Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Rosh Yeshiva – Passaic Torah Institute – Parsha Mattos Massei – A Matter of Priorities

It’s not surprising to find our Parsha reflecting the period we find ourselves in now, the Three Weeks, as we are contemplating our two thousand year exile and why it’s taking so long to end.  Let’s examine the Parsha closer to glean a few insights into our path to geulah!

The tribes of Reuven and Gad were blessed with huge quantities of cattle for which they needed suitable grazing areas.  They approached Moshe to request that their portion or inheritance be east of the Jordan River, instead of inside Eretz Yisroel proper.  It seems the land in the east was particularly fertile and well-suited for cattle.   A heated dialogue began, as Moshe thought their request would lower the morale of the people, who were about to enter the front lines of battle to conquer Eretz Yisroel.  

But Gad and Reuven quickly replied this was not their intention!  Indeed, they would be the vanguard of the people at the very front of the troops entering the Land, and would not return home (to the east) until the job was done!  This took a full 14 years to accomplish.   

Looking closer at this exchange, a couple of interesting insights come out.  Moshe did not once mention that he was upset at their request to switch their portion in Eretz Yisroel for land “over the Jordan.”  Another perplexing point is, why did they care so much about grazing their livestock?   After 40 years of living from the Hand of Hashem, weren’t there more elevated priorities to consider?

Rav Dessler explains Hashem gives each person a portion in life that directly supports his or her unique mission.  Gad and Reuven understood that if they were blessed with all this livestock and wealth, then they obviously were responsible to ensure they use these materials things well.  Moshe Rabbeinu understood this clearly and did not even need to consult with Hashem because this was their tafkid (purpose).  

However, Rashi quotes the Midrash Tanchuma which takes issue with the language used by the tribes of Gad and Reuven. They told Moshe, “We will build corrals for our sheep and cities for our children” (32:16) to house them until the men return from war. The Midrash notes the placement of their livestock/ possessions before their children. To this, the Midrash says, “The heart of the fool is on the left – these are the sons of Gad who made the tafel ikur and the ikur tafel (the secondary primary and the primary secondary).  They were more concerned with their possessions than their children.”

This is what Shlomo Hamelech was referring to when he wrote “They hurried to receive their lot first, but in the end they will have no blessing.” (Mishlei 20:21) The tribes of Gad and Reuven were hasty in their request for land.  Their hastiness is apparent in their placement of their animals before their children, and so they will have no blessing in their lot – they will be the first of the tribes to be exiled.  Indeed, the tribes of Gad and Reuven were exiled close to 200 years prior to the exiles of the rest of Bnei Yisroel!    

Every one of us has responsibilities in life, but we need to keep are priorities straight.  The tribes of Gad and Reuven assumed tremendous responsibility for helping others.  They understood the need to encourage and support Klal Yisroel in conquering Eretz Yisroel.  They also understood their own responsibilities to their families.  However, one of the greatest challenges is knowing how to prioritize those sometimes conflicting responsibilities.  

The crux of the matter was that their possessions were a gift of Hashem and a great blessing, but their families were an even greater priority.  Their inappropriate emphasis on possessions before children led to their being punished with exile first.   

Exile truly challenges our sense of priorities.   Will we keep our own Torah-given priorities front and center, or exchange them for the values of the nations and cultures in which we live?  Will our family come before our money and job, or will we place the dollar before our children?   For Gad and Reuven, they walked a delicate tightrope.  They understood their possessions were part of their service to Hashem, but they were incorrect in putting them before their own children.

Our constant challenge-and opportunity-living in the world today is to clearly show our families the priorities set forth by the Torah and our talmidei chachamim.  The outside world will respond in kind with different priorities, but our road to Geulah (Redemption) is to be steadfast in keeping the ikur before the tafel, (the primary before the secondary).

Aleeza Ben Shalom – 50 Things To Know About Being A Matchmaker

If you think matchmaking is antiquated, it may be time to reboot your relationship barometer. While many people think of Fiddler on the Roof when they think of matchmaking, the reality is quite different. A simple Google search reveals a plethora of websites dedicated to finding a match, getting certified to make matches, and information on the history of matchmaking.

Setting up friends with other friends is a time tested way to create and build relationships. You don’t have to be a professional to be a matchmaker. You need flexibility, creativity, passion, and insight into other people. This is an awesome job (or hobby) that allows for flexible hours, lasting satisfaction, and the chance to use your people skills in a challenging and novel way.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof , here are my top 50 things to know about being a matchmaker.

  1. Being single is hard enough, so be nice to people. Seems obvious, but it isn’t.
  2. People are naturally different, match couples based on similarities. Yes opposites attract, but not recommended. Much better to match based on the concept like attracts like.
  3. Look for what someone tells you they want, not for what you think they need.
  4. Don’t advise ending a relationship too soon. When in doubt suggest they continue going out.
  5. Don’t say, “I know the perfect person for you.” You don’t know it’s perfect and you lose credibility if the match goes sour.
  6. Do say, “I have someone in mind for you, would you like to hear about him/her?”
  7. Get curious about the person you want to set up. Ask him/her open ended questions to learn about who he/she is before trying to set someone up.
  8. Listen, listen, listen. (Close your mouth. Open your ears.)
  9. Constructive criticism is still criticism, so be sensitive.
  10. Don’t talk with others about the person you are setting up. That’s private information.
  11. Don’t set up dating profiles, set up people. Try to meet someone in person before you set them up (in person is best, but skype will do).
  12. “No, I don’t want to be set up!” This means don’t set them up. Find someone else for your matchmaking experiment.
  13. Think before you act. That really goes for everything. Just sayin’.
  14. Your tone of voice matters. Speak nicely (especially when someone declines your awesome date idea).
  15. When your first (and second, and third…) couple gets married, celebrate your success. L’chaim!
  16. Lead by example. Single or married, make sure you are a shining example and in a healthy relationship, or healthfully single.
  17. You will fail more often than you succeed. Don’t let it get you down.
  18. Keep trying! But don’t quit your day job just yet to be a professional matchmaker.
  19. Sometimes people will get upset with you for the suggestions you make. Expect this and you won’t be disappointed.
  20. Don’t be a know-it-all (even if you do, in fact, know it all).
  21. Be humble.
  22. Work with someone who is relationship or marriage-minded rather than working with someone who is looking for a date.
  23. Separated means married. Set up singles with other singles. Someone who is separated will likely cause someone heartache as they  aren’t truly available. (Hot topic, I know, comment away.)
  24. Respect boundaries. Some people want more guidance and support, others less. Help according to their need, not yours. And don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know what they want.
  25. As Nike says, Just do it! Set up!
  26. People have tastes, preferences, and ideas that you will find weird. No judgment.
  27. Confidentiality. (shhhh)
  28. Setting up members of your family will be the hardest cases you work with. That means you need to respect them and their needs, even if you are still angry about the time he cut your ponytail off in your sleep. Be respectful or get out of the game.
  29. Grow a thick skin and be okay with rejection. Your ideas will be rejected. It makes the ones that work even sweeter!
  30. Keep your mind focused on the popular phrase “there is a lid for every pot.” Even if you don’t believe it.
  31. Network – you never know who you will meet.
  32. Don’t underestimate anyone. I just heard about a delivery man who made a match. Who would have guessed!
  33. Remember the world is really small and soul mates are closer than you imagine.
  34. Keep a running list of singles, not just in your mind, but on paper or your smartphone or favorite electronic device.
  35. Help alleviate the burden of being single by being thoughtful. Remember small things like birthdays which can be challenging for someone who is marriage-minded. By relieving their burden you will enable them to be happier the next time you set them up.
  36. Read articles, books and blogs on relationships. Become a relationship expert.
  37. Do your homework. Investigate your ideas before presenting to others.
  38. Have patience with yourself and others.
  39. Be persistent, not annoying. If you think you have a great idea, ask once. If you get turned down, ask a month later. If you get a second no, you can try a third time after another six months passes. If the person still isn’t open perhaps it isn’t a great idea.
  40. Learn the art of persuasion. Use it only for the good to help people see the positive traits that you see.
  41. Speak truthfully when empathizing. Don’t say I know how you feel, when you’ve never gone through what they have. Rather say, “I hear you.”
  42. Change your thinking. Every so often make matches in your mind that are ridiculous. This is just an exercise to stretch your imagination and help you get out of your regular way of thinking. Sometimes the best matches don’t seem plausible at first.
  43. Think before you speak. Some words can hurt more than you realize.
  44. The best ideas come at inconvenient times. Keep a pen and paper by your bedside so you remember that great idea in the wee hours of the morning.
  45. Ask friends if they have any match ideas that they haven’t yet pursued. If you concur, get involved and help set up their suggestion. (with their permission of course).
  46. Follow up, follow up, follow up. Not all people will call you back. Make the effort, call again. Don’t assume they aren’t interested. No call back is not a rejection, it’s simply no call back. People do have a life other than dating.
  47. Good looking is subjective. What you think is pretty or handsome someone else may not be attracted to. And vice versa.
  48. A majority of people are looking for someone who has a “good sense of humor.” What they really mean is they are looking for someone with “their” sense of humor.
  49. Matchmaking is hard work. It doesn’t end with you making a suggestion. That’s just the beginning. Guidance through the process is invaluable.
  50. Add yours to the list in the comment section below. We all want to hear it!                                                                                                              Originally published on aish.com.

Moshe Stempel – Mashiach Is The Prize – A Parable From The Chafetz Chaim

Tonight R’ Bamberger spoke about the mitzvah of building the Beis Hamikdash. The purpose of the Beis Hamikdash is to serve as a source of inspiration for us to observe the mitzvos better. This leads us to the question of why we should do mitzvos in the first place. Does G-d really need our mitzvos?

To this question, the Sefer Hachinuch answers that G-d gave us the mitzvos for our own good. When we perform mitzvos, we earn a share in the World to Come. The spiritual pleasure that can be had in the world to come is the ultimate pleasure in the world. It wouldn’t be the same thing if G-d would give us a share in the World to Come without our deserving it. Human nature is such that we only appreciate something if we worked hard to get it.

R’ Bamberger related a relevant story about himself. Apparently, the child labor laws weren’t in effect yet when he was a child. When he was 10 years old, he worked as a waiter in a summer camp for two months for just $86. He had to do really heavy work, like mopping floors. However, he never appreciated money more than those $86 that he earned through many hours of hard labor.

The Rosh Yeshivah of Darchei Torah, R’ Shlomo Avigdor Altusky, Shlita, spoke on a similar topic this past summer on the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz. He related an interesting incident that occurred with the Chofetz Chaim. A man once told the Chofetz Chaim that he didn’t want Moshiach to come. He explained that he felt that way since we are only able to accumulate merits for the next world through the nisyonos that we face in this world. The Chofetz Chaim didn’t reply to this explanation, but indicated that he didn’t approve of it.

R’ Altusky tried to explain why the Chofetz Chaim disapproved of the man’s explanation. He gave the following parable: A boy lost his father at a very young age. Due to his unfortunate situation, he was forced to become very mature and assertive at a very young age. Twenty years later a colleague noted to the orphan how much his character improved through the death of his father. To this insensitive remark, the orphan replied that he would gladly give up all of the ma’alos (positive traits) that he acquired if he could have his father back.

This was the Chofetz Chaim’s reason for disapproving of his visitor’s opinion. While it is true that we are earning merits through our nisyonos and yissurin in this world, the reward isn’t worth it. This is the reason why we want Moshiach to come quickly and not to live in this world indefinitely.

In fact, it is the very suffering that we experience in this world that will bring the Moshiach. The medrash tells us that Moshiach ben Dovid was born on Tishah B’Av. This idea should bring us consolation for all of the difficulties that we experience in our lives. The true goodness that G-d has in store for us can only be had when Moshiach comes.