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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

JANUARY 18-19, 2013 8 SHEBAT 5773


"And there was a darkness of gloom throughout the land of Egypt for three days." (Shemot 10:22)

The ninth plague was darkness. Rashi says that there were evildoers who didn't want to leave Egypt and they died during the first three days of the plague of darkness. Who were these sinners? Why didn't they want to leave? The early commentators explain that the wealthy among the Jews managed to bribe the Egyptians and avoid labor in Egypt. It was only their poor brethren who were enslaved. Then, when the time for redemption came, those who were sinners and also wealthy, and therefore hadn't suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, did not merit to leave Egypt.

In the Holocaust the Germans did not differentiate between a Torah observant Jew and one who had strayed from the path. They sought to murder every Jew regardless of his affiliation or level of observance. This is an indication that when the ultimate redemption takes place, all Jews will merit to be redeemed. As there was no differentiation in suffering, so there will be no differentiation in redemption, may it be speedily in our days. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And the blood shall serve as a sign on the houses in which you are." (Shemot 12:13)

This verse refers to the smearing of the blood from the Korban Pesah on the doorway of each Jewish home. Rashi explains that this sign shall be for you and not for others. Hence we may derive that the blood was smeared on the inside of the doorway. An important lesson may be learned here. Often we attempt to help others in the fulfillment of Torah and misvot, even at great sacrifice to ourselves. This may sometimes be at the expense of our own families. We are ready to sacrifice our time and energy for others, but are we finding time for our own personal study and self-development? The Torah enjoins us to establish in our homes Torah sessions for ourselves. We must be aware of our responsibilities to our own children, to guide and encourage them ourselves, not by proxy through tutors. We are obliged to do for ourselves and for our families that which we so readily do for others. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The finish line is an essential component of any competition. Whether it is called the goal line (football), the finish line (bicycle race), or home plate (baseball), it is recognized by the competitors, who know when they have scored and when they can rest after achieving their goal.

While attending a function recently, I overheard two highly successful business people chatting. "You know," said one to the other, "you really changed my outlook the last time I saw you. You were pretty exhausted form a day of 'battle' at your business, and you said to me, 'Where is the finish line?'"

This is an incisive question all people should ask themselves.

Our Sages teach, "No one leaves this life with more than half of his desires in hand" (Kohelet Rabbah 1:13). A story is told of a poor, hard-working soul who went to visit a very ill millionaire. The millionaire commented, "I don't know how you stay in such good spirits, you earn so little. How do you make ends meet?" Rather than complain, the visitor laughed. "I don't know how you handle the pressure of being so short of your goal," said the poor man. "In my life I have accumulated possessions with a net worth of maybe $25,000, and so I am short the other $25,000 our Sages say I would need to be satisfied. You have collected millions of dollars for yourself. I don't know how you can sleep knowing you are millions short of your goal!"

When you are pushing a little too hard for the next acquisition, remember that you are not only trying to chalk up a new success, but you are also moving the "finish line" further and further away. Pressing on the "brakes" of desire will help you keep the goal line from leaving your line of sight. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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