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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 1: 1-27

JULY 9-10, 2010 28 TAMUZ 5770

The fast of Tish'ah B'Ab will be observed from Monday evening, July 19 until Tuesday night, July 20.


"Yet this I bear in mind therefore I still hope. Hashem's kindness surely has not ended nor are His mercies exhausted." (Eichah 3:21-22)

As we approach Tish'ah B'Ab, we hope this will be our last. As the verse quoted above states, we know Hashem's mercy is endless, this is our hope for redemption, to return to Israel and the Bet Hamikdash. There is a beautiful Midrash (quoted by Rabbi A. Henoch Leibowitz) on Eichah that uplifts us even more. The Midrash tells a parable of a king who married a princess and wrote a very elaborate ketubah (wedding contract) promising her expensive clothing and priceless jewels as a sign of his great love for her. The king had to travel overseas and was delayed there for many years. As the years passed by, she was taunted by her neighbors. They ridiculed her and told her he forgot about her and found someone else. Her only consolation was her ketubah. She would read her ketubah and that would give her hope that he would return, for why else would he have given her such a beautiful gift? Sure enough, after many years her husband returned. When he saw that she really waited for him he was amazed. He asked her what gave her the strength to be so faithful. She responded that it was her ketubah, and if not for this ketubah she would have been crushed by her neighbors.

Similarly, the Midrash continues, the Jewish people have suffered so much over the centuries. The nations taunt them and say Hashem has left them for another nation. The Jews can bear the suffering but not the thought that Hashem left us. We come to shul and we read the holy Torah: And I will turn to you and make you fruitful and cause My Shechinah to dwell amongst you and I will walk in your midst" (Vayikra 26:9).

The Torah is our ketubah. It is our hope and strength. When Hashem redeems us, it will be amazing that we were able to wait. Hashem will ask us where we found the strength, and we will answer that it was the Torah that You gave us. We should constantly open our "ketubah" and be happy and strong until the joyous day of our redemption arrives. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


It's easy to say "I'm sorry" to Hashem. After all, He is the One in charge. He controls the fate of everyone and everything. "If I've done anything to upset Him," most would say, "I must be quick to appease Him."

It is quite a different matter with another person. Most people have a hard time with the two words "I'm sorry." If you hurt another physically and unintentionally, perhaps the words of apology will slip smoothly out of your mouth. But if you embarrassed someone intentionally or did something that you knew would cause financial damage, that is another story. Your tongue lies at rest and refuses to budge. Should it break down and move, the ivory gates of the teeth and flesh walls of the lips keep the well-intentioned words inside the mouth.

Intellectually, we may understand that it should be more difficult to "face" Hashem than a fellow mortal. However, it is a sad commentary that the fact that we don't "see" Him makes it easier for us to "deal" with Him when there is a problem, while the eyes of another person looking back at us is just impossible - well, almost impossible - to ignore.

Our Sages teach that Yom Kippur can atone for sins, but only those between man and Hashem. Before Hashem will forgive a sin committed by one person against another, He demands that the transgressor compensate and appease the person who was hurt.

You may unsuccessfully try to do your "best" to mend fences with your colleagues. But remember, in this high-speed, wireless world, it only takes a minute to contact another. The most effective tool for appeasing an angry or hurt person is right at the tip of your tongue - or fingertips. Just say - or write - the two words that can save your own life: "I'm sorry. (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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