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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2

JULY 20-21, 2012 2 AB 5772


"We will push forward in the vanguard before the Children of Israel." (Bemidbar 32:17)

Sometimes life is funny. There are things that people eagerly await, but when these things finally arrive, they arouse negativity. Rain is one example. Everyone knows what a blessing rain is and looks forward to its coming. But when rain clouds darken the sky, people sigh, "Oh! It's a rainy day."

Then there is old age. We all hope to reach a ripe old age, and we wish each other "Until 120!" But as soon as we start aging and find ourselves unable to do what we used to do, we groan, "Oh my! What's happening to me? I'm getting old!"

The third thing is hearing the truth. We're all eager to hear the truth about ourselves and what people think about us, who we really are. But should anyone dare give us a direct answer, we'll never forgive him. We'll refute it or at least challenge any attack against our status, and reply with a counterattack. That's what most people's love of truth looks like. Let's see the right way to react when words of truth are spoken.

In our perashah, the tribes of Reuben and Gad approached Moshe Rabbenu. They asked Moshe to give them their portion in the land of Israel on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Moshe responded very forcefully and critically, understanding the two tribes to be asking for the right to settle on the east bank and not participate in the long and hard war to conquer the land of Israel for their brothers. He accused them of forsaking their fellow tribes in a time of danger.

Although they never intended to drag down the Jewish people, and were ready to be the vanguard, they listened humbly as Moshe accused them of failing to understand the importance of being part of the nation. The plan Moshe outlined, that they should be together with everyone else was exactly what they had in mind. Yet they listened patiently to Moshe's words due to their love to hear the truth. Whether they were guilty or not mattered little to them because they loved the truth of Moshe's words.

The lesson for me is to listen closely before reacting. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"One thousand for each tribe, one thousand for each tribe" (Bemidbar 31:4)

When the Jewish people went to war with Midyan, Hashem commanded them to send one thousand men from each tribe. The word "one thousand" is repeated in the Torah and so the Rabbis deduce that there should be two thousand men per tribe, one thousand to do battle and one thousand to pray for the soldiers' success. What an amazing thing! The battle of the Jews against Midyan was surely Divinely directed. Pinhas was the general and all the soldiers were righteous. Yet they needed prayers for the soldiers to win, and indeed every soldier came back safe and sound, due in great part to those prayers.

Today, when our people in Israel are threatened every single day, when our soldiers are asked to put themselves on the line every time they go on duty, we have to have an equal amount of prayers to protect our brothers and sisters. Let us strengthen our Tehillim, our prayers at the Torah and our prayers in general, for the people of Israel, so that we should also see victory and peace in our days, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The recognition of the part played by healthy diet and regular exercise in maintaining health, along with medical advances and scientific breakthroughs, promote the assumption that the trend towards longer life will continue in the new millennium. If you accept that fact, then you have to rethink the old expression about not teaching an old dog new tricks. I don't know about you, but for me, living longer without growing and getting better is a prospect that I could not accept.

The good news is that a person is not a dog, and a person, unlike a dog, can always learn new behavior patterns and develop good habits. Every time you repeat a behavior until it becomes second nature, you are creating a new habit. You are growing!

Author and life coach Avi Shulman suggests that you start with something simple, such as writing a name next to all phone numbers that you jot down on tiny slips of paper, matchbooks, and the backs of business cards. How many times have those mysterious, unidentified numbers led to embarrassing phone calls! This may only be a little change, but it results in two benefits. First, you will always know whom you are dialing. Second, you will be developing a new habit!

When you confront a state of affairs that annoys you or makes you unhappy, decide what simple change you can implement to prevent this situation from disturbing you ever again. Then do it. Institute the system and follow it regularly until you've broken the old habit and replaced it with a new one. This simple change in behavior will help keep you growing to a wise and happy old age. (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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