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Haftarah: Melachim I 1:31

NOVEMBER 25-26, 2016 25 HESHVAN 5777

Rosh Hodesk Kislev will be celebrated on Thursday, December 1.


"[Eliezer asked} Shall I take your son back to the land from which you departed?" (Beresheet 24:5)

Eliezer is given the mission to find a wife for Yitzhak from Abraham's native land. So Eliezer asks what would be done in a case where he finds a great match but she doesn't consent to come to the Land of Canaan where Abraham and Yitzhak live? Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt"l says: this seems to be a remarkable query. How could it enter Eliezer's mind that Abraham could consent to allow his beloved only son from Sarah to forsake him and to settle in another land? But, Eliezer understood that the choice of a proper wife for the prophet Yitzhak was a matter of the highest concern. Certainly, it was unthinkable to take Yitzhak to a foreign land to mingle with his wife's kin. But Eliezer was in doubt which of the considerations was paramount for Yitzhak's future. A wife of excellence to bear the future Holy Nation or the career of aloofness and non-mixing with others, which has been a very great principle in Abraham's history. Abraham insisted on having his son under his own supervision. His son should not return to the influence of the environment from which Abraham became free, when Hashem commanded him to leave his father's home. Abraham was very loyal to his mission, "To keep the way of Hashem" (Beresheet 18:19). The aloofness from outside influence is an essential part of the function of "Keeping the way of Hashem."

Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Abraham was old; he came with his days." (Beresheet 24:1)

What does it mean to "come with your days?" Can a person not come with his days?

There was a person who traveled to a town and visited the cemetery there. He was shocked to see all the adult graves with headstones that had the age of the deceased at three years, four years, five years, etc., and no one had any normal life span of sixty, seventy or eighty. When he questioned the townspeople, he was told that the custom of that place was not to write the actual amount of years lived on this world, but rather how much a person accomplished. Every person would be asked before he passed on to estimate how much time he spent in the service of Hashem. That is why people would only have a few years on their headstones.

This is what is meant that Abraham came with his years. Every moment of his life was used to serve Hashem. Indeed the Midrash says that Abraham had a coin minted with a picture of a young man and woman on one side, and an old man and woman on the other. Perhaps this lesson was hinted on that coin. A person must use his life and years to such an extent that he can be considered old as far as how many years were used to serve Hashem.

We can ask ourselves this question, "How much of our life is used in the service of Hashem?" Is it only one or two hours on Shabbat when we come to shul? Do we study morning and night and make sure to pray three times a day? Indeed, if we do even our physical mundane acts for the sake of Heaven, such as eating and sleeping to have strength to do misvot, or going to work to support our families - to support Torah, then most of our day can be considered fulfilling and positive. Our lives will be full with days and years, and we will be considered "coming with our days"! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


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

Rashi explains that Sarah's death is written in the Torah immediately after the episode of Abraham's trial of sacrificing Yitzhak because after hearing what was about to transpire, she became so distressed that "her soul flew from her and she died.

Rashi tells us that Sarah was on a greater level of prophecy than Abraham. Yet we see that Abraham passed every stage of this great test, from rising early in the morning to carry out the word of Hashem, to the very last moment of lifting the knife to perform the sacrifice. On the other hand, at the very first moment when Sarah heard what was taking place, she could not cope with the distress and died on the spot! How could Sarah, who was a greater Prophet, not be able to cope with this test at the first hurdle, whereas Abraham was able to complete everything to perfection?

One of the answers that Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz offers is that sacrificing Yitzhak was not actually Sarah's test, and as such, she was not given the Heavenly assistance to pass it. For it is only when Hashem Himself provides the test are we able to withstand it, because with every test comes the means to pass it. Even though Sarah was a greater Prophet, this test was not hers to pass, and she therefore did not have the means and Heavenly assistance to succeed.

This message is echoed by Rav Eliezer Zusha Portugal, the first Skulener Rebbe, in his answer to a perplexing question on the words, "Baruch gozer umkayem - Blessed is He Who decrees and makes it stand," said in the Baruch She'amar prayer at the beginning of Pesukei Dezimrah: "Is it not strange," asked the Rebbe, "that we are praising Hashem not only for making a decree against us, but we go further and praise Him for fulfilling it?" The answer, says the Rebbe, is that we are supposed to read the words like this: "Blessed is He, that when He decrees, He gives the person who He has decreed against, the ability to withstand it." (Short Vort)

Get the Ball Rolling

Michael is always frustrated. He has many good ideas that remain just that - good ideas. At his staff meetings, key personnel regularly put forth suggestions that ought to spur growth and profits for the company - yet more often than not, nothing materializes. Or someone precisely diagnoses a problem and its root causes - and even comes up with a creative solution that should be very easy to put in place - yet, months later, the problem is still there, creating trouble.

Mordy, on the other hand, is one who always seems to succeed. Yesterday's problems are only a memory, and his mind is clear, ready to confront today's new issues. When he looks back over a year he finds that the big issues that disrupted his plans are non-issues now, because systems were developed and put in place to prevent their recurrence.

Michael could see no difference between his own creativity and effort and that of his friends, or between the quality of their products or staff. The only difference he could see was in the results. "How is it that you are able to make things happen?" he asked Mordy.

"When I hear a good solution, I always do something - anything - right away to get the ball rolling. Just this morning, one of my executives suggested that we contact an analyst who could help us solve a distribution problem that was costing us not only money, but customers, too. When I asked for the phone number and email address, my manager said that the expert would be away until next week. I got the information anyway, sent a message, and called his secretary to arrange an appointment. Even though she told me that he makes all of his own appointments, I left word that he should contact me on his return. This way, I initiated the contact, he will call me back, and we'll be able to move on the project. If I had waited for his return, I guarantee you he would never have been called. You've got to start the ball rolling to make something happen."

We all face challenges every day in a quest for self-improvement. Some people can develop a plan to lose weight, stop smoking, control temper, or be more prompt. Yet they don't get the mission accomplished because of procrastination. Logic or circumstances suggest waiting for a better time, and then something else develops and nothing ever materializes.

When you have a good idea, do something immediately to get the ball tolling. Once you are moving, no matter how little or how slowly, you will build momentum until you reach your goal. (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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