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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 16:19-17:14

MAY 16-17, 2014 17 IYAR 5774

Lag Ba’omer will be celebrated on Sunday, May 18.


“If you will go in My statutes…I will provide peace in the land…and a sword will not cross you.” (Vayikra 26:3-6)

The perashah begins with huge promises. If you walk in My ways, which Rashi explains refers to laboring in the study of Torah, there will be prosperity and peace in the land of Israel. The Torah promises that if we study Torah diligently there will not be a sword in the land. The study of Torah protects the land.

The problem is, however, that the sword is found in Israel today. How many deaths a year are due to terror? How many deaths on the highways in Israel? Too many. If the study of Torah is the true protector, where is the protection? Regrettably, the answer is that the study of Torah in Israel (and in the U.S.A.) is not strong enough.

Rabbi Shimshon Pincus tells a true story that occurred while he was a Rosh Yeshivah in the city of Yerushalayim in Israel. He had another associate assistant Rabbi. He was young and a man of vigor and great potential. The young Rabbi was tragically killed. As Rabbi Pincus describes his feelings, he writes, “I didn’t feel sad from the tragedy as much as I felt embarrassed that I am the Rosh Yeshivah and my Torah did not protect him.” The Rabbi delivered an amazing eulogy, but he felt that his job is not to give eulogies; these tragedies should not occur.

We are the true soldiers in the army. It’s up to us to guard the people. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"If you will walk in my statutes..." (Vayikra 26:3)

The perashah begins a whole series of blessings promised to the Jewish people if they will "walk" in Hashem's statutes. Rashi tells us this means to toil in Torah study. This is the source of all the berachot, and conversely, when the section dealing with the curses begins, Rashi tells us it is because there was no toil in Torah study.

The question is asked: Why is this command called a euj - statute - which means something with no understandable reason? Isn't Torah study something which is logical, and yet the Torah calls this h©,«E?j?C - My statute? The answer is, to learn Torah just to know what to do is not sufficient. There is a misvah to toil in Torah study, to involve ourselves in the wisdom and beauty of Torah, regardless of whether it is relevant at this moment or not. This may not seem comprehensible to some and therefore it is called a euj. Yet here we see that this is the basis for all of the blessings and vice versa, oukau xj/

We have to ask ourselves truthfully, are we involved in Torah study? Do we have a set time to toil in the understanding of the Torah? Especially now, when the holiday of Shabuot, which reenacts the giving of the Torah to our generation, is right around the corner, we should be prepared to have an answer to this question. As we read the perashah and see how many blessings and, G-d forbid, curses are involved due to toiling in Torah study or the lack of it, we should commit ourselves to a set time of Torah learning, with toil and effort, so that we should merit all these blessings for ourselves and our families. 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.

"Be very very humble" (Pirke Abot 4:4)

Pirke Abot is filled from beginning to end with moral lessons and advice. Yet, more emphasis ("very very") is placed on this statement than on any other. It is almost as if there is some kind of danger in being conceited or in seeking honor. Why is humility given such great importance, more than any other trait?

It is known that in this world there is no reward for misvot. Rather, the rewards are all in the next world. The reason for this is that all the benefits a person can possibly get in this world would not be enough payment for even one misvah. This is because misvot are spiritual in nature. They cannot be rewarded with material things, because the payment would not correspond to the deed. However, if one receives honor for a misvah, he is getting some compensation for his deed, since honor is spiritual in nature.

This is what this Mishnah is warning us about. If someone seeks honor and receives it, he is using up his merits for which he was to be rewarded in the World to Come. One should be exceedingly humble and run away from honor, because he has no idea how much of his future reward he may be using up for a fleeting moment of praise and honor. (Hafess Hayim al HaTorah)

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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.

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