The St. Louis Jewish Speakers Series — Robert Walker video

We hope you enjoy Robert Walker’s video on HOW TO CHANGE PEOPLE’S MINDS ABOUT ISRAEL.  

Co-sponsored by Aish Hatorah of St. Louis and St. Louis Friends of Israel

“A Shul with a Story” — Aish Hatorah St. Louis: Changing the World, One Jew at a Time — by Judy Waldman, The Jewish Press, 23 February 2020

We hope you enjoy this story about Aish St. Louis that was written in memory of Kalman Packouz zt’l.

“While I considered Kalman a dear friend, I think everyone who ever met him probably felt the same way. That’s who Kalman was.  The Jewish Press has 100,000 subscribers. Hopefully our fellow Yidden reading about Kalman will elevate his neshama. Enjoy the article and please do just one more act of chesed today in memory of Kalman Moshe ben Avigdor” — Judy Kalman

Click to read the story, Page 1 and Page 2.

 

The Rabbi Noah Weinberg Memorial Lecture — Kivi Bernhard video

We hope you enjoy this video of Kivi Bernhard that was taken during The Rabbi Noah Weinberg Memorial Lecture, dedicated by the Axelbaum Family in memory of Jerry Axelbaum a”h.
His topic was Speaking of Jewish! The journeys of living loud and proud as a Jew while keynoting to Fortune 500 corporations across the globe and how they see us.  

 

Aish Hatorah Low Budget Productions presents Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald’s Yom Kippur Questions

Season 1, Episode 4
“Yom Kippur Questions that I’ve
been pondering”

Aish Hatorah Low Budget Productions Presents Opportunities for Insight & Growth with Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald (3)

Season 1, Episode 3
“Do You Have Questions About the
Rosh Hashanah Service?”

Aish Hatorah Low Budget Productions presents Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald’s Opportunities for Wisdom & Growth

Season 1, Episode 1                                        Season 1, Episode 2
“What We Are Praying For and                   “A Prayer and A Rocket”
Why We Are Addressed”

 

 

 

Shabbat Shalom Weekly

Torah Portion:  Korach (Numbers 16-18)

Shraga’s Weekly

Pursuit of Peace

by Rabba Shraga Simmons
How to Avoid a Fight 
A Jewish man is shipwrecked on a desert island. After 10 years, he’s finally rescued by a passing ship. When the rescuers disembark on the island, they are surprised to find the man has built himself an entire civilization: golf course, restaurant, and two synagogues.
“But since you’re here all alone on the island,” they asked, “why do you have TWO synagogues?”
“Because,” replied the man, pointing to the buildings, “that’s the one I go to, and that’s the one I don’t!”
Korach – What’s So Bad?

In this week’s Parsha, a terrible dispute erupts amongst the Jewish people. A man named Korach accuses Moses of corruption. Korach then recruits 250 men and stages a full-fledged rebellion. In the end, the earth opens up and swallows Korach and his cohorts alive.
Why such a terrible punishment? Judaism regards quarrelling as one of the gravest sins. Why? Because divisiveness contradicts the essential unity of God. A flower has perfect form and symmetry, the ecosystem functions harmoniously, the colors of a sunset blend perfectly. Quarreling — with its tension, allegations and incriminations — undermines the harmony of creation. (Midrash Bamidbar Rabba 11:7)
In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, is derived from the root shalem, which means whole or complete. Peace is not merely the absence of war. Peace is a cooperative, symbiotic relationship, where both parties care for each other, assist each other, and ultimately complete each other.

How to Avoid a Quarrel

We’ve all been faced with confrontation. It may be a business dispute, or simply jockeying for position at a red light.
So what should we do? The surest way to immediately defuse any conflict is to refuse to participate. Remember: It takes two to argue.
In our Parsha, Moses asks to meet with the provocateurs Datan and Aviram. Moses eagerly pursues peace even though it means the risk of personal humiliation (see Numbers 16:8,12).
The Talmud (Avot 1:12) describes Aaron as the master of pursuing peace. If Aaron saw two people arguing, he would tell each of them that the other admitted his mistake and wants to make up. That way, each party saves face, allowing the dispute to end. How much family dysfunction could be spared with this advice!

Well-Intentioned Argument

The topic of “peace” is a popular one these days. We hear everyone talk about peace in the home, peace with the Arabs, peace in the inner city.
Peace is perhaps the most central theme in Judaism. The words of King David (Psalms 133:1), “How good and pleasant is it for brothers to sit peacefully together,” are perhaps the most popular Hebrew song. The Amidah prayer, said three times daily, ends with the word “Shalom.” The Grace After Meals ends with the word “Shalom.” The Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) ends with the word “Shalom.” The entire Talmud ends with the word “Shalom.” As well, the Talmud declares, “Shalom” is one of the Names of God!
But, if peace is such an essential Jewish value, then why are Jews always arguing?!
Quarreling should not be confused with well-intentioned controversy. Any student of the Talmud knows that the schools of Hillel and Shammai were always arguing. Yet, their respect for one another grew because they knew the disputes were for the purpose of reaching a common understanding. In fact, the Talmud (Yevamot 14b) reports that the children of Hillel and Shammai intentionally married each other to show they were at peace.
The Talmud states: “Just as no two faces are exactly alike, likewise no two opinions are exactly alike.” Rabbi Shlomo Eiger explains this in terms of peaceful human relations: The fact that other people have different facial features does not bother me in the slightest. In fact, I am actually glad this is so, because it preserves my uniqueness! So, too, I should appreciate the unique perspective that others bring to my life.
The Talmud (Avot 5:20) describes a well-intentioned controversy as that between Hillel and Shammai. A poor-intentioned controversy is that of Korach and his followers, who tried to manipulate others for their own selfish power struggle.

Hammering Out the Truth

Judaism does not object to argument, if it is for the sake of truth. In fact, sincere disputants will ultimately feel love for one another. What’s most striking about a yeshiva is that the study partners are always yelling at each other. The forcefulness of their positions engenders not animosity, but rather increased respect!
The Talmud relates a story about the great scholar Rebbe Yochanan and his study partner Reish Lakish. The two learned together for many years, until one day Reish Lakish got sick and died. Rebbe Yochanan was totally distraught over the loss. His students tried to comfort him, saying, “Don’t worry, Rebbe. We’ll find you a new study partner — the most brilliant man in town.”
A few weeks later, Rebbe Yochanan was seen walking down the street, totally depressed. “Rebbe,” his students asked. “What’s the problem? We sent you a brilliant study partner. Why are you so sad?”
Rebbe Yochanan told them: “This man is indeed a scholar. In fact, he’s so brilliant that he can come up with 24 ways to prove that what I’m saying is correct. But when I studied with Reish Lakish, he brought me 24 proofs that what I was saying was wrong. And that’s what I miss! The goal of study is not to just have someone agree with me. I want him to criticize, question, and prove to me that I’m wrong. That’s what Torah study’s about.”

Israel Today

This week’s Parsha states clearly: “Don’t be like Korach” (Numbers 17:5) – which the Talmud (Sanhedrin 110a) explains is the prohibition against quarreling.
Hatred, jealousy and infighting are unfortunately not new terms to our people. The Talmud (Yoma 9b) says that it was baseless hatred amongst Jews which brought about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple has lain in ruins for 2,000 years.
Only through unconditional love will it be rebuilt.
Much is said about internal disputes between Jews in Israel. Perhaps we cannot completely eliminate these disputes. But, we must never forget an essential rule: “Every person is worthy of profound respect, regardless of their beliefs and level of observance.”
I may have differences and disagree with other Jews on various issues. I may disagree with my wife on various issues as well. But just as I would never consider distancing from my wife based on our disagreements, so, too, I would never consider distancing myself from other Jews.
In Israel — where the issue of Jewish unity is most critical — much is being done to address the problem. Organizations like Gesher and Common Denominator run programs to bring together divergent groups — kibbutzniks with settlers, or secular with religious — to help discover that what unites us is ultimately greater than that which divides us.
How appropriate that the city of Jerusalem is actually a contraction of two words — Yeru-Shalem — “peace will be seen.”
May the Almighty bless us with the patience and sensitivity to avoid destructive arguments, and to accord proper respect to all.

 

The New Old Path

Look Who’s Talking

by Rabbi Benji Levy
Whether it’s criticism of the person they are or the position they hold, everyone has seen an attack on others in some way, shape or form. Korach, the bearer of the name of this week’s parsha, was the child of Kehat’s second son, Yitzhar, and felt that he was entitled to a more significant leadership role. In an attempt to acquire the position of high priest, he attacked the leader of the Jewish people who he thought could grant it to him — Moses.
Korach and his followers challenged Moses and Aharon: ‘It is much for you (rav lachem)! For the entire assembly, all of them are holy and why should you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem’ (Num. 16:3). Rashi explained that this attack was aimed at their abuse of power, in that they assumed too much prominence for themselves (Rashi on Num. 16:3). This is a rather strange accusation to make, ‘for the man Moses was very humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth’ (Ex. 6:12; 6:30).
When someone wants to bring down a leader, their weaknesses are scrutinised and exploited. According to Moses himself, he had objective leadership faults in that he was by no means an eloquent orator. Korach could have picked on this overt weak point, or alternatively borrowed Moses’s sibling’s slander (Num. 12:1-3). No man is perfect, and Moses was no exception, but why did Korach pick on that character trait, which Moses excelled in above all other men? Furthermore, why is Korach having the parsha named after him when he is the clear villain?
Sometimes, before we look at who is being talked about, we need to look at who is talking. In a discussion of declaring deficiencies in others, the Talmud stated: ‘he who invalidates [others]… does so with his own blemish’ (Tractate Kiddushin 70a). In psychology, this is termed projection bias; a defence mechanism where one denies personal attributes and ascribes them to others.
Of all the potential flaws at his disposal, perhaps the reason that Korach accused Moses of a superiority complex was that he possessed an inferiority complex — he projected his pursuit for honour onto Moses. Moses responded subtly with the identical syntax that Korach used to accuse him, reversing Korach’s terms and insinuating that perhaps his accusation represents his own flaws: ‘It is much for you (rav lachem) sons of Levi!’ (Num. 16:9).
In a society where often the greatest way to the top is on the back of others, we must be critical thinkers and consider the slanderer, not just the slander. When we ourselves perceive flaws in other people, whether true or not, we must be very careful to analyse if we are the true possessors of these flaws. Ultimately, Korach’s pivotal position as a sage and Levite was not enough and he wanted more.
Whilst Moses did possess certain flaws, honour seeking was not one of them. The key to the Torah’s juxtaposition of the two primary protagonists was that whilst Korach needed to have what he wanted, Moses wanted what he had and the difference of these two positions is the key to contentment.
Perhaps the reason why the parsha is named Korach is to teach us that we should all be wary of the bit of Korach that we contain within us. If we focus on ourselves and are happy with who we are, then we can aim to perfect our own flaws rather than projecting them on others.

 

Family Parsha

Influential Neighbors

by Nesanel Yoel Safran
In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, the Levite, leads a wrongful rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Most of the people who joined up with Korach were from the tribe of Reuben. They were the neighbors who camped next to Korach as the Jews traveled through the desert. Because they lived near Korach, they were influenced by him. The Talmud tells us, “Woe to the evildoer and woe to his neighbor.” This means that we should try to stay close to, and choose as our friends, people who behave the right way. We should stay farther away from those who don’t.
In our story, two friends learn about how the choice they make can affect them…
“No Man is an Island”
Summer at Camp Chattanooga was a special experience. The place had super sports facilities. There were fun activities. And delicious food was served.
But, the highlight of the summer was the canoe trip to Silver Island.
This summer, two separate groups were going.
It turned out that one group, led by Dov, was made up mostly of serious, well-behaved boys. The other group that Yirmy led, consisted of boys who were known to act more wild, and not behave as they should.
Sammy and his friend, Yitz, were trying to decide which group to join. “I think we should go with Dov’s group,” declared Sammy. “Those guys play by the rules,” he added.
Yitz objected. “But why not go with Yirmy’s group?” he said while swatting a mosquito that was biting his leg. “We’ll have a good time with them. And even if they don’t behave so well, just because we go with them doesn’t mean we have to act like them!”
Sammy frowned. “You can go if you want,” he said. “But I’m sticking with Dov.”
The boys went their separate ways.
Yitz went with Yirmy’s group.
At first, he was having fun. “This is great!” he thought.
All of a sudden, Yitz heard a loud splash followed by wild laughter. Quickly, he turned around and saw that one of the boys had dived out of his canoe into the middle of the lake!
“Wait a minute,” thought Yitz. “The counselor told us not to do that. He said it was dangerous.” But soon, one splash followed another, until all the boys in the group, except Yitz, had jumped out of their canoes.
Yitz felt left out. At first, he stayed put. But then, when he saw that everyone else seemed to be having fun, he also jumped out of his canoe.
Just then, the counselor pulled up in his rowboat and started yelling at everyone for what they had done. The counselor turned to Yitz and said, “I’m surprised to see you acting this way!” Yitz put his head down in shame.
After they got back from the canoe trip, the two friends — Yitz and Sammy — saw each other in the dining hall.
“How was your trip?” asked Yitz.
“Great!” said Sammy. “Everyone got along and I also learned a lot from those guys. How was your trip?”
Yitz’s face darkened. Finally he said, “Sammy, you were right. At first I was having a great time. The water was so beautiful. But when I saw how the other guys were behaving so wildly, I started joining in, and I said and did things I really shouldn’t have. I don’t know what happened. I guess I just got pulled in by what everyone else was doing.” Yitz paused, looked his friend and said, “I’m glad the trip is over. Next time, Sammy, I’m canoeing with you!”
Discussion Questions
Ages 3-5
Q. How did Yitz feel when the counselor spoke to him?
A. He felt embarrassed because he realized that he really hadn’t behaved properly.
Q. Why didn’t Yitz behave properly?
A. Since everyone was behaving wildly, Yitz didn’t want to feel left out and went along with the crowd.
Ages 6-9
Q. If Yitz knew it was wrong to jump out of the canoe, why did he do it?
A. Because being part of the crowd was more important to him that doing what was right. People tend to act like most of the people around them. That is called peer pressure.
Q. Do you think that Yitz would have jumped out of his canoe if he had gone with Dov’s group instead? Why?
A. Since the rest of the boys in that group wouldn’t be acting that way, Yitz wouldn’t have felt tempted to misbehave.
Q. Can you think of an example when you were tempted to do something you knew you shouldn’t be doing, because of the pressure of others around you?
Ages 10 and Up
What does it mean that a person is a “product of his environment”?
A. It means that a person’s “environment” — i.e. who and what surrounds him — can really affect his personality and the way he acts.
Q. Do you agree?
Q. Should a person be held responsible for his actions if he is in a bad environment and acts like the people around him?
A. Yes. Since we still have free choice not to behave like those around us. Perhaps the best choice is for a person to put himself in a better environment if he’s able to do so. This would make it much easier to behave the right way.

                                                                                                   *   *   *

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“You’ll never learn anything while you’re talking” — Rabbi Yochanan Zweig

*   *   *

JOKE OF THE WEEK

“Our family can trace our yichus (ancestry) back almost two thousand years to the great Rabbi Akiva,” said Moishie to his classmates at recess.
Moishie turned to his friend Shlomo and asked in a sarcastic tone, “So how far back does your family go, Shlomo?”
“I don’t know,” Shlomo replied. “My father told me that all of our records were lost in the flood.”

                                                                                             *   *   *

Send a Tribute!
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Jewish Women’s Society Programs

Dear Sisters,

Join me for this upcoming fun and inspiring virtual class:

Monday, June 14th at 8:30 pm  Mamas in Pajamas (for all women)  Lessons for Ladies from the weekly Torah portion.
zoom.us/j/9699246316   dial: 1-312-626-6799, 9699246316

Looking forward, 

Mimi David

For more information about The Jewish Women’s Society of St. Louis, contact Mimi David at mimidavid@aish.com

 

A Shabbat Message for My Sisters from Mimi… June/12/2021 Tamuz/2/5781

Dear Sisters,
Many years ago, 5,781 years to be exact, there was a famous incident that took place in the Garden of Eden.  Eve, who had everything she could ever need, wanted the one thing that she could not have – to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden.  Let’s look at life in the garden, and see what she did have.  Basically, Adam and Eve lived in paradise.  Unlimited delicious, fresh produce growing all around them.  Gorgeous, perfect weather.  All day long to study Torah and to experience spiritual pleasure.  Having a family was simple and easy:  pregnancy, childbirth, and childhood were all experienced in a matter of minutes.  And, maybe best of all, no laundry to wash!  Yet, all those gifts were not enough when she thought about that thing that she could not have.  The snake, of course, did not help matters with his constant pressuring her with thoughts of, “If only.”  If only I had that fruit, I would be so much smarter, happier, better.  If only.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Korach, we have another classic incident of “If only”.  Korach, the first cousin of Moses (Moshe) has a great role in the Jewish people.  He was a wise man, with a brilliant mind, whom everyone respected and looked up to.  Part of the tribe of Levi, Korach had the responsibility to work in the Temple and to help with the transportation of the vessels.  That was pretty major, included serious responsibility, and was an impressive role to have.  Except that to Korach this was not enough.  If only he was the prince of his tribe.  If only he was the High Priest instead of Aharon.  If only he was the leader of the Jewish people, instead of Moshe.  If only.

We still do this today.  If only I had her husband.  If only I had her body.  If only I had his income.  If only I had a different personality.  If only, if only.

The downfall and destruction that Korach and his family eventually faced is a huge lesson for us.  Appreciate your role.  Be happy with your circle of influence.  Feel satisfied to accomplish within your own set of circumstances.  And always, always, steer clear of the “if only”s that mess up our minds and hearts.  We have what we need and we are blessed with so much.  Never let that snake hiss those insidious words in our minds that only lead to destruction:  If only…..

Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Mimi David

Join me for this fun and inspiring virtual class:

Monday, June 14th at 8:30 pm  Mamas in Pajamas (for all women)  Lessons for Ladies from the weekly Torah portion.
zoom.us/j/9699246316   dial: 1-312-626-6799, 9699246316

For more information about The Jewish Women’s Society of St. Louis, contact Mimi David at mimidavid@aish.com