Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don't Beat a Dead Horse

Shavuot - Ruth

In Megillat Ruth, Naomi insists that her daughters-in-law return to their homes as they have no reason left to remain with her. Orpah went home, but Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi. She said, in what has become famous, "Where you go, I go, Where you sleep, I shall sleep. Your nation is my nation and your God is my God, etc..". In 1:18 we see Naomi's response. The passuk says, "She saw that Ruth was insistent on remaining with her and she stopped talking with her."

Naomi saw that Ruth was insistent on remaining with her as a convert to Judaism. She realized it is pointless to continue arguing about it as Ruth was adamant. She realized there is no point in beating a dead horse. If Ruth really wants to come along and be Jewish, so be it.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Shock to the system

Parshat Naso

In 6:2 the Torah moves on from discussing the concept of Sotah and moves to the topic of the nazirite. Rashi, commenting on the proximity between the sections regarding a Sotah and a nazarite, explains that a person who saw a Sotah in her disgrace will be shocked and become a nazir to separate himself from the worldly pleasures of wine..

There is nothing wrong with partaking in the pleasures of olam ha'Zeh, this world. As a matter of fact, it is explained that the reason why a nazir must bring a sin offering upon completion of his nezirut is because he prohibited from himself the pleasure of worldly items (wine) that Hashem permitted. In a sense it is a type of sin for him to have done so.

However, when a person sees the shock of a Sotah in her disgrace, her shirt being torn, her hair being cut, her korban, and in her disgrace her womb collapsing and legs failing, it will cause him to think about what happened. A person cannot live as a pedestrian/bystander. We are affected by what happens around us. This person saw the depravity of the Sotah and reacted by restricitng himself from certain pleasures that commonly cause immorality.

A person has to react to what happens. Seeing a Sotah is a shock to the system and deserves a reaction. Seeing anything deserves some sort of reaction. One cannot be passive.

positive way of thinking

Parshat Naso

In 5:19 we see the Koen dealing with the Sotah woman and making her take an oath that she did not sleep with the accused man and the bitter waters will thereby be cleansed of the curse.

Rashi says that we state the oath by saying to swear that she did not sleep with the man and is clean, and we do not mention the other possibility - that she did sleep with him and is guilty and will get her punishment. Rashi says that when dealing with life or death laws, we begin with the zechut and not the chiyuv, even though it is obvious to all.

We are to look for optimism and merit all the time. Even when, or especially when , dealing with such serious matters. A persons attitude can make all the difference. If we go into the judgement or any situation we are dealing with with an attitude of optimism, the chances of success are greatly improved.

It'll come from one pocket or the other

Parshat Naso

In 5:12 the Torah begins telling the laws of Sotah. Rashi comments on the proximity of the Sotah section to the previous section discussing giving the priestly gifts. The previous section concluded by saying one who gives to the Kohen hsi portion, will have what to give, meanign he will be blessed with wealth and will have more to give in the future.

Rashi comments on the proximity of these two sections and says that the lesson to be learned is if you give your priestly gifts, you will be blessed with wealth, but if you try to aabstain from giving your gifts and keep it for yourself, you will end up needing to come to the Koen and bring him your Sotah (your wife for judgement of Sotah and the korban of sotah).

This is a lesson we commonly find in Judaic tradition. We were always told as children and as students that if one does not give the charity he is supposed to give and tries to get away with giving less, something will happen that will make you lose that money anyway. If you "owe" $500 to charity but only give $100, your fridge will break down and you will spend a lot of money in repairs, for example.

If we think that the money is ours and we earned it and can do with it as we please, then we also feel why should I give it away. I will be charitable and give a little, but why give so much? I need it to! If that is how you feel, then Hashem will find ways to take it away and show you that it is not yours, rather He gives us money but wants certain things in return.

If you do not give what you are supposed to, God will take it from your other pocket.