Torah Fax    

Friday - Shabbat, July 9 - 10

See some of the pictures from this year's Gala Chabad Dinner at Guastavino’s here 

Torah reading:  Mattot - Mas'ei (Numbers 30:2 - 36:13)
Candle Lighting Time 8:11 PM
Shabbat ends 9:19 PM 

Pirkei Avot Chapter 2

An Arm Or A Leg

Our Parshah takes place when the Children of Israel are finally standing poised to enter the Promised Land after all the problems that plagued their sojourn in the desert for forty years. And now a new crisis erupts. The two tribes of Gad and Reuven approach Moses and request that they not be given a share of the land on the west bank of the Jordan River, but rather in its more verdant east bank, outside of Israel proper.
At first, Moses was extremely upset with this request. Moses admonished them for their reluctance to cross the Jordan with all of their brethren. Moses even accused them of following in the footsteps of their fathers who followed the advice of the spies and refused to go to the Land of Israel. He also reminded them of the tragic consequences that befell the spies.
Upon hearing these rather sharp words of rebuke from Moses, they proceed to clarify their position:
“We will build sheep enclosures for our livestock and cities for our children. We will then arm ourselves quickly and go ahead of the Children of Israel until we’ve brought them to their place.” They continue to commit themselves to not return to their territory on the east bank of the Jordan until every Jew receives his share of land on the west side of the Jordan.
When Moses heard their willingness to lead the Jews into battle and not take their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan until every last Jew would finally be settled on the west side, Moses acceded to their request and said to them:
“If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves for battle before G‑d, and your army crosses the Jordan  before G‑d… you will be free to G‑d and Israel, and this land will become your heritage before G‑d.”
Ba’al Haturim notes the use of the Hebrew word “chalutz” which is translated as “armed” and discovers that there is another totally unrelated usage of this word in a different Biblical context.
When a man dies without children, the Torah requires that his brother marry his widow. This is known as the Mitzvah of Yibum. If the widow’s brother-in-law refuses to marry her the Torah provides for a special ceremony called “chalitzah” that breaks the connection between the widow and her brother in law and allows her to marry anyone she wants.
This ceremony involves the widow removing a special shoe from her brother-in-law’s foot. The Torah concludes: “His name in Israel will be called, ‘The household of the one whose shoe was removed.’” Here too, the word “chalutz” is employed and it is translated as “removed.”
What in the world is the connection between the armed Gadites and Reuvenites and the removal of the brother-in-law’s shoe? At first glance any association between these two themes is far-fetched!
Ba’al Haturim explains the connection:
The Talmud states that before a soldier would go out to battle in King David’s army, he would first write a bill of divorce for his wife. This “get” was motivated by love, for if the soldier dies in battle and they were childless, the widow would not have to go through the chalitzah ceremony with her brother-in-law in order to remarry.
Thus, by employing the same word “chalutz” in both sections of the Torah—here in the narrative of the Gadites and Reuvenites going into battle and in the requirement of the widow to go through the chalitzah ceremony—the Torah is thereby intimating that when Moses sent them into battle they would likewise write these bills of divorce to protect their wives. They would be both chalutzim, armed, as well as prepared to make sure their wives would not have to do chalitzah, removing their brother in law’s shoe, in case they would be killed in battle.
There must, however, be a deeper connection between these two very disparate themes that can provide us with some insight into our own battles and struggles.
The Rebbe Rashab—Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe—referred to his students, and by extension all Jews, as “soldiers in King David’s army.” The Rebbe explained that we are all fighting the last battle before entering into the Promised Land of the Messianic Age, ushered in by King David’s descendent, the Moshiach.
But before we fight this battle we must also be “divorced” in the sense that we must disconnect ourselves from the negative influences to which we might have become attached, or ”wed.”  We cannot win the struggle against all the negativity in the world around us without having a clear sense of who we are and what positive resources we possess. We must know that we are the masters of our environment and not the other way around. For if we think that we are hostages to the mindset of society then we cannot possibly change it.
Before we go out and fight the final battle for the supremacy of good over evil, etc., we must be armed (chalutz) with the appropriate spiritual weapons.
According to the Torah, the Gadite method of killing their enemy was to sever an armfs and head with one fell swoop. In a spiritual sense this has been translated to mean that they employ both action and reason in their pursuit of serving G‑d. Action alone doesn’t suffice. A Jew must employ and apply his mind to his or her Judaism. And conversely, one cannot delay doing that which is right until one has a full understanding of the subject. Action in the performance of the Mitzvot must precede understanding; but understanding must follow soon afterwards.
Armed with the appropriate weapons we can avoid the painful removal of the shoe that is a part of the chalitzah ritual. The shoe is the object that signifies our connection to the earth upon which we tread.
We have two choices when we try to cope with the harsh nature of the earth that will determine the outcome of our struggle:
The ideal choice is for us to divorce ourselves from its harshness and negativity by equipping ourselves with the proper attitude towards life and our environment. 
Alternatively, if we cannot sever our obsessive  attachment to worldly perspectives, we then become hostages of the worldly mindsets that can cause spiritual death (a metaphor for losing our footing and slipping in a spiritual vein).
When that occurs, the world itself ultimately “removes the shoe from us.” This means that society itself—and the way of life that we feel so attached to that we cannot find it in our hearts to distance ourselves from it—rejects us. This rejection is symbolized by removing the shoe making it hard to feel connected to the ground, and thereby forcing us to reexamine our relationship with the world. And while this method works, it is painful and protracted and by far the inferior of the two approaches that are available to us.
As we wait for Moshiach (the scion of King David) to arrive, we ought to choose the method of Gad and Reuven and arm ourselves with the confidence, conviction and courage to take on the world with positive energy and thereby usher in the Age of Redemption when we will no longer have to fight any wars or battles.   

Moshiach Matters 

When Jacob was about to go down to Egypt, G‑d promised to eventually redeem him. The literal translation of the verse reads: "I will go down to Egypt with you and I will bring you up, also bring up." (Ex. 46:4) The repetitiveness intimates that G‑d promised Jacob that the Children of Israel would be redeemed twice. The first time was when G‑d brought us out of the exile from Egypt. The second time will be with the final redemption through Moshiach, as it says (Isaiah 11:11), "On that day G‑d will add on a second time to recover the rest of His nation." (The Midrash)
Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit  

Something constructive for the Three Weeks:

The Rebbe has emphasized the need to do positive things during the Three Weeks in a spirit of working towards the rebuilding of the Third Temple, in addition to mourning the loss. One thing in particular he suggested is the study of the Laws of the Temple, Beit HaBechirah, from Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. By studying about the Temple, we can hasten its rebuilding.

Here is a quote from the Rambam’s Laws of the Beit HaBechirah (6:1):

The entire Temple complex was not built on flat ground, but rather on the incline of Mount [Moriah.] Thus, a person who entered from the Eastern Gate of the Temple Mount would proceed to the end of the chayl on one level.

He would ascend from the chayl to the Woman's Courtyard on twelve steps. Each step was half a cubit high and half a cubit wide.

Learn more about the Rambam's Laws of the Beit haMikdash - Hilchot Beit HaBechirah at and here

For a virtual tour of the Temple, visit

In addition:
It is important to give more Tzedakah than usual during the Three Weeks. Tzedakah is a key element in bringing about the redemption , as the prophet Isaiah says, “Zion shall be redeemed with justice and its captives(returned) with Tzedakah.” Even a few extra coins each day (except Shabbat) into a pushka (charity box) is very meaningful.

The Talmud tells us that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred between people. Thus, the remedy for the destruction and the key to rebuilding the Temple is to increase in loving our fellow Jew.

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