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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 49:14-51:3

AUGUST 10-11, 2012 23 AB 5772


"And it will be because of your listening to these laws." (Debarim 7:12)

Did you ever see a penny on the sidewalk as you walked? Did you bother to pick it up? Chances are you didn't, especially if you were in a hurry. You might even have trampled on it as you passed by. But in some cases, even a wealthy man would bend over and pick up a penny, with the same thrill as finding a $100 bill.

Rabbi Moshe Mizrahi suggests the following scenario. Suppose a wealthy man took his grandson to the park. Suddenly, they hear the ice cream truck passing by playing a merry tune, and the child asks for ices. It costs 45 cents, but the smallest bill in Grandpa's wallet is $50, which the vendor will not accept. Digging into his pocket, he finds 44 cents. Now what will he do? Suddenly, he spots a tarnished penny on the sidewalk. A broad smile spreads over his face as he bends over, picks it up with a flourish, and proceeds triumphantly to the truck.

Rashi, in the beginning of our perashah, cites the Midrash which says that many people trample on little misvot, thinking they are not worth the bother. Fulfilling "minor" misvot means things like observing a minhag, doing small favors, saying "shalom" to another Jew you might pass in the street, or standing up when an elderly person walks by. Some people ignore these misvot without giving them a moment's thought. That is what trampling on a little misvah means.

Our Sages teach us, however, that we are always to view ourselves as if our merits equal our sins exactly and we are hanging in the balance. In fact, we are to imagine that the entire Jewish nation's merits and sins are exactly equal. By bothering to fulfill one tiny misvah, we will shift the balance to the side of merit and life, for ourselves and for the entire Jewish nation. Instead of shirking a little misvah we should view it as the winning ticket to an eternal lottery, guaranteeing a lot more than strawberry-lemon ices. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"For man does not live on bread alone, rather, by the word of Hashem..." (Debarim 8:3)

The simple meaning of this verse is that it's not the actual food which sustains a person, but rather it's the command that Hashem gives for people to be able to live. However, we can understand this in a novel way based on the verse ???????????" ?????" which tells us to bless Hashem for the food that we eat. It's not the food that keeps us going; it's the berachot we say before and after eating which provides the real nourishment for a person. If we would realize the effect that our blessings have on the world and all its contents, we would grab every opportunity to say a berachah. Indeed, Bircat hamazon, grace after meals, is the only berachah which is mentioned in the Torah, and its reward is truly unbelievable. But even a regular short blessing, which takes only a few seconds, can bring such bounty and prosperity to the one who says it. Let's start off by just one extra berachah a day and may we be blessed in return. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


In today's fast-moving world, our multi-tasking routine requires quick, decisive thinking. Still, it is all right to ponder before acting; it is even recommended. When we discuss things with others, we become exposed to their ideas. That can be a problem if we reach the conclusion that we are always right, and the other person is always wrong.

If you feel that you are always right, it is likely that you are intolerant. Intolerance means being unwilling to reconsider ideas and being closed-minded to other points of view. Basically, it is thinking others are wrong for no reason other than they don't agree with your opinion. Intellectual honesty requires you to evaluate the veracity of a statement or opinion before accepting its validity.

The trick is to collect all the facts you can, and them put together the pieces of the puzzle so that they fit. Then you will have the real picture. Then you will see the truth.

Should someone make a statement that you feel is totally wrong, remember that even the worst statement may contain some truth, and perhaps the addition of a missing fact will produce a statement of real truth. Arriving at the truth requires a little patience and a bit of tolerance, so give others a chance to prove their point and you will benefit from your restraint. (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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