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Haftarah: Shoftim 13:2-25

MAY 17-18, 2013 9 SIVAN 5773


"They were the princes (Nasi) of the tribes; they were those who stand over the counted." (Bemidbar 7:2)

The perashah goes to tremendous lengths to describe the gifts of the Nasi of each tribe. Who were these people? Rashi explains: they were guards over the tribes in Egypt and were beaten on account of the tribes, as it says, "And the guards of the Children of Israel were beaten."

Rabbi Tzvi Feldman zt"l, the Mashgiah of the Mirrer Yeshivah in Brooklyn, elaborates on this important subject. Firstly we learn from this who are truly worthy to be leaders of Israel. Those that are ready to give of themselves completely to the people are the greatest candidates. Those who seek nothing for themselves. This is a refreshing idea for us today, we who live in a world where daily headlines are taken up by revealing another corrupt official. However, not only do they merit to the role of leadership, the Pirkei Abot (6:6) says that the ability to bear the burden of your fellow Jew (noseh be'ol habero) is a prerequisite to serious Torah study. Therefore this ability allows them to attain spiritual greatness. But, the most important aspect of this trait was to serve as a model to the people, as to whom we should look up to as our leaders, one who is so giving without limit.

This concept of the role model for us or for our children is of great importance. Many times we find that we are hungry for Torah information (which is a good thing). But today, many times we are satisfied with a computerized printout of info from our smart phone or other electronic means. We have to know that although we do agree with the proper use of electronic spreading of Torah knowledge (this bulletin is available on email) it is no substitute for a human mentor and Rabbi. Each Jew must have a Rav that he can emulate and watch, to see how he conducts himself. There is no electronic substitute for this. May Hashem help each of us to attach to a man that is described in the Torah as "Im domeh haRav lemal'ach Hashem yebakshu Torah mipiv - If the Rav is like an angel of Hashem, seek out Torah from him." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

It is well known to all that anything which we have on a constant basis loses some of its importance and special status. When we have something which is rare and infrequent, however, it takes on greater significance. Although this is human nature, we have to think of ways to make ourselves appreciate what is constantly there, too.

An example of this is Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessings, which we receive everyday during the Shaharit prayers. Although it is only fifteen words and takes under a minute to say, it is a berachah which is so special and so unique because it comes from the Almighty Himself. When the Kohanim bless the people, they are the conduits for the Divine Presence to bless us. Therefore, they cover themselves with the taleet, so that we shouldn't gaze at the Divine Presence which rests on their hands. Whenever a great saddik comes to town, we run to get a berachah, waiting many hours if need be, and rightfully so. Here, we have the Creator of the world blessing us with wealth and protection, Divine countenance and grace, and most importantly, with peace and tranquillity. Shouldn't we be waiting expectantly and attentively to get this berachah?

Whenever guests come from different communities that don't do Birkat Kohanim everyday, (only on major holidays) they are so excited to be able to get such a bonus of a blessing. Both the Kohanim saying the blessing and the rest of us receiving it should realize what a treasure we have in this berachah, and should give it the respect it is due. Let us count our blessings and also make them count! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Hashem shall make His face shine upon you." (Bemidbar 6:25)

Shamai said, "Greet every man with a pleasant expression of countenance" (Abot 1:15). Since G-d deals with man measure for measure, G-d makes His face shine upon those whose faces shine to their fellow man.

Rabbi Matya, the son of Harosh, said, "Take the initiative in greeting any man you meet" (Abot 4:20). There are various reasons why a person might hesitate to greet others before he is greeted. One is conceit. There are people who feel that to maintain their dignity they must wait until the other person greets them first. Others are afraid to be the first to greet someone because of a sense of insecurity. They are afraid that they will receive only an icy stare in return for their token of friendship. Whatever the reason, such behavior is wrong. You should always take the initiative to greet others. This rule is especially important if you meet someone who bears you enmity or is simply not on the best of terms with you. By greeting such a person pleasantly, you might be able to break down the barriers of misunderstanding and bitterness which separate you.

We find that Aharon the High Priest utilized friendly greetings as a means of influencing others to repent. He would greet a man who had sinned, and the next time that person had an urge to sin he would think to himself, "Aharon always greets me in so friendly a manner. How can I face him again if I sin?" In this manner Aharon prevented people from sinning. (Love Your Neighbor)


It was a bright Sunday morning and the young man dashed across the street towards the synagogue. He always made it a point to pray with a minyan - a quorum of ten - and Sundays were no different. In fact, on his day off from work he made sure to pray at an early hour so that he could get in some extra Torah learning, which his busy weekday schedule did not allow. When he was done, he headed home to pick up his kids to go to the park.

The sunshine lured all kinds of people out of their homes and into the park, and everyone found a way to enjoy the fresh air. The grassy area and lakes were encircled by a road, usually open to vehicular traffic, which was closed to traffic on Sundays so that the park-goers could enjoy bicycling, jogging, rollerblading, and walking. It seemed as if hundreds of urban dwellers were doing laps around the park.

Life was not created for going around in circles. The gift of life was created to give people an opportunity to grow and achieve. Doing laps may be healthy for the body, but it may be hazardous to the soul.

Over the years you have probably developed certain routines that you follow every day. Very often you do something simply because it's what you always do. Consider whether what you do out of habit is really just going around in circles, or are you moving forward towards a worthwhile goal? It takes a little more mental exertion, but it is much more productive to set a course towards improvement rather than comfort. Learn to use that minute of assessment, and benefit for years to come. (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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