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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 16:19-17:14

MAY 20-21, 2011 17 IYAR 5771


"I will turn to you, I will make you fruitful." (Vayikra 26:9)

Our perashah begins with the beautiful words of blessings that will come to us as a result of serving Hashem. What does it mean when Hashem says, "I will turn to you"? Rashi explains, "I will turn away from all of my concerns in order to pay your reward."

A true story is told in the book of the life of the Hafess Hayim. Once, the grandson of the Rabbi came to tell him about something the whole town was buzzing about. That day a very wealthy Jew came from America to their town. This man was born in this town but he became an orphan as a young boy. There was no one to care for him. However, one person allowed him to eat at his table. Another person allowed him to sit with his children's teacher to study. Another allowed him to sleep in his store at night. Another gave him his children's worn out clothing. Eventually this boy went to America and struck it rich. Today he returned to pay back the favors that were done to him years ago. Those people today were old and poor. Now they became fabulously wealthy, and they were the talk of the town. People now were jealous of them and how they were paid back for their relatively small acts of kindness.

The Hafess Hayim told his grandson, now we can grasp how it will be in the future when Hashem will reward each and every Jew. For we live in a time when the Shechinah (the Presence of Hashem in this world) is in exile, and the nations deny His existence. Where can Hashem go to today and be welcomed? In the homes of the Jews, where they observe misvot and pray to Him. Hashem is very wealthy, and He can reward each one with so much blessing. Can we imagine how much He will reward us for each misvah, for each act of kindness and for each prayer? 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 ??? 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


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

"If you should neglect the [study of Torah] you will have many causes for neglecting [it] confronting you." (Abot 4:10)

The word "kenegdecha" - "confronting you" - is superfluous?

Rabbi Meir is advising man to minimize his business activities and engage in Torah. The common excuse for not doing so is "I have no free time to give up." Therefore Rabbi Meir says, if you are neglecting Torah study with the excuse that your business keeps you extremely busy, remember that you waste time for your personal pleasures which are "kenegdecha" - "against you." They are proof that you have time when you want it. Examine yourself honestly, and you will indeed see that you waste much time for unnecessary pleasures. And if so, there is no excuse that you cannot take off time from your busy schedule for the study of Torah.

Alternatively, through neglecting Torah study, one will not only lack the misvah of learning Torah, but also not know the proper methods of observance for many misvot. One may even be ignorant of the mere existence of certain misvot. Thus, in addition to bitul Torah, one will be confronted with many other bitulim - instances of neglect. On the other hand, for the one who toils in Torah, Hashem will have ample reward, not only for the misvah of studying itself, but also for the proper fulfillment of many misvot. (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)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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