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Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the portion of Masei, conclude the book of Bamidbar and bless the month of Menachem Av.

The Torah portion this week is Masei, journeys. The portion begins with the words “These are the journeys of the children of Israel exiting Egypt.” The Torah then recounts all of the journeys until the Jordan River, including the Sea of Reeds and Mount Sinai. Seemingly, only the first journey was exiting Egypt. Thereafter, they were approaching Israel, but not exiting Egypt.

Chassidut teaches that the Exodus is a personal journey we all must experience. Mitzrayim, the Hebrew for Egypt, means boundaries. Exodus is breaking and escaping boundaries. Since Hashem is infinite, every step closer to Hashem is breaking boundaries, a private Exodus. By referring to all of the journeys as steps exiting Egypt the Torah gives us a deep lesson. Yesterday’s Exodus is today’s Egypt. Stagnation is slavery. While we must recognize and appreciate our progress, to the point of experiencing an Exodus, we must know we are enslaved compared to our potential achievements. This will lead us to the Promised Land with the coming of Moshiach.

The portion continues with the borders of the land of Israel and the commandment to fully remove evil nations from around Israel. If not, the Torah warns that they will be like thorns. Chassidut explains that evil nations represent negative traits in our hearts. The Torah is warning us that if we ignore our faults, they will haunt and cripple us. Any egotism, selfishness, rebelliousness or other bad traits must be addressed. This will grant us a good life.

When we finish a book of the Chumash, if is called Shabbat Chazak (strength). At the conclusion of the reading, everyone calls out Chazak Chazak V’nitchazaik (be strong, be strong, let us be strong.) This is because the conclusion of every Mitzvah is a wellspring of strength and encouragement. This Shabbat precedes and blesses the nine days when we intensify the mourning for the destruction of the Temple. In this period of adversity, the strength Hashem grants us this Shabbat Chazak is sufficiently to allow us to change the negative to the positive.

Menachem Av means the comforting of the Father. May our Father comfort us this Shabbat with the coming of Moshiach and the construction of the third Temple.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in memory of Shlomo Ben Yitzchock (Bob) Wax. May his soul be bound in the bond of eternal life and may his family and friends be comforted and inspired by his memory.

The Rebbe has stressed that studying the laws of the construction of the Temple helps bring Moshiach and rebuilds the Temple. There is a great website about the three weeks which includes a wealth of information about the Temple and its construction at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/3weeks Through studying the construction of the Temple, we help rebuild it.

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