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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 1:1-27

JULY 24-25, 2015 9 AB 5775

The fast of Tish'ah B'Ab will be on Sunday, July 26.


"How has the faithful city become a zonah? It was formerly filled with justice, righteousness would lodge in it, but now murderers…your princes are wayward." (Yeshayahu 1:21-23 - Haftarah of Shabbat Hazon)

The prophet laments, "How did it happen that Yerushalayim has fallen so badly?" The Ben Ish Hai gives a mashal (parable). Two business partners appeared before a judge during wartime. The first litigant had acquired weapons to sell, while the partner had found buyers to purchase the weapons. Each claimed that he should receive a larger portion of the profits, because his actions were more necessary for the sale.

The judge ruled that he, the judge, should receive the bulk of the profits, reasoning to the shocked litigants that the Mishnah in Pirkei Abot (5:11) states that the sword (warfare) comes to the world because of perversion of justice. "If it weren't for my deceitfulness," he said, "there wouldn't be a war in the first place, and you wouldn't be able to sell any weapons."

The prophet laments that "your princes are all wayward" and that is the cause of the current warfare and suffering.

A Jew must always strive to live with integrity and honesty. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


Stand on a street corner in a big city such as New York, and look around. You will feel very small. Hundreds of cars, a constant flow of people passing by, and the tall, tall buildings, which create a canyon effect around the pedestrians - will give you a sense of humility. How tiny and insignificant you will feel!

Next, take a look at the city from across the East River. The vehicular traffic and pedestrian noises are silenced by your distance from the streets, yet the tall buildings still stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder, forming Manhattan's distinctive skyline.

Finally, fly over the city in a jet. All that you see below is miniscule in comparison to you and your fellow passengers - even the skyscrapers.

It is all a matter of perspective. Your vantage point can change the size of the buildings, silence the din, and even make the people disappear from view.

When you are in the thick of a problem, you cannot see the true picture. You may feel dwarfed by your inability to cope. This is not the humility so praised by our Sages; instead, it is insecurity, based on a bad view of yourself.

In order to save someone from depression, it is necessary to change the point from which he or she sees the world.

When things are getting you down, when you feel the people you have to deal with are skyscrapers and you are an insect, take an emotional elevator or fly an imaginary plane. Remove yourself to a different perspective, then examine your issues again. If you can't do it on your own, confide in someone you trust, and get the view from their global positioning.

It only takes a minute to change your vantage point and your emotional view of yourself. (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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