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Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

JUNE 5-6, 2015 19 SIVAN 5775


They journeyed from the mountain of Hashem a three day distance.” (Bemidbar 10:33)

The Midrash says that when the Jewish people left Har Sinai they were happy. They were like children who run away from school. They said if they stay, more misvot will be added. This was their first mistake, for if not for this, Hashem would have brought them into the Promised Land right away.

Of course this feeling was very subtle, and deep down. But on their lofty level they should have known better. There was a certain lacking in appreciating the true great benefit of each misvah. If one doesn’t realize the enormous benefit of every misvah the misvot will feel like a burden.

There is a famous oft-quoted statement that we say at the end of every class. “Rabbi Hananya ben Akashya said: Hashem wanted to give merit to Israel, therefore He gave them an abundance of Torah and misvot etc.” (Makot 23b). One might ask a simple question that really the opposite is true! The more Torah and misvot the more the danger that we won’t keep it properly? Maybe Hashem should have given us just a few misvot and we could observe them with ease!

The Otzrot Hatorah answers with a simple parable. Once two men came to the unemployment agency to seek a job. One was offered a hard job with many hours but very high pay. The second guy was offered a watchman’s job for only a few hours a day and a low salary. The first guy was very happy but the second was depressed. Along came a third friend and saw them and said he didn’t understand why they felt the way they did. The second one should be happy because he got an easier job! They both laughed at him and called him a fool. They said that obviously they were both coming to work in order to earn a good living. They weren’t coming to relax; they need to feed their families.

This is what Rabbi Hananya was saying. Hashem wanted to give us merit, since our goal in this world is to save up as many merits as we can in order to earn a “livelihood” in the next world. We are not here to relax. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Why should we be excluded from sacrificing?" (Bemidbar 9:7)

When a group of Jews who were ritually impure could not participate in the Korban Pesah, they reacted in an unusual way. They complained to Moshe and said, "Why should we be exempt from this misvah just because we are tny (unclean)? Isn't there something for us to do?" In the merit of this response, they were given a new misvah of Pesah Sheni, where a person can "make up" the misvah of Korban Pesah.

This attitude is very precious in the eyes of Hashem, and it is something we should think about. Many times we start to do a misvah, but it doesn't work out. How do we feel about being off the hook? Are we relieved, as if another burden is off of us, or do we feel the lack of opportunity to serve Hashem?

There was once a great Rabbi who came to a large yeshivah with a proposal. Whoever could answer his difficult question would have a chance to marry his daughter. The question was extremely difficult, and although many potential answers were suggested, no one came up with the right response, so the Rabbi headed back to his town. On the way back home, the Rabbi saw someone trying to catch up to him, and when he stopped, he realized it was one of the students from the yeshivah. "Did you think of another answer?" the Rabbi asked. "No, but I couldn't bear not to know the right answer," the student replied. The Rabbi then exclaimed, "You are the one for my daughter if you feel that way about Torah!"

We should analyze our approach to Torah and misvot and realize they are opportunities rather than burdens. That way we will fulfill them in a better way, and it will further enrich and uplift our lives. Shabbat Shalom. 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. Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, notes that, sadly, there are people whose lives are filled with good fortune: wealth, great wife, wonderful children, nahat, 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)


It is an accepted spiritual axiom that just as the body cannot function unless it receives its vital nutrients, neither can the neshamah be in its best possible condition unless it receives its vital nutrients.

There is a difference, however, between a deficiency in physical nutrients and a spiritual deficiency. When the body lacks one of the nutrients it needs to function, the deficiency manifests itself in a symptom characteristic to that particular vitamin or mineral. The treatment is to replace the missing component which is needed for bodily balance. You can’t fill the need for vitamin C with megadoses of vitamin B, but the right dose of vitamin C will cure the problem and erase the symptom.

When it comes to the spirit, however, the manifestation of a deficiency is not so clear. A shortage of Torah learning, lack of respect for elders and parents, insufficient acts of kindness, or a deficiency in any of the misvot that the soul needs in order to be healthy and satisfied is not clearly demonstrated. Instead, a person may feel depressed or generally unhappy without being able to pinpoint the cause.

One thing is certain. We cannot compensate for a shortage of spiritual vitamins with physical remedies. Money, food, drugs, and alcohol won’t eliminate the malady.

When you feel a tinge of sadness, general dissatisfaction, or unhappiness, don’t try and fill the need with a physical fix. Instead, think, “What area of my misvah performance or Torah learning can I enhance?” Even if you don’t pin it down exactly, an increased dose of any spiritual nutrient will go a long way towards restoring your spiritual balance. Pinpointing the right remedy will assist in restoring your mental health and good spirits. (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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