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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 49:14-51:3

JULY 30-31, 2010 20 AB 5770


"Now Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your G-d." (Debarim 10:12)

The Torah teaches us that bottom line, after all is said and done, the fear of Hashem is the most important thing we can have. The halachah requires us to recite one hundred berachot a day. A berachah, said with proper concentration, makes us more aware of Hashem and we therefore hold Him in awe. Our Sages found an allusion to this law in the verse that we quoted. If we read the word mah as if it said me'ah (one hundred), the pasuk would be saying, "It is one hundred that Hashem asks of you." The meaning is that berachot produce in a person the fear of Hashem, therefore the pasuk teaches that what Hashem wants is that we fear Him; therefore recite one hundred berachot a day.

The Zohar teaches that a berachah without an Amen is like a letter that remains unopened. Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner would never recite a berachah when there was no one present to respond Amen. Rabbi Reuven Bengis of Jerusalem relates the following amazing story.

Once, in the middle of the night, Rabbi Chaim became very thirsty. Everyone was asleep and he didn't want to say the berachah Shehakol with no one to answer Amen. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. A student came to ask the Rabbi for some help on a difficult Gemara. The Rabbi invited him in and before discussing the Gemara, the Rabbi said the berachah on the water and the student responded with Amen. They discussed the Gemara and he thanked him for coming in the middle of the night. The next morning the Rabbi saw the student and thanked him again. The student had a blank look on his face that indicated he didn't know what the Rabbi was talking about. After the Rabbi explained what had happened the previous night with the drink, the student replied that he had not been anywhere near the Rabbi's house that night. This story spread like wildfire among the yeshivah's students and has been passed down through the generations. 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 "???, what," it can be read as "vtn, 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 ??? and vtn 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


"Carve for yourself two luchot of stone." (Debarim 10:1)

It is human nature to speak about things we can and should do. On the other hand, sometimes we must also be aware of those things we think we cannot accomplish, but must try to do. In the beginning of this perashah, Moshe relates Klal Yisrael's forty year sojourn in the desert until the moment when they stand ready to enter Eress Yisrael.

Indeed, the desert experience was more like paradise. B'nei Yisrael received water from stones and food from Heaven. Their clothes were always wearable, and their feet were never swollen. Their necessities ere always provided for them; all they were required to do was to take whatever they needed without laboring for it. Moshe Rabenu tells them that even the two luchot (tablets) were al shetei yadai - on my hands. They were not "in my hands." Everything was readily accessible. Even religion, education and service of Hashem were on top of his hands. They had only to take it, without suffering any hardship.

Harav Moshe Swift z"l notes the Torah's emphasis on the proximity of the luchot to Moshe's hands. He homiletically explains the text in the following manner. Klal Yisrael were becoming accustomed to receiving their material and spiritual sustenance without any hardship. This phenomenon did not last. Klal Yisrael turned away from Hashem, compelling Moshe to cast off the luchot from his hands, breaking them. Everything had come easily to them, and now regrettably they lost it just as easily. A religion which seems hard and difficult, demanding and exacting, is a religion that can stand the test of time.

This was the distinguishing aspect of the second luchot. Hashem told Moshe, "Carve for yourself two luchot…and make for yourself an ark." Expend your own effort and your own labor. When men advocate easy religion without sacrifice, when demands for observance of faith and tradition are scorned, it becomes essential to work and toil for religion, spend money for it, and guard it as if it were life itself. The stronger the resistance, the greater should be one's effort and consequently its influence will be more lasting.

Moshe acceded to Hashem's command. He carved the luchot out of stone with his own hands. When he comes down from the mountain the second time, the luchot were no longer "on his hands." Whoever wants to share in these luchot must break down the resistance, must swim against the current to capture and grasp them. Such luchot will be handed down from generation to generation. There must be will-power and determination, however, to receive and accept them. (Peninim on the Torah)


"You must stop pouting," his mother chided twelve-year-old Abraham. "Reuven will be here any minute, and you don't want him to see you in such a bad mood. It will ruin the day for both of you."

"I don't care," responded Abraham defiantly. "Besides, what do I have to do with Reuven's feelings?"

"When you are happy," replied his mother in a soft voice, "you are able to cheer up other people. That is a great act of kindness. A happy person spreads positive feelings to others."

The Torah requires that people greet each other with a pleasant countenance. One Sage asked Eliyahu Hanavi a question: Who among those in the busy marketplace were destined for the World to Come? The reply designated two men who were jesters, people who spent their time making others smile.

Young Abraham did not understand the effect that his mood could have on another person, because children are very self-oriented. When people mature, however, they must consider others as well as themselves.

A child can tell you that the sun is 93,000,000 miles from Earth. What a child does not consider is that in spite of its distance from us, the rays of the sun have the ability to warm the faces of denizens of our planet and give them a sense of pleasure and comfort.

Everyone has the ability to serve as a shining sun to all others with whom they have contact. Each person can create a cloud or radiate light and warmth.

Today, regardless of the weather, use you energy positively and bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of those around you. The reflection of your light will bounce back and warm you as well. (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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