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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:27-41:16

NOVEMBER 4-5, 2011 8 HESHVAN 5772


"And they came to the land of Canaan" (Beresheet 12:5)

"And Abraham passed through the land." (Beresheet 12:6)

Our perashah begins with a new birth of mankind, the story of Abraham Abinu and his descendants. Hashem commands Abraham to leave his land and enter the new land. The identity of that land would be revealed to him later. The Torah relates that Abraham listened to Hashem and he entered the land. Abraham didn't stop there, as it says that "Abraham passed through the land." This was not necessary in order to fulfill Hashem's command to enter the land. But this was Abraham's work of "proclaiming in the Name of Hashem" (12:8). Although not yet expressly commanded, Abraham understood that it was his duty to walk throughout the land. Later he was rewarded that Hashem commanded him, "Arise and walk in the land" (13:17).

Abraham Abinu, as his title implies, was our father in the sense that he handed down to us his great attributes. One of them, as illustrated above, is to understand the unspoken will of Hashem and to strive to fulfill that will. We see from here that the 613 misvot that we are commanded to do are not the end goal but the beginning. We are now introduced to the concept of going above and beyond the letter of the law. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And the fugitive came and told Abraham the Hebrew" (Beresheet 13:14)

When Abram's nephew, Lot, was captured by the four kings during their great battle with the five kings, the fugitive (Og Melech Habashan) came to tell Abram "the Hebrew" that his nephew was in danger. We know Abram went with his few men, destroyed the kings and brought back Lot. The Rabbis tell us that Abraham is called "Ibri", Hebrew, because the word "eber" means side, meaning, the whole world is on one side and Abraham is on the other side. Abraham was willing to go against idol worship and recognize Hashem against the flow of the entire world.

The question is, why is this description of Abraham said here by the battle of the kings, and not anywhere else that it talks about Abraham? The Skverer Rebbe z"l answers that this point about Abraham is why the fugitive (Og) came to tell him that his nephew was a captive. Og knew that no regular person would put himself in danger to save someone else, only someone like Abraham, who is willing to be different than the rest of the world. Only Abraham would be different enough to save his nephew from danger.

We are descendants of Abraham and we are called Hebrews because we also stay apart from the world. When everyone else has a lifestyle which is trendy and popular, we examine the Torah to see how to conduct our lives. We begin fasting on a fast day when we reach twelve or thirteen years old, even though some would say it's dangerous. We close our stores on Friday by sundown even though it's only 4:30 pm, and others call it foolhardy. We are confident of our way of life because we come from Abraham the Ibri. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And [Hashem] took [Abraham] outside and he said to him, 'Look up, please, at the heavens, and count the stars, if you can count them.' And He said to him, 'So, too, will be your descendants.'" (Beresheet 15:5)

The Ba'al Shem Tob explained that the descendants of Abraham are like stars. We see the stars from a great distance and they appear to be mere tiny specks, but in reality in the heaven they are gigantic. So, too, in this world many people look very small. But in reality they have greatness.

When you look at another person, realize that he is like a star. He might seem small to you. He might not appear as having accomplished very much. Gain an awareness of the great potential of each person. View each person as an entire world, as an enormous being in the cosmos. When you see people in this light you will behave towards them with great respect. When you show others this respect, they will gain greater respect for themselves. This can give a person the encouragement he needs to live up to his potential greatness.

After a Hinuch Atzmai meeting, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein stood outside a waiting car discussing who would sit next to the driver and who would sit alone in the back seat. Rav Yaakov took the front seat. After Rav Moshe alighted from the car, Rav Yaakov explained to the driver, "We were clarifying who would be getting off first. That person, we decided, would sit in the back. If he would sit in the front, the longer-riding passenger would be in the back leaving you alone at the wheel, making you look like a chauffer. But that is not the case. We appreciate your importance and did not want to compromise your dignity." (Growth through Torah)


Someone once quipped that we are more concerned about a paper cut on our lips than we are about a murder in Yerushalayim. This, he added, does not make us wicked, it is simply an expression of human nature.

Psychiatrists say that much of what appears to be kindness is actually taking rather than giving. People may help in order to impress others, or perhaps to relieve a guilty conscience, or simply because they feel uncomfortable when viewing suffering - and so they remove it. It may appear as if people are giving to others, when they are actually helping themselves.

In order to truly give, it is necessary to feel connected to the receiver. A link to another creates the desire to make the other happy. This is most commonly observed when a mother caringly gives to her offspring.

The way to "learn" this trait - the way to connect with others and empathize with them - is to strengthen our links to the Creator. Relating to Him, we feel small and insignificant in the big picture of time and space. We begin to feel dependence upon Him and a connection to others in the same situation - the human condition.

We are all traveling on the same boat. Your need for the Captain is the same as that of others. Although your function as a part of the crew may be a little more important than that of someone else, everyone is needed on the boat in order to serve the Captain and reach the destination safely.

Learn to treat them accordingly. (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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