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Haftarah: Melachim I 18:20-39

February 18-19, 2011 15 Adar I 5771


"The people saw that Moshe delayed in descending the mountain." (Shemot 32:1)

The Hafess Hayim comments: Come and see how wonderful is the trait of patience and forbearance, and see how detrimental is the trait of nervousness and impatience. The Israelites calculated that Moshe was late in coming down from the mountain with the Torah. The Israelites were impatient and jumped the gun. As a result they sinned and worshipped the golden calf. Now the Talmud states (Eruvin 54.): If not for the fact that the Jews sinned with the golden calf, no foreign nation would ever be able to control the Jewish people. The Talmud also states (Sanhedrin 102.): All suffering that has come upon the Jews is mixed in part with the punishment that the Jews must receive as a result of the sin of the golden calf. All of this because they couldn't wait. How awesome is the thought!

This is a lesson to parents and educators. In the course of raising children and students, we often feel an urge to teach them important lessons. Sometimes we see them doing something we consider foolhardy and they ignore our efforts to set them straight. Sometimes we want them to follow a family minhag (custom) that has been transmitted from one generation to the next, and they resist.

The answer is not to nudge and pester them into submission. The lesson we learn is to have patience. The time will come - it might take a year or two years, or five or ten - but eventually the time will come when the child will be willing to listen to you. If you have patience, not only will your child listen to you, but your child may yet come and bless you for your sound advice. 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


"And it came to pass when he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and dancing that Moshe's anger arose, and he threw from his hands the Luchot and he broke them." (Shemot 32:19)

We must endeavor to understand what transpired when Moshe approached the camp that precipitated is angry reaction. Did he not already know the extent of B'nei Yisrael's transgression? The Abrabanel question's Moshe's intentions in bringing the Luchot down only in order to break them. He responds that Moshe desired to accentuate B'nei Yisrael's travesty and its consequences. Therefore, he broke the Luchot blatantly in front of them. The text, however, seems to imply that it was only after Moshe "came near" the camp and actually saw their conspicuous transgression that he reacted in such an intense manner. We may also question the wording of the text. The Torah states, "He saw the calf and dancing." This is not a single vision! It is two distinct spectacles. The Torah should have written, "And he saw the calf and (he saw the) dancing."

Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky z"l suggests the following interpretation. Upon descending the mountain, Moshe sought a merit upon which to vindicate the Jews' tragic sin. Perhaps they made the calf as a result of severe depression or hardship. Possibly it was an inevitable outcome of their being deprived of Moshe, their leader. When he approached, however, he saw the people dancing with the calf. His anger mounted as he recognized their joy in partaking in this sinful act. The calf alone did not cause Moshe's reaction. Rather, the Jews' audacious exulting in their sinful act catalysed his response. (Peninim on the Torah)

Who was murdered for giving musar?

Hur rebuked B'nei Yisrael regarding the Golden Calf in a tough manner, so the sinners killed him. (Torahific)


When Jonathan walked into Shimshon's office, he was obviously upset. "Nothing is going right this morning," he groused. "Why is it that whenever I give Deborah something to do, it's not only late, but it has to be corrected? And look at these!" he continued, tossing a pile of envelopes on the desk. "When was the last time you opened the morning mail to good news rather than a bunch of complaints, canceled orders, and chargebacks? And the same goes for e-mails! I just read the morning batch, and the merchandise for two of our most important orders is going to be delayed once again! I see this is really going to be one of those days."

Shimshon calmly regarded his partner. "That's why we get paid the big bucks, my friend," he replied. "Solving problems is where we make our money. Now, why don't we…"

When you get to work in the morning, expect a day sprinkled with problems. It would be very unusual to spend an entire day on the job without confronting some sort of difficulty. However, the effect a problem will ultimately have on your day depends on you. Some people go into shock and don't do anything constructive to solve it. Others greet a challenge as an opportunity for creative thinking. Their brains start to sizzle with all kinds of ideas - some very practical, and some totally outlandish.

The word for a test, in Hebrew, is nisayon. The root of the word is nes, which is a pole, such as a flagpole. A test is an opportunity for a person to grow, to be elevated, as is a flagpole.

There is a difference between the two types of people. The resigned individual says, "That's the way things are." The successful person declares, "I will find a way!"

When a problem strikes, think creatively. You can find a solution. The time you spend dealing with a challenge will reap benefits for you in that particular situation, and for the future as well. (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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