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Haftarah: Shoftim 5:1-31

JANUARY 25-26, 2013 15 SHEBAT 5773

Tu B'Shebat will be celebrated on Shabbat, January 26.


"Hashem said to Moshe, 'Why do you cry out to me? Speak to the Children of Israel, and let them journey.'" (Shemot 14:15)

In this week's perashah, when the Jewish people are in mortal danger, sandwiched between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, Hashem says to Moshe, "Why do you cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites and let them journey forth!" Explains the Seforno, Moshe thought the Jews wouldn't listen to him and enter the water, and therefore he prayed for help. Hashem told him there was no need for Divine intervention. Just tell the nation to go and they will. Indeed, explains the Seforno, Moshe was "Choshed Bikesherim" (he wrongly suspected them) and Hashem was correcting him, telling him that the Jewish people have faith.

We have faith, and it's not just our good genes inherited from Abraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akob, but we are educated in faith. We are graduates of Misrayim, of the splitting of the sea, and of Har Sinai, where we got our doctorates in faith.

A year ago this week, a study called "A portrait of Israeli Jews" conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, was revealed. The study surprisingly showed that 80% of the Jews in Israel believe in Hashem, 67% believe that the Jews are the Chosen People, and 60% believe that the country should be run according to Jewish tradition. 80% believe in reward and punishment, 77% are convinced that the world is guided by Hashem, and 72% believe that praying can improve a person's situation. The exhaustive study by a non-religious organization was based on face-to-face interviews with 2803 Israeli Jews over the age of 20.

The message to the Democracy Institute is clear, that true freedom is doing Hashem's will, and it's the only thing that brings happiness to the Jewish soul. The message for the Torah observant public is not to be content with the 80% who believe in Hashem, but to worry about the 20% who don't. Our job is to act in a way that shows the entire Jewish world the beauty of a Torah way of life. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

There is a charming little story about a boy who came home from Sunday school saying that he learned about the Israelites and the crossing of the Red Sea. When his mother asked if he could repeat the story to her, he replied, "Sure, Mom! Moses was in a helicopter with a walkie-talkie in his hand, watching to see when the Israelites were nearing the Red Sea. When they were at the shore, Moses radioed to the Army Corps of Engineers who laid down pontoon bridges over the Red Sea, and the Israelites crossed over to the other side. When the last Israelite crossed over, Moses radioed to the Engineer Corps and they lifted the bridges, thereby drowning the Egyptians!" The mother turned to her son in shock and asked him, "Is this how they taught it to you?" He replied, "No, Ma, but if I tell you how they taught it to us, you'd never believe me!"

Since we are so used to the real story of the Splitting of the Red Sea, we tend to take it for granted. If we were to hear it like the young boy in the story, we would be truly amazed and exclaim, "What a great miracle occurred to save the Jewish people!" Yet the real miracles are that much more awesome and we are not amazed anymore when we read it every day. We should stop every now and then, close our eyes and picture in our mind's eye what it must have felt like to be part of these great events. Then we would say it with a little more understanding. The Hafess Hayim used to say the Shirat Hayam (the song of the Splitting of the Red Sea) with great concentration and feeling, and those who heard it felt as if the Egyptians were coming right behind him. If we put a little more feeling into our prayers, we would appreciate all the kindnesses Hashem is constantly doing for us! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

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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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