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Haftarah: Michah 5:6-6:8

JULY 8-9, 2011 7 TAMUZ 5771


"Bilam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes." (Bemidbar 24:2)

When Bilam went to curse the Jewish people, he couldn't help but notice their greatness. Rashi explains the above verse, that Bilam saw that their entrances to their tents were not aligned opposite each other, so that one should not peer into the tent of his friend. This attribute stems from the greatness and the holiness of our people. Rabbi Shimshon Pincus says there are a number of laws and customs to learn from this verse.

Firstly is the aspect of modesty, and not to be curious to look into other people's homes. Man is curious by nature, and his eyes wander all over to see something new. Many times one may pass an open door to an apartment or an open window to the street level home. The natural instinct is to look in. The right way is to turn the eyes the other way.

Another tendency is to desire that which one's eyes see in his friend's house. In today's society there is almost an automatic equation that when one person has something, the next person deserves and should have it as well. Especially with children, the statement "Everybody has it" is an acceptable argument. The Jewish way is not to look into your friend's house.

Another related instance is when two people are having a heated discussion and one is obviously losing his cool and displaying unappealing behavior. Do not congregate and watch the spectacle as others tend to do. The Jewish way is to move away and not see his friend in disgrace.

Lastly, the Jewish way is not to know the private lives of others. Some people cannot rest until they get to the bottom of a person's personal and private life. Let the person have space. One doesn't have to know everything. The Jewish people are holy and don't look into their friend's tent and through this we can merit Hashem's berachah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

We are all familiar with the donkey of Bil'am which spoke to him after Bil'am hit it. This was an extraordinary miracle done for the benefit of the Jewish people to show Bil'am that the power of speech belongs to Hashem, so that Bil'am should not be connected with his ability to bless or curse people, since even a donkey could talk by will of Hashem.

The amazing thing is that G-d had this donkey killed so that people shouldn't point to it and say, "This donkey talked back to Bil'am the prophet." Imagine what a kidush Hashem, sanctification of G-d's name, it would be if we could see this donkey and what a great lesson it would teach people. But for the sake of Bil'am's honor, even though he was wicked, Hashem caused this animal to die. We see from here how important is the honor of a human being, which can override the lessons to be had with this amazing talking donkey. We would do well to remember this whenever a question comes up which involves the dignity and respect of someone else. Be it with words or deeds, how careful should we be to preserve the honor of any human being, especially a friend or a loved one! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Problems, problems. It just seems as if life is a series of problems to solve. If it is not a business problem, it is a difficulty at home with a family member. If it is not money, it might be health. It may be something that happens once and is gone, or it may be a nagging recurring trouble that just won't go away. Whatever it is, you bet there will be a problem of one kind or another at every turn. A friend of mine once said, "I wake up expecting disasters, and if they don't happen, I call it a good day."

There is something I noticed about these problems. Small people create big problems, and big people solve them. Of course, I am not talking about the size and weight of an individual, nor am I referring to a person's age when I say "big" or "small". I am talking about maturity and an approach to life. A person who is driven by petty jealousies, or one who is too self-centered to see life from another's standpoint, is one who is "small". The scope of such a person's life is only as big as the letter "I" which is the narrowest letter in the alphabet. Trying to negotiate with such an individual, or to teach such a person how to give rather than take, is a goal that is almost impossible to achieve. Small people can't yield, because their perspective is so limited and immature that they believe there will be nothing left for them to enjoy.

Next time you find yourself looking through "me first" lenses, take off your "glasses" and look in the mirror. Ask yourself: "How big am I? Am I the one who solves problems, or do I create them?" It only takes a minute to put things into the proper perspective and make potential problems dissolve like smoke. (One Minute with Yourself)

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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