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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 49:14-51:3

AUGUST 15-16, 2014 13 AB 5774


"It will be that if you listen to My commandments." (Debarim 11:13)

In our perashah we have the second paragraph of the Shema. Hashem promises that we will be blessed with prosperity beyond the bounds of natural law, if we obey His commandments.

Rabbi D. Goldwasser asks, "Why does the Torah use the expression "Shema," to listen? Shouldn't it have said, 'If you perform My commandments?'" Rabbi Avigdor Miller comments that taking action is not always in a man's power, whereas listening sincerely with intention to do, certainly is. When one decides to listen to Hashem's commandments, he demonstrates his willingness and his genuine intention to perform them. It is according to the "listening," the effort to learn, that Hashem measures one's acceptance of the Torah, and therefore provides him with innumerable blessings.

We find an interesting halachah concerning a man who marries a woman on the condition that he is a complete sadik. Afterwards, if it is discovered that he was not a complete sadik the marriage is still valid. The reason is that we assume that he may have repented as he walked to the huppah, and therefore he was considered completely righteous. From this we see that sincere intent alone is considered equal to having performed an action. 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 "všn, 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 všn 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


Our Sages teach, "Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone."

Great advice is very often ignored. Rabbi Berel Wein points out that human beings hate to ask for directions. This is the main reason for the outstanding success of onboard navigational systems, now available in most new cars. Most men and some women, he contends, would rather wander around searching for their destination than ask for directions. To them, asking is an admission of failure, which they cannot face.

In our sophisticated society, there is a stigma attached to asking others for advice. Our Rabbis, on the other hand say, "Choose a mentor for yourself - Aseh Lecha Rav!" In all areas of life, we would all be much better off if we were smart enough and humble enough to admit that we don't know everything. Why travel miles and miles in the wrong direction in life because you won't stop to ask for directions from someone - anyone who might know the right road that leads to your goal?

In the first Parashah in the Torah, Hashem tells the angels, "Let us make man" - using the plural inclusive term "us." This might lead people to mistakenly think that there is more than one Power in the world, or worse - that Hashem needed the help of the angels to create man. (This, of course, is heresy.) In spite of the great misconception it might have caused, Hashem said "us" to teach that no matter how great one is, it always pays to consult with others.

When in doubt, ask for directions. It only takes a minute, and it may save miles and miles of travel in the wrong direction in life. (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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