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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:1-10

AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 14 ELUL 5772


"You must raise it [the fallen load] with him [the owner]." (Debarim 22:4)

Our perashah states: "You shall not see the donkey of your brother or his ox falling on the road and hide yourself from them; you shall surely stand them up with him." This verse refers to an animal that has fallen, to a burden that has fallen from it, and to an animal that has fallen with its burden still on it. The Torah adds the word "with him". Rashi explains that if the owner helps you, you must work with him to lift the animal and burden. But, if he just sits by and says, "Whereas this is your misvah, if you wish to unload the animal you may do so," and does not assist you, you are not responsible.

The Hafess Hayim (quoted in Torah Ladaat) said that the same is true in spiritual matters. If a person wants Divine assistance to be able to study and observe Torah, he must at least make an effort on his own to do them. If a person asks Hashem "Veha'areb na Hashem Elokenu et dibreiToratecha befinu," sweeten the words of Your Torah in my mouth, and "Veha'er enenu beToratecha," enlighten our eyes to Your Torah, (which are prayers to truly enjoy and understand the Torah) and immediately leaves for work or to take care of personal affairs, how can he expect Hashem to aid him? One must first exhibit a true interest in learning Torah and only then will he merit Divine help.

This is a common question: "How do I get to feel the great enjoyment of Torah study?" The answer now is twofold. Pray for it and do it and it will come. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Our son is rebellious; he does not heed our voice." (Debarim 21:20)

Although the conditions necessary to punish a wayward and rebellious son with the appropriate punishment are difficult to come by, and indeed some say it never happened, we can learn some important lessons from this perashah. The Torah says that the parents say, "This is our son and he doesn't listen to our voice," emphasizing that the parents are united in their upbringing of their child and in the ultimate punishment. Then, they are entitled to bring him to bet din, since they have done the best they could, the fault being the son's.

This teaches us how important it is for both parents to be together in raising a child. If he hears two voices, rather than "our voice," he will get mixed messages and will quickly learn to manipulate one against the other to get his own way. Many times, parents might not agree on a certain point regarding their child, be it about permissiveness or about punishment, etc. They should discuss it between themselves first and come out with one voice to the child. Then, even if the child knows it's really the wish of one parent and not the other, he sees a unified front and won't be able to "divide and conquer." This is a well known rule which we may be very aware of, but if we take the time and energy to implement it on a regular basis, we will see more success in raising fine children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"It will be that if the wicked one ought to be beaten, the judge shall cast him down; and he shall strike him, before him." (Debarim 25:2)

The Sifri derives from the word lefanav, "before him," that the one administering the lashes must have enav bo, "look at the one being punished." He may not stare elsewhere while flogging the sinner. Horav Chaim Zaitchik, z"l explains that it is an issue of empathy; the Torah demands that the flogger comprehend and sympathize with the sinner's pain. Regardless of the sinner's culpability, it is essential that we consider his pain, feel his anguish and understand what has catalyzed this punishment.

Such an outlook ensures that we do not view the entire debacle through a cold, unfeeling perspective. Otherwise, it is possible that the sinner might receive a stronger punishment than he deserves. We have to administer punishment, but it does not have to be with apathetic aloofness.

The Talmud Makkos 23a cites a Baraita which states, "We appoint only attendants (to administer punishment) who lack physical strength and have superior intelligence." While this statement is disputed, it does indicate something about our judicial system. The guard should be a sensitive individual, who is more brain that brawn, a thinking person who finds it to be emotionally taxing to raise a hand against someone. He performs his function because this is the Torah's demand. He does not enjoy his work. In fact, it goes against his very grain. Sinners are also victims. Perhaps, if we stopped to think about what brought the sinner to this point in life, our attitude might change. It is so much easier to "turn our collective heads away," ignoring the perpetrator, because it might provoke some thinking on our part.

A Rebbe is required, at times, to punish a student. He does not have to enjoy this part of his vocation. In fact, he should eschew this aspect and perform it with a heavy heart. The educator who takes perverse enjoyment, actually gloating over the punishment he administers, should find another vocation. He has no business teaching Jewish children. Not every student is a perfect angel, and there comes a time when a head of a school must ask a student to leave. This necessary action should engender a sense of sadness.

As principal of Bet Yaakov for over half a century, Rav Uri Hellman inspired thousands of Jewish girls with a love for Yiddishkeit. Regrettably, not all students fit into a program and not every school is suitable for every girl. Once, Rav Hellman was compelled to ask a girl to leave the school. It was a difficult decision, one that he had been putting off for quite some time, but, nonetheless, necessary and vital to the stable maintenance of the school. The day that he was to expel the girl began as usual. Rav Hellman was in his office addressing various issues, when his secretary brought him a piece of cake from someone's party. She left it on his desk, as he continued plowing through his work. When she returned hours later, she noticed that the cake had not been touched. Curious, she asked him why he had not tasted the cake. Rav Hellman's reply is telliing. He said, "How can I eat today when I have to send a Jewish girl from the school?" To him, administering disciplinary punishment was something that had to be done - but with a very heavy heart. (Peninim on the Torah)


Pride can prevent you from following the correct course of action. Forgiving someone who hurt you financially or emotionally is often prevented by ego. "Why should I give in to him? He was the one who hurt me!"

Some people may own up to a wrong and request forgiveness, and it still might be difficult to grant it. Then there are others who, although they are to blame, will not apologize because it will hurt their pride, or because they simply lack the courage to do so. In such instances, you should initiate the conversation.

Our Sages teach that whoever forgives is forgiven. Keep that in mind when you get the urge to be tough in order to "prove" that you are right. Also, according to the Heavenly scales, the harder something is to accomplish, the more Heavenly reward is dished out for success. Since "giving in" is one of the most difficult human accomplishments - because it is contrary to nature - the reward is immeasurable.

When you get the urge to harden your position - because, of course, you are right! - change your course and give in! It only hurts for a minute, but it will get you forgiveness that you might not deserve.

Do good unto others, and the good you do will be done unto you. (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)

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