JANUARY 22-23, 2005 12 SHEBAT 5765
"Speak to the Children of Israel and let them turn back and encamp before Pi Hahirot" (Shemot 14:2)
Rashi says: This pasuk praises the Jewish people for following Moshe Rabenu's instructions even though it seemed as though Moshe was telling them to run into the hands of the advancing enemy. They said, "We are only to follow the words of ben Amram." This verse with Rashi's explanation puts into a nutshell the greatness of the Jewish people.
The following story was related by R' Yaakob Mutzapi: A couple distant from Torah had a toddler who shrieked day and night almost nonstop. The parents took their child to numerous specialists, but even after extensive testing no one could explain the boy's suffering. Full of despair, the parents took their son to experts in the world of amulets and the like, but they could not help either. At that point the parents were so depressed that they could hardly find the strength to go on living.
One day the mother of the boy was walking in the open market and noticed a page of a Humash on the ground. She bent down to pick it up and said to herself, "This holy page, maybe G-d will cure my son through it." When she returned home, the mother dusted off the page of the Humash and put it under the pillow of her crying son. Then she uttered a silent prayer. "Ribono shel Olam. I don't know much about what is written in the Torah, but I do know that the page I found in the market place is from a holy Humash. May it be your will that this page be a holy amulet and bring about a complete recovery for my son." Indeed salvation came directly from Hashem, and, for the first time in months, the boy slept peacefully through the night. The boy's father was stunned by the sudden change in his boy's behavior. His wife told him it was due to the holy page. Her husband took one look at the page and was stunned even more. The page was from Parashat Ki Tabo. It said, "Hashem will strike you with madness...you will be frightened night and day." When he told her what it said, she said, "How should I know what it says? I only know that it is from the Torah and I put my faith in G-d and his Torah that we will find salvation. You see how this has helped!"
Pure faith alone can bring about salvation and in the case of this child, it even reversed the curses written on the page to become the greatest blessing they had hoped for. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And [the Manna] tasted like honey" (Shemot 16:31)
The Rabbis tell us that the Manna tasted like whatever a person wanted it to taste like. If he thought about meat, it had a meat taste; if he had dairy in mind, it had a dairy taste. Rabbi Shimon Schwab z"l once visited the Hafess Hayim in 1930 and heard him ask the following question: "What if a person had nothing in mind when he ate the Manna? What would it taste like?" The Hafess Hayim answered, "If a person had nothing in mind, then the Manna would taste like nothing." He went on to explain that the Manna is symbolic of everything spiritual; whatever we put into spiritual things determines what the taste of the outcome will be. If a person learns Torah or does misvot with enthusiasm, then his enjoyment and fulfillment will be apparent. However, if a person does it as if it is a chore, with no feeling, then it will be dull and tasteless. Just as we plan a vacation or something exciting with feeling and enthusiasm, so too we should approach our spiritual involvement. Then we will have a sweet taste in everything we do. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And it was when Pharaoh sent the people, Hashem did not lead them by the land of the Pelishtim, for Hashem said, 'Perhaps the people will regret [leaving Egypt] and will return to Egypt.'" (Shemot 13:17)
Rabbi Yehudah Leib Chasman commented on this that it is amazing how the Israelites could have even considered returning to Egypt. They suffered so much in their enslavement. They had seen the miracles Hashem made and the plagues that befell the Egyptians for harming them. They should have trusted Hashem since He had already helped them in so many ways, and He would continue to help them. Why would they entertain the thought of going back?
This can only be understood when one realizes that a person is a mixture of a body and a soul, said Rabbi Chasman. Even when a person is on a very high spiritual level, he can fall. For this reason one needs constant vigilance. At one moment a person can be very elevated and then if he panics he can behave in a very immature way. Although the Israelites had a great awareness, this can be lost in a very short time.
But this exact concept of the changeability of a person can give one great hope, concluded Rabbi Chasman. If you can fall quickly, you can pick yourself up very quickly also. Never despair when you feel that you are on a low level. If you are sincerely resolved to climb spiritually, you have the ability to instantaneously put yourself back on the path of life. Don't waste time with self-pity if you feel that you are not on the level you want to be. Realize that you can obtain great heights at any moment if you have a deep resolution to do so. (Growth through Torah)
Question: Why do we mention "Abinu - our Father" in the berachah of "Hashibenu - bring us back" and "Selah Lanu - forgive us," whereas it is not mentioned in any of the other berachot of the Amidah?
Answer: A father is obligated to teach his son Torah. Therefore, in Hashibenu we ask that he bring us closer to the Torah as a father must do for a son. In Selah Lanu we are asking Hashem to have mercy as a father has for his son, and forgive us for our sins. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)
"They came to Marah, and they were not able to drink the water at Marah for they were bitter." (Shemot 15:23)
The Kotzker Rebbe teaches that the words "for they were bitter" refers not to the water but to the people themselves. Since they were bitter and had a negative attitude, the water they drank tasted bitter to them.
When one approaches a situation expecting it to fail or to be unpleasant, chances are that he will be correct, simply because he does not give it a chance to succeed. On the other hand, if he has a positive outlook and doesn't prejudge the situation, he is far more likely to have favorable results. One will have a tremendous impact on the level of his success and happiness simply by having the right attitude.
Question: What is your reaction when you are asked to try something new, whether it be a new food, different company or any other unfamiliar situation? Do others consider you a person with a generally positive or negative attitude?
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.
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