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MAY 27-28, 2005 19 IYAR 5765

Lag Ba'Omer will be celebrated on Friday, May 27.

Pop Quiz: If a man over 60 years old vows to donate his value to the Bet Hamikdash, how much must he give?


"If you will go in My statutes...then I will provide your rains in their time" (Vayikra 26:3,4)

We begin the last perashah of the book of Vayikra with a clear proposition. If you will walk in My ways you will receive bounty. Rashi says the term "to go in My ways" needs to be explained. It cannot mean the fulfillment of commandments, because the next phrase mentions that by saying "and observe My commandments." If so, what can "to go in My ways" mean? Rashi concludes that it means that you should be laboring in the Torah. Torah study was not meant to be easy; it requires hard work. This toil in the study of Torah brings bounty.

One of the greatest Torah minds produced by the Jews of Halab, Aram Soba, was Rabbi Ezra Attia. He later became the Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef. R' Ezra's father passed away when R' Ezra was young. In those days in Jerusalem the financial situation was grim. People who worked hard just managed to make enough money to eat. The ones that studied Torah went hungry for bread, literally. R' Ezra as a young man became known as a genius. He was a true laborer in Torah, studying many hours at a time. However, upon seeing the terrible situation that his mother was in, he decided he would leave his beloved Torah studies and go to work. His usual custom was to wake up very early to begin his classes that continued until the late hours of the night. Today he decided to sleep late to have energy to go to work. His mother noticed this and asked, "Why did you wake up late?" He responded that he decided to go to work to bring some money to have food for Shabbat. She responded that this was her responsibility and his job was to study and he shouldn't worry, Hashem will help. She would go out and sew garments, clean homes like a regular cleaning lady, all so that he should continue. She had one day of rest; that was Shabbat. She would make it to Shabbat physically exhausted. They would eat the meager meal together. After the meal R' Ezra would delve deeply into his studies, learning by the light of the candles. However, the halachah prohibits deep study by the candles because one might forget it is Shabbat and adjust the light. One can learn if there is someone else to watch to make sure he doesn't touch the candles. R' Ezra's mother was the watchman. But, due to her extreme fatigue she would slowly doze off. When this happened he stopped learning. When his beautiful sing-song voice of learning stopped, she would wake up. She told him to keep learning and she would fight the urge to sleep.

How fortunate to have such a son; how fortunate to have such a mother. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"If you behave casually with me" (Vayikra 26:21)

When describing the decline of the Jewish Nation after they sinned and were exiled from their land, the Torah uses the word hre a few times, which means coincidence. Whenever the Jewish people say that the punishment which befalls them is only a natural occurrence, a coincidence, Hashem has to resort to stronger methods in order to show us that He is the cause of everything. Just like a father first chastises his son with a slight tap, and if there is no response has to resort to stronger methods, so too Hashem, who is our Father, "talks to us" and wants us to get the message before it becomes harsher. Whenever we hear of tragedies in our community, fighting in the land of Israel or other calamities, we must realize it is not natural, it is a message. Each one must take the message to heart and apply it based on his or her own way of life, to try to improve and find favor in the eyes of Hashem. Even when we see the weather drop 40 degrees in one day, or the stock market go up (hopefully) or down many hundreds of points from day to day, theses are happenings meant to show us that there is no natural occurrence which doesn't have a Creator masterminding His plan. Let's keep our eyes open! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Question: Why do we have seven aliyot to the Torah on Shabbat? Answer: If a person, for reasons beyond his control, was not able to pray with a minyan during the previous week and did not answer "Barechu," he should listen to the berachot of each aliyah so that he will be able to answer Barechu seven times. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umekorei Hadinim)


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

"Ben Zoma said...Who is rich? He who is content with his lot." (Abot 4:1)

Why didn't Ben Zoma say, "Who is rich? He who is content with his money?" The word ashir (rich) is an acronym for "enayim, shinayim, yadayim, raglayim - eyes, teeth, hands and feet. Hashem has given these as a gift to human beings and expects us to use them for Torah study, prayer and good deeds.

The eyes should be used for reading Torah and looking favorably at other Jews. With the teeth one should eat kosher food and speak well of others. The hands are to be used to give charity and extend help to anyone in need. With the feet one should go to shul and yeshivah.

A person who has "healthy" eyes, teeth, hands and feet is indeed rich and should be grateful to Hashem. A man who is content with G-d's gift and who utilizes his body exactly as Hashem intended is truly an ashir - a wealthy person. (Vedibarta Bam)


This Week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 16:19-17:14.

Parashat Behukotai contains promise of prosperity for those who follow the Torah, and rebuke and punishment for those who transgress the Torah. Similarly, the prophet, Yirmiyahu, rebukes the people for their sins, and gives blessing to those who trust in Hashem and follow His ways.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Fifteen shekalim.

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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