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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 49:14-51:3

AUGUST 3-4, 2007 20 AB 5767

Pop Quiz: For how long did Moshe pray for Hashem to forgive the sin of the golden calf?


"And now, Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you?" (Debarim 10:12)

The Hafess Hayim says that a true servant of Hashem views himself as a worker. Any worker that finishes one job does not rest. As soon as he finishes one job he immediately starts looking for his next job. He goes to his employer and asks him, "What next?" So, too, when one finishes one misvah, he doesn't feel satisfied. He immediately starts looking for the next misvah. This is hinted in the pasuk in our perashah, "And now, Israel - (a person should ask this question for himself - what next?) What does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you?"

My friends, it is no coincidence that we read this pasuk in this week's perashah. Last week we fasted on Tish'ah B'Ab and on Saturday night we recited Hatarat Nedarim! Shabbat Nahamu ushered in the High Holiday season. What a golden opportunity to serve Hashem like a loyal employee! Yes, we are always ready to say, "What next?" Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And you will remember that it is Hashem who gives you the strength to do this great deed." (Debarim 8:18)

Whenever a person accomplishes anything, he may be tempted to think that he was responsible for his success, so the Torah tells us that it is Hashem who gave you the strength to succeed. The Targum adds a very important word to the verse. He says, "You shall remember that it is Hashem Who gives you the idea which leads you to succeed."

This teaches us an amazing lesson. Even the idea itself which sets off an entire chain reaction, and ultimately leads to accomplishments is from Hashem. How many times are we in a tough situation looking for answers when all of a sudden, an idea "pops into our head" which gives us a way out? Every time a person thinks of something to do or remembers something important, he should thank Hashem for the idea itself for it is He who gives us the thought with which to succeed. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Listen, Israel, today you are crossing the Jordan, to drive out nations greater and more powerful than you, with great cities fortified to the sky. They are a great nation, as tall as giants, and you know that you have heard the expression, 'Who can stand up before a giant?'" (Debarim 9:1,2)

Why did Hashem place such powerful nations in Israel for us to fight? Wouldn't it have made more sense to have weaker nations, or less fortified cities there so we could defeat them more easily?

The answer can be found by analyzing the berachah "Boreh Nefashot" which we recite after drinking something. Here we are thanking Hashem for quenching our thirst, but one may also ask why Hashem didn't simply create us in such a way that we wouldn't even become thirsty in the first place!

The Hatam Sofer explains that we can understand from this that even when we lack something, it is for our own benefit. Hashem makes us thirsty, so that we can recognize how much we constantly need Him for sustenance. We will then come to praise Him in the proper way. This is the reason for the wording of the berachah, ?He created many souls with deficiencies..." which help us recognize Him.

This concept can also be applied to our original question. Hashem was about to bring the Jewish nation into Israel. Rather than lead them into battle against weak nations, he set them up against large and mighty warriors. B'nei Yisrael would thereby truly realize when they are victorious that it was not their own doing, but rather it was Hashem's great hesed which led them to victory. (Lekah Tob)


"In order to afflict you and in order to test you to do good for you in the end" (Debarim 8:16)

The Hafess Hayim commented that the affliction of the Israelites was in order to test them out to see if they would behave in an elevated manner even though they had difficulties. The Hebrew term nasotecha, which means test, also means to be elevated. Both concepts fit together. When someone acts in an elevated manner when he has difficult life-tests, he becomes elevated. This concept applies to each individual in each generation. This is especially so when you suffer because of doing Hashem's will.

Instead of complaining when difficulties arise in your life, look for ways you can utilize those difficulties to improve your character traits and elevate yourself. When you view difficulties in this light they will be much easier to cope with. (Growth through Torah)


"And to cleave to Hashem" (Debarim 11:22)

Rabbi Meir Simcha Hacohen commented on this verse that although we find the concept of bitahon, trust in Hashem, hinted at in the Torah, we do not find an explicit command, "Have trust in Hashem." Therefore this verse is the commandment to have bitahon. One of the best examples of trust and reliance on someone else is that of a king's son who relies on his father. His father loves him and, being a king, has the ability to supply him with all his needs. This is our relationship with Hashem. He is our king and father. Cleaving to Hashem means living with this awareness. The immediate benefit to a person who internalizes this attribute is an inner feeling of peace and serenity. The spiritual benefit is willingness to devote oneself to Torah study and to cleave to Torah scholars. A person who lacks bitahon is afraid to allow his children to study Torah because he is concerned about how they will manage financially. When a person has bitahon, however, he is free from worry and wants his son to study Torah and his daughters to marry Torah scholars. (Growth through Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Forty days and forty nights.

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)

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