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Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

DECEMBER 23-24, 2011 28 KISLEV 5772

Rosh Hodesh Tebet will be celebrated on Monday & Tuesday, Dec. 27 & 28.


"Yosef answered Pharaoh saying, 'It is beyond me. It is Hashem who can restore Pharaoh's peace.'" (Beresheet 41:16)

Sir Moshe Montefiore was well respected among the British aristocracy, yet he remained a proudly observant Jew throughout his entire life. He once said that he took his cue from Yosef.

When Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted he called upon Yosef., saying that he had heard that Yosef was skilled in interpreting dreams. Yosef denied having any expertise. He gave all the credit to Hashem. Yet this denial so impressed Pharaoh, in spite of being the idolator that he was, that he appointed Yosef as his viceroy.

The Jew gains greater respect by acknowledging his beliefs than by hiding them. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Though we Jews are only a small minority of the world's population, we have been assigned the formidable, seemingly impossible task of enlightening the entire world. The sages have given us a hint as to how this is possible. The halachah states that if a person lit the hanukah lights and the lights subsequently went out, he is not obligated to relight it (although it is preferable if possible). The reason is that "hadlakah osah misvah" - the kindling is the essence of the misvah. This symbolizes that we are charged with the responsibility to start the task of enlightening the world; G-d will see to its successful conclusion.

The lesson is that although we must do our share to promote and preserve Torah observance, and to be an example to the world, we need not be concerned if it seems that the task is not being accomplished. If we do our part, Hashem will intervene and He will see to it that the job is completed. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukah. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"For Hashem has made me forget all my previous misfortune and all my father's house." (Beresheet 41:51)

The usual translation for "Nashani Elokim" is "Hashem has made me forget." This notion engenders a distasteful feeling. It seems objectionable that Yosef would be anxious to disassociate himself with his elderly father and all of his family. Rav S.R. Hirsch z"l notes that this would explain Yosef's deficiency in getting in touch with his family for such a long time. To state, however, that Yosef's heart was so cold is simply preposterous! The various commentaries imply justifiable reasons for Yosef's inaction.

Rav Hirsch cites another interpretation for the word "nashani". It also means "to be a creditor" and can, therefore, mean: "Hashem has made my misfortunes and my family into creditors." Hashem had transformed what had formerly seemed to be a calamity into the medium for attaining the greatest joy. The realization that one is deeply indebted to his misfortune and family is the hallmark of greatness. One's objective should be to pierce through the veil of ambiguity that clouds various life situations in order to vividly see Divine Providence directing every step. Yosef Hasadik was not only righteous in his own right, he was also able to see the "righteousness" of Hashem's guidance in everything.

We may suggest another thought. Sometimes it is good to forget! Imagine that Yosef went through life with bitter animosity, loathing his brothers for what they had done to him. He would calculate and add every bit of misery to his hatred, until it became insurmountable. This obsessive hatred would have eventually destroyed him. How many individuals and institutions have fallen prey to the effects of hatred? In due time a simple offense can be blown out of proportion. This occurs because we refuse to forget yesterday's offense which blatantly glares us in the eye many years later, demanding revenge. Yosef thanked Hashem for giving him the ability to open his arms to his brothers and view their actions in the proper perspective. (Peninim on the Torah)


"But" is a word that usually signals lashon hara - negative forbidden speech. For example, "Jacob is a nice guy, but I suspect his honesty," or "Sarah is a good cook, but I can't stand her taste in clothing." When people speak negatively about others, they attempt to excuse themselves by testifying to the truth of the negative fact just expressed. After all, can they be blamed for noticing obvious flaws in other people?

On the other hand, when the subject is Yours Truly, the word "but" introduces an excuse for an error in judgment or a personality flaw. "I would have taken care of it, but I did not realize that…," or, "Yes, I did do it, but it was because…"

Complainers are people who see the negative in everyone and everything. Such individuals cannot accept the good in their surroundings because of the overwhelming need to complain about what is not to their satisfaction. Such people would be happy - but!

A happy person spends time explaining rather than complaining. Looking for the good in others and for the best in every situation, the joyful soul does say "but" when justifying the negatives in another: "She would be a better dresser, but her parents have no money and no taste in fashion," or, "He would be a better learner, but he never got the proper tutoring."

Make yourself and others happy. Train yourself to spend time explaining rather than complaining. You can do it if you really try…but maybe you haven't tried as yet! (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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