For the week ending 30 July 2022 / 2 Menachem Av 5782

Parshat Masei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah names all 42 encampments of the Bnei Yisrael on their 40-year journey from the Exodus to the crossing of the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael. Hashem commands the Bnei Yisrael to drive out the Canaanites from the Land of Israel and to demolish every vestige of their idolatry. The Bnei Yisrael are warned that if they fail to completely rid the Land of the Canaanites, those who remain will be “pins in their eyes and thorns in their sides.” The boundaries of the Land of Israel are defined, and the tribes are commanded to set aside 48 cities for the Levites, who do not receive a regular portion in the division of the Land. Cities of refuge are to be established so that someone who unintentionally kills another person may flee there. The daughters of Tzlofchad marry members of their own tribe so that their inheritance will stay in their own tribe. Thus ends the Book of Bamidbar/Numbers, the fourth of the Books of the Torah.


Cancer of the Cancel Culture

“If he pushed him out of hatred…” (35:20)

Two actors are sitting and talking in a coffee bar on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. One is telling the other about the jobs he got, the jobs he didn’t get, the jobs his agent didn’t send him up for but should have sent him up for, the jobs she sent him up for, but shouldn’t have sent him up for, the jobs he was too short for, the jobs he was too tall for, the jobs he wasn’t good-looking enough for, the jobs he was too good-looking for. He goes on like this for about half an hour. Finally, he stops and says to the other actor, “Well, that’s enough about me. Now, you talk about me.”

It’s very difficult not to see ourselves as the center of the world. It’s very easy to think (G-d forbid), “Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokenu, Ani Echad.” “Hear O Yisrael, Hashem is Our G-d. I AM ONE!” There’s a G-d in the world, for sure. But I’m the center of my own universe. If it’s my world, then you’re driving my Ferrari, you’re married to my film-star/tzadekes wife, you’re wearing my Zegna suit, you’re walking around in my Gucci shoes and you’re breathing MY AIR!

The opposite of sinas chinam is ahavas chinam. It’s easy to love and respect someone when they are just like you, but can you respect someone when they’re completely different than you? Can you respect them when they are greater than you? Can you respect them when they are smaller? Can you respect when they’re more religious than you? Respect them when they do things with ‘pride’ that disgust you? Can you respect the soul inside even when the outside repels?

Every person is priceless. A smile says, “You matter.” A hello says, “I noticed you — I didn’t cancel you.”

A nod says, “You are in my world — I didn’t remove you from my radar.” I respect you because you have a neshama – even when you make choices I wouldn’t make and even when you’re wrong.

I see the pure neshama inside you.

I love you for free.

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