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Haftarah: Melachim I 18:20-39

FEBRUARY 26-27, 2016 18 ADAR I 5776


"On the day of reckoning, I will bring it into account." (Shemot 32:34)

As a result of the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem told Moshe Rabenu that He will destroy the Jewish nation. However, Moshe, through his prayers, was able to avert that disaster. Rashi explains the above pasuk in the following manner: "Now I have heeded you not to destroy them all at once, but always, whenever I shall make an accounting of Israel's sins against them, I will bring their sin to account against them. In other words, a bit of this sin along with the other sins." According to Rashi, Hashem will remember and punish a little bit at a time.

There is another unique and amazing approach to this pasuk. The Gerrer Rebbe, the Beit Yisrael zt"l, often walked the streets of Jerusalem with his shamash, Rabbi Chanina Schiff zt"l. One day, as they were out walking, the quiet was disturbed by the Arab muezzin (the mugrahb) being aired through a loudspeaker in a mosque. The Beit Yisrael frowned and exclaimed to Reb Chanina, "Do you know what he is saying? He is reading a text intended to arouse the memory of the sin of the Golden Calf in order to bring upon Israel a measure of strict judgment."

Then the Rebbe smiled, "Ha! They think that the recollection of that sin is a death knell of the Jewish people. But Hashem said that He will remember that sin for future times. The Arabs interpret it negatively, that Hashem has forsaken us and relinquished His unique connection to us as His chosen people! But the truth is just the opposite. Hashem promised Moshe Rabenu that He will never forget that sin and "on the day of reckoning I will bring it into account."

"He pledged that whatever sin the Jews will do, He will take the sin of the Golden Calf into account and consider the fact that He pardoned them despite its severity. Hashem will compare any wrongdoing the Jews may do with the terrible sin of the Golden Calf. No sin can be more severe than that, and yet Hashem pardoned them. If He could forgive this sin, He could forgive any sin! Thus the remembrance of this sin arouses the greatest degree of mercy possible!

Thee only way to understand this unique approach is that it is based on the principle that Hashem's love for the Jewish people is unconditional and without end. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The Gemara tells us that the Evil Inclination (Yeser Hara) works in a slow, methodical manner. First he tells a person to transgress something minor. When the person violated that minor transgression and got over it, the "Yeser hara" tries a more substantial act until ultimately, the person can be convinced to worship idols.

Here in the perashah, we see an exception to this rule. The Jewish people had accepted the Torah on Mount Sinai just 40 days ago and now they were dancing around a Golden Calf. How could they fall so quickly to do such a grave transgression? R' Hayim Shmuelevitz Z"l says that the Yeser Hara has to work slowly only when a person is in good spirits. If a person is depressed, however, then the Evil Inclination can get him to do the worst sin in the slightest amount of time. Here, the Jewish people thought that Moshe Rabenu had died, and got into a deep depression. Therefore, they were able to commit an act of idol worship without going through the slow process of deterioration.

We must always be vigilant of this principle and try our best to stay in good spirits. When things start getting us down, we should do whatever we can to bounce back into our regular self either by talking to others, listening to the right music or going places that will bring us more happiness. By maintaining our spirits properly, we can have both our physical and spiritual health in the best shape possible. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The Gemara quotes an ancient folk saying: "An opening in the roof the size of a small coin will result in a large area of sunlight on the floor" (Succah 22b).

Try an experiment. Take a board and drill a small hole in it the size of a dime. Then, in a dark room, beam a flashlight through the hole at a wall about twelve feet from the board. You will see that the small dime-sized beam expands to a large circle on the wall.

This ancient saying may be brought up to date when applied to space travel. The computer technicians on Earth monitor the journeys of rockets as they travel to their far-off destinations, and they make adjustments to the fraction of a degree. They know that a course which is off only slightly when close to Earth will produce a great deviation from the intended destination after the ship has traveled thousands of miles through outer space. The moral lesson of these examples is that you should not limit your judgment of behavior based exclusively upon the present. As time goes by, a small deed will become magnified and result in a greatly exaggerated version of the seed planted today.

Someone who ignores negative behavior in a child (for example, if the child tells a lie or steals from another) will eventually see that act develop into a negative behavior pattern that will be difficult to uproot once the child grows into a young adult.

When you do a small act of kindness, that act can change the course of the recipient's life and land him thousands of miles from where his original course might have deposited him were it not for the reaction to the kindness. If you make another feel positively about Torah Judaism - even in a small, nearly imperceptible way - you can be sure that the second person will grow many other positive feelings toward Hashem and His people.

As you prepare to launch an action, take a moment to consider where this rocket will land many years from now. Don't limit your actions to ones that will bring you instant gratification. It is important to blast off in a positive direction to hit a good target upon landing. (One Moment with Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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