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Haftarah: Melachim I 1:1-31

NOVEMBER 6-7, 2015 25 HESHVAN 5776

Rosh Hodesh Kislev will be celebrated on Thursday & Friday, November 12 & 13.


"To eulogize and to bewail her." (Beresheet 23:2)

The Sages teach that the narratives of Sarah's death and the Akedah follow one another to indicate that she died as a result of that event. She was told by Satan that Abraham had actually slaughtered Yitzhak, and she cried in grief and died (Targum Yonatan). This explains why Abraham and Yitzhak were not present at her death.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky zt"l explained that this cannot mean that Sarah died "accidentally" before her time. It can be proven later from Rashi's comments on pasuk 27:2. Rather, the sense of the Targum Yonatan is that Sarah's time had come in any case, but the immediate cause of death was the news of the Akedah.

There is an obvious question here. The Akedah was one of the ten tests of Abraham. How could it be that Sarah was unable to withstand this test? After all, we must do the will of Hashem. Furthermore, we don't find that this was considered as a lacking on the part of Sarah. Rashi comments in the beginning of the perashah that at one hundred years old, she had no sin like a twenty-year-old.

Rabbi Reuven Melamed answers this question with an important fundamental idea about our religion, that Hashem doesn't ask a person to do more than he is able to do. Sarah did not have in her soul the ability to withstand this test. It was only Abraham that was tested because Hashem saw that Abraham had the ability to do it if he concentrated and tried his very best. But, for Sarah it was above her ability. So she didn't fail the test, she wasn't being tested.

Hashem knows us better than we know ourselves. And as the Gemara says, "All that Hashem does is for the best. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"For [Hagar] said, 'Let me not see the death of the child'" (Beresheet 21:16)

Hagar moved away from her son, Yishmael, when he was dying of thirst because, as she said, "I can't bear to see him in this state." One of the commentators points out that although this may be acceptable for Hagar, it is not an attribute for a Jewish mother. Even when things are as difficult to cope with as someone in extreme thirst, a mother stays by her child to see what can be done.

We must apply this to most of life's situations, not only the dangerous ones. It may be more pleasant for a parent not to know when a child is doing something wrong, rather than confront the child and face the problem. This is not the way of life for a Jewish parent. One must be involved in his child's upbringing, and if anything needs correcting, one must face the situation directly. It may be unpleasant but it is the only way that will yield positive results in our children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And the life of Sarah was one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years." (Beresheet 23:1)

The Midrash relates that Rabbi Akiva was once in the middle of teaching, when his students began to doze off. He wanted to wake them up so he told them the following: "What made Esther worthy of ruling over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces Hashem said, 'Esther, the daughter of Sarah who lived for 127 years, will come and rule over 127 provinces.'"

What message was Rabbi Akiva giving to his students, and how would this wake them up?

The Hidushei Harim answers as follows: Since every day of Sarah's life was used to serve Hashem in the fullest, never deviating for even a moment, therefore, Esther was permitted to rule over all 127 provinces. If Sarah would have had a "bad day," even momentarily lacking total control of her responsibilities to Hashem, then her great-granddaughter Esther would not have been granted the strength to control every aspect of all the provinces. For instance, from the fact that Sarah's life of 127 years is equated to Esther's monarchy over 127 provinces, we see that each year is worth a province. It follows that if each year is worth a province, then every month is worth a country; every week is worth a city; every day is worth a town; every hour is worth a street; every minute is worth a house; and every minute is worth a room. Therefore, the fact that Esther ruled over al 127 provinces, including every country, city, town, house and room was a testimony to Sarah's perfection of character.

Rashi tells us that Sarah's days were "all equally good" - from the days that she was barren to the day that she gave birth, and from when she was taken captive by Pharaoh, to when she was released - all of her days were equally good. Not one day was better than the other, because every moment of every day she was doing what she knew that Hashem wanted her to do, and whether it seemed that she was in a "bad" situation or not, it was irrelevant because whatever situation she was in, she was always doing the right thing.

This is the message that Rabbi Akiva wanted to get across to his students - if you live every moment to the fullest, how can you possibly fall asleep here? Do you realize how precious every second is? You cannot begin to imagine the possibilities we are creating for ourselves and for future generations. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. It's time to wake up! (Short Vort)


A major difficulty associated with world travel is the language barrier. When you go to a place where you neither speak nor understand the language of its inhabitants, all the simple things in life become difficult. When burdened with a language barrier, the strangers you meet regard you as strange.

The communication of ideas through speech is a benefit that humans have and other creatures lack. Yes, there are mating calls and warning signals that other living things use for survival, but these beings do not have the luxury of forming ideas, drawing conclusions, and the communicating their findings. Animals can share food and shelter, but they cannot share ideas.

Some people have a knack for communicating. They not only know what to say, but also how to say it. Don't think it is all natural talent, either. The power of communicating comes from study and thought. You can learn vocabulary to help define the exact ideas you want to convey. You can study the aspects of proper delivery of a thought through the correct use of voice, cadence, and body language. But the primary element is thought. You must think about the listener and decide how he or she can best understand the idea being discussed.

When you want to get your idea across to another, stop and think before you speak. Consider the listener and customize your words. It only takes a minute to prepare your thoughts so as to avoid misunderstanding. (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)

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