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Haftarah: Shoftim 5:1-31

January 30-31, 2015 11 SHEBAT 5775

Tu Bishvat will be celebrated on Wednesday, February 4.


"For I am Hashem your Healer." (Shemot 15:26)

In the Amidah we say the blessing, "He is the Healer of His nation, Israel." This seems difficult, because we see that healing is not exclusively found by the nation of Israel. It is found throughout mankind. Another question is that when we say the berachah of Asher Yasar, we end the berachah with the words, "the Healer of all flesh," and not with the words, "the Healer of Israel"?

Rabi Shimshon Pincus zt"l explains that the berachah in the Amidah that states that Hashem is the Healer of Israel is based on the pasuk in our perashah that says, "I am your Healer." However, we need to understand the pasuk. In what way is Hashem our Healer that differs from the rest of the world?

There are two forms of healing. One is that Hashem placed in the human body the ability to heal itself. The second form is when one goes to a physician to be healed, through medicines, surgery, etc. Therefore, the term that Hashem is the Healer of Israel is not referring to the first type, that human bodies have the ability to heal themselves, for that form was given by Hashem to all of mankind. When we say in Asher Yasar that Hashem heals all flesh, that's referring to the ability that Hashem gives to all bodies to heal themselves. The second type of healing, that one goes to a physician to get healed, that is our pasuk that Hashem is our "Doctor." We are His "patients," and that's the meaning in the Amidah.

What is the difference between the two? The first form that Hashem gives to all mankind's bodies to heal is dependent on that person's performance in the past and the future. Is he a good person or not? However, when one goes to a doctor, the doctor doesn't sit the patient down and ask if he is good or not. He tries to heal no matter who the patient is. So too with Hashem and the Jewish people. So it's like a physician telling His patient, "I am your doctor" who heals no matter what. Who would trade off this special patient to doctor relationship? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

One of the beautiful customs that we have is that of families getting together to celebrate Tu Bishbat. 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


When a cat feels threatened, it arches its back tensely in a position of self-defense. Similarly, a cobra will stretch its neck in a stiff, vertical position and hiss at an intruder. Dogs bark and show their teeth, and lions roar and swing their razor -sharp, powerful paws. Every creature has instinctive behavior for self-preservation.

The human being is equipped with a hormone called adrenaline, which automatically begins to flow into the bloodstream whenever an influx of extra energy and strength is required. In the human, this burst also energizes the brainwaves, enabling a person to think about escape more quickly and in a more focused way. The "fight or flight" response differs markedly from a person's normal reactions to routine, non-stressful situations. It is only when needed that the adrenaline "juices" flow.

The Mesilat Yesharim says: "All matters of this world are tests to the individual." How often people get caught up in the big picture and lose focus on the small details - and that is precisely where the testing is most difficult. In a crisis, most of us can consolidate our strength and rise to the occasion - even surpassing our normal achievement levels. It's when we don't even think we are being tested that the likelihood of failure looms large.

Every single millisecond of life that Hashem graciously grants us in this world is an opportunity to grow and succeed or, Hashem forbid, fail and regress. If we can focus on that one thought, every minute becomes a valuable "crisis" during which the spiritual juices might flow to overcome pitfalls. So, do not take any event or encounter lightly. Rise to the occasion and feel the spiritual adrenaline flowing. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


The following true story occurred a few years ago in Antwerp. Reb Chaim and his wife sat down at their table after a long hard day.

"Baruch Hashem, we have been blessed so much, and I'm not complaining," the wife announced, looking nervously at her husband. "It's just that we now have twelve children, beli ayin hara, and there is no more room in the house, and we can't really afford any more children. Although we're coping, isn't twelve enough?"

The husband lovingly sympathized with his wife and then began to speak about the importance of relying on Hashem. He then reassured her that He never gives anything to anyone that is impossible for them to handle.

"Since you are healthy and our only concern is a financial one," he suggested, "I think that we should leave everything in Hashem's hands, for if He blesses us with another child He will surely provide us the means to support that child, as He does with all of our children. Remember we're not just having children for our sakes, we are building Hashem's army," Reb Chaim said to his wife.

The woman accepted her husband's words and within a short period of time, she was delighted to find out that she was pregnant again.

On the day that the baby was born, in the same hospital, an exceptionally wealthy gentile died leaving no heirs or family. Years earlier, he had declared in his will that all of his money should be given to the largest family in Antwerp since he had never married and had no family to give the money to.

Now, there were several families in Antwerp with twelve children, but no family with thirteen children. Well, at least there was no family until the day that the gentile died, when there was one Jewish family who had officially become the largest family in the city, having just been blessed with heir thirteenth child! (Short Vort)

* * * * *

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)

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