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Haftarah: Melachim I 18:20-39

MARCH 9-10, 2012 16 ADAR 5772


"And Moshe pleaded before Hashem." (Shemot 32:11)

Our perashah describes Moshe Rabenu's successful prayer. Moshe Rabenu gives it his all, to save the Jewish people from complete annihilation, due to the terrible sin of the Golden Calf. From this chapter we can learn some huge lessons on the power of our prayers and what to do if has veshalom one is placed in a very dangerous and difficult situation.

Rabbi Shimshon Pincus zt"l says we can capture a few gems from this story. First of all the Gemara (Berachot 32b) tells that when Moshe saw the great anger of Hashem, he felt physically drained and unable to speak. However, as soon as Hashem told him, "Leave Me so I can destroy them," (Debarim 9:14) Moshe realized that it was up to him to try to prevent it from happening. Immediately he mustered all of his strength and begged for mercy. We can now learn that if a terrible situation arises and one feels unable to pray due to the anxiety of the situation, that is the most important time to pray and most likely to get a positive response.

Eventually it says, "And Hashem reconsidered regarding the evil that He declared He would do to His people." OK, Hashem forgave. Moshe continues to push forward. Moshe wasn't satisfied until Hashem agreed to restore the same level of love and blessings that existed before the sin. Moshe was still not satisfied. He asks for a greater revelation of Hashem's mercy and he gained now what we know today as the thirteen attributes of mercy! Today we recite it all the time to activate Hashem's mercy! The Sages are surprised. Is it possible that Moshe acquires more benefits after the sin than they had before the sin?

The answer is yes. Once Moshe had to pray so hard because of the terrible situation, he successfully opened the gates of mercy. Once that happened it was a good time to pray for even more than he had before.

If someone is fatally ill and the loved one prays and the person gets out of danger, then pray for complete good health. If someone is in deep debt and prays and finds a way to pay it off - don't stop praying there. Pray for complete financial well-being; the gates are open.

If someone prays hard without letting up, the pasuk that says "May He grant you as your heart [desires] and may He fulfill your every plan" {Tehillim 20:5} will be fulfilled with him.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

When Moshe asked Hashem to let him understand the ways of Hashem, Hashem told him He would show him the back (so to speak) and not the front of Hashem. The Rabbis tell us this is a metaphor. We have to realize that when we are in a situation, as it is unfolding, we cannot fathom the ways of Hashem frontward. However, after the fact we are sometimes able to "see" from the back view what has already transpired. This will give us the necessary clarity of vision to realize what Hashem has done and to appreciate His wondrous ways. This should serve as a basis for us to have faith in Him. For if we see in retrospect how He judges and runs the world, this will strengthen our trust in Him, which will help us overcome difficult situations. May we be privileged to appreciate Hashem "from the back" as we look back at different events in our lives! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Tablets inscribed on both their sides; they were inscribed on one side and the other." (Shemot 32:15)

The luhot which Moshe Rabenu brought down with him from Heaven were unique. After all, they were Hashem's handiwork. Yet, Moshe shattered them when he saw that the nation he had begun to shepherd was not yet ready to receive them. Among the many unique qualities of the luhot, the Torah calls our attention to the fact that the letters were engraved all the way through the tablets. Miraculously, however, the writing was not reversed when viewed from the back. One could read the original letters in correct sequence, not backward, as would be expected if these Tablets had been crafted by a human craftsman.

In his latest volume of thoughts from the venerable Rosh Yeshivah of Mesivta Torah Vodaath, Horav Avraham Pam, zl, Rabbi Sholom Smith cites a compelling Torah thought related by the Rosh Yeshivah in the name of the Kaliver Rav, Horav Chaim Elazar Wachs, zl. The Rav was a distinguished talmid hacham, Torah scholar; yet, for many years, he refused to earn a livelihood as a Rav. Instead, he became a businessman, earned what he needed, and spent the majority of his time engrossed in Torah study.

At one point, he partnered with another Jew in a paper factory. They did well financially, but business does present its challenges. At times, the greatest challenge is the opportunity to gain a large sum of money in a relatively short span of time. The problem is that most of these opportunities carry a taint of illegality. It may not be a "huge" impropriety, but it still should not be standard practice for a Torah Jew. This was one of those situations. Rav Wachs' partner presented a deal in which a large sum of money was "waiting" to be made. The "details" could be ironed out. When Rav Wachs studied the deal, he noted that it involved an aspect of impropriety bordering on the possibility of genevah, theft. He categorically refused to touch the deal, explaining to his partner that genevah, is genevah, regardless of the circumstances.

Apparently, his partner did not see it his way. A few dollars can have that numbing effect on our sense of propriety. His partner was looking at the "big picture," the one with a large profit. Rav Wachs responded: "Did you ever wonder why it was essential that the luhot be engraved on both sides with the Aseret HaDibrot, Ten Commandments, clearly readable on either side? It was so that any way one turned the luhot, he could clearly see the words, 'Lo tignov,' Do not steal. Whether you turn this way, or you turn the other way, it still reads, 'Do not steal.'" He was emphasizing that bending the law is still stealing.

This is a powerful thought, especially in light of a constant desire to skirt the law. This is especially true in times when the economy leaves much to be desired, and the yeser hara, evil inclination, provokes us to bend the law - a little. This applies to more than Lo tignov. Other moral laws are engraved on the luhot: maintaining morality, refraining from murder, keeping Shabbos; honoring parents; telling the truth. The Kaliver Rav's case for "full disclosure" from both sides can be made for many of the above laws. Murder is murder, whether we take a life or shorten a life. The effect is similar. Making someone's life miserable to the point that he becomes ill and suffers is skirting murder. Humiliating a person to the point that he is emotionally destroyed is murder. The list goes on. The message is clear: "Turning" the law, searching for loopholes to conceal our miscreancy, is still genevah. (Peninim on the Torah)


A good way to resolve differences is to discuss the point of contention with the person who does not agree with you.

In business, when two decision-makers differ as to how to solve a problem, or disagree on what course is best for the health and growth of the company, a meeting to evaluate each party's plan is very healthy.

In a group learning Torah, the various interpretations possible very often give rise to a heated discussion among members. When handled correctly, this form of disagreement and resolution will lead to true learning and understanding.

In a long-lasting marriage, the inevitable confrontations between husband and wife can, if resolved properly, actually strengthen the union and contribute to the success of the family unit.

The problem with confrontations is that each party usually directs all of its energy towards overcoming the other's position. If you are a party to any such altercations, remember that just because the other person doesn't agree with you, that doesn't make him or her wrong.

When you disagree with someone, consider that the other party might be right. Open your mind to hear the other side. Who knows? Perhaps your position is the correct one, but until you truly evaluate both sides, you will never know. (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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