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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 1: 1-27

AUGUST 8-9, 2008 8 AB 5768

The fast of Tish'ah B'Ab will be observed from Saturday night, August 9 to Sunday night, August 10.

Pop Quiz: Who were the first two kings conquered by Bnei Yisrael?


[The Jewish people] weep bitterly at night" (Eichah 1:2)

On Tish'ah B'Ab we mourn the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash, the holy Temple in Jerusalem. In the book of Eichah that is read on Tish'ah B'Ab, the word "to weep" is said twice. This signifies that we cry for the destruction of the first and second Temples, which both occurred on the same date of Tish'ah B'Ab.

In the Midrash, we find an interesting conversation between the Jewish people and the prophet Yirmiyahu. "Let us make an arrangement between us. You cry during the day and we, the Jewish nation, will cry at night." Therefore, the verse quoted above, "We weep at night," represents our weeping, but Yirmiyahu cries during the day. This arrangement is puzzling. Why cannot both grieve at the same time?

Rabbi Pinchas Roberts explains, in the name of the Da'at Sofer, that day and night are not to be understood literally. Instead, night stands for times of persecution and sorrow, when everything looks black and dismal. Day symbolizes brightness and prosperity, when the sun shines and good fortune prevails. The Jews intimated to the prophet that they can only muster tears for the loss of the Temple at night, when they endure physical oppression; when they feel broken, then they can also weep for the exile and the lack of the Bet Hamikdash. When innocent Jews are killed, on such occasions of intense grief, we say, "It is time for Mashiah to come."

With the prophet Yirmiyahu it was different. He could cry for the Bet Hamikdash even during the "day." His spiritual level was such that no amount of prosperity or good fortune dampened his longing for the Divine revelation that the Mashiah and the Temple would bring. Therefore, the arrangement was made between them. But in truth, it was not a satisfactory one. Hashem wants us to appreciate the need for Mashiah and the third Temple even by "day," when our situation is favorable. We badly need the Korbanot and the Presence of the Shechinah. No amount of prosperity in other fields can compensate for our spiritual decline. Our goal is to cry by day and by night. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah



The Steins had been happily married and living in the same location for ten years. However, although the family grew and their joy in family life expanded, their initial dwelling did not. With six beautiful children in the same three bedroom home, the Steins had been considering a move to larger quarters. "You know Yaakov," Mrs. Stein remarked, "real estate is so expensive now, and the lot we presently live in is too small to build on. Why don't we contact the owners of the adjoining lot? The dilapidated home on the property has been empty for so many years, and I am sure they would be willing to sell it for a reasonable price." "It's a great idea," Yaakov replied, "Then we can demolish the two homes and build something more comfortable on the double lot. But I am sure Mr. Berger would have let us know about it if it was for sale. I think they are planning on keeping it long term." "I have an idea," said Mrs. Stein, let's call him and ask if he knows of anything for sale in the area. If he wants to sell I'm sure he will let us know."

A few minutes later Yaakov stormed into the room. "I can't believe it! I just got off the phone with Mr. Berger. He told me that just last week he sold his own home to a young couple by the name of Cohen. Why didn't he ask us if we were interested? I wonder if there is anything we can do at this point."

Mrs. Stein was equally as shocked by the news, but less inclined to think that they still stood a chance at securing the residence. "I can't imagine anything can be done" she said pessimistically. "If they already closed last week, it's a done deal."

What the Steins hadn't realized is that the Torah law of "Bar Metzra"- lit. he who lives on the (adjoining) border, protects the rights of a land owner in this very situation. The verse reads "V'asita Hayashar V'Hatov" (Debarim 6) - And you shall do the just and the good. From these words Halachah derives that any neighbor of a specific property automatically receives the rights to first refusal on any property that can be joined up with theirs.

This Halachah goes one step further. If an outside buyer, who does not have the status of Bar Metzra, purchases the property, a Bar Metzra has the right to force the buyer to resell the property to him at the exact price the buyer paid. The buyer is viewed as an agent for the neighbor. Even if the buyer was unaware that the neighbor was interested in the property, he is obligated to transfer the land to the Bar Metzra.

This law is based on the fact that the non-neighboring purchaser can look anywhere for a good home or piece of property. In the eyes of Halachah he has no real reason that he needs this particular home. The neighbor on the other hand has much greater interests in owning the adjoining property. Therefore, Halachah enforces the buyer to do what is "just and good" and has the buyer turn over the property.

When the Steins called their Rav who was also a practicing Dayan, he informed them of their halachic rights. The first thing he suggested though was that they call the Cohens directly and discuss the matter with them. If they refused to comply, he suggested being back in touch about how to proceed with the backing of a qualified Bet Din. (Rav Dovid Grossman of Kollel Zichron Gershon)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Sihon (king of Emori) and Og (king of Bashan).

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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