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Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

JUNE 8-9, 2012 19 SIVAN 5772

Shabuot will be celebrated on Sunday & Monday, May 27 & 28.


The rabble that was among them cultivated a craving." (Bemidbar 11:4)

As we know, the Jewish people, upon leaving Egypt, were accompanied by many Egyptians who wanted to be part of our nation. As time went on in their traveling in the desert with us, they began to weaken and complain. At this time they complained that they wanted meat. Their complaining attitude spread to the rest of Israel until they all wept that they wanted meat. Rashi says that they actually had the cattle to slaughter and eat, but they were merely finding a pretext to complain.

The key words here are "hit'avu ta'avah" which means they goaded themselves on to desires. It was not a longing which awoke in them by external causes, but one which they gladly provoked by themselves. They wanted to have desires which they didn't already have. They weren't satisfied to be satisfied; they wanted a craving.

The Hafess Hayim explains that there is nothing intrinsically evil in man. Every desire that one has is placed in man for a good purpose. For instance, King Solomon in Kohelet says (5:9), "One who loves money will never be satisfied with enough money." We know what this means, but why did Hashem give man such a lust? The answer is that that lust is awakened in us when it comes to the misvot of the Torah, which is the real money. Once we have a desire for misvot it becomes an appetite that cannot be satisfied.

What can be the possible benefit of craving to have a craving? How can it be used for good? The answer is that it is used for the study of Torah. When a student begins his in-depth study of Torah he really doesn't have that craving for Torah study. However, once he reaches the point that he feels the sweetness of Torah he cannot have enough of it and he has a real craving. But, one who did not yet reach that point wishes he had that craving so he craves for that craving. If so, ultimately he will actually have that strong desire that we all want. We actually pray to crave for it every morning when we say in the morning berachot, ????????, please make the Torah sweet for us.

How sad it is today that this gift is misused by society that craves for physical cravings they don't naturally have. People like to experiment; how about channeling man's cravings for what it was created for? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"[The Jewish nation] traveled from the mountain of Hashem" (Bemidbar 10:33)

The Midrash tells us that this was one of the instances where the Jewish people did something wrong, and indeed the Torah interrupts the narrative with "Vayhi binso'a ha'aron" (which doesn't belong there) in order to separate between the wrongdoings. What was wrong with them traveling from the mountain of Hashem? Actually, they only traveled when given the signal by G-d, so if it was time to travel, why should it be a sin?

The Rabbis tell us that they traveled like children leaving school, in a hurry and anxious to leave their place of learning. For children to run out when the bell rings, that is expected of them. But when adults, who just learned Torah from Hashem for one year at Mount Sinai, also rush to get away, that was a sign that it wasn't becoming internalized. If we look at Torah as a chore or as burdensome, it will not have its effect of enriching our lives the way it should. We should remember this whenever we finish praying or learning. Sometimes, before the hazan is finished, the majority of the shul is almost outside "like children leaving school." Let's allow the Torah and Tefillah to enrich us so that it will always be a pleasure. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


A friend of mine recently underwent surgery to remove a polyp from his vocal cords. The recovery period started with complete silence - no talking and no whispering - for a period of five days. During the next stage of recovery, the patient was required to limit his speech to three hundred words per day.

Every time my friend needed to communicate, he had to stop and decide whether it was really worth using up the words it would take to get his idea across to the other person. Can you imagine walking around all day with a "word counter" - calculating total words spent against total words remaining?

The Zohar teaches that people are granted a certain number of words to speak whenever they choose during their lifetime. When the words run out, so does life. Someone who seeks long life should limit overall speech. Furthermore, in Tehillim

(34:13), King David states, "Who is the man who wants life, who loves days to see good? - Guard your tongue from evil!"

If you find yourself about to indulge in "small talk," count those words before they leave your mouth. Consider whether or not you want to "spend" them. It is a discipline that will take time to develop, but it will add years to your life. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

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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