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OCTOBER 4-5, 2002 29 TISHREI 5763

Rosh Hodesh Heshvan will be celebrated on Sunday & Monday, Oct. 6 & 7.

Pop Quiz: What was Kayin's occupation?


"Now the serpent was more cunning than all the beasts of the field" (Beresheet 3:1)

We begin a new year. After three weeks of inspiring prayers of the High Holidays, and we are all eager to study the Torah. We are ready to study the Torah and its lessons with an open heart. The first story of the Torah is about Adam and Eve and the serpent. Let's tell a true story that took place not far from Tel Aviv a few years ago.

There was a band of thieves that was raiding the city. The police, who are usually very adept and quick to apprehend the criminal element that roamed the city, were at a loss to capture them. Finally one night the crooks were so bold that they took their car, raced it down the street and crashed it into the storefront of one of the stores in order to loot the store. A roaming police car was nearby and sped to the scene to apprehend the crooks. A few got away, but two were injured and were caught. The police investigators subjected them to a strong and grueling questioning. They held strong and wouldn't reveal their partners that got away. The injured criminals were brought to the hospital to heal their wounds. While in the hospital they shared their room with two patients that were severely injured. They were covered from head to toe with bandages and had difficulty moving. A camaraderie developed between them, the criminals helping the patients with all of their needs, nursing them to health.

Suddenly, the news broke that the police caught the rest of the band of criminals. How did the police crack the case? The two injured patients, bandaged head to toe were two Israeli interrogators with a small tape recorder hidden to record all of the conversations. When the patients all became great friends, the crooks spilled the beans, revealing all the details of their crimes. Now the police were able to close the file on one of their most difficult cases.

Why am I telling you this story? This story sheds light on the Torah's first story. The serpent was the most cunning beast. He duped Adam and Eve. As a result of that story the serpent became our evil inclination, the yeser hara. Hashem is telling us with His first story to beware of the yeser hara; he will stop at nothing. Our police story can reveal the tactics of the yeser hara; he will take your best friend and plant a listening device that is recording your words in Heaven. Your own friend, unknowingly, can be working for the yeser hara, helping you speak the words you should not speak. It says the serpent was the most cunning of all the beasts, but not more cunning than man. We can beat him. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Reuven Semah

After Adam ate from the forbidden fruit, he and Havah (Eve) were trying to hide from Hashem. Then Hashem called out to Adam "ayeka, where are you?" The Rabbis tell us that of course Hashem knew where Adam was. He was just trying to get him to start talking without terrifying him. The letters of the word "ayeka" are the same letters which spell "eichah - alas," which begins the Book of Lamentations and talks about the saddest events in history.

The lesson is that when a person does something wrong, Hashem is really asking him "Where are you?" Even if we don't actually hear a voice from Heaven, Hashem wants to communicate to us without us becoming afraid. If we feel we did or said something we shouldn't have, at that point we should admit it to ourselves and that will end it! If Adam would have confessed right away, history may have been different! It's because Adam tried to deny and justify his actions, that the word ayeka became eichah, alas, woe. May this be a lesson to us that Hashem always knows what we are doing and He wants us to know where we are so that we can always stay on course! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And Hashem formed the man...and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being" (Beresheet 2:7)

The "soul," the nishmat hayim, which Hashem blew into man's nostrils is defined by Targum Onkelos as "ruah memalela," a speaking spirit. This means that the essence of life, which only Hashem could have imparted to man, is the soul that includes the power of speech. The ability to use intelligent speech to communicate is what elevates man above the animal world. We must endeavor to understand with whom man was designed to communicate. At this time, no one else had yet been created. Rabbi Shimon Schwab derives from here that the primary purpose in creating man with the power of speech was so that he would "speak" to Hashem in order to supplicate Him through prayer. Speech is inherently holy, for it was created for us to be able to communicate with Hashem. One who does not sanctify his speech - using it instead to disparage and slander - has defiled G-d's gift. (Peninim on the Torah)


This week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 42:5-21.

There are two connections between the perashah and the haftarah. First, the perashah begins with the creation of the world. In the haftarah, the prophet Yeshayahu reminds the Jewish nation that G-d, Who is the creator of the world, continues creating every day. Creation is not something that was done just once. It is an ongoing miracle.

Second, in the perashah, man is the only creature given the power to choose between right and wrong. In the haftarah, Yeshayahu tells the people that G-d created the Jewish nation in order to be a "light for the nations." It is their duty to show the nations what is right, so that they, too, can become closer to G-d.(Tell it From the Torah)

Answer to pop quiz: He was a farmer.

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