In Loving Memory of our Dear Parents

Benjamin Assa & Rebeca Assa z"L

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 !! 

Parasha Bamidbar

With this Parasha we begin the 4th book of our Torah: Bamidbar, which means “in the desert.”

The book of Bamidmar narrates what happens to Am Israel from the 2nd year we were in the desert, covering the 39 remaining years.

The parasha begins with the census Hashem ordered after the inauguration of the Mishkan.

In charge of the census were, Moshe, Aaron, and the leaders of each of the Tribes of Israel.

The were counted by collecting half-shekel coin “Majhazit Hashekel” from each.

Each male over the age of 20 introduced the coin into an urn, and so the coins were counted and not the people directly.

The total number of Bnei Israel after the census: 603,550 men between the ages of 20 and 60.

The census did not include the Leviim which were 22,000 people, counted from the age of 1 month.

The Parasha continues by mentioning the division and the order of Bnei Israel in 4 groups:

1st: Yehuda, Yissachar, Zevulun, were in front toward the East.

2nd:Ruven, Shimon and Gad they were on the Southern side.

3rd: Dan, Asher, Naftali they were on the Northern side.

4th: Efraim, Menashe, and Binyamin, they were on the back toward the West.

In the center was the Mishkan and was surrounded on all four sides by the Leviim, as its honor guards.

The Kohanim and Moshe camped, near the entrance to the Mishkan.

This position was while Bnei Israel camped.

When the Cloud of Glory (which always remained over the Mishkan) moved, Bnei Israel proceeded in formation according to Hashem´s specifications.

Each tribe had its own banner and its own flag, and the Kohanim sounded their trumpets to and from the camp. All this march lasted 40 years !!

The Leviim were in charge of the sacred work. Initially this work belonged to the firstborn of each tribe, having been saved in the last plague in Egypt, but because they were involved in the sin of the Golden Calf, this privilege was taken away and given to the Leviim who did not participate in this act.

Then he parasha continues mentioning the families of the Leviim. The specific labor and the location around the Mishkan of each family was mentioned.

 

Of the three Levite families, Gershon, Kehat, and Merari transported the Sanctuary. The family of Kehat was given the task of carrying the holiest of vessels, including the Kodesh Hakadoshim!!! 

Perasha Bejukotay

This is the last Parasha of Sefer Vayikra. 

In the 1st part, we read about Hashem´s warning to the people of Israel:


….If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them, I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit....and you will live in security in your land.

….”But if you do not obey me and you belittle My precepts and My orders cause you aversion, I will also act that way with you!!!”

Hashem presents two alternatives and predicts and announces the results of both.


It continues mentioning the different contributions a person could donate or promise for the Temple (money, animals, possessions, properties). 

Then it speaks about the tithe of the animals and the tenth of all the products from the field, one must separate.

 

And this is the way this Parasha and Sefer Vayikra conclude!


¡¡ SHABAT SHALOM !! 

Parasha Emor

The first part of the Parasha speaks about the laws concerning the Kohanim, laws which are in effect today, too.

- A Kohen is prohibited from having any contact with the deceased, except for his spouse, parents, children, brothers, and unmarried sisters.

-"Met Mitzvah"is a corpse found in a deserted spot where there is no one near by to perform the burial, the Kohen must bury the dead body.

-The Torah prohibits the Kohen from marrying a divorced woman, a converse or a daughter born from a forbidden union.

-A Kohen with a physical defect was not be permitted to perform the services in the Beit Hamikdash.

-The Kohen Gadol could not have any contact with a dead body except to bury a “MET MITZVAH.”

The Kohen Gadol is more restricted in choosing a wife than the Kohen because of his superior holiness, the Kohen Gadol could not marry a divorced woman, a converse, a daughter born from a forbidden union or a widow.

The Parasha continues detailing the “Yamim Tovim” and the laws pertaining to each festival:

Shabat, Pesaj, Shavuot, Rosh-Hashaná, Yom Kippur, Succoth and Sheminí-Aseret.

Next, comes the commandment to light the Menorah, DAILY, inside the Sanctuary with pure olive oil. And the commandment to prepare WEEKLY the “Lechem Hapanim” (show breads) which were placed on the Table in the Sanctuary every Shabbat.

 

The Parasha ends with the episode of the blasphemer, “son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man” who pronounced and insulted Hashem´s Divine Four-Letter Name.

Hashem instructed Moshe to stone this Egyptian´s son, adding “This is the law for all generations... this sin incurs capital punishment by stoning.

Perasha Kedoshim

The Parasha Kedoshim ('holy ones") begins with Hashem´s statement to the people of Israel:

You shall be holy, for I, G-d your G-d, am holy.


This Parasha mentions 48 mitzvoth, 13 which are Mitzvoth Ase= duties and 35 Mitzvoth lo Taase = prohibitions).


These mitzvoth give the People of Israel a privileged category of being “Kedoshim.”

In this Parasha we learn the famous phrase “Veahabta Lereaja Kamoja” = “Love your fellow man as yourself.”

Because most of the mitzvoth mentioned here have to do with our relations:
-Respect your parents
-Do not deceive your fellow man
-Do not lie
-Do not take revenge or hold a grudge
-Do not hate your fellow man
-Judge others favorably
-Do not exploit your employee
-Do not curse someone who is deaf

-Do not hate another Jew in secret

-Do not go about as a talebearer
....amongst others


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