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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:27-41:16

OCTOBER 26-27, 2012 11 HESHVAN 5773


"Hashem said to Abram, 'Go for yourself from your land.'" (Beresheet 12:1)

Hashem told Abraham to travel and leave his land. Today we do a lot of traveling to far away places. Listen to a true story of a traveler as told by Rabbi David Kaplan.

The dire financial situation in the Baranovitch Yeshivah forced the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman zt"l, to make an extended fundraising trip to the U.S. There was a wealthy clothing factory owner in Manhattan whom Rav Elchonon had known as a child in Baranovitch. This man had left many years earlier and had done extremely well financially in the land of opportunity.

However, America was also a land that presented the opportunity to abandon the religion and Torah values, which this man had done to the fullest. Rav Elchonon made an appointment to see him in his Manhattan office, which was situated on the top floor of his clothing factory. "Rabbi Wasserman," the man said after they had exchanged preliminary pleasantries, "what did you come here for?"

Rav Elchonon lifted his jacket toward the man and showed him where a button had fallen off. "I've come to have a button sewn on my jacket," Rav Elchonon said.

The man chuckled. "Really, Rabbi, why have you come?"

Rav Elchonon's expression did not change. "I came to have a button sewn onto my jacket." The man decided to beat Rav Elchonon at his own game. "Excellent. Just come with me and I'll have it taken care of for you." He led Rav Elchonon down into the factory area where hundreds of workers were very busy making clothing. He figured when Rav Elchonon would see how vast his factory was, he'd be overwhelmed and would make an appeal, which was obviously the reason he had come.

"Hey, Pete, could you sew a button on the Rabbi's jacket?" he called to one of his employees. The man took the jacket and quickly did as the boss had requested. "Now, Rabbi Wasserman, you see what I've got going here. Tell me why you've come."

"I've told you, you've done it, thank you." With that Rav Elchonon turned and left, and a waiting car drove him back to his host's home. The next morning the telephone rang early. "Rabbi Wasserman," the man practically shouted into the phone, "you cost me a night's sleep. Why did you come?"

"Please come here and we'll talk," Rav Elchonon responded. The man drove right over. "You find it so hard to believe that I'd come all the way from Baranovitch to the United States to have a button sewn onto a jacket. But your soul came from underneath the throne of Hashem and traveled seven heavens to get here. Did it make that trip just so you could own a factory that sews buttons and makes clothes?"

The man was shaken to the core by the great Rabbi's words and the sincerity with which they had been delivered. He became totally observant and a loyal supporter of the Baranovitch Yeshivah.

We have all traveled from very far away. Make it count. 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


Hashem told Abraham, Lech lecha, "Go for yourself, from the land, the artziut, earthliness/materialism represented by the land; mi'moladetecha, from your birthplace, your character which you derive from your birthplace; mi'bet abicha, from your father's home, from your passive reliance on familial support. Go out on your own! Where? To the land which I will show you."

Lech lecha was not a one-time command given to Abraham. It is a never-ending exhortation to every Jew to awaken within himself the upward drive to succeed, to move forward, to pursue Torah and misvot relentlessly, and to grow in them. Each Jew has a G-d-given mission, a Heavenly mandate. Have we achieved our calling; have we fulfilled our duty; have we done enough? A Jew must be lech lecha, constantly moving. There is no rest. There are no vacations. Rest is stagnation. Status quo is death. Are we ever doing enough? No - we can always do more. (Peninim on the Torah)


One of the more emotionally upsetting situations a person must deal with is being insulted. Somehow, for some reason, someone makes an offensive comment. The subject - or victim - of the remark may react with anger, a red face, or tears. In all cases, insults hurt - to the point that a bruised ego is perceived as similar to a broken bone or a cut finger. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The pain you feel as a result of an insulting comment is a matter of perspective. It is your attitude towards the barb that will determine its effect. Words are merely sounds, without inherent power over people, but your reaction to them is crucial.

An insult can be perceived as a wake-up call. Perhaps the person is exaggerating; but where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Do a self-evaluation and work on the shortcoming that has been pointed out. Another approach is to accept the criticism, but focus on your strengths rather than dwell on the weakness your adversary so rudely highlighted. Alternatively, you might think of another insult that once hurt you. You will realize that not only was it meaningless in the big picture of your life, but the moment of pain was actually quite short-lived.

An insult can change your day - maybe even your life. But an insult is like any other word; your reaction to it will determine its effect. Defuse the pain and make use of the warning, and an insult can improve your future. (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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