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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 1: 1-27

JULY 12-13, 2013 6 AB 5773

The Fast of Tish'ah B'Ab will begin on Monday night, July 15 and end on Tuesday night, July 16.


"All her pursuers overtook her in narrow straits." (Eichah 1:3)

We will be reading Eichah while sitting on the floor on Monday night, the night of Tish'ah B'Ab. These are days of deep mourning. We mourn the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. We weep over a host of personal tragedies afflicting so many individuals in our community. But simultaneously these are days that provide opportunities for spiritual growth - to cleave to Hashem. At first glance it seems that these two concepts, mourning and spiritual growth, are incompatible. But, in reality, this is exactly the time for growing. The pasuk from Eichah above says all of her (the Jews)pursuers overtook her. The simple meaning of the verse is that the three week mourning period (ben hamesarim) is a time when our enemies catch up with us. But there is a hidden hint: Whoever is determined to make Hashem His King and "pursue" a close relationship with Him can succeed even more in the three weeks than during the rest of the year.

This can be explained in a parable. When the king sits in his palace, all are awed by him and certainly not just anyone can enter his private domain. However, when the king is outside his palace walking in the streets and the marketplace, then he is accessible to all and he listens to the requests of all who call out to him. During the three weeks, the palace of the King was destroyed; He is more reachable than ever.

Tish'ah B'Ab is an opportune time for prayer, especially while sitting on the floor mourning. In order for something to grow, a kernel must be placed into the ground. Only after the seed has rotted and deteriorated does the miraculous growth of a new sprout occur. On Tish'ah B'Ab we reach our "lowest" point and sit on the ground, yet it is from here that we reach the point of new spiritual life and growth.

In the book Barchi Nafshi Rabbi Y. Zilberstein tells this powerful story of prayer. In the summer of 2007, after 15 years of marriage, a childless B'nei Brak couple decided to get divorced. Shortly after the divorce, they learned that they were expecting a child. It would have been easily rectifiable through remarriage, since they had no conflict, if the man hadn't been a Kohen. He is prohibited from marrying a divorcee!

Shattered, the Kohen went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky. The Rabbi said he didn't see any solution, and advised him to consult his father-in-law, Rav Elyashiv zt"l. Rav Elyashiv heard the pitiful tale and was visibly moved. He told the Kohen there is no way for a Kohen to remarry his former wife. "The thing I can tell you is to go to the Kotel and pray."

He went straight to the Kotel and prayed his heart out to Hashem, crying uncontrollably. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. A young Rabbi inquired what was the problem. The Kohen poured out his heart. The Rabbi asked him, "Do you have a father?" The puzzled Kohen answered that he is in an old age home in the States. He is very old and doesn't really communicate. "If you ask me, travel to America and tell your father the whole story," the stranger told him and walked away. The Kohen decided that since Rav Elyashiv told him to go to the Kotel and he met this stranger there, he would go. After the long trip to his father's nursing home, they told him he hadn't spoken for months. With tears in his eyes, he told his father his troubles. Suddenly, with tremendous effort, the father spoke! He said, he never told him this, but he wasn't his biological son and the son is not a Kohen at all!

The power of prayer when all hope is lost! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Fashionably Late

Some people pride themselves on arriving at a meeting ot social function within the parameters of what is called "fashionably late." Pride and ego are obviously involved. "If I demonstrate that I can arrive when I want to arrive rather than at the appointed or invitation time, then I show others that I am the one who is vital to the success of the event or the meeting."

People who keep others waiting are not demonstrating stature; they are acting selfishly. Rude behavior sometimes stems from a lack of consideration for another's time. The tardy individual is actually saying, "Your time is not as important as mine."

A great Rabbi held communal prayers daily in his home. Some days only the minimum ten men came to complete the minyan. One day, exactly ten men were present, but one of them had a problem. He approached the sage with his query.

I have agreed to meet someone at 4:30 p.m. If I stay here to maintain the minyan, then I will be late by perhaps ten or fifteen minutes. What should I do? Should I stay or leave?"

The Rabbi answered without hesitation. "You must leave at once. If you are not where you said you would be when you said you would be there, that is sheker (lying). Not only that, but you are also causing mental stress to another - which is also forbidden. Don't delay on our behalf. Go to your meeting."

When you are taking your sweet time while someone is expecting your imminent arrival, change gears and pick up the pace. It only takes a spurt to change from being fashionably late to politely prompt. (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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