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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

JANUARY 27-28, 2012 4 SHEBAT 5772


"Also a great mixed multitude went up with them." (Shemot 12:38)

As we study the events of the Exodus, we learn that what is most required of us is the desire to grow and to do good. A person can be great in Torah wisdom and performance of misvot but if he doesn't have a desire to acquire good things and grow, he will not merit greatness. On the other hand, a person can have no knowledge and no misvot but if he has a yearning desire to cling to Hashem he can merit true greatness.

Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein zt"l derives this lesson from the Jews and the Erev Rav (the Egyptian converts that joined the Israelites that left Egypt). The Midrash states that many Jews perished during the plague of darkness. The reason stated was because they didn't have the desire to leave. The Midrash implies that this was the only reason. So they were righteous people, plus they believed Moshe when he said it was time for the redemption. The only problem was their lack of desire to leave even though they were children of Abraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akob. All of this didn't help them and they missed the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai and they died in the darkness because they didn't desire to obtain the ultimate good.

On the other hand, the Erev Rav, who were Egyptians who came from Ham, merited to join the Jews at the splitting of the Red Sea and were at Har Sinai and more. Why? Because they had a burning desire to see what Hashem would do for the Jews. So strong was that desire that they left their homes right after the plague of the firstborn. At that time every gentile home was in mourning. One can only imagine the anguish and sadness of those homes that suddenly every home lost its oldest son. They left anyway at that terrible time to see the fulfillment of the will of Hashem. They merited to join Israel forever.

We see the need to strengthen our desire to grow in the service of Hashem, and with this we can merit greatness forever. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"All of your servants will come down to me…and he left Pharaoh's presence in anger" (Shemot 11:8)

When Moshe was telling Pharaoh about the last plague, which was the death of every first born, he said to Pharaoh, "Your servants will come to me to ask me to leave, and that's when I will leave Egypt." Moshe didn't say to Pharaoh, "You will come to me to ask me to leave," even though that's what really happened, because he didn't want to show dishonor to the king of Egypt. This is truly amazing, because right at the end of this verse it says that Moshe stormed out of the palace in anger for the way Pharaoh had spoken to him. If someone is angry, does he still have the presence of mind to show honor and to speak in a certain way? This should reinforce to us the greatness of our leaders, such as Moshe Rabenu. Although he got angry at Pharaoh, he was in complete control of himself, down to the exact words with which he should speak to the king. Everything Moshe did was exactly measured in order to be able to do the will of Hashem.

Indeed, many of our great Sages followed in Moshe's footsteps in this respect. There was a great Rabbi of the previous generation who once got angry at what his son had done, but waited two weeks, until he was totally in control of his emotions, before rebuking him! On the one hand, we can't help but be in awe of such self-discipline, but on the other hand, we have to learn from them how to behave in such situations. How often do we fly off the handle just because we're upset? Even in anger or frustration we must learn to stay in control and use the right words and the right tone of voice. We will be the real beneficiaries of such self-control. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


A king was once traveling along the edge of a forest when he heard a woman's cries for help. He dashed into the nearby woods to save the beautiful woman from her attacker. Enchanted by her appearance and character, the king married her soon afterwards and made her his queen.

Much to the king's displeasure, once his new queen was settled in the palace, she proceeded to live her life independently of her husband. Although the king yearned for some interaction with his wife, the queen was too involved with other matters to pay attention to the depressed monarch.

One day the king hired a group of soldiers to masquerade as bandits and attack the queen as she was traveling to a nearby village on an official visit. As soon as the queen cried for help, the king - once again - came to her rescue, and she showered him with thanks and praise.

Soon afterwards, one of the queen's confidantes revealed the king's game to her. Angrily, she demanded an explanation from the sovereign.

"When you cried out the day I met you," he explained, "I felt so good to be able to save you and bring you to the palace. Contact with you became the highlight of every day. Then you became withdrawn and I yearned for our old relationship. That is the only reason I hired the soldiers to set up another emergency rescue scenario."

Hashem wants all of us to recognize His presence and His control of life's activities. If we pray and acknowledge His magnificence while things are going well, then He continues to shower us with bounty. However, should we begin to ignore His sovereignty over human affairs, He creates a situation where we need his help and cry out to Him again.

Even when things are going well, you should stop to appreciate for a moment the kind providence and protective behavior of your Father in Heaven. Don't get so involved as to forget that everything comes from Him. Avoid creating a scenario where He might feel the need to create a situation that will force you to emit a distress signal.

It only takes a minute to recognize the King, but it can save you from hours of aggravation. (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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