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Haftarah: Hoshea 2:1-22

MAY 27-28, 2011 24 IYAR 5771

Rosh Hodesh Sivan will be celebrated on Friday, June 3.


"Take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel." (Bemidbar 1:2)

Hashem commanded Moshe Rabenu, with the participation of the tribal leaders, to take a tribe-by-tribe census of all males above the age of twenty. Hashem goes to great lengths to emphasize the establishment of the distinct tribes.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt"l says, "If we were there we would have thought differently. We would have proclaimed how good it is for all of Yisrael to dwell together. Yet we see it is not so. Each shevet (tribe) was an independent and unique nation. What Reuven possessed, Shimon could not offer. The qualities of Shimon were not found in Reuven. The different shevatim pronounced Hebrew differently. They had different complexions, different manners of dress and customs. The Talmud talks about a man who always wanted to bring every issue to Bet Din and they figured he was from the tribe of Dan. There was another man who loved the sea; they figured that he was from the tribe of Zevulun.

"Being dispersed today in exile throughout the world, we lost the tribal distinctions. Different minhagim (customs) developed amongst the diverse groups and we have today Taimanim, Egyptians, Galicians, Chassidish, Litvish, all possessing customs that they have practiced for centuries. We find great Sages of the Talmud that didn't interfere with old customs even though these customs were not their own.

"Hence, we are learning not to look askance at one group because they are lenient in a certain area where you are not. Could be they have different practices which are more strict than yours. I dare say that none of us would be able to withstand the Sephardic regimen of saying Selichos. Many of us would not be able to hold up. Many of the Sephardim impose individual fasts upon themselves, also ta'anis dibur. I thought such activities were reserved only for the great tzadikim. However, in the Sephardic community, such piety is common.

"When we were in our old neighborhood of East Flatbush, we would never have considered that there were ways of doing things other than our own. However, we moved here and, Baruch Hashem, things changed. There are Taimani minhagim, Egyptian, Syrian, Chassidish. Different groups with different minhagim, and Hashem gives credence to all of them. Now I cannot tell you what it will be like when Mashiach comes, but until then we must love and respect the practices of our fellow Jews, for Hashem loves the minhagim of all Klal Yisrael. Hashem gives kavod to them all." These are the holy words of R' Avigdor Miller zt"l. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Count the heads of all the Children of Israel." (Bemidbar 1:2)

Whenever the Jewish people were counted, they had to give a certain coin which, by counting that coin, we could know the number of people. Once, in the time of King David, the people themselves were counted and a great plague ensued. Even today, when we count individuals for a minyan or the like, we don't say, "one, two, three..." but rather we say words of a pasuk such as ?hoshi'ah et amecha…? through which we all know the total number. Why is there such an emphasis on not counting people by number?

Rabenu Bahya explains that when people are included in a group, they have the merit of the entire group and thereby are protected. When an individual becomes separated by being counted, then he is on his own, and he must have his own protection. Even when we pray for sick people, we always include the individual with the entire nation by saying, ?betoch she'ar cholei Yisrael - Among all of the sick in Israel," so that they should have the merit of the whole nation. This should teach us that although we are all individuals, unique and separate, our strength lies in our being part of a greater whole, the Jewish people. We should try not to stand out and not separate ourselves from community involvement. By joining together in the synagogue's programs, such as minyan, classes and activities, we will have the blessing of the multitudes in addition to our own zechut. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat

. "And the ram of Abraham our father." (Abot 5:6)

How did Abraham know that the ram which he took as a sacrifice in lieu of Yitzhak was the ram which was created on Ereb Shabbat at twilight?

In describing Abraham's finding the ram the Torah says, "Abraham lifted his eyes and saw Vehineh ayil achar - Behold, a ram afterwards - caught in the thicket by its horns" (Beresheet 22:13). The word achar, afterwards, seems superfluous because the pasuk could merely have said, "Behold a ram caught in the thicket."

On the sixth day of creation animals were created. Afterwards man (Adam) was created. On Ereb Shabbat ben hashemashot (immediately before nightfall), the ram which Abraham used for the Akedah was created.

Thus, this ram was created after all animals. The Torah is hinting this by saying, "Abraham saw [prophetically] a ram" - which was "achar" - "after" - (created after all other animals). He realized that there was something unique about the ram, and used it, therefore, as an offering in lieu of his son. (Vedibarta Bam)

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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)

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