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OCTOBER 30-31, 2009 13 HESHVAN 5770


"And they departed with them from Ur Kasdim to go to the land of Canaan." (Beresheet 11:31)

As we know, Abraham Abinu did an unbelievable act of self-sacrifice. He allowed himself to be thrown into the fiery furnace at Ur Kasdim and not acknowledge the validity of the idols of that time. The Sages explain that with that act of faith he merited to inherit the land of Israel. However, there is a problem with the action of Abraham Abinu. The incident that put these events into motion was when Abraham destroyed the idols of his father, Terah. Now, while one is required to give up his life rather than to serve an idol, one is not permitted to endanger himself in order to destroy someone else's idols. One who does so might in effect be throwing away his life, which is strictly forbidden in halachah.

The Sanzer Rav z"tl explains that Abraham Abinu simply could not tolerate the hillul Hashem being caused by idol-worship. He was prepared to put himself into the category of those who take their own lives, even if that meant forfeiting his place in the next world.

Sometimes a person has to serve Hashem and not factor in what might happen to him. The Sanzer Rav adds that this approach to serving Hashem is something that each and every Jew received as an inheritance from Abraham Abinu. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Look now toward the heaven and count the stars... so shall your children be." (Beresheet 15:5)

Hashem told Abram. "Look at the stars and count them, so shall your children be." Did Abram really count the stars - we know it's impossible to count them?

Rabbi Meir Shapiro says that when Abram began to count the stars, Hashem stopped him and told him it's not possible to fully count them. However, He told him, "Just as you attempted to do something impossible because it was my will, so too your descendants will try to do the will of G-d, even when it seems impossible." This is the greatness of the Jewish people. We are not daunted when we are faced with commandments and challenges. Although they may look difficult, we know that Hashem told us to do it. He gives us the strength and ability to accomplish it. The main thing is not to give up initially just because it seems beyond us. We have seen throughout history how the greatest accomplishments have been achieved, the writing of the greatest books, the building of the finest institutions, etc. We must be like Abram and attempt what we are told; the rest is up to Hashem! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Where are you going?"


"What are you going to do?"


Such simple small talk is often repeated by people who are trying to be friendly, but who don't have much to say. I guess most people would say that it's harmless conversation.

While driving through one of those small towns in the Catskill Mountains, I saw a sign on a bar, a hangout for people who don't really have much motivation - probably because they feel that they are going nowhere and have nothing to do. So they drop in to this place to imbibe some alcoholic refreshment and engage in small talk in order to "kill time." This saloon is called the "Where are you going? - Nowhere" bar.

The Torah (Beresheet 16:8) relates that an angel appeared to Hagar, when she was wandering in the desert. He asked her two questions: (1) Where are you coming from? (2) Where are you going to?

She answered only the first question. She said: "I am escaping from Sarai, my mistress."

She did not answer the second question.

She knew where she was coming from. She did not know where she was headed.

She had no destination.

There is a very big danger in thinking that killing time with social small talk is harmless. As a productive professional, entrepreneur, craftsman, or employee, your most valuable asset is time. Your ability to maximize your output and produce income is tied to your ability to use your work minutes efficiently. In the world of business and finance, timing is everything and every second counts.

In the spiritual realm, this attitude is even more crucial to success. The precious seconds Hashem has graciously granted each of us to earn spiritual reward - our lives - are just too valuable to "kill." In fact, we should know that we are here to go to a very special place - the Garden of Eden, the World to Come - and if we are not moving in that direction, we are not merely "going nowhere." We either go up or down; we do not stay the same. (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)

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