and practice the just and perfect laws they received at Har Sinai, which govern our Great People.

Moshe asks the People not to forget their years in the wilderness and to transmit it to their descendants.

Then Moshe reminds them of the great success of the giving of the Torah, when Hashem revealed HimSelf at Har Sinai. And here the 10 Commandments are repeated.

Moshe warns, "and if you abandon the Torah, you will be expelled from the Holy Land, and G-D will scatter you, and you will live in a minority, discriminated against and secluded ... and you will deteriorate morally and assimilate ... But there will come a day that you will react and will seek Hashem, and you will find Him, and you will return to Him with all your heart and soul, because G-D is Pious and will not abandon you !!”

And here appears the verse of Our outmost faith and loyalty to Hashem, the SHEMA ISRAEL!!!

….and these words...You shall teach them to your children, you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes.. and you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house....”

The Parsha concludes reminding The People of the prohibition of mixed marriages, as this will ignite Hashem´s wrath forfeiting their right to exist.

¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Debarim

This is the first Parasha of the Sefer Devarim. Devarim means “words,” since Moshe explains and resumes all that occurred during their stay in the wilderness, and reviews the laws and precepts Hashem has commanded to Bnei Israel.

Moshe then details how he had appointed judges and the leaders of the Tribes.

Then Moshe mentions the sad and terrible episode of the “Meraglim,” the spies that went to the Promised Land only to return with a slanderous report, disillusioning The People with their words, causing the terrible consequence in which an entire generation of adults was condemned to die in the desert.

The Parasha continues recalling the failed attempt of The People to cross the territory of Eisav to shorten their travels, and being denied passage by their inhabitants, and so Bnei Israel had to travel through the land of Moab to complete their remaining 38 year sentence.

The Parasha ends with the summary of the confrontation with Sichon and Og, in which Israel managed to be victorious thanks to Hashem´s assistance!!

And Moshe tells Yehoshua: “Your eyes have seen all that G-d your G-d has done to these two kings; so shall G-d do to all the kingdoms into which you will pass. You shall not fear them: for G-d your G-d, He shall fight for you."

 ¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Matot

The Parasha begins by mentioning the laws concerning the fulfillment and annulment of vows: “All that proceeds out of his mouth shall he do”

Hashem asks Moshe, before his death, that he should lead a war against Midyan, who enticed the Bnei Israel to immorality and idol worship.

Immediately Moshe gathers 1,000 men from each Tribe to form and army to attack Midyan.

Bnei Israel miraculously overpowered the enemies and slew them all including the 5 kings of Midyan and the evil Bilam.

But Moshe grew angry at the generals for bringing as captives the Midyanite women and children, “The women were the ones who enticed you to sin,” Moshe declared! And the soldiers obeyed.

Moshe commands everyone who had contact with a dead, to remain outside the camp for seven days.

Then Elazar explains the laws of koshering impure vessels that will be used by a Jew, (hagalah and tevilah).

Then Hashem commands that the booty from the war be counted and distributed equally between the soldiers and the rest of the People.

But the soldiers, thankful with Hashem for not loosing any men in battle, decide to voluntarily donate part of their vessels and jewelry to the Mishkan.

The last part relates the episode in which the tribes of Reuben and Gad ask Moshe for portions on the East Side of the Jordan instead of the territories they would have received in Eretz Israel.

But Moshe denies their request, so they explain to him that they will help the rest of the People in the conquest and the establishment of Israel, and only after return to those territories to engage in livestock and grazing.

And Moshe accepts, and that was how the tribe of Reuben, Gad and part of Menasheh settled across the Yarden.

¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Pinchas

Hashem praises Pinchas ben Elazar, grandson of Aharon, for his courageous act that stopped Hashem´s wrath in the previous parasha.

He is appointed Kohen on his own merit and Hashem promises him a covenant of shalom, peace.

Hashem instructs Moshe to attack Midyan for plotting against Am Israel and having caused the people of Israel to sin. 

Then Hashem orders the last counting of Bnei Israel in the desert, all men over the age of 20 were counted, and the total account was 601,730 people.

 The Tribe of Levy was counted separately, the men from one month old were counted, and the total was 23,000 people.

 They were the new generation of the People of Israel, shortly before entering the Promised Land.

Hashem tells Moshe that the Promised Land will be distributed according to the number of people from each tribe.

But the daughters of Tzelafchad ( a man from the tribe of Menashe) present themselves before Moshe requesting a share in the Land, since their father had died leaving no male offspring.

 The daughters of Tzelafchad argued correctly and received a double portion, their father´s portion and their grandfather´s portion as well (since their father was first-born).

Here Hashem commanded Moshe to teach Bnei Israel the laws of inheritance.  

Then Hashem announces to Moshe that the time of his death has arrived.

Moshe prayed to Hashem for Him to appoint a capable successor to lead the people into the Promised Land before his passing.

And Hashem orders Moshe to take Yehoshua ben Nun and present him to the Kohen and to all of the congregation and to announce his leadership.

And that is how Yehoshua was assigned as Moshe´s successor.

 

At the end of the Parasha the laws of the Korbanot (sacrifices) for Shabbat, Rosh Jodesh, Pesaj, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot are explained.

 

Parasha Balak

Balak was king over Moav. After seeing that the Jews had just defeated 2 powerful giants Sichon and Og (in the previous parasha),  the Moavim were seized with fright as Am Israel approached them. 

Balak sends for Bilam, a prophet and sorcerer, to curse Am Israel so they could be defeated.

Hashem appears to Bilam in a dream and allows him to go with Balak with the condition not to curse the Jews.

On his way with Balak, Bilam was riding on his she-ass when an angel appears. The she-ass saw that the angel had his sword drawn and turned from the path, but Bilam, who did not perceive the angel, hit the animal and drove it back on to the road.

And this happened 3 times, that the she-ass saw the angel, and on the 3rd time that Bilam hits the animal, this one says to Bilam:

“What have I done that I deserved to be beaten 3 times?”

That´s when Hashem reveals the angel so Bilam can see it and the angel tells him that he will only say what Hashem allows him to say.

Bilam arrives with Balak and is ready to curse the Jews and erase their memory from the face of the earth. (chas ve shalom).

As Bilam was formulating a curse in his heart, Hashem twisted his tongue and out of his mouth came out the best BLESSINGS!!! And this occurred 3 times.

When Bilam sees Balak getting angry, he tells him that he will ONLY be able to say what Hashem allows him to say.

And so Bilam ( who knew which sin is the one that most damages the relationship between Hashem and Am Israel) advises Balak to set up at trap and seduce the Jewish men to sin.

And that´s what Balak did, the Midyanite girls seduced the Jewish men, and the people of Israel denigrated themselves!!!

And the anger of Hashem was kindled against Israel and a plague attacks killing many.

Following Hashem´s orders, Moshe executes all those involved in this disgraceful act.

And Pinchas, grandson of Aharon, appears and kills Zimri (corrupt leader from the tribe of Shimon), who is caught in the middle of an atrocious with a Midyanite woman, and in front of everyone, he executes them by thrusting his spear through both Zimri and Kozbi.

Pinchas´s zealous act stopped Hashem´s fury and the plague came to an end.

24,000 Jews died in the plague (all from the Tribe of Shimon!)

 

¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !!

Parasha Korach

Korach, from the tribe of Levy, was a very learned and wealthy man who had everything. He was an important leader of the Jews. But he let himself be influenced by Datan and Aviram (2 evil men).

ENVY invaded Korach, and him, along with 250 leaders of Tribes, rebelled against Moshe´s authority, accusing them of abuse of power, dictatorship and having preference towards the Kohanim.

Moshe told them: “Come tomorrow morning with a pan filled with ketoret, incense, and offer it up, and this way we will see which is the man Hashem has chosen as His Trusted Servant...”

And that´s what happened, each of the 250 men along with Korach, brought incense and presented themselves in front of Moshe and Aharon at the entrance of the Sanctuary.

The ground began shaking and the earth split open and swallowed Korach, Datan and Aviram along with their families and their belongings.

Then the earth closed up, and no trace of these reshaim remained.

A fire fell from heaven and consumed the 250 men who stood with their pans of ketoret at the entrance of the Sanctuary.

The people, panicked after tragedy struck Korach and all his follower and turned against Aharon and Moshe.

And Hashem struck the people with a deathly plague causing a death toll of 14,700 Jews!

And Aharon, following Moshe´s orders, stops the plague by presenting Hashem with a Ketoret.

Hashem commanded Moshe “Take twelve rods. On each, inscribe the name of the nassi (leader) of each Tribe. On the rod of Levy, write Aharon´s name and place the rods overnight in the Sanctuary.”

“The staff of the Tribe chosen for My Service will miraculously blossom.”

And it was done. On the following day Aharon´s rod had blossomed. And Moshe showed all Klal Israel. Hashem commands that this rod be saved as a reminder of the rebellion.... so nobody else should perish. 

The Parasha ends by describing the important functions of the Kohanim and Leviim in regards to guarding the holiness of the Sanctuary and with the obligation of the people to give a tithe of all their earnings to the Kohanim and the Leviim for being servants of Hashem.

 

Parasha Behaaloteja

This Parasha explains various events and mitzvot:

- It begins detailing Hashem´s indication to Aaron on the mitzvah of preparing and lighting the Menorah: the candelabra containing 6 arms which needed to point to the central arm.

_It continues explaining the process the Leviim must go through in order to initiate the Holy Services. A Levi became an apprentice in the Sanctuary at the age of25, after studying ofr 5 years, he could begin the actual service a the age of 30. He would retire from the havy work load at the age of 50, turning to lighter tasks. 

-One year after leaving Egypt, Moshe repeated to Bnei Israel the detailed laws of Pesaj. They offered the Korban Pesaj, but those who were impiure were not able to do the Mitzvah, but had the opportunity to do so the following month, “Pesaj Sheni.” This mitzvah was only performed in the times of the Sanctuaries, nowadays we only 
celebrate as a rememberance. 
-The Clouds of Glory settled upon the Mishkan, and according to their movement the Bnei Israel would settle or depart. And with the sound of the trumpets blown by the Kohanim, the wars, holidays and departures would be announced. 

-The Torah speak about Yitro, Moshe´s father-in-law, who coverts to Judaism in the wilderness. He is renamed to Chovaiv, Lover of the Torah, after his conversion to Judaism. 

- It continues with the narration of the rebels who began complaining and criticizing the slow pace when walking , and this negative attitude angered Hashem, and a terrible fire consumed the guilty.

- The Egyptian converts began to complian about their inability to satisfy their cravings, since they were fed up with the Man. Hashem was very angry and a fire fell from Heaven and devoured the instigators of the Egyptian converts.

-The fire also consumed the souls of the Elders of the Sanhedrin, they had been liable to the death penalty since matan Torah, for having derived enjoyment from the sight of the Shechina.

-Hashem grants Moshe´s request and appoints 70 new Elders who will assist him in his leadership and Moshe shares his ruach hakodesh with the Elders. 

Also to great Sages among Our people, Eldad y Medad, as gift received prophecy for acting humbly and believing that they were underserving of their position. 

And suddenly a swarm of slavs (quails) fell on the Camp, and the People hunted and collected them. Hashem´snager shook the People sending a mortal plague.

Este sitio fue llamado "La Tumba de la Codicia", pues ahí se enterraron a los codos del Pueblo. This place was called “Graves of the Lusters,” Kivros Hata'ava. 

- The Parasha ends with the sad event of Miriam speaking Lashon Hara to Aharon about their brother Moshe, in reference to the woman he had taken a as wife. And they said: “Did Hashem only speak with Aharon?” and Hashem heard them and Called them into the Sanctuary, and Hashem said to them “When I direct myself towards you it is through a dream, 


SHABAT SHALOM !!

Perasha Naso

The name of the Parasha Naso signifies “census”, since Moshe was commanded to count the Leviim between the ages of 30 and 50 to see who was fit for the avoda (work) of the Sanctuary.


The total Leviim counted fit for the avoda was: 8580 people. 

The Parasha continues by mentioning 4 laws:

1. Laws concerning impure people who had leave the camp.

2. Laws concerning theft

3. Laws concerning the Sotah: the woman suspected of adultery.

4. Laws concerning the Nazir: a person who makes a voluntary vow to refrain from drinking wine, shearing his hair, and having contact with the dead, including his parents. He sanctifies himself during his period of Nezirut. After his term of nezirut the nazir brings a serious of sacrifices. The nazir´s hair which had grown freely throughout the nezirut, is now completely shorn and burnt in the fire beneath the peace offering.

Hashem told Moshe to command the Kohanim to bless the Jewish people every day during the day-time prayers, in the Diaspora, we recite Birkat kohanim only on the Yamim Tovim.

" Yebarejejá Hash'm Veishmeréja ...".

The last chapter tells of the inauguration of the Mishkan, in which the 12 nesiim (leaders) of each tribe brought sacrifices for 12 consecutive days.


The Parasha concludes with the verse: “And when Moshe came into the Mishkan to speak with Him, he heard the very voice Voice that he had heard at Har Sinai. Now it came form the kaporet that was upon the aron from between the two keruvim, and from there the Voice spoke to him.” 


¡¡ Shabbat Shalom and Besorot Tovot !! 


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