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Haftarah: Shoftim 5:1-31

JANUARY 29-31, 2010 15 SHEBAT 5770

Tu B'Shebat will be celebrated on Shabbat, January 30.


"Hashem said to Moshe, 'Behold - I shall rain down to you food from the heaven.'" (Shemot 16:4)

Our perashah speaks at length about the daily miracle of the mann, heavenly bread, that came down from heaven. It came down for forty years while the Israelites were in the desert. Our sages make a startling statement: "The Torah was given only to those who ate the mann." This is a very perplexing statement; surely the Torah was also given for all generations, including our own, who must earn their bread through sweat and toil.

Harav Eliezer Ashkenazi z"l writes, in Maasei Hashem, that he understands this statement of our Sages to mean the following: The Torah was given only to those who consumed their entire portion of mann each day, without concern for what they would eat the next day. It was forbidden to leave over mann for the next day. This teaches us the crucial attribute of histapkut, feeling satisfied with what you have. The Torah was given to those who devote themselves, not to the relentless pursuit of wealth and material needs, but to the basic necessities of one day at a time, and for those who find happiness in their families and satiate themselves with spiritual endeavors. This trait of histapkut makes us worry free and tranquil.

The current financial crisis is threatening to deprive many families of funds for basic necessities like food, rent, utilities and tuition. It is our obligation to do everything we can do to come to their aid. For many others, it means a crimp in a once-more-comfortable lifestyle, and the need to rethink or delay the non-essential purchases. For those families, the mann delivers a powerful message. Many components of our contemporary lifestyle actually add to our worries, and disturb our tranquility. In addition to tefillah for parnassah, rethinking our priorities and what currently brings us happiness may help us deal with the woes of the economy. 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


Communication is a way to connect with others. By speaking, people not only convey ideas, but also impart feelings and affect the emotions of their listeners. A continuous barrage of negative comments can build a negative self-image in the mind of a victim of verbal abuse, while positive encouragement can build a successful human being.

A parent, teacher, employer, spouse, or friend may be well intentioned when correcting another's behavior, but the wrong choice of words may produce a result far from the mark. One parent may say, "Get to bed! You are going to be exhausted tomorrow and you will fail your test!" while another might express the same thought differently: "I suggest that you get some rest, and I am sure you will be sharp when you take your exam." Or, when not seeing eye-to-eye with a co-worker, one person may blurt, "How can anyone believe that silly idea will work? That's the craziest thing I've ever heard!" while another might suggest, "Perhaps we should take another look at this problem before deciding what to do."

In Mishlei (18:21) it is stated: Death and life depend on the tongue.

Today you will spend your waking hours using the gift of speech. Consider the effect of the words that leave your lips. Will they be weapons of destruction, or tools of construction? (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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