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Haftarah: Shoftim 13:2-25

JUNE 3-4, 2011 2 SIVAN 5771

Shabuot will be celebrated from Tuesday night, June 7 through Thursday, June 9.


"On the third day when it was becoming morning, there was thunder and lightning and a heavy cloud." (Shemot 19:1)

At the time of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation, there was a great tumult. There was thunder and lightning, smoke and the sound of the shofar blast. Not only did the Jewish people tremble, but the mountain trembled as well. The fear that overtook the Jewish nation was not limited only to them. Rather, all the kings of the world were gripped with fear as they heard the sounds of the giving of the Torah. Why was all this turbulence and fear-inspiring uproar necessary?

Rabbi David A. Gross explains that as Jews we believe that the world was created five thousand seven hundred seventy one years ago. However there are many people who are convinced that the world is millions or even billions of years old. What is the root of their belief? The answer is security. Everyone wishes to feel secure. When one is convinced that the world has existed for millions of years, he feels comfortable, assuming that it will probably exist for millions more. He then has nothing to worry about.

In order to live a life of spirituality, one needs to lessen his feeling of security in the physical world. The physical world can force one into thinking that nature causes things to continuously exist and not Hashem. When one loses his belief in the security of the world, he is ready to accept the spirituality of Torah. This concept can be seen clearly from the reaction of people at times of "natural' disasters. As a result of catastrophe, many people turn to religion and G-d. Why is that? A natural disaster challenges their security in the physical, which in turn leads them to turn to the spiritual for security.

This was the lesson that Hashem was imbuing in the Jewish people at Sinai. With thunder, lightning and the sound of the shofar, the earth quaked and the people were gripped with fear. This fear was the result of a lack of confidence in the world around them. Hashem was teaching them that they were now ready to accept the Torah. There is only one thing that man can feel secure with - the Torah. Cling to the Torah, it is a rock.

Unfortunately, many times a person is shaken up or even devastated by the turn of events in his life. However this can only occur if his sense of security is misplaced. If his security was in the Torah and Hashem, he would not be fazed by any tumultuous events. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

On the verse in Shir HaShirim 5:6, "Nafshi yas'ah b'dabero - My soul departed when He spoke," the Rabbis explain that when Hashem said the Ten Commandments, the souls of the Jewish People left them from awe and fear. Then G-d took a certain dew from the Torah and used it to revive the Jewish Nation. On the surface, this seems difficult to understand. Why did Hashem allow the awesomeness of the moment to be so great that the people should die and then have to be revived again? Why not reveal Himself just a little bit less?

The lesson to be derived from here is that when we received the Torah, we didn't just get a set of laws to have to keep. The Torah is what made us alive; we expired and had to be revived through the power of the Torah. That means that our very being is based on the teaching and the essence of the holy Torah, and it is not only possible to keep its laws, but rather our very existence depends upon it.

On this Shabuot, let us remember this message. Our success as a nation and as individuals is through the Torah and its laws and customs. The more we study and accept its effect upon us, the closer we will become to that which we owe our existence. Tizku LeShanim Rabot. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"A man's holy things shall be his, what he gives to the kohen shall be his." (Bemidbar 5:10)

There is a parable told abut a man who had three friends. The first friend he loved very much, the second friend he liked a little bit, and the third friend he didn't care for very much. One time the king called for this man. The man was afraid that the king was calling for him to kill him. He approached his first friend and asked him to go with him to the king, and speak on his behalf so that the king will save him. The friend refused. He asked his second friend to do the same. This friend agreed to go with him only up to the palace doors, but would not go in to see the king with him. He went to his third friend and asked him to accompany him, and told him what had happened with his first two friends. The third friend went with him to see the king and pleaded for the man's life. The king spared him.

The first friend, who the man loved very much, symbolizes money. On the day a man dies, his money leaves him. The second friend represents one's friends and relatives, who will accompany him until the cemetery and then they leave him alone. The third friend, the one who goes with him and pleads for his life, represents repentance and misvot. The king symbolizes G-d. The only "friends" who can save a person when he must present himself before G-d are his good deeds. Therefore, in his lifetime, a person should strive to acquire as many of these friends as possible. (Hafess Hayim al HaTorah)


"On the second day Netanel ben Suar, the prince of the tribe of Yisachar offered." (Bemidbar 7:18)

The Alter of Kelm zt"l explains the Torah's repeated recounting of the offerings of the Nesi'im. Since the offerings were all the same, the Torah wishes to express the individuality of the donor, despite the fact that he was a member of a group. It is generally assumed that when a number of Jews perform a misvah, the group is viewed as one individual, and in accordance with this, there is no discernment of the individual's contribution to the success of this endeavor. The perashah teaches us that this is not true. Hashem does not view the group as one general assemblage, but rather He rejoices with each and every individual as if he were the only one in the world. Hashem's love for the individual does not in any way diminish as a result of others who also perform the same misvah. (Peninim on the Torah)


It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat.

"Whoever says a thing in the name of its author, brings redemption to the world." (Abot 6:6)

The Gemara (Megillah 15a) derives this from the pasuk, "And Esther informed the King in Mordechai's name" (Esther 2:22). Esther surely did the right thing by not taking undue credit for herself, but how does this prove that always there is a great reward for his?

The two attendants who plotted to poison the king hid the poison, and it appeared again miraculously, as the pasuk says, "The matter was investigated and it was found" (ibid. 2:23, Yalkut Shimoni). So while it was indeed nice for her to give all the credit to Mordechai, superficially she was at the same time putting him in great jeopardy, because in the event that the plot would not have been proven and they would have been vindicated, Mordechai could have been punished severely for falsely accusing them, and the venom of the anti-Semites would have been directed against the Jewish people. Hence, it would have been wiser for her not to convey the information in the name of Mordechai, but merely to say, "I have heard a rumor…and I advise you my dear King to have it investigated."

From the fact that she revealed that it was Mordechai who gave her the information, it is evident that she knew that for relating something in the name of the author, there is great benefit to the entire world. It is this impossible that something unpleasant should occur to the author when the right thing is being done, and only good can emanate from it. (Vedibarta Bam)

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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)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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