The Car is Back

(Torah Portion Behaloscha) The Car is Back!

I recently came across an amazing story: A man in Israel had just purchased a new car and on Friday night, just after the onset of the Shabbat, he noticed that the car had been stolen. Although he was upset, it was the Shabbat and he decided to wait to report it to the police until after the conclusion of the Shabbat.

As he was leaving his home for the Shabbat morning prayers, he saw, to his amazement, that his car had been returned precisely to its original place!

He went over to the car to check if everything was ok, and noticed a small piece of paper attached to the windshield wiper with the following written on it: “I stole your car and after listening to the tape playing in the car, I decided to return it.”

The tape playing in the car was a lecture given by Rabbi Nissim Yagen o.b.m. on the topic of theft!

The impact of Rav Nissim’s words was so powerful that the thief was moved and compelled to return the car. No matter how low a person may sink, there is always hope.

In last week’s portion the Torah spoke about the laws of a Sotah – a married woman who was suspected to be an adulteress. The Torah tells us a procedure to determine if she was or wasn’t intimate with another man. If she was in fact intimate, she and her adulterer would die, but if she had not been intimate with the other man, the Torah bestows blessings upon her.

The Bais Yisroel of Gur asks: This woman had been warned by her husband not to spend time with this other man, and then she was observed by witnesses entering a private room with the man. Even if she was vindicated by the Sotah test, why does she receive G-d’s blessings? After all, she acted and behaved inappropriately.

Answers the Bais Yisroel: The Torah gives blessings to her because obviously there was a certain ease and coziness that she had with the other man, yet she held back her passion and was not intimate. For that courage, the Torah promises blessing on her.

Evidently, this suspected woman had some inspirational lesson that she once heard, seen or experienced that afforded her the ability to refrain from committing adultery.

In this week’s portion the Torah describes two separate incidents where groups of Jews expressed their complaints towards G-d.

The first grievance erupted as the Jews began their journey from Mount Sinai towards Israel. Some of them panicked and doubted G-d’s ability to sustain them. This angered G-d and a destructive and deadly fire broke out. Our leader Moshe prayed for it to stop and it did.

Not long after this event, some Jews began complaining about the Heavenly Manna that sustained them in the desert. They weren’t satisfied with it because it lacked certain tastes, texture and ingredients. Here too, G-d became upset and many of them died.

The great Kabalist, Rabinau Bechaya, wonders why Moshe offered prayers to stop the first plague while he did not pray to stop the second plague. He explains that Moshe was embarrassed by the Jews grave sin of not believing in G-d and because they did not take a lesson from the punishment that the first complainers received. They also displayed an enormous lack of gratefulness towards G-d; for the Manna was the greatest and purest gift from G-d.

As long as the Jews were under the open and apparent Watchful Eye of the Almighty in the desert, they were also under extreme scrutiny regarding any sin they committed, and they were dealt almost immediately with Divine reprimand.

As G-d’s open involvement with us diminished, especially with the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and our exiles, we are not punished immediately for our sins and we are benevolently given time to correct our ways.

This also means that today, because G-d’s open involvement with us as it was in the desert and Temple is not as clear, if one chooses to attach himself to G-d, Torah, traditions and Mitzvos, his reward is that much greater, for it requires attention, conviction, focus and energy to achieve. The more one puts in effort, the more reward he receives. Additionally, one senses remarkable accomplishment and feelings of contentment.

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks