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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:1-10

AUGUST 16-17, 2013 11 ELUL 5773


"He shall strike him forty times - but he may not add [more than forty]." (Debarim 25:3)

If one violates a negative law of the Torah the court will give him lashes. The maximum is forty (actually thirty-nine). Our Sages tell us that if one strikes someone other than when the halachah mandates that he do so, he has violated the law of lo tosif (do not add).

The Vilna Gaon, quoted in Torah Lada'at, said that even a parent who strikes a child in anger has violated the same law of lo tosif. While the verse in Mishlei states that one who spares the rod hates his son, that applies only when the corporal punishment is done with kindness and with the sole intent of improving the child. However, if the parent strikes the child merely to vent his personal frustration and anger, there is no halachic justification for such action and he has violated the Torah prohibition of lo tosif. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Hashem shouldn't see your nakedness so that He should turn away from you." (Debarim 23:15)

If we wonder why the Divine Presence is so hidden in our times, this verse provides the answer. When G-d sees that the Jewish People are not conducting themselves in a modest way, He turns away from us, leaving us in the dark. Although it says in another place in the Torah that G-d dwells amongst us even if we are impure, this refers to other kinds of improper behavior. When it comes to dressing immodestly, Hashem chooses not to be revealed amongst us. In these days, when the whole society is overwhelmingly encouraging this kind of dress code, everyone who makes an attempt to dress properly will be truly bringing blessings on themselves and on their families. Indeed, we have seen some people accept upon themselves to be more modestly attired, with the merit going to bring a speedy recovery for those who are stricken with difficult illnesses. This is a remarkable zechut. It is written that if a person has a temptation to see someone immodestly dressed and overcomes it, he should, at that very moment, pray to Hashem for whatever he wishes, because he has created such a magnificent zechut by overcoming his temptations. Therefore, it becomes an opportune moment to pray. We see how much Hashem rewards those who make modest dress part of their lives because they are bringing Hashem back to the Jewish People. Let us merit to be those fortunate ones. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Holiday shopping is hectic. It's still summertime, and many people are away, yet the High Holy Days are just around the corner. Getting the pieces together for all the various outfits needed for all family members is a really stressful task, but it's got to be done. So we do our best to cope.

Salespeople can be helpful, but sometimes they can be annoying. When you want to get your shopping done quickly, you may not want to be bothered with their questions.

There you are, looking for a suit. As soon as you go over to the rack, someone comes over and asks, "What size are you?" Or you've just picked up a shoe sample from the shelf. Before you can turn it over in your hand, there's that question again: "What size are you?"

What size are you? This is a really great question to ask yourself at this critical time of the year. It is a time of self-evaluation and introspection. It is a time to correct the flaws and perfect the strengths of your spiritual self in order to qualify for promotion in the Boss' staff after His annual year-end review.

Small minds discuss people. How is your tongue control lately? Average minds discuss things. How involved are you in the "things" of this world (as opposed to the everlasting ones of the next world)? Great minds discuss ideas. Are you searching for ideas that will yield self-improvement, peace in your home, success for others in your community?

Small, average, and great. What size are you?

This year-end lesson can be used all year long. When you are about to open your mouth and initiate a discussion, ask yourself, "What size am I?" It could be the wake-up call that will help you maximize the precious little time you have left before your life-end review.

May you be successful! (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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