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Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7


"Why should we be left out by not offering Hashem's offering in its appointed time?" (Bemidbar 9:7)

The Torah tells us that if one was unable to bring the Pesah sacrifice on the correct date he had the option to bring it a month later on the 14th of Iyar. This is known as Pesah Sheni. This is a puzzling concept. Usually there are no second chances. How come here they get a second chance? The answer is that they said, "Lamah nigara - why should we be left out?" The people came to Moshe and refused to accept the fact that they were no longer obligated to perform the misvah. They wanted a second chance and incredibly they got it. This development paved the way for all those in the future generations who desired a second chance.

Listen to amazing true story told by Rabbi Yechiel Spero. Once, right before Rosh Hashanah, the great mekubal, Rav Shimshon of Ostropoli met the Satan, and noticed that his adversary was full of despair. When Rav Shimshon asked him what was wrong, the Satan replied that it is always difficult to get the Jewish people to sin during this period of the year. Obviously, Rav Shimshon did not feel all that bad.

However, when he met the Satan immediately after Yom Kippur, he was shocked to find that he seemed quite happy. Rav Shimshon was confused. If the Satan's concern before Rosh Hashanah was because the Jewish people were going to do teshubah, then he should have been despondent after Yom Kippur.

Rav Shimshon asked him why he was smiling. Hadn't the Jewish people repented? The Satan admitted that normally he was in a dejected state at this time of year. Indeed the Jewish people had done teshubah, which caused him distress. For that reason, he had asked Hashem to allow him to bring about some chaos and havoc. And now he hoped that Hashem would allow him to sink the ship that was bringing the lulabim and etrogim to the Eastern European countries. That was why he was so happy. He knew that he had been defeated up until this point, but he also knew that so many Jews would be unable to perform a precious misvah. Nothing could bring him greater joy.

Rav Shimshon was very concerned. When he heard the news a few days later that the ship had sunk, his heart sank with it. Indeed it was very challenging. Many cities did not have even one full set of lulab and etrog, and had to borrow from people in other cities. The crisis was very real. Rav Shimshon was certain that the next time he would meet the Satan he would see him grinning from ear to ear.

But when Rav Shimshon crossed paths with the Satan just a few days after the holiday, he noticed that he was terribly upset. Shocked at his mood, he asked his nemesis why he was so troubled. If the ship sank, which was what the Satan had asked for, then why was he upset? Hadn't his plan worked? Didn't thousands have their holiday inconvenienced and disturbed?

The Satan looked at the pious Rabbi and responded, "You are right. My plan worked. I could not have been happier at the time. But then the disaster struck. Do you know what those Jews did? They did not despair. Instead they traveled to the closest town that had a lulab set. They stood in long lines for hours, for their chance to use one set.

"They refused to be denied. So my plan backfired on me. And that is why I am so upset. After all my efforts, I realized that the Jewish people cannot be overcome. They refuse to be told no. They always seem to find a way."

This is the key to our survival. This is why the Jewish people will last forever. We will always find a way. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Moshe heard the people weeping in their families" (Bemidbar 11:10)

When the Jewish people complained to Moshe about the mann, the Torah says that Moshe heard them crying "uh,j?PJn?k - in their families." The Rabbis explain that in reality they were complaining about their family lives. They were really complaining about the fact that, after they received the Torah, their relatives had become forbidden to them to marry. But on the surface they were just using the mann as an excuse to be unhappy. That's why there were such devastating results in this episode. Because when one is bothered by something and yet uses something else as an excuse, we can never appease him fully, since we are only addressing the issue he mentioned and in reality the problem lies somewhere else.

It is always wise to remember this lesson when listening to complaints or criticism. We must learn to read between the lines and see whether there is some underlying problem rather than the one which is apparent. This applies both on a personal and on a communal level, and when addressed correctly, will provide a great chance of solving the real problem. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"But now, our life is parched, there is nothing; we have nothing to anticipate but the Manna. Now the Manna was like a coriander seed and its color was like the color of b'dolach." (Bemidbar 11:6,7)

Rashi explains that the individuals who complained, "We have nothing to anticipate but the Manna," were countered by Hashem, Who said, "The Manna was like a coriander seed with a color similar to crystal." As the commentators explain, it had the taste of dough saturated with oil. Rashi understands that Hashem was alluding to the world, "Look at about what My children are complaining! They say the Manna is nothing worth waiting for, and I show you that it is indeed quite special."

This does not mean that the Jewish People were full of complaints. It is possible that they conceded that indeed everything else was actually great, but there was one issue about which they had criticism: the Manna. Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, notes that, sadly, there are people whose lives are filled with good fortune: wealth, great wife, wonderful children, nachat, satisfaction and acceptance in the community. Everything in their lives works - except for one issue which they have. Do they pay gratitude for all of the good and positive aspects of their lives, or are they consumed by - and obsess constantly about - the one area of their lives that does not work to perfection?

This is what angered Hashem. Everything about Klal Yisrael's life was just about perfect. They were no longer in Egypt serving as slaves to a despotic ruler. Whatever they asked of Hashem, they received. Were they thankful? No - all they could do was issue complaints about the Manna, complaints which were not valid.

This is an important lesson for all of us. No one has a perfect life. One thing is not always one hundred percent the way we would like it. Do we make the effort to thank Hashem for everything else, or do we focus all of our energies to complain about one thing that does not meet our standards? Before we complain, or even ask for that one thing that is missing, it might be a good idea to first look around and thank Hashem for our many blessings. (Peninim on the Torah)


Everyone loves a birthday - and a host of anniversaries, too. The greeting card companies, florists, and manufacturers of everything from chocolates to jewelry count on our country's love for the commemoration of milestones.

When you give it a little thought, however, celebrating seems out of order. Imagine a prisoner, sentenced to execution. He is taken from his cell to proceed to the gallows. The guards accompany him on board a train whose last stop is the execution site. How ludicrous it would be if at every stop - every step closer to his end - he was served some cake and ice cream and sung a verse of "Happy Birthday." Isn't that what a birthday party is?

However, for the Jew that is not true. Think for a moment. A baby is born. Excitement! Mazal tov! Gifts and congratulations are showered upon the infant and its parents. Why is everyone so excited? The newborn has not done anything of value - and cannot even attend to his own basic needs. The ebullient reactions are caused by anticipation. This little bundle of potential is a future member of the Chosen People. We are right to get excited but not sure if anticipation will become a reality.

When a birthday is reached, it is time for a review of the past year's progress. What did you achieve in your lifelong project of self-perfection? If you made positive steps forward in the year just past, then a birthday or anniversary takes on an atmosphere of celebration. If each stop on the train brings you closer to your goal, that is cause for happiness and rejoicing. You can celebrate the achievements and successes of another year of life. This makes it so important to remember that a year is made up of days - and days are built with hours - and hours are composed of minutes - and minutes are a bunch of seconds.

How valuable each one is! (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)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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