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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 60:1-22

SEPTEMBER 7-8, 2012 21 ELUL 5772


"Hashem will strike you with madness and with blindness and with confounding of the heart." (Debarim 28:28)

Listen to the most amazing story that involves our perashah (quoted from Veharev Nah). A couple had a new baby boy born to them. However the baby cried a lot. Not a lot, but he cried night and day and would not stop crying. They went to the doctors, they went to specialists, they went through all the painful tests without any clue as to why the baby wouldn't stop crying. The parents were going crazy. The baby had no regular times to eat or to sleep, nor for play or rest. The parents didn't get a break during the week and no break on Shabbat. There was no life with this baby, and the baby suffered so much.

One day the mother went to the marketplace. She noticed a worn-out page of printed Hebrew writing lying under one of the vegetable stands, and realized it was a page from a Humash. Even though she couldn't read, she recognized that it was from a Humash because she always looked into a Humash while the reading took place in shul. In order to retrieve the page, she had to bend down into the mud and get under the vegetable stand and stretch to get it. All the while, the onlookers were watching her in wonderment. She lifted the muddy page, cleaned it and kissed it. She then said, "May Hashem send a full recovery to my baby through this holy page!" When she got home, she lovingly placed the page under the baby's pillow and said a silent prayer, "Please Hashem I am but a simple woman. I don't know how to read or write, but I do know that this is a page from your holy Torah. May it be your will that it should be an amulet to heal my son!"

All of a sudden, the baby stopped crying for the first time in his life. The baby fell into a peaceful sleep, and from then on, he was a different baby. The baby smiled and was happy, and never had any crying fits again. The husband came and said, "Who blessed the baby? Where did you go? How did this miracle happen?" His wife slid her hand under the pillow and showed him the page and said, "Look and see how powerful is our holy Torah!"

The husband read the verses contained on the page and went into shock! On that page were written the curses of our perashah. "Hashem will strike you with madness and with blindness, etc.!"

"What did you do? You put the Torah's curses under the baby's head!" the husband said. The wife turned white and said, "How was I to know?"

They both went to one of the great Rabbis with the page in hand. The saddik told them, "Your eyes have seen that Hashem has saved you. The curses turned into blessings in the merit of the mother of the baby who had simple faith and tried so hard to save the page with Hashem's name on it." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

After all the curses and punishments that are written in our perashah, the Torah says that this will happen if we don't serve Hashem with joy and happiness when we are blessed with everything. The Rabbis tell us that doing misvot without happiness means it's a burden and a chore, and eventually people stop doing what is a bother.

The Midrash points out another aspect about being happy. There was once a king whose son was not behaving properly and the king wanted to punish him. However, every time it was time to receive his punishment, the boy would smile and show such happiness at being with the king that the king could not bring himself to hurt his son. When we show that we are happy being the children of Hashem, He becomes filled with love for us and wants to send us berachah from heaven. Especially in our times, when people worry about the future and there are so many long faces around, this is the time we should remember this lesson. We should try to think about positive aspects of our lives and smile and be happy. This will spark within us a greater feeling of joy which will continue to make us feel good and accomplish more. And happiness is contagious, so others will become inspired and encouraged when they see us happy and content, and this could only have a greater ripple effect on those around us. So let's be happy and smile, and let's see the results. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The show at the aquarium was mind-boggling. Before attending the special presentation on jellyfish, the Cohen family was under the impression that jellyfish were those uniform blobs that they always saw in the ocean water or on the beach. They were clear and looked like jelly; hence the name.

After spending more than an hour looking at hundreds of varieties in an assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes - some as small as three millimeters in diameter, and one arctic variety that can grow as large as seven feet wide - each family member, from the children to the grandparents, spoke in awe of the variety of Hashem's Creation. The jellyfish is only one type of fish amongst the many thousands of varieties, and yet there are so many different external features they may have.

Human beings fill our planet. They share many common external characteristics, yet no two faces are the same. Unlike fish, however, humans also have a vast store of emotions and attitudes that make each person - even within the same family - very different from every other person on Earth.

Just because people are unique does not mean that they should not tolerate others. Each distinctive individual expects others to respect his or her personal opinions. So, too, people should honor another's right not to agree. Too often, failure to agree is taken as an affront, but it really is only another person's perception of reality, of right and wrong.

We should learn to tolerate one another. If I don't agree with you it does not mean that I don't like you. You, too, should respect my right to think for myself. (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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