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Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

DECEMBER 7-8, 2007 28 KISLEV 5768

Hanukah will be celebrated from Tuesday night, December 4 until Wednesday, December 12. Rosh Hodesh Tebet will be celebrated on Monday, December 10.

Begin saying Barech Alenu on Wednesday night, December 5, in Arbit.


“Hanukah candles are lit in the synagogue before habdalah” (Shulhan Aruch 681:2)

There is a dispute among the halachic authorities when the Menorah should be lit on Saturday night, whether before or after habdalah. All agree that in shul the lighting of the Menorah should precede habdalah. The dispute concerns what the order should be at home when one comes back from shul. Our custom is that at home we reverse the order that is done in shul and we make habdalah first and afterwards we light the Hanukah lights. The reason for this is the rule of tadir (??????????????????????????), which is that in choosing the sequence of two misvot the more frequent one should be performed first. Therefore, since habdalah is recited every week it should take precedence over the Menorah which is lit just eight days a year.

Why do we override the rule in the shul? The Mishnah Berurah explains that habdalah should be later because a person should try to delay the departure of Shabbat as long as possible. Rav Avraham Pam z”l asks, “If a person strikes a match and lights the Menorah, isn’t that a clear indication that Shabbat has departed?” He explains that a vestige, a trace (roshem) of the holiness of Shabbat remains until the recital of habdalah over a cup of wine. After that the Shabbat Queen officially departs. Rav Pam extracts from that an important practical lesson on how one should treasure every moment of Shabbat and not rush to see it depart. This is illustrated by the fact that this consideration overrides the powerful rule of tadir. How unfortunate it is that many people push Shabbat out at the earliest possible time. Rashi says (Beresheet 2:2), “When Shabbat arrives, tranquility arrives.” It is especially important to inculcate children with an appreciation that every minute of Shabbat one experiences is a prelude to the pleasure and happiness of the World to Come. Shabbat Hanukah is an opportune time to teach this most important concept of treasuring every moment of Shabbat. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


“And Yehudah said, ‘What shall we say to my master? How can we speak? And how shall we justify ourselves? G-d has found the sin of your servants.’” (Beresheet 44:16)

With these words, Yehudah spoke to the Master of the world, as he addressed Yosef. Throughout this whole time the brothers had continued to justify their action regarding Yosef. Indeed, as R’ Avigdor Miller states, this process of self-justification endured for twenty-two years. During this time any focus on guilt or condemnation was veiled with a heavy layer of logic and righteous rationale. They overlooked their sins in the hope that any misdeed would be “hidden” from Hashem. R’ Miller explains that the nature of man is to attempt to conceal his weaknesses and true motives from Hashem. As Yehudah begins his confession, he says, “G-d has ‘found’ the sin which has been so deeply concealed.” This actually means that Hashem has enabled “us” to find the sin.

How piercing are these words! We do not realize that the problems or troublesome situations that confront us are actually Hashem’s communiqu? to us. He is telling us to consider our actions. Are all of our activities above reproach? Obviously, if we respond immediately to these messages, they will not have to be further elucidated. (Peninim on the Torah)


“And now let Pharaoh look for a discreet and wise man…and let him appoint overseers over the land and take up the fifth part of the land in the seven years of plenty” (Beresheet 41:33-34)

When one recognizes the truth, regardless of its unpleasant nature, he should immediately respond to it. R’ Yaakov Weinberg makes this observation from Pharaoh’s action. Upon listening to Yosef’s interpretation of his dreams, Pharaoh immediately promoted Yosef to an exalted position. Imagine Pharaoh’s emotions at the time. To take a lowly Hebrew slave out of the king’s dungeon and ennoble him above everyone is unimaginable. Yet, Pharaoh did exactly that. He was faced with the obvious truth that Yosef was superior to everyone. He responded accordingly.

What really was so outstanding about Yosef? What distinguished Yosef’s actions and words that Pharaoh was so impressed? R’ Weinberg explains that Yosef’s suggestion for immediate action was the discerning factor. Pharaoh knew his ministers could organize a plan for the whole country to store grain for the oncoming famine. Would they begin, however, after they had complacently enjoyed the years of plenty? Would they allow the grain to waste away until it was too late? Pharaoh could ill afford procrastination while his country prepared for famine. Responding to the immediacy, Yosef said, “Now let Pharaoh seek an understanding and wise man” – immediately – for time was of the essence. Yosef impressed Pharaoh by recognizing that every moment was precious and must be used efficiently. This lesson should serve as a paradigm for us. Every moment we are allotted in this world must be appreciated and utilized to its fullest potential. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Twelve years.

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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