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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 49:14-51:3

AUGUST 7-8, 2009 18 AB 5769

Pop Quiz: Which berachah obligation is learned from this perashah?


"He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you the mann" (Debarim 8:3)

Rabbi Avigdor Miller z"tl learns an important lesson from our perashah. The Jewish people were at the end of the journey in the desert and would soon enter the Land of Israel. They ate mann for forty years. They didn't have homes; they had to move unexpectedly, sometimes encamping in one place for only one day. They had no furniture; they had no beds and they slept on the earth. From this they entered a land where they would inhabit the beautiful homes of the Canaanim and tending their vineyards, orchards and luscious fields already planted for them.

Therefore we see in our national history a period of difficulty preceding a time of ease and plenty. This model is also true on our own personal histories. One of the reasons Hashem does this is so that when the good times come, we will be able to appreciate them more deeply in contrast to the difficulty through which we persevered. A man born into wealth does not appreciate his riches. However, when a poor man suddenly becomes prosperous, then he appreciates his wealth in the light of the poverty he once suffered.

This idea gives us hope of good times ahead. In addition, the lesson here is to appreciate the good times when they come. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Now, Yisrael, what does Hashem ask from you, only to fear Him" (Debarim 12:10)

The Gemara teaches us that one is supposed to say 100 berachot every day, based on the above verse. Besides reading it as "mah, what," it can be read as "me'ah, one hundred." In the course of a regular day, praying three times, eating three meals, we can usually come across 100 blessings. The question is, how is this law alluded to in this verse, since the words mah and me'ah are really different from one another?

The purpose of saying a berachah before or after we eat is to acknowledge that everything comes from Hashem. If we could say the berachot with a little concentration, it will bring us to a greater awareness of Hashem and His might and goodness. This is the method that the Rabbis saw as the best manner for acquiring fear of G-d. If a person lives his life with Hashem's Name on his lips, before and after eating, while praying and doing misvot, his fear of Hashem will develop and help him get close to Hashem.

Let us make our berachot with a little more thoughtfulness so that we will acquire that most desired attribute: Yir'at Shamayim, Fear of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Lest your heart be exalted and you forget Hashem, your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt from the house of slavery" (Debarim 8:14)

The Ibn Ezra explains: Lest you forget that you were slaves who were in a very lowly state of mind, and you might forget the suffering, hunger, and thirst that you experienced in the wilderness and then Hashem took care of your needs.

Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, Rosh Yeshivah of Telz, commented that from here we learn a lesson about the depth of gratitude which we are required to have. It is not sufficient for a person just to be grateful for the good that he received. Rather, he should reflect on the entire context of that good. For this he must think about his entire desperate situation before he received the kindness. The more one is aware of this, the greater will be the appreciation of the benefits that were bestowed on him.

This is important to remember both as regards our appreciation of what Hashem has given us and as regards the kindnesses received from other people. One who continues to focus on this will feel greater happiness from all that he has and this will help him grow in the trait of gratitude. Whenever someone helps you, ask yourself, "What was my situation before this person helped me and in what ways have I gained because of that help?" (Growth through Torah)


"Carve for yourself two stone Tablets" (Debarim 10:1)

From the word "lecha - for yourself," which seems superfluous, the Gemara (Nedarim 38a) derives that Moshe was permitted to keep the chips of the Tablets, which made him very rich. Why is it important to know how he became rich?

Many businesses have major expense accounts and also a petty cash fund for small expenditures. Careful watch over the small expenditures is crucial to the overall success of the business, and negligence regarding the petty cash fund can sometimes run the company into serious financial difficulties.

The Tablets contained the Ten Commandments, which in reality represent the six hundred and thirteen misvot of the Torah. Among the misvot of the Torah are ones which people consider important, and others which they consider trivial. They compare some of the misvot to precious stones, and regard others as mere "chips," which are much less valuable. The chips of the tablets are thus a metaphor for often-neglected misvot.

The Gemara is not merely telling us the source of Moshe's material affluence, but also describing his spiritual wealth, which, according to our Sages, derived from his careful observance of every misvah, even what some consider the "chips." (Vedibarta Bam)


Practice makes perfect. In a eulogy delivered by Rabbi Mayer Yechiel Miller, the grandson of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, z"tl, the grandson revealed, "My grandfather was not born great. He worked on becoming great every minute."

This seemingly obvious statement deserves reflection.

I once heard a criticism of the biographies of Torah giants: "The books make us think that all our Torah leaders were prodigies born with uncanny, abnormal abilities and talents. This is very far from the truth. Our greats studied the ideals of our Torah and then worked on their inborn flaws and developed their Hashem-given talents in order to achieve perfection. The Hafess Hayim z"tl learned how to avoid the sin of lashon hara, and Rav Moshe Feinstein z"tl studied anger control and patience."

The simple rule, "Practice makes perfect," apples to the spiritual as well as physical aspects of our being. Rabbi Miller, z"tl, never spoke without weighing the propriety of his words before allowing them to leave his lips. He honed this skill with the diligence of an Olympic athlete preparing for the gold. Each time he was about to speak, he waited five seconds before allowing the words in his mind to leave his lips. Day in and day out he practiced, until he mastered the technique.

Whenever you are about to speak, spend five seconds contemplating what you are about to say. Release the words only after editing them carefully in your mind. Do this three times today, and again tomorrow, and then the next day. Then, as in an exercise program, increase the load. It only takes a few seconds each time, but the practice will lead to a much more perfect you. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Bircat Hamazon.

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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