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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 1: 1-27

AUGUST 5-6, 2011 6 AB 5771

The fast of Tish'ah B'Ab will be from Monday evening, August 8 until Tuesday evening, August 9.


"Alas - she sits in solitude." (Eichah 1:1)

Eicha was written by the prophet Jeremiah. He witnessed the destruction of the First Temple, the killing of the people and the dispersion of the nation. This happened on Tish'ah B'Ab, the day of Jewish tragedy. Few people know that the exile from Spain in 1492 was on Tish'ah B'Ab, or that WWI, which began the downward slide of the Holocaust, began on Tish'ah B'Ab. Truly a day of tears and tragedy.

When one ponders how the Jewish nation still exists, in spite of its history of trials and tribulations, while the great empires of the world are found only in history books, he can come to one simple conclusion. There must be an All-Powerful being, protecting the nation from the laws of nature.

Rav Yaakov Emden writes that when he thinks about this phenomenon, he realizes that the survival of the Jewish people is a greater miracle than all the miracles that G-d performed in Egypt, the desert, or in the land of Israel. And the longer the exile continues, the greater the miracle becomes. Through the understanding of the suffering of the Jewish nation, one can come to appreciate the relationship that we enjoy with Hashem. This special relationship is exhibited during two three-week periods of the year: The three week mourning period of the destruction, and the three weeks between Rosh Hashanah and Succot. Just like the three happy weeks accomplish the removal of our sins, so do the three weeks of tragedy remove our sins. Personal pain, as well as national suffering, assist in our atonement of sin. The more one studies our history the closer one feels to Hashem.

These three weeks, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tamuz, are indeed an auspicious time. Let us use it wisely to draw closer to Hashem and His Torah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


Fear can be a positive force and prevent people from engaging in activities that can cause serious harm. On the other hand, unreasonable fear can render people timid and prevent them from fulfilling positive life goals and achieving success in the material and spiritual realms.

Rambam explains that in order to change a trait, we must go to the opposite extreme for a time, and eventually we will arrive at a healthy middle course. An extremely timid person, for example, must act for a while in ways that are courageous, in order to achieve a balance between caution and bravery.

If you feel fearful at times and realize that it is not the healthy kind of fear, but rather, the negative, inhibiting version- step forward and take control of situations that can change you for the better. If you are extremely shy, greet people whom you have never greeted before. If you are afraid to ask the teacher or manager a question- ask. If you are weak at fundraising, keep requesting donations until you get the hang of it. If you have trouble asking for directions, do so even when you are not lost- until you overcome the rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms that seem to be your constant companions in such circumstances.

The more times you attempt something, the easier it becomes. Rather than fear of failure, you will anticipate potential success. You might not change yourself to the other extreme, but Rambam guarantees that you will settle comfortably somewhere in the middle.

Look and then leap! (Rabbi Raymond Beyda - One Minute with Yourself)

* * * * *

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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