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This Saturday evening July 21 and Sunday, we observe the fast day of Tishah B'Av. May the sadness be transformed into gladness and may we all merit the immediate end of the exile with the arrival of Moshiach. All it takes is our renewed dedication to serving Hashem through Torah, Mitzvot and Chesed.


With the "nine days" and Tishah B'Av upon us, let's remember its message:

It has been said that baseless hatred and disunity among our people led to this tragedy. It is through Ahavat Yisroel, love of our people, that we will bring about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the complete and final!

This week we have the privilege of beginning the fifth Book of the Torah, Devarim.

Devarim is also known as "Mishneh Torah" or Review of the Torah because many Mitzvot mentioned were taught earlier. There is also new material found in Devarim along with additional clarifications and insights. The emphasis, however, is on the laws pertaining to the Land of Israel because B'nai Yisroel is about to enter the Land. This portion is always read on the Shabbat preceding the fast day of Tishah B'Av.

In chapter 1:7, the Torah refers once again to the boundaries and topography of Eretz Yisroel. The Land is described in detail from east to west, since that is how it will be seen by B'nai Yisroel.

There was once a proud Israeli man who often recalled the story of how he hitchhiked across Asia to settle in Israel. Born in Europe, this strong minded man overcame many obstacles on his long trek to the Holy Land and he considered himself an ardent secular Zionist, nonobservant of Torah. In fact, he believed that merely living in Israel was enough Judaism for him. I asked how he responds to those who claim that he came from Europe and displaced people who's great grandparents lived there before he arrived. He replied that he has the original deed to the Land, and added: "The entire world knows that G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jews. It says so in the Bible."

I told him that if he were to present his "DEED" to the judges of the world court, they might ask him if the deed is still valid today. Has he kept it up to date and in good condition or has it become an obsolete and ancient irrelevant relic? Do you consider parts of this document (the Torah) binding (as our right to Israel) but others (as the Shabbat, Mikvah, Kashrut, etc.) no longer relevant? If so, the nations of the world could say that since you do not observe this part of Torah, we don't recognize the part of the Torah that contains your claim! We both realized that it is only when we regard ALL of Torah as eternal, that our right to Israel is assured forever.

In Devarim 1:19-43 the Torah once again, refers to the scouts sent by Moshe to visit Israel and the negative report given by ten of them. Why does Moshe choose to remind the nation of this sad episode at this time?

Our sages teach that it was on the ninth day of Av that our people believed that negative report. In fact, it was that very incident that caused the long delay and the wanderings in the desert until a new generation would arise to conquer the Land.

One of the things the spies said was that the Land devours its inhabitants, implying that this new lifestyle would destroy the people. Suddenly, a Nation that had always relied upon Hashem's open miracles would now be going to war, conquering their Land and becoming farmers. How could living in this new world be good for the Jews?

By reminding the Nation about the episode of the spies, Moshe was making the point that the Torah way of life is not merely a desert religion where spectacular miracles are needed to sustain our lives. The Land does not replace the Torah, rather the Torah works in the material world as well.

Indeed, Moshe was teaching that with Torah as our guide, materialism need not devour its inhabitants. The Torah brings Joy and peace to its people, and although we live in the material world, we can refine it into a dwelling place for Hashem.

Kol Tov!  Our best to's all good.  

Shabbat Shalom, CM 



The "nine days" beginning Friday July 13 intensify our semi-mourning of our Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple) that was destroyed twice in history, on the 9th of Av. How are you planning to make your observance of these special days more meaningful this year? 



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