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Haftarah: Shoftim 5:1-31

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

JANUARY 25-26, 2013 24 SHEBAT 5774

Rosh Hodesh Adar I will be celebrated on Friday and Shabbat, Jan. 31 & Feb. 1


"You shall not persecute any widow or orphan." (Shemot 22:21)

As I sit in my hotel room in Jerusalem, I put pen to paper with a feeling of gratitude to Hashem. Thankful just to be in this holy city and thankful to be with so many friends from our community who are celebrating Bar Misvahs in Yerushalayim.

In this perashah, we learn of the gravity of those who hurt the feelings of a widow and an orphan. The Kli Yakar quotes the pasuk, "Im aneh teaneh oto - if you cause him pain." Why does it say "oto" which means "cause him pain" when it refers to a widow and the orphans? It should have said "otam," which means "them." The Kli Yakar answers that when one causes pain to them he is really causing pain to Hashem.

Once a broken hearted widow came to Rabbi Yaakov of Hrimlov, the author of Kochav Miyaakov, and poured out her tale of woe. She hadn't been able to pay her rent for some time. The landlord informed her in no uncertain terms, that unless she paid, she and her orphaned children would be thrown out into the street.

The Rav sent a messenger to the landlord, who was very wealthy, pleading on her behalf. "You have so many other houses that you rent," the Rav implored. "Just because you don't get rent on this one house is reason to evict a widow and orphans?"

Offended by the suggestion of not collecting what he believed was rightfully his, the man refused to consider it.

This incident happened during the ten days of teshubah. During the Yom Kippur morning prayers, the landlord approached the Rav's young son Berish (later to become famous as the Tchebiner Rav), and pointed to the lengthy poem-song that the people sing during the high point of the morning prayers., "Go tell your father," the rich man told the child, "there are so many songs, maybe it is possible to forgo one of themů"

The landlord was certain that the Rav would never consider leaving out any of the songs, let alone one so important that it is actually recited during the high point of the prayers. Young Berish went over to his father and repeated the message. The Rav, who was certainly very cognizant of the sanctity of his song and the gravity of this ancient custom, walked over to the hazan and motioned to him to leave out this song. \ On Saturday night word came from the landlord. He would forgive the back rent owed and the widow and her children could stay. Young Berish and his brother Nahum, (also to become a great Rabbi) promptly ran out of the house and raced through the streets, each hoping to be the one to tell the widow the good tidings.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

We are not surprised to see how Hashem cares for us from how He runs the world and how He rewards us for our good deeds. But to learn this lesson from how Hashem punishes a thief, this is truly remarkable. The Torah says that if a person steals an ox or a sheep and sells it or slaughters it, he must pay five times the amount of the ox and four times the amount of the sheep, as a fine. Why the discrepancy between the ox and the sheep? The Gemara says that when a person stole an ox he had to pull it away from the owner's house, but when he took the sheep, he had to carry it on his shoulders so as to run away faster. That little embarrassment which he suffered in carrying the sheep on his shoulders reduces his fine so that he only pays four times the amount, not five. What Divine concern do we learn from here! Even though this man is a thief, he still is judged by Hashem Who is compassionate and just. How much reassurance should this give us that G-d is watching over us, taking every minute detail into consideration of His Divine Providence. We should turn to Him for everything; He is our caring Father. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Rachel and Rebecca entered the concert hall and headed for their seats. Once in the proper row, they settled into their reserved locations, anticipating an evening of beautiful music.

The sounds emanating from the stage, however, were anything but beautiful. A cacophony filled the room as the musicians tuned the variety of instruments that make up an orchestra. Brass and woodwinds, strings and percussion - were all sounding off with no meter and no melody.

I guess you would call it noise.

Then the conductor entered. He tapped on his stand with a baton. The music began to play and the beautiful melodies harmoniously filled the room. The girls sat back and swooned in delight as the sounds evolved into an artistic masterpiece. This is what they had come for! Almost two hours later they exited the hall and headed home, joyfully reviewing the experience.

One thinks of music as beautiful sounds. In truth, however, the difference between a melodious masterpiece and a wall of noise are the moments of silence in between the sounds made by the instruments. It is the silence that creates beat, meter and melody that makes the music enjoyable.

The great value of silence to a melody is dwarfed by the value of silence in personal relationships - especially in a marriage. One must know when to speak and when to hold back.

Since husband and wife spend so much time together, they are often careless in their speech. Silence is far better than the wrong words used in speech. Improper words bring discord to the melody of life. When you are about to speak to your spouse - consider whether silence may be better. That one second of thought may make your life more harmonious than a word spoken at the wrong time. (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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