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Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

MAY 24-25, 2013 16 SIVAN 5773


"When you go to wage war in your land against an enemy who suppresses you, you shall blow the trumpets...and on a day of your gladness." (Bemidbar 10:9-10)

Our perashah has the misvah of the trumpets. The trumpets were made of silver and were to be used on two occasions. One is when the Israelites had to go to war, the trumpets must be sounded. The purpose is, "and you shall be recalled before Hashem, your G-d and you shall be saved from your foes." The second purpose is on a day of happy occasions you shall sound the trumpets together with your offerings. Rabbi Frand asks that there seems to be a paradox here. In the first verse the trumpets seem to be akin to an air-raid siren, alerting the people of an impending attack. But if that is true, them we should not be sounding those trumpets on joyous occasions. And if these trumpets are musical instruments to be used on joyous occasions, such as festivals, then why are we sounding them at a time of war? What is the true nature of the trumpets?

The explanation is based on the Rambam. The point of the trumpet blasts during the war is to remind the people that the trouble is coming from Hashem for a reason. In today's world it's telling you that a war in Israel is not due to frustrations of the Palestinians, and not because of the oil-rich Arabs. If the enemy is attacking it's because Hashem is sending a message to do teshubah.

But human nature is such that when things are going wrong a person thinks, why is G-d doing this to me? When things are going well, however, he thinks, aah, my business acumen is paying off. The Torah therefore commands us to sound the very same trumpets on joyous occasions to remind us that just as Hashem is behind difficult times, He is also the source for all good that comes our way. In fact, if we are careful to remember when things are going well that all is from Hashem and to thank Him for it, we can forestall the need for bad events; we won't need reminders in the form of harsh events.

I think that if Wall Street would blow the trumpets every time the market goes up, it would not go down! Today we have two economic theories. The conservatives hold let capitalism take care of itself. The liberals say we have to pump money into the slumping economy. I think there is a third way - to attribute success to Hashem and it will continue to succeed. If our community lavishly thanks Hashem with sincerity we will have great prosperity. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And the Jewish people were like complainers." (Bemidbar 11:1)

Whenever the Torah tells us about the shortcomings of the earlier generations, we must keep in mind that they were much greater than we could even imagine, and as such, much more was expected from them. We may never compare ourselves to them; we can only learn from events in their lives and apply it to our own level.

Having said this, we read in the perashah how the Jewish people were punished back to back by fire and by plague. They asked for meat in an incorrect way, and this led to their suffering greatly through the very meat they asked for. The amazing thing, which is very instructive, is that the whole chapter begins with the words, "And the Jewish people were like complainers." The Rabbis point out that they really didn't start to complain, yet by taking on an attitude of whining and groaning, even in a very subtle manner, they brought out all the terrible misfortunes. We see from here how important a positive attitude is, and how a nagging attitude can be detrimental. Even when one doesn't actually complain, yet talks in a bitter manner, this can bring out the negative in people and lead to a host of problems. Let's think positively and talk in an upbeat way, focusing on the good rather than the negative. You'll be amazed at the results! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Imagine that we all live on a ladder.

In every area of life, there are those who stand higher up on the ladder and others who stand on a lower rung. Whatever your financial position, some people have more and others have less. When it comes to wisdom, there are some who are wiser than you and others who are not. Some are taller, some shorter; some fatter, some thinner; some have larger or fancier homes, some don't own homes at all. There are so many qualities and possessions a person may have or lack, and these come in so many different degrees.

What is important about the ladder is not what rung you occupy, but that you know that there will always be some people higher than you and some who are lower.

When you have the upper hand, when you occupy a position of authority over others - whether employees or co-workers, children or student - you should know clearly that your position gives you power. They know it, and so should you. You don't need to insult or yell at subordinates. Unfortunately, it too often happens that those with strong personalities and authoritative positions, who would be listened to even if they whispered, feel that they must raise their voices and overpower others.

Shelomo Hamelech said that a person reacts to another like a reflection in a pool of water (Mishlei 27:19). In other words, one person's heart communicates feelings to another. If you value and respect another, you can communicate that feeling without speaking.

When you are about to lose your temper with those who have less than you do, think of the ladder. You are the one on the higher rung, which means you don't have to exert your authority - others are already aware of it. Make them feel great in the knowledge that you, their superior, have treated them with respect. Being more well off than another doesn't mean you should not respect those "lower" than you - if you demand respect you may or may not get it. If you show respect you will get it back. It doesn't take more than a brief pause, but remember - respect yields respect. One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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)

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