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Haftarah: Yehezkel 20:2-20

MAY 2-3, 2008 28 NISAN 5768
Day 13 of the Omer

Rosh Hodesh Iyar will be celebrated on Monday & Tuesday, May 5 and 6.


"You shall not steal." (Vayikra 19:11)

Our perashah contains the command of "Do not steal." Rashi explains that our verse is referring to one who steals money. However, when it says, "Do not steal," in the Ten Commandments, it is a commandment against kidnapping people. It is interesting to note that in our perashah, that speaks about stealing money, it uses the plural form, "lo tignobu," but in the Ten Commandments, about the kidnapper, it uses the singular "lo tignob." Why is this?

The Be'er Yosef explains that in a situation of a kidnapping, there is only one wrongdoer, the kidnapper. The victim could and should do everything to save himself from the kidnaper. However, in the case of money theft, it is very possible to have two wrongdoers, both the thief and the victim! The Talmud relates the following case. If a person discovers that he was robbed, he is not permitted to retrieve his stolen item, because he appears like a thief. Rashi explains (Berachot 5) that if one steals from a thief, he tastes the taste of thievery. One must use legal halachic means to retrieve his money. If not, he gets the feeling of stealing, which will affect him negatively. As we know the famous saying: "Stolen waters are sweet." Therefore, the Torah uses the plural form of the word to prohibit stealing, to tell us that the victim has no right to act as a thief. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Rebuke, you shall rebuke your fellow man" (Vayikra 19:17)

One of the many misvot in this week's perashah is to rebuke our fellow Jew if he is doing something wrong. As important as it is, it is also one of the least properly performed. Often, we don't want to get "involved" so we just don't say anything. Other times, we will be harsh and sometimes say too much and hurt the other person's feelings, and sometimes even embarrass him in front of others. The key to this misvah is, like everything else, how would we want to be rebuked ourselves?

If we would be driving with a low tire, we would want someone to tell us. When someone is doing something wrong, it's at least as bad as driving dangerously. Yet no one wants to be belittled or humiliated and we must always remember how we would feel.

Rabbi David Feinstein says that the Torah repeats the word ?????????????, rebuke you shall rebuke, to teach us that we should rebuke ourselves before we tell others what they're doing wrong. This is the same thought that was just mentioned. In order for our words to be effective, we should be sincere in our trying to improve others, and that is if we are also trying to better ourselves.

If we are careful how we rebuke others and do it with sensitivity and concern for their well being, our words will have the right effect and all of us will have improved tremendously. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Love your fellow man as yourself, I am Hashem" (Vayikra 19:18)

The Talmud (Shabbat 31a) relates that a non-Jew came to Hillel and said to him, "Convert me on the condition that you will teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel accepted his condition and told him, "What you dislike, do not do to your friend. This is the entire Torah."

Since Hillel was referring to the commandment of love your neighbor, why didn't he just mention the words of this verse? Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz explained that this is to teach us an important principle. From the words, "love your fellow man," one might think that as long as one feels the emotion of love towards others one fulfills this commandment. But the truth is that just feeling love alone is not sufficient. Rather this love must motivate us to do positive things for others and to refrain from any actions or words that could cause someone any pain or suffering. The Torah definitely requires us to feel deep love for others in our hearts. But even more than that, our behavior towards others must manifest this love. Therefore, Hillel explained to this man that a basic Torah principle is that the same commandment which requires us to have a profoundly positive feeling for others also requires us to behave in an elevated manner in our daily encounters with them.

The Hazon Ish would listen patiently to the problems of anyone who came to him. This was quite a feat since people would come to him at all hours of the day and night. A relative of the Hazon Ish was amazed at how he was able to listen to a certain "nudnick" who spoke in a loud tone of voice and in a very long-winded and roundabout manner. The Hazon Ish explained, "A person who owns a mill is used to the noise of the mill. On the contrary, if the mill would stop it would give him a headache."

Rabbi Chayim Koledetzky related to his family how he was a guest at the home of the Hafess Hayim. The Hafess Hayim personally made the bed for him and prepared the pillow and blankets. Reb Chaim was startled to see that, after preparing the bed, the Hafess Hayim lay down on the bed for a few seconds to check if it would be sufficiently comfortable for his guest. (Growth through Torah)


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

"Set a fixed time for your study of Torah" (Pirkei Abot 1:15)

If this is referring to study of Torah, instead of just your Torah, should it not say, "limud Toratecha - your study of Torah"?

An American took his son to London to show him the interesting sights of that historic city. During the tour, the father made sure to take him to Parliament and point out the huge clock on top of the building known as "Big Ben." The child strained to get a full view of the clock, and so did the others who came to see it. "Daddy, I would like to ask you something," said the boy. "Why did they put the clock so high and make people strain their necks to look up at it? Couldn't they have made the clock level with the eyes so that everyone could see it easily, without trouble?" The father thought for a moment and replied, "It is this way: If they had placed the clock low, people would adjust Big Ben to the time on their watches. Now that the clock is high, beyond the reach of all, they cannot try to reset it. If they want to have the correct time, they must set their own watches in accordance with the time shown by Big Ben."

The same is true about the Torah. We should always regard it as being on a lofty plane so that it will not be changed by mortals. It is the correct "time" for all of us, and we must not tamper with it and try to adjust it to our own opinion and convenience.

The word "keba" is from the same root as the word "kabua" - "stationary and affixed strongly." The Mishnah is instructing that our Torah, which each of us received at Sinai, should be "keba - affixed firmly." We should adjust ourselves and our "times" to it and not the reverse.

According to the Gemara (Shabbat 31a) when a person comes before the Heavenly tribunal, he is asked, "Kabata itim laTorah" - "Did you set aside fixed times for Torah study?" In light of the above, the question is, did you set your "times" in accordance to the Torah, i.e. live your life the way the Torah prescribes, or did you, G-d forbid, conveniently adjust the Torah to your time? (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: To designate a corner of your field for the poor people.

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)

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