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Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
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Home » B'Chukotai

Bechukotai: Food For Thought for your Dinner Table

Submitted by on May 16, 2008 – 6:14 pmNo Comment | 2,638 views

Sunday: In the Right Time

If we follow His commandments G-d promises to make the rain fall in its time. Rashi explains that the right time for rain is on Shabbat. The Talmud relates that on the road, Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa would pray for clear weather and upon returning home he would pray for rain. G-d complied with his request so that the pious Rabbi Chanina would avoid traveling in the rain. If we all observe G-d’s commandments and grow to be pious like Rabbi Chanina, there will virtually never be a good time for rain because at every point at least one person will be out traveling. Rain will therefore fall on Shabbat, when travel is forbidden and we are bound  by Torah law to be at home. Peninim Yekraim

Monday: Wild Beasts

In his young age King David overcame a bear and a lion with his bare hands. In his time, Samson subdued a lion with his bare hands. The prophets saw these victories as omens that one day these warriors would subdue the enemies of Israel, whose armies would attack like beasts, with wild abandon. In the Messianic Era G-d will eradicate wars as well as wild beasts. When Israel no longer has enemies there will be no need for beasts to serve as their symbol and to foretell their defeat. Tiferes Yonason

Tuesday: Reverse Order

After a lengthy rebuke in which G-d promises to punish the Jewish nation for their sins, the Torah concludes with the words, “I shall remember my covenant with Jacob, and with Isaac and with Abraham.” Why are the patriarchs not listed in chronological order?

Invoking the merit of our forefathers is a double edged sword. On the one hand it invokes our substantial pedigree, but on the other hand it highlights how short we have fallen of their achievements. We can argue that we are not as pious as Jacob and Isaac were because we were not raised by parents of the same calibre. Abraham, however, was raised by idolatrous parents and still achieved much. We therefore invoke Jacob and Isaac first. Only after we have been absolved from our shortcomings in comparison to them are we prepared to invoke Abraham. Ktav Sofer

Wednesday: Sacred Substitutes

An animal that has been consecrated for a sacrifice cannot be substituted by another. If it is exchanged, then both the original and its exchange assume sacred status and are offered as sacrifices. If the original animal should develop an injury that would render it unfit to be sacrificed it can be redeemed by another animal.

This law can be viewed as a metaphor for the Jewish nation and its Torah students. A Jew, who is unable to study Torah, can garner spiritual merit by supporting scholars who do study Torah. In this case the scholar redeems the supporter by studying on his behalf. This is only possible when the supporter is incapable (or in the metaphor – unfit) to study on his or her own. However, a Jew who is capable of Torah study cannot redeem his or her obligation by supporting others. In this case the scholar and the supporter must both devote themselves to the sacred task of Torah study in order to become holy. Drash Moshe

Thursday: Timely Resolutions

After the lengthy description of the suffering that will befall our people in the event that we don’t observe the commandments, the Torah enumerates the laws that govern charitable contributions. Some see the link between these two subjects as a subtle rebuke. It is human nature to turn to G-d under duress and pledge to improve our ways. The Torah seeks to encourage us not to wait for difficult times to make our contribution. As our sages taught, charity prevents suffering. Kli Yakar

Friday: Selfless Consideration

When evaluating the proper value of a human or animal for purposes of consecration the Torah instructs, “evaluations must be made according to the standard of the holy sheke [used in the sanctuary].” The Baal Shem Tov taught that when evaluating which of two conflicting options is the correct path one must disregard personal desires or agenda and ask which option G-d would want us to choose. The Chassidic masters thus interpret the words, “Evaluations should be made according to the holy shekel.” Shekel, in Aramaic, means deliberation. In this sense the Torah tells us that when evaluating the proper path, our deliberations must be rooted in G-dly ideas. Divrei Yisroel

Shabbat: Final Letters

In conclusion of this week`s Parsha we read, “These are the commandments that G-d gave to Moses at Sinai.” It is from here that the Talmud derives, “These are the commandments – there shall be no others.” After Moses received the commandments G-d sealed the canon and will never issue another commandment. In fact, it is from here that we derive that a prophet, who claims to have received a new commandment in prophecy, should be immediately denounced. He is, by the very nature of his prophecy, a false prophet for G-d has pledged never to issue another commandment.

Just as it is forbidden to detract from the Divine commandments so is it forbidden to add to them. Shabbos 104a

Edited by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, Director of Chabad at La Costa.