subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

shore.gif (51285 bytes)

Back to This Week's Parsha Archive of previous issues

Haftarah: Yehezkel 44:15-31

MAY 20-21, 2016 13 IYAR 5776
Day 28 of the Omer


“These are the appointed festivals of Hashem…which you shall designate them in their appropriate times.” (Vayikra 23:4)

The Talmud teaches that the word "àÉúÈí", “them”, which can also be pronounced "àÇúÆí" “you,” teaches that the fixing of the calendar is completely in the hands of the Sages. If they would declare the wrong day to be Rosh Hodesh, their ruling would remain in effect. That day would stand as the first day of the month, and all the holidays would be decided based on this set of calculations (Gemara Rosh Hashanah 25a).

Rabbi David Feinstein t"yhka explains that since Hashem gave this power to the Sages, it follows that should such an error take place, the resultant timing of the holidays actually represents the will of Hashem, for He in His wisdom allowed for this possibility. Indeed, we may say that Hashem uses this flexibility to set the calendar as He sees fit. By causing the Sages to err in their calculations, Hashem adjusts the calendar according to His Divine wishes.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the word “àÉúÈí", from which this lesson is derived, may also spell the word àÆîÆú, truth. For ultimately the seemingly mistaken calculations of the Sages actually represent the truth – perhaps not the truth of when Rosh Hodesh should have been, but a deeper truth – the truth that represents the will of Hashem.

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

Private Meeting

“Hashem's appointed Festivals that you are to designate as holy convocations - these are My appointed festivals.” (Vayikra 23:2)

The term mo’ed is commonly translated as "festival." When we peruse halachah, we come across a law which seems to contradict this translation. The Tur (Orah Haim 559) rules that, on Tish’ah B’Ab, we do not recite the Tahanun prayer. This is a prayer of supplication, and, since the Nabi (Yirmiyahu in Megillat Eichah 1:15) refers to Tish’ah B’Ab as a moed, kara alai moed lishbor bachurai, "He proclaimed a set time against me to crush my young men," we do not recite Tahanun on a moed. We wonder why the saddest day of the Jewish calendar year, the day designated as our national day of mourning, should be called a moed - a festival? What aspect of a day upon which countless tragedies occurred could be considered festive?

In his Pirkei Torah, Horav Mordechai Gifter, z”l, quotes the Telshe Rav, Horav Avraham Yitzchak Bloch, z”l, who explains that moed has its root in the word va’ad, meeting. We are now introduced to a new dimension concerning the meaning of moed. It is not merely a festival, but rather, a time in which the Jew can achieve a clear recognition of Hashem, as if he is having a meeting - one on one - with the Almighty!

Various vehicles can help us to achieve this profound recognition of Hashem. By recalling the miracles relating to the Exodus from Egypt, we encounter Hashgahah Peratit, Divine Providence, through the medium of joy and happiness. We remember how we suffered, and how Hashem set us free amidst miracles and wonders unparalleled in the history of mankind. What greater joy can there be than the knowledge that it was all for "us." Succot and Shabuot also fall under this category. Their celebration also brings to mind glorious and seminal events which engender within us an enormous sense of joy and inspiration.

Yet another conduit provides a vehicle through which we may arrive at a clear recognition of Hashem: destruction, sorrow, pain and anguish. It is dependent upon our worthiness. When we are worthy, Hashem appears to us amidst joy and happiness. When we lack the necessary merit, the revelation of Hashem comes through gloom and doom. A child recognizes his father through reward and punishment. Through the pain of Tish’ah B’Ab, we must recognize Hashem with such clarity that the day becomes a moed, a "meeting" with the Almighty. The power of this meeting, if realized, is incredible, because it catapults the Jew out of his pain and sorrow, for how can one be anguished when he is in the presence of Hashem? This is why Tahanun is not recited on Tish’ah B’Ab. It is a moed!

The Rosh Yeshivah employs this exposition to explain a cryptic statement which Hazal made in the Talmud Ta’anit 29a, "Just as when (the month of) Ab enters, we decrease in joy, so, too, when (the month of) Adar enters, we increase in joy." The word k'shem, just as, connotes comparison between two similar subjects. How do we compare the joy of Adar with the sorrow of Ab?

We mentioned earlier that joy and sorrow are both channels for recognizing the Almighty. Two varied approaches, which, if employed properly, created the same encounter. As when Ab enters, we decrease in joy so that we may meet with Hashem; likewise, in Adar we increase our joy so that we may encounter Him through another venue. Ab and Adar are two disparate means for achieving one goal: meeting with Hashem! (Peninim on the Torah)

Ethics of the Fathers

It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat

“And exact payment rom man with or without his knowledge.” (Abot 3:16)

Isn’t it unethical to take something from a person without his knowledge?

In Hobot Halebabot (Sha’ar Hachani’ah 7) it is written that when a person comes before the Heavenly tribunal for judgment, he is often shown that in the book of records merits were recorded for him for misvot which he does not recall doing, and in all honesty he says, “I did not do this.” He is told, “Someone who spoke evil about you has lost his merits and they have been added to your account.” Likewise, people sometimes ask why they have not been given credit for certain good deeds, and they are told that they were transferred to people about whom they spoke evil. Similarly, some people will find “debits” – aveirot – in their ledgers which they never did. When they object, they are told that the sins were removed from people about whom they spoke evil and added to their accounts.

In light of the above, it could be that “with his knowledge or without his knowledge” does not refer to the payment but means that he is charged for the iniquities he acquired “with or without his knowledge,” i.e. when a person spoke evil about his friend, he indeed was aware of his wrongdoing (mida’ato) but he was not aware of the iniquities of his friend which were transferred to his account. (Vedibarta Bam)

* * * * *

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.

Please preserve the sanctity of this bulletin. It contains words of
Torah and should be treated with respect.
Past issues of this bulletin are available on the Internet courtesy of the
Shema Yisrael Torah Network. To view them or to see many other Torah items, please go to their site.
Other Torah e-mail you may enjoy:
send e-mail to and put in the message:
subscribe aram-soba

Please pass this bulletin along to a friend. You may subscribe to
this bulletin by sending e-mail to
and putting in the message: subscribe jersey-shore.
To unsubscribe, send the message 'unsubscribe jersey-shore' to

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel