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Taking Care of Father

Friday, 10 July, 2020 - 12:12 pm

We know that the Torah is very precise. Even proximity of passages is meaningful and instructive. In this week’s Parsha we go from a highly dramatic passage to a seemingly ho-hum passage. Moshe, knowing that he is going to pass away soon, appeals to Hashem that a qualified succession plan be implemented. Hashem tells Moshe that Yehoshua (Joshua) will be the next Jewish leader, who will shepherd the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Moshe enthusiastically embraces his successor and confers some of his own spiritual power upon him. We then transition to Moshe instructing the Jewish people about the daily and seasonal offerings. Seems to be somewhat anti-climactic.

Rashi comments on the juxtaposition of the passages and explains using the following parable. A princess on her deathbed encourages her husband to look out for their children after she dies. The husband then turns to his wife and begs her to urge the children to look after their father upon her passing. Similarly, Moshe, on his deathbed, pleads with Hashem to make sure that the children are taken care of by appointing Joshua. To which Hashem rejoins, please urge the children to remember me. In this context Moshe instructs the Jewish people to remember the daily and seasonal offerings – to which he refers as “the bread for Hashem.” As if to say, through bringing the offerings we are taking care of Hashem’s sustenance. The proof is, that Hashem declares that the bringing of the offerings give him the “nachas” – the pleasure of His wishes being obeyed.

We have not had a temple or an altar for nearly 2,000 years. How then have we been “taking care of” our Father for all this time? Our sages proclaim, “Prayer has replaced the offerings during the time of exile.”

This ought to light a fire under our prayers. Prayer is not just our opportunity to ask Hashem to fill our needs. It is also our way of showing Hashem our love for Him. Prayer is referred to in Talmudic and mystical teachings as “the service of the heart.” Certainly, in the big scheme of things, Hashem does not have “needs.” But Hashem has decided that our service is meaningful and valuable to Him. In this sense, Hashem yearns for and eagerly anticipates our prayer. He wants to be lovingly connected to each and every one of us. So kids, make sure you are taking care of your Father!!

This past Tuesday, we held our donor appreciation event on Zoom. Click here if you would like to see a video of the event - https://youtu.be/9_gF-wMaWvA.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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