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Haftarah: Shoftim 5:1-31

JANUARY 10-11, 2013 10 SHEBAT 5774

Tu B'Shebat will be celebrated on Thursday, January 16.


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

Whether we are financially successful or struggling, our livelihood is in the hands of the Almighty. Yet in our daily living it is easy to forget this fact. In Parashat Beshalah the Israelites began to receive the mann. When they received their daily portion of mann there was no question who had given it to them. Today it's not so easy to be cognizant of that fact, but we must try to keep it in mind as much as we can.

Rabbi Yechiel Spero tells a true story that can help us. The Ba'al Shem Tob had a student named Yossele, who, although well meaning, had a great desire to steal. A young woman named Sarah, who had recently lost both her parents, lived in a beautiful mansion on the outskirts of town. Yossele decided that he would target her home.

The gatekeeper was sleeping when Yossele crept up to the house and surprisingly not one servant was around. Yossele entered the mansion and was awed by the riches he found. Beautiful rugs, paintings, chandeliers, crystal and silver filled the home. Yossele made his way to a safe he discovered behind one of the paintings. Yossele was savvy at picking locks, and the door to the safe popped open before he knew it. The safe was full of jewelry, precious stones, and stacks of money.

But ironically, Yossele was disappointed. Why had everything gone so easily for him? He knew a person's livelihood is predetermined from Rosh Hashanah, so why was he trying to steal from this orphan? He waged war with his inner being and decided he was not going to steal any valuables, disappointed with himself that he had fallen to such depths.

The next day the Ba'al Shem Tob summoned Yossele to his office. Yossele couldn't tell if the Rabbi knew about his near heist. But shockingly the Ba'al Shem Tob did not admonish him; instead he suggested to Yossele to meet the orphan Sarah for marriage! The girl whose house he had almost robbed! Within a short time the two were married. The fortune was Yossele's after all.

This story gives us an important lesson about our livelihood. Unfortunately there are those who cannot withstand the urge to be dishonest. If only they would know that if they're supposed to have that money, they will receive it anyway, then they wouldn't resort to cheating. 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

The holiday of Tu Bishbat will be celebrated this Thursday. One of the beautiful customs that we have is that of families getting together to celebrate. Some have plates and plates of all the different fruits and nuts representing all the berachot while other families have bags of these delicacies for the children. Besides showing appreciation to Hashem for all His bounty, what relevance does this holiday have to us?

The Rabbis tell us that on Tu Bishbat, the juices of the trees begin to flow again, getting ready for another season of producing leaves and fruits. It is a time that Hashem "remembers" the trees, deciding which one will flourish and which one will not, and indeed, the Sages tell us that one should pray for a nice Etrog on Tu Bishbat. The lesson for us is very heartening. If Hashem, Who runs the entire universe, can involve Himself with the smallest detail of which tree will grow to which size, is He not watching and guiding and protecting all His creations, especially His Chosen People? If we can appease Him regarding the welfare of plants and trees by making the right berachot on Tu Bishbat, surely we can pray to Him to bring about our salvation on a general and individual level. We need His protection all the time, especially for our people living in Israel, who are always the target of our enemies, may Hashem protect them! Let us continue our beautiful customs and learn the underlying lesson that it is Hashem who rules the world and to Him do we turn for everything. Tizku Leshanim Rabot! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Infants usually get what they want. When a baby cries, adults come running. They try to satisfy the child's needs and restore the calm that preceded the outburst. However, infancy is a charmed time of life. As people grow older, the response to their cries changes. Instead of caring concern and the desire to immediately help, a listener might exhibit cold disinterest.

We are taught to set goals and to keep our focus clearly on the results we have set. If we don't get what we need or want, we start to complain. An adult's complaining is the same as a baby's crying; it sends a signal to others, saying, "Take care of me!"

People tend to get down on themselves and on others when they find the response to their demands is not as expected. When someone cries and people don't respond, the complainer increases the intensity of the complaint.

By doing two simple things, you can avoid this frustrating syndrome.

To begin with, set realistic goals. Don't expect financial or emotional gains beyond the realm of reality. If you expect to make a fortune during the first year in business, you will more than likely become despondent when your projections are not met. If you expect a cold-natured friend to respond warmly to an appeal for compassion, you will become depressed and angry when confronted by the other's normally cool response.

Secondly, accept that you cannot control every situation. Sometimes what you want is subject to your choice, and sometimes a situation is beyond your control. Learn to submit to Hashem's control and mercy. Giving in does not mean giving up. It just means that you realize that the achievement is not in your hands, but in "hands" of the One above. By putting things in perspective, you will find that you are happier with what you get and not so upset with what you don't. (Rabbi Raymond Beyda - One Minute With Yourself)


Horav Moshe Kramer, z"l, became Rav in Vilna. Prior to his ascent to the Rabbinate he was a grocer. Hence, the name Kramer, which in Yiddish is a grocer. His illustrious grandson, Horav Eliyahu Kramer, was none other than the Gaon m'Vilna. The great Sage, who has illuminated the minds of thousands of Torah students throughout the last two centuries, was the product of a home built upon middot tobot, good character traits, and incredible trust in the Almighty. When Rav Moshe was asked to accept the position of Rav, he accepted the position on the condition that he would take no salary. Apparently, his grocery provided him with the funds necessary to live.

A short while after accepting the Rabbanut, Rav Moshe noticed that there was more money available in their home. He wondered why. After all, he made approximately the same amount every week, his expenditures and accounts receivable allowing him a small profit. From where was this newly-found money? His wife explained that ever since he had become Rav, more people were shopping in his store as a ruse to provide him with added income. Knowing that he would never take a donation, or even a gift, they were determined to help him by supporting his store.

Rav Moshe was aghast. He was causing the other grocers to lose money! If everyone would support the Rav's store, what would the other vendors do? He came upon a course of action. After figuring out how much money he needed to sustain his family, he divided it into the days of the week and told his wife, "When you achieve the daily goal that I have set up for us, you must close the store in order to enable the other grocers to earn a living also. The Torah writes regarding the mann, 'ish l'fi ochlo, each man according to what he eats.' We should be no different." This is the type of people who were the progenitors of one of the greatest Torah scholars of all times. (Peninim on the Torah)

* * * * *

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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