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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 46:13-28

JANUARY 3-4, 2013 3 SHEBAT 5774


No man could see his brother nor could anyone rise from his place for a three day period. (Shemot 10:23)

For three days an Egyptian could not see his brother. This was followed by an even more severe period of darkness that actually paralyzed the population, to the degree that whoever was sitting could not stand and whoever was standing could not sit down.

The Hidushei Harim zl once remarked that the greatest darkness possible is when one doesnt take notice of the troubles of another person and doesnt seek to come to his aid. This is hinted to in the phrase no man could see another in the plague of darkness. One of the greatest challenges we face is the obligation to look beyond our own struggles and relate to others. In some circumstances there is much that can be done. In other situations, taking note means using tact, wisdom, and sensitivity in our approach to the plight of others. Sometimes its just common sense.

Make sure that you have all the facts straight from other sources before asking questions or offering advice. Dont ask a married woman how many children she has unless you know for sure that she does have children. Dont ask a stranger or a casual acquaintance what he does for a living in this economically stressing time, unless you know for sure that he has a job.

It is crucial for teachers to know the family background of the students. When a teacher discovers that the young boy he has so sternly instructed to bring a note from his father is actually an orphan, it isnt only the child who will be deeply hurt. The teacher will be devastated as well.

During the final days of the plague of darkness, the Egyptians sat like stone, unable to flex a muscle. They had no way to eat a morsel of food or to drink a drop of water. So how did they survive? One explanation is that when the Israelites entered their homes, they were filled with compassion for the Egyptians and fed them and gave them water to drink. This teaching is a mind-boggling revelation of the loftiness of the Jews of that time. After so much enslavement their hearts filled with compassion for the very men who had treated them so brutally. It is a very illuminating example of how we should treat others. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

One of the most important aspects of Judaism is remembering the Exodus from Egypt. Indeed many misvot were given to us just so that we can remember the redemption, as we say in many of our prayers, ohrmn ,thmhk rfz - a remembrance of the coming out of Egypt. But we must remember not only the actual Exodus, but also the technical aspects which Hashem did to make the miracle more complete. The perashah tells us that during the plague of the first born, ,urufC ,?Fn, when so many Egyptians died, there was no barking of any dogs that night. The Rabbis say that when the Angel of Death comes to a city, uj, the dogs sense it and bark furiously. But here, Hashem made a miracle and didnt allow the dogs to bark, which was a natural consequence. The reason is so that the Jewish people should not be scared by a sudden bark. Did you ever walk near a house when all of a sudden a dog barks and frightens you for a moment? The Jewish people were spared that small discomfort

As we remember ohrmn ,thmh, the Exodus from Egypt, we should always remind ourselves of the many kindnesses Hashem did to make our journey more pleasant. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


In Pirkei Abot 1:15, Shammai says that we should always greet people with a pleasant countenance. We may not realize it, but what this great Sage is suggesting is that we always show others that we care about them. Its not what you say but how you say it that can communicate this all-important message to people.

This teaching also applies to listening when another is speaking. It happens all too often that one person tries to tell another something important, only to feel that the friend is not paying attention. It takes eye contact, an interested facial expression, and a well-timed inquiry or comment to give the speaker the assurance that his or her life with all its ups and downs matters to you, because the person who is speaking matters to you.

Hashem made people need attention as badly as plants need water. So when you show people that you care, you are actually providing them with a necessity of life.

When someone tries to confide in you, and you are just too busy and involved in your own little world to really care, remind yourself that friendship and caring are what make the world go round. One of the easiest and least expensive gifts you can give someone is a pause and a word to show you care. This is the gift of life itself. (One Minute With Yourself Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


A new teacher - young, idealistic, and quite inexperienced - was assigned a teaching position in an inner-city classroom in the middle of the year. Apparently, the "starting" teacher had left the position midyear because the discipline was an impossible task, as the principal had informed her that this was a class of "special students." Learning was not an essential requirement, as long as the students were kept off the streets and out of trouble.

The young teacher walked in on bedlam: feet were on desks, radios blaring, spitballs flying, the noise in the room deafening. She walked to the front of the room, opened up the attendance book and noted the number next to each name. The numbers ascended from 140 to 160 - quite an impressive lot. No wonder these students were impossible. Their IQ's all bordered on the genius level. As gifted students, they had reason to be high-spirited. They were probably bored by the level of education they were receiving. She called the room to order and began to teach.

At first, the students ignored her, but she did not give up, talking to them about their innate gifted qualities and their abilities to succeed. This went on regularly, as she reminded them of their G-d-given talents and added intelligence.

As she kept on encouraging them, they slowly began to respond. Their test scores improved considerably; and their total demeanor was altered for the better.

The principal could not believe that these were the same students who had driven out the last teacher. He called the teacher to his office and asked, "What have you done with your students? Their work has surpassed anything we have ever had from them. You are literally a miracle worker!" he declared.

She looked at him and said, "What do you expect? They are gifted, aren't they?"

"Gifted? This class is comprised of special-needs students - both behaviorally disordered and emotionally challenged. How can you call them gifted?"

"If so," she asked, "why are their IQ's so high?"

"Where did you see their IQ's?" the principal asked.

She showed him the attendance list. The principal smiled and then began to laugh. "Those are not their IQ's! Those are their locker numbers!"

It sounds like a funny story, but, in reality, it is sad. People often view themselves through the mirror of public sentiment. If you call someone a derogatory name long enough, he will begin to believe it. On the other hand, when a parent/teacher expresses praise and positive feeling towards their child/student, it will encourage, empower and inspire his/her living up to our expectations of them. (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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