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Haftarah: Hoshea 2:1-22

MAY 22-23, 2015 5 SIVAN 5775


"Be ready for a three day period." (Shemot 19:15)

As the holiday of Shabuot approaches we prepare to celebrate the Jewish People receiving the Torah at Har Sinai. Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman tells a great parable about the holiday.

Once there was a poor man who lived across the street from a very wealthy man. He would always watch the interesting activity that went on. Very important people came to visit, luxurious cars could come to pick him up, and festive meals were always taking place. The poor man yearned to live such a life.

One day the rich man came out and noticed the poor man watching him. He went over to him and asked why he was watching him, what does he find so interesting? The poor man said he watches his comings and goings and wishes he could live even for one day that type of life. The rich man was a sport, so he said that in three months he needs to go away for a day. He has some meetings scheduled for that day, but they really don't know him. If he wants, he could take his place and for one day he can live the life of a rich man.

The poor man was thrilled at the prospect of living the rich life and jumped at the opportunity, and agreed to impersonate the rich man. Three months went by and the poor man came to the rich man's mansion. The rich man welcomed him in, but was surprised that he was late and he was almost on his way to the airport. The poor man apologized, but he was not clean and needed a haircut and his clothes were torn. The rich man said he looks terrible; he can't take his place looking like that. The poor man said he lost track of the time and couldn't get ready. The rich man lent him a fancy suit and hat to make him look presentable.

That day there was a lunch scheduled with some businessmen in a restaurant. The poor man was taken there and they gave him a menu. He could hardly read it, and didn't know how to order, or who would pay. The meeting began and they started asking him what he thought about the current interest rates and where they were going. The poor man didn't know what they were talking about. The businessmen were amazed. Could this be the big tycoon they were supposed to meet? Next the poor man was supposed to meet some bankers. They came to visit him. They questioned him about the loan structure he needed. The poor man was embarrassed again. That night they forgot to tell him that he was the guest of honor at a testimonial dinner, and he was scheduled to speak. He was brought to the dinner, at the head of the dais table and introduced to speak. He was completely tongue-tied and couldn't say one word. All the people began laughing.

The next day the rich man came home and asked the poor man how the day was. The poor man said it was the worst day of his life. He was humiliated and it is much easier to be poor. He could no longer understand why anyone wants to be rich. The rich man replied that it was all his fault. If he would have prepared himself properly, if he read up on some basic subjects he needed to know he would have had a great day.

The holiday of Shabuot is a great day. People can attain great spiritual heights. However, there is no lulab and etrog, no matzah and no shofar, so the people don't see the importance. We need to prepare ourselves for this great day. Not like the poor man in the story. May we merit a great inspirational holiday, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The perashah that is always read before the holiday of Shabuot is Bemidbar, this week's reading. The word Midbar means wilderness, and indeed the Midrash points out clearly that the Torah was given only in a wilderness, not in an inhabited area.

The Rabbis tell us that a wilderness symbolizes simplicity - the sand, the sky and nothing else. So too the Torah can only be accepted with an attitude of simplicity. This does not only mean without being encumbered by materialism. It also means a simple faith and simple outlook on life. We have to believe that we are Jews only because of the Torah, and everything in the world revolves around the Torah. We also have to realize that if we want, we can create a life that is compatible with the Torah, no matter what the society or environment says. Simple faith is not usually simple to achieve. But the wilderness should remind us that certain things are integral for the acceptance of the Torah. Simplicity in all its forms will help us in receiving the Torah and living a life of Torah. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. 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.

"Hashem shall reign forever and ever…All Israel have a share in the World to Come."

Torah is never ending. It is like a circle which goes around and around and has no beginning or end. The end is joined to the beginning, and the beginning to the end.

Traditionally, the learning of Pirkei Abot is preceded with the Mishnah of "Kol Yisrael yesh lahem helek leOlam Haba - All Israel have a share in the World to Come." Olam Haba is the period of the Resurrection which will take place after the coming of Mashiah. It will follow the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash and Kibuss Galuyot - the ingathering of the exiles.

Thus, at the outset we are told that by carefully learning and following the mili dechassiduta - words of piety - of Pirkei Abot, we will merit reward in Olam Haba, and at the end we are told that our proper behavior will cause the revelation of Mashiah and then we will come to the period when all Israel will enjoy the World to Come. (Vedibarta Bam)

* * * * *

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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