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    At the end of Parashat
    Emor, the Torah tells an
    upsetting story about a
    man from Beneh Yisrael
    who got into a fight, and
    as a result, he publicly
    cursed Hashem, Heaven
    forbid. The Rabbis explain that he had
    lost a court case against his fellow, and he
    was so angry that he went into public and
    blasphemed the Name of G-d. Moshe
    Rabbenu did not know how to respond,
    and Hashem spoke to Him and taught
    that somebody who commits such a
    terrible act must be put to death.
    There is much to say about and to learn
    from this incident. For one thing, this
    man’s behavior shows us the precise
    opposite of how we are to react to an
    adverse situation, when things don’t go
    our way. He cursed Hashem – teaching us
    that the right thing to do in times of
    challenge is to have emunah, to trust that
    Hashem is leading us the right way, and
    that every difficult situation is an
    opportunity for us to grow and learn so
    we become greater people.
    But there is also another aspect of this

    story that is worth considering.
    This is one of five instances in the
    Torah where a situation arose and Moshe
    did not know how to respond. The others
    • When the mekoshesh eitzim
    publicly desecrated Shabbat, and
    Moshe did not know how he should
    be punished. Hashem said that the
    man should be put to death.
    • When the daughters of Tzelofhad, a
    man who had died with no sons and
    only daughters, asked to receive the
    portion in the Land of Israel that
    had been allotted to him. Hashem
    said that they indeed should receive
    their father’s portion, establishing
    this as the halachah in cases where
    a man dies and leaves only
    • When a group of people could not
    offer the korban pesach because of
    their state of impurity, and they
    asked Moshe for the opportunity to
    offer the sacrifice. G-d established
    the halachah of Pesach Sheni,
    whereby people who cannot offer

    the sacrifice on Pesach
    can do so the next month,
    on the 14th of Iyar.
    • When a man named Zimri
    committed a public sin
    with a woman from the
    nation of Moav, Moshe
    did not know how to
    respond, until Pinhas
    arose and killed the
    violators, based on an
    exceptional halachah
    authorizing a zealous person to kill
    the violators in this kind of extreme
    These were all unpleasant, unwanted
    situations that arose, and which resulted
    in the teaching of new mitzvot. In all four
    instances, kedushah was added to the
    Jewish People because of something
    terrible, or at least undesirable, that took
    Winston Churchill said: “A pessimist
    sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
    an optimist sees the opportunity in every
    difficulty.” When we confront an
    unwanted situation, our reaction must be

    to keep moving forward, to do the best
    we can, trusting that somewhere in this
    situation is an opportunity for
    achievement and growth. These five
    stories in the Humash of times when
    Moshe Rabbenu needed to learn a new
    halachah shows us that problems and
    crises are actually opportunities to learn
    more, to lift ourselves higher, and to
    become better people.
    Instead of falling apart in hard times,
    like the blasphemer in our parashah, let
    us instead try to find the opportunity
    within even difficulty, and turn every
    situation we find ourselves in into a
    meaningful and valuable learning