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Haftarah: Melachim I 18:20-39

FEBRUARY 22-23, 2008 17 ADAR I 5768


"He gave to Moshe when he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai the two Tablets of Testimony" (Shemot 31:18)

As an introduction to the sin of the Golden Calf, our perashah tells us that when Hashem finished speaking to Moshe, He gave him the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. Rashi comments that the word ???????, which means "when He [Hashem] finished" speaking, is missing a letter vav. If one reads that word without a vav it could be saying ???????? - like a bride. So the Torah is saying that the Torah was given over to him like a gift, as a bride is to a groom. Rashi explains that it was not humanly possible to comprehend the entire Torah in such a short time, so Hashem gave him the Torah and all of its understanding as a gift, like a bride to a groom. Our Sages learn from this a corollary between the misvah of making a bride and groom happy and the receiving of the Torah, that anyone who helps the happy couple to get married and makes them happy is looked upon as if he had received the Torah from Mount Sinai.

As with any misvah, one's purity of heart makes a big difference. The ideal is to perform misvot solely to please the will of the Almighty. In addition to one's purity of heart, one's actions themselves must be filled with a level of sanctity. In other words, the manner in which one rejoices and enhances the happiness of the bride and groom must reflect the will of Hashem Whose misvot we are performing. In this light the Sefer Hasidim writes: "Any misvah that causes a sin to be done should be avoided. A prime example is the misvah of making the bride and groom happy. Quite often one may find himself in mixed company or amongst people that are not dressed properly. It is better to forfeit the opportunity to make a bride and groom happy than to be part of a gathering that is not in the spirit of the Torah." Let us try to dress properly at this most holy occasion, and this way we will be given the opportunity to perform the great misvah of increasing the happiness of our brides and grooms. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Aharon told the people who were requesting a substitute for Moshe to "go to the ladies and children and ask them for their gold jewelry." Aharon figured that they would resist giving it since jewelry is so precious to them, and by that time Moshe would return. What happened was totally unexpected! The ladies said, "We are not giving up our gold at all because we believe that Moshe is coming and we want no part of the golden calf." Indeed, that's why Rosh Hodesh, which should have been a full blown holiday for the Jewish people, if not for the golden calf, is still a minor holiday for the ladies.

We see that we should never underestimate anyone. Aharon thought the ladies would eventually give their gold because they would probably go along with the men. But in the long run they were the most loyal to Moshe and Hashem. There is a lot of greatness in people. We have to search for it and find it, and never sell anyone short, because if we have faith in people, they will live up to the greatness expected of them! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Six days work shall be done and on the seventh day it should be a complete rest sacred to Hashem" (Shemot 31:15)

Rashi comments on this that rest on Shabbat should be a permanent rest and not merely a temporary rest. Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz gives the following explanation: A temporary rest means that a person has not really changed his inner traits, but he merely controls them on Shabbat. He still has a bad temper and has a tendency to engage in quarrels, but because of the elevation of Shabbat he has self-discipline and these traits are not manifest. But the ultimate Shabbat observance is that a person should uproot those negative traits which are contradictory to peace of mind on Shabbat. One needs to uproot such traits as anger and the tendency to quarrel with others. Only then is your rest on Shabbat a complete rest.

It is not sufficient for a person just to refrain from the formal categories of work on Shabbat. Shabbat is the gift of peace of mind. This is not considered righteousness, but an essential aspect of Shabbat. Only by being a master over your negative emotions can you have true peace of mind.

On Shabbat there are many opportunities to get angry and engage in quarrels that one does not have leisure for on other days. But this can also be an opportunity for growth. By mastering attitudes and approaches conducive to peaceful relationships with others you elevate yourself.

One Friday nights, a policeman came to the home of Reb Yaakov Yosef Herman: "I just received word that there is a fire in your fur store. The fire department has been alerted and is doing its best to extinguish the flames. It is advisable for you to get there as soon as possible."

Reb Yaakov Yosef thanked the police officer and then said, "It is our Sabbath. I cannot be there until after it ends tomorrow night."

The policeman looked at him in amazement. "Your store is burning down, and you won't even go there to see what is happening?"

The entire Shabbat, Reb Yaakov Yosef showed no anxiety. He sang zemirot, said his debar Torah at the table, and did not hurry to make habdalah after Shabbat.

Saturday night, Reb Yaakov Yosef rode over to Seventh Avenue, where his fur store was situated, expecting to see it in shambles. However, it was the adjoining fur store that had gone up in flames. (Growth through Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Eleven.

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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