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Haftarah: Yehezkel 44:15-31

APRIL 26-27, 2013 17 IYAR 5773
Day 32 of the Omer


"When I observe the Shabbat Hashem watches over me." (Zemirot of Shabbat)

Our perashah discusses all of the holidays, but it starts first with Shabbat. Let's hear a true story about a hero and about Shabbat, as told by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman. Sam (Shimon) Zeitlin was born in Brooklyn in about 1945 into a non-religious home. His father passed away when he was five and his mother was often ill. Faced with these difficulties, young Sam always pushed himself to succeed.

In 1965 he joined the N.Y. State cycling team and became an instant sensation. Within a short period of time he won championships in the United States, Canada, Europe and Central America. As a cycling star, he became a target of anti-Semitism, some open and some hidden. Though Sam was not religious at the time, he was proud of his Jewishness and the hatred he was being subjected to was difficult to tolerate. It had been expected that he would join the U.S. cycling team in the forthcoming Olympic Games. However, Sam now decided that if he was going to participate in the Olympics he would do so as a member of the Jewish team.

Sam flew to Israel and joined the Israeli cycling team. He participated in the Maccabiah Games and it was predicted that he would win a gold medal at the Olympics.

One evening after a hard day of training, Sam decided to visit the Kotel for the first time in his life. At the Kotel he met some Rabbis who introduced him to Rabbi Noah Weinberg, who would later found Yeshivah Aish Hatorah in the Old City. Before long Sam was keeping all the misvot and experiencing a joy of life that he never felt before. He was still cycling and looked forward to participating in the Olympic Games that were fast approaching.

The Israeli Sports Federation announced that the cyclists' Olympic trials would be held on Shabbat. Sam informed the committee that he would participate on any day but Shabbat. They were wholly unsympathetic, saying the date was fixed and would not be changed, knowing full well that he was the only Israeli cyclist who had a possibility of winning an Olympic medal.

Sam was devastated. He had spent hundreds of lonely hours training and now was being denied the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.

He did not have to think the matter over. He was grateful that Hashem had led him to people who made him realize that keeping Shabbat was far more important than his cycling career. He did not participate in the Olympic trials and as a result Israel did not send a cycling team to the Olympics.

The year was 1972. At the Olympic Games in Munich Germany, Arab terrorists abducted the Israeli Olympic team from their lodgings in the Olympic village and murdered all of them, Hashem yikom damam.

Sam would often say, "I gave up my Olympic dream for Shabbat and Shabbat saved my life." As we sing every Friday night at our Shabbat table, "Ki Eshmerah Shabbat Kel Yishmereni - When I observe the Shabbat Hashem watches over me." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"An Israelite woman's son went out." (Vayikra 24:10)

The Torah tells us that a Jewish man went out and got into an argument and ultimately blasphemed the Name of Hashem. Where did he come from? What caused him to do this terrible act?

One of the opinions in the Midrash is that he saw what was written right before this episode. The Torah describes the baking of the Lehem HaPanim, the show bread, which was baked once a week and left on the Table in the Tabernacle to be eaten the following week. This blasphemer was turned off by the fact that the bread of G-d is one week old, rather than fresh bread, and this prompted him to curse the Holy Name.

The amazing thing about this is that it says there was an open miracle every week that the bread stayed fresh for more than seven days and was still as tantalizing at the end of the week as if it was just prepared. How could this be the incident which triggered this man's outburst?

The answer is that he was looking for something to pick on and when he found a potential grievance, even though he should have been inspired from the miracle that was apparent, he chose to complain and look at it negatively. The lesson is obvious. We see many different events and situations but our outlook will depend on how we ourselves feel or what we want to look for. There are miracles out there which we choose to look at from a negative viewpoint and thus all we do is complain. When we are feeling positive about ourselves, then we see the good that is really there. It all depends on the tint of our lenses. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Except for his kin who is close to him." (Vayikra 21:2)

Rashi: "His 'kin' refers to his wife."

It may be noted that the Torah places one's wife before one's parents. The reason for this is that a man's relationship with his wife is a bond which is closer and stronger than that of any other relative. This is clearly expressed by the Torah in Parashat Beresheet (2:24) "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they shall be one flesh." A man's wife is an integral part of himself ( upudf u,at ) We suggest the following reason for this unique relationship. A person's relatives, including his parents, are related to him because of the past, by descending from a common ancestor. However, husband and wife are bonded in the future through the children they will bring into the world. The future is of greater importance, since the past cannot be changed, while what will transpire can still be molded and developed. Although it is necessary to build and prepare for tomorrow on the experiences of the past, this future brings with it hope, reassurance and optimism. A relationship based on the hope for tomorrow is stronger and closer than one which is based on the yesteryear. (Peninim on the Torah)

* * * * *

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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