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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 60:1-22

AUGUST 27-28, 2010 18 ELUL 5770


"Then you will call out and say." (Debarim 26:5)

A farmer is required to bring Bikurim, the first ripened fruits of the seven species for which the land of Israel is praised, to the Bet Hamikdash. There he presents his fruits as a sign of gratitude to Hashem for the success of his crop. The Torah writes that he must thank Hashem in a raised voice. Why is this necessary?

Rabbi Ozer explains with the following story. In Israel is a place called Amuka, the burial place of the great Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel. People come there to pray for a marriage partner. This place is famous because the success rate is very great. One day a married woman came and prayed with great happiness. Usually one sees people pouring out their hearts with tears, but this woman was praying with great joy. When approached, she explained that she came here previously to pray to Hashem with a loud voice and crying. Hashem answered her prayers and she met her husband whom she is married to now. She felt that if she came here to cry out from pain, it was only appropriate to return here to joyfully express her gratitude.

A farmer plants his crop, knowing that the success of his crop is dependent on Hashem. If Hashem brings enough rain he will succeed. All that time he cries out to Hashem with a loud voice that Hashem should bring the rain. Now that the crop was a success, it's time to thank Hashem. One might incorrectly assume that mumbling a quick "thank you" under his breath is enough to fulfill this obligation. The Torah, therefore, teaches us that in expressing appreciation, lip service is insufficient. The thanks must be given with the same intensity as the tearful requests. Just like the farmer screamed out to Hashem to bless him with a bountiful harvest, so too must he call out his thanks to Hashem.

So many times we cry out to Hashem. When we get answered, cry out our thanks. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with joy" (Debarim 28:47)

The Torah lists a long string of misfortunes that may befall the Jewish people (G-d forbid). Indeed, some of the events mentioned in these curses are very tragic and have happened to our nation throughout history. The reason given for this harsh conduct by Hashem against us is that we did not serve Hashem with happiness.

The Ari z"l gives this verse a twist and learns it in a novel fashion. The reason for these curses is that when we did not serve Hashem, we did it with happiness, which means that when we were doing sins, we did them with a good feeling rather than with regret and remorse.

This has to teach us that not only our actions count but even our attitudes while doing these actions. If we end up doing something wrong, we have to feel badly even while doing it so that it's not considered as if we did the wrong thing with happiness. One of the methods of following this advice is by doing misvot with happiness. If we feel good when doing the right thing, even if we sometimes fall and do the wrong thing it will not be with joy but with reluctance and hopefully regret. That way we will tend to increase those things which we associate with happiness, which are the misvot, and stay away from those things which we are doing without happiness! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Out of the Picture

Insults! They really get to you, don't they? Most of us get quite emotional when we are on the receiving end of one. But rather than reacting in a negative manner when affronted, try working on yourself to see things objectively. Leave your ego out of it.

It is easy to be objective about others and to understand why they should not get excited about a barb. ("So what if someone said that about you?" you may coolly ask.) Next time you are the victim, treat the insult as if it were directed at someone else. I know it's difficult, but it is achievable.

It might be easier to avoid reacting emotionally if you could focus on what is really happening and put the whole scene in perspective. Look at the person saying those nasty things about you. If that individual is a fool, you can comfortably ignore the hurtful comments. And if the person is wise, or someone whose opinion you generally respect, just say thanks for pointing out an opportunity to improve yourself. Focus on the real situation, and don't react emotionally.

Try it. It is a trick that can add years to your new, calm 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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