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Back in 1996, Rabbi Finman was asked to speak to the niece of one of his students. After spending many hours answering her questions, the woman gave Rabbi Finman her e-mail address. Rabbi Finman wrote the woman a note and included in it a short insight into that week's Parsha and a short Chasidic story.

Realizing that this was something no one was yet doing,, Rabbi Finman sent the missive to his mailing list of about 30 people. Requests from recipients friends came pouring in. The next week Rabbi Finman sent the e-Parsha to 100 people. Within a year more than 2000 people were receiving it. Today, more than 14,000 receive the e-Parsha weekly and the requests keep coming in.

Bamidbar 5779
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Bamidbar 5779

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In memory of Bennie Magy - Bentziyon ben Avraham v Elke Magy, who passed away Menachem Av 22, 5749 - August 23, 1989 and Rose Magy - Rivka Rayzel Bat Chayim Yaakov v'Chaya Tertza Arbit, who passed away Tamuz 2, 5765 - July 9, 2005. May their souls experience a lichtiger Gan Eden - an illuminated Garden of Eden and may their family only experience Simchas from now on. Sponsored by their son Paul Magy - Birmingham, Michigan.

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This week's YouParsha Bamidbar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzbQne1Y2p4 The Four Camps in the Desert

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This week we read Parshas Bamidbar, Numbers 1 - 4. The mitzvah of pidyan haben - redemption of the first-born is discussed this week. On a simple level, the first born were disqualified from temple service (everything called first belongs to Hashem: first fruits, first of the grain, wine and oil, first born animals and sons) because of their participation in the golden calf. The Levites did not participate and were exchanged for the first born in the temple services. There were too many first born and those extra redeemed themselves with five pieces of silver.

One possible reason the Levites did not participate in the golden calf may have been due to their name. The word Levi is related to the Hebrew word for connection. The Levites always maintained their connection to Hashem. When Pharaoh tricked the Jews into servitude - the Levites did not participate. They were not interested in impressing Pharaoh, but in maintaining their connection to Hashem. The Levites sat and learned while their brethren toiled (sounds unfair, but who told the rest of the Jews to get sucked into Pharaoh's plot?).

The Torah is a lesson book for everyone at all times. Inside everyone is a Levite. That aspect of our character wants only to be connected to Hashem. It is not interested in the plots of the Pharaoh inside of us (the opposition to G'dliness). It does not worship golden calves.

The connection between the Jews and G'd is eternal. The Zohar - primary work of Jewish mysticism - writes that the Jews are connected to Hashem through the Torah. Parshas Bamidbar is always read in connection to the holiday of Shavuos - commemorating the giving of the Torah on Sinai. As a preparation for Shavuos, we show the Almighty that we are not nor cannot be connected to anything other than Hashem.

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The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe sent representatives around America to motivate the Jewish communities. One such emissary went to Chicago. The Rebbe instructed him to visit a Mr. L. whose parents were Lubavitchers in Russia but had himself strayed. A small delegation made their way to Mr. L.'s house. They spoke for more than an hour, recalling the good old days of Lubavitch. As the shliach rose to leave, Mr. L. took out a checkbook, but the representative refused to take any money. Mr. L. was confused.

"Let me explain," said the shliach, "It sometimes happens, especially when a Torah is not used that a letter fades, and according to Jewish law, if a letter is missing in the Torah it is no longer 'kosher. It must be repaired by a scribe. The Rebbe taught us that every Jew is a Torah. There are letters and words, which the Jew spells out in his daily conduct - Shabbos, kosher, Jewish Marriage Laws, raising children to a life of Torah and mitzvahs - all these are the `letters' which make up the living Torah, namely, the Jew. Sometimes it happens that one of these letters becomes faded.

So the Rebbe sends us, the 'scribes,' from time to time, to freshen up some of the faded letters, and make each one of us a perfect Torah." Mr. L. was duly impressed.

The shliach reported his trip when he arrived back in New York. The Rebbe liked the explanation he gave Mr. L. but added a correction:

"A Jew is a Torah, but not a written one. He is rather like the Ten Commandments - engraved in the stone tablets Moshe brought down the mountain. The Torah and mitzvot are an integral part of the Jewish soul; they are engraved in his mind and heart. You do not have to `rewrite' a Jew; all you have to do is help him brush away the dust and grime of environmental influences which have temporary covered up his true self - the 'pintele Yid'. This is why a Jewish heart is always awake and responsive."

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Tune into the JEWISH HOUR - Detroit's only Jewish radio program, with your host, Herschel Finman. Sundays 11:00 - Noon on WLQV 92.7 FM/1500 AM - Detroit. Now available at the iTunes store (free of course) and on your smartphone - download the free stitcher app.

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