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Yirmiyahu 34:8-22, 33:25-26

FEBRUARY 1-3, 2008 26 SHEBAT 5768

Rosh Hodesh Adar I will be celebrated on Wednesday & Thursday, February 6 & 7.


"Distance yourself from a false word." (Shemot 23:7) Our perashah focuses mainly on the misvot between man and his fellow man. The Torah warns us to go far away from falsehood. This is usually understood to mean that one should not lie. However, the Seforno explains that the word "Tirhak - distance yourself" can mean to stay away from causing falsehood. If one causes someone else to lie, he himself is guilty of transgressing the sin of midbar sheker tirhak. Rabbi Yehudah Hahasid says, "Should you see two individuals whispering one to the other, do not approach them and ask them to disclose the topic of their conversation to you. Obviously if they would have so desired that you be privy to the subject matter of their talk, they would have originally invited you to partake in their discussion. By pressing them to share the information with you, you may cause them to lie about what they were speaking about." The Pele Yoess says, "A person must be careful not to pressure his friend to disclose confidential information because this might cause the person to lie to protect his privacy. Also if one assumes that his friend owns a particular article, which he most probably would not feel comfortable lending out, it is wrong to ask him to let you borrow it. In order to protect himself and not to appear to be a mean person, he might lie and say he doesn't own it."

The story is told that Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky zs"l was once asked to explain why possibly he had merited a long life. R' Yaakov answered, "In the merit of my strict adherence to the attribute of truth." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"You shall not cause pain to a widow or orphan. If you cause him pain, if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry" (Shemot 22:21-22)

When the Torah prohibits us from afflicting a widow or orphan, it uses three double words to describe the outcome. "If you shall afflict them (aneh t'aneh), they will cry out to Me (sa'ok yits'ak), and I (Hashem) will listen (shamo'a eshma) to their cry." Why so many double words?

The Kotzker Rebbe gives a very insightful explanation. When a widow or orphan is afflicted, they feel sorry for themselves and wonder why they are being tormented so. They come to the conclusion that it is because they have no father or husband, and they relive that pain all over again. Even if they lost their loved ones many years ago, they feel it anew as if it is a fresh wound.

Hashem considers it as if the tormentor is responsible for the original loss since he causes the victims to cry for their loss all over again. So it comes out that the orphan and widow cry double for their double pain, and Hashem "hears" both cries, and therefore the penalty is that much more severe.

We learn from here an amazing insight into human nature. When a person is down from something else, any more distress can bring up the old pain, and whoever does so is responsible for both! We have to be so careful with the widows, orphans and downtrodden to help lift up their spirits, and then Hashem will reward us doubly as well! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"When you lend money to My people, the poor among you" (Shemot 22:24)

The words "et he'ani imach - the poor among you" seem extra?

Helping a person in need is a great misvah. One should give at least one tenth of one's earnings for sedakah. Unfortunately, sometimes people do not have money readily available when they are called upon for a worthy cause. Others do not want to dip into their reserves, and consequently, they lose a great misvah.

The pasuk gives advice on how to give sedakah easily and wholeheartedly. When a person brings home his earnings, he should immediately take off at least ten percent and put it away in a sedakah account. Thus, he will no longer consider the money as his, but rather the property of the poor. When a poor man or charitable cause comes to him for help, he will not feel as if he is giving his own money, but rather "et he'ani imach" - [the money of] the poor man which is in his possession.

Another important lesson the Torah is teaching on sedakah is the following: One Jew must help the other when he has been blessed with abundant wealth. Moreover, even one who is experiencing financial difficulties should not hesitate to help another in need. The Torah alludes to this with the words, "et he'ani imach" - even when you experience poverty (poverty is with you) make an effort to help a fellow Jew in need. (Vedibarta Bam)


"And you shall serve G-d your Lord, and He will bless your bread and your water, and banish sickness from among you." (Shemot 23:25)

The yeser hara (evil inclination) has many different ways of keeping a person from going to shul to pray. Some people argue that they can't spare the time away from their business, because customers may go elsewhere if they are not around. Others say that they need the extra sleep in order to remain healthy and strong for the rest of the day. Still others may use the cold weather as an excuse, saying that they will get sick if they go out in such weather.

This pasuk comes to answer all of these arguments. "And you shall serve G-d" - this refers to prayer. If you are afraid of losing customers - "and He will bless your bread and your water." Don't worry about getting sick from lack of sleep or nasty weather because "He will banish sickness from among you." (Yalkut Hamishai al HaTorah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: At least eight days old.

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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