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Friday, June 23

The Weekly Shtikle - Shelach

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

This week's shtikle is dedicated to my dear son, Efrayim Zalman, with Mazal Tov wishes upon his Upsherin earlier today.

    I did have a speech planned for the Upsherin proceedings this afternoon but time and extreme heat made it impractical. But here is what I was going to say:
    Surely, there is no mention in the Torah of an Upsherin. There isn't even any mention of the significance of the three-year milestone that I know of. However, we were lucky enough that Efrayim was born the week of Parshas Shelach, the end of which discusses the mitzvah of Tzitzis. Many children begin to wear Tzitzis when they turn three years old. Nevertheless, to connect the parsha of Tzitzis with today's festivities, I had to roll back to the beginning of the parsha.
    Before sending the spies out to survey Eretz Yisroel, Moshe Rabbeinu changes the name of Hoshei'a bin Nun to Yehoshua. Rashi (13:16) explains that Moshe prayed for Yehoshua that he be saved from the evil plot of the other spies (excluding Caleiv, of course.) The spies were the leaders of their tribes, as stated clearly in the pasuk, but Moshe, through his superior prophecy, knew what was to transpire. Yehoshua was his prized disciple. Yet, Moshe was not overconfident of the level Yehoshua had reached through his guidance. He knew that no matter how great he was, he would need Divine guidance to pull through.
    No one has or will reach Moshe's level of prophecy. Nevertheless, there is a great lesson to be learned from Moshe's prayers. Moshe anticipated a challenge that no one else could have forseen. But we, as parents, are, or at least should be, fully aware of the society and the environment in which we will be bringing up our children and the challenges they will pose. We need not be prophets. We need only pay attention to the world around us and arm ourselves with the proper weapons to overcome the challenges that we will ultimately face. [One need not look any further than the "festivities" currently going on here in Toronto this week for an example of a serious societal challenge. The rainbow, which was used has HaShem's sign that He will not bring another mabul, is now being used to represent the very lifestyle that brought the mabul in the first place!]
    But Moshe also teaches us that no amount of training, education or guidance is sufficient. If Moshe could not rely on his own training of Yehoshua and sought Divine support, surely we must put prayer on the front lines of this battle.
    This brings us to the mitzvah of Tzitzis - the most valuable "utility" in this battle. The uniqueness of Tzitzis is that it is the one physical mitzvah which we perform daily and carry with us all day. Even tefillin, which are ideally to be donned for the duration of the day, are only to be worn in a clean environment and must be removed when one enters a bathroom. This is not the case with Tzitzis. It is the one mitzvah that follows us around wherever we may go and serves as a constant reminder that we are Jews and we are different. Perhaps it is for this reason that Tzitzis is meant to remind us of all of the mitzvos as the pasuk (15:39) states. And perhaps it is for this reason that it is customary for Jewish boys to get a specific head start with this mitzvah at the early age of three.
    It is certainly our wish and our prayer that our Efrayim use the mitzvah of Tzitzis as a stepping stone to a life full of Torah and mitzvos.
Have a good Shabbos.
Eliezer Bulka
3306A Clarks Ln
Baltimore, MD 21215


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