Thursday, May 26, 2011

BAMIDBAR 5771

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Bamidbar

23 Iyar 5771/May 27, 2011- 38th Day of the Omer

Pirkei Avos – Chapter 5

There may be justifiable fear of shortages of natural resources, shortages of space for the burgeoning world population, and shortages of programs and funds to help all those who need. But there definitely are no shortages of imbeciles and fools. And now another person has added his name to that distinguished list.

Harold Camping, a well-known radio-show host for a christian radio program, empathically predicted that May 21, 2011 would be a doomsday of judgment for the world. The fact that he erroneously made another such inane prediction over a decade ago did not deter him from insisting that this time he was certain of the veracity of his calculation. Mr. Camping said he is simply shocked that he was wrong. He insists that there must have been a celestial judgment that we were not privy to realizing.

A fellow in Oregon wanted to see just how sure Camping really was. Sol David Cuddeback of Eugene, Oregon offered to take possession of everything Camping owns for a total of $1 on May 22. A few weeks ago he sent him the following letter: "According to your 'prophecy,' you and all the other believers will have departed the Earth the day before, so you will have no need for your possessions any longer… I want your home(s), car(s), cash, investments, other real estate, contracts, accounts payable, securities, any position of leadership that you occupy, and any interest in any form of business (sole proprietor, non-profit, corporation). If you refuse, then I must take that to mean that you don't really believe your own words to be true, which would make you a false prophet." Would you believe that Camping did not reply? Cuddeback remarked that he was, “intensely angry with him because his stupid, self-serving heresy may cause some who are weak or new in the faith to become disillusioned and fall away, after his 'prophecy' fails to come to pass.”

There is a well-known story about a town that was experiencing a severe drought. The elders of the community decided to hold a mass prayer gathering in the town-square. Every man, woman, and child from the town gathered under the beating sun and prepared to begin their prayers. Suddenly a little girl called out, “Mommy, where is your umbrella?”

Throughout our day we proclaim our faith in G-d, our unwavering belief in His Torah and our mission as His Chosen Nation. But do we really listen to ourselves and believe what we are saying?

The first Rashi in the Torah explains that the purpose of the entire book of Bereishis (Genesis) is to demonstrate that G-d owns the world and therefore has the right to take it away from the Canaanites and give it to the incumbent Jews. Many of the commentaries explain that that message is not for the nations of the world, as much as it is a message for us! We have to believe in our own legitimacy to the Land. Tragically, how many of our own brethren don’t really believe that.

We have to stop being apologetic for our observance and faith. We have to be proud of who we are and what we represent. We have to realize our greatness and our eternal mission. It is not for naught that we are always making the news’ headlines, for good or for better.

We must listen to the words we ourselves proclaim. In our minds we are believers. But we have to ensure that that knowledge makes its way from our minds to our hearts. And that’s a long journey.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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