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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 61:10-63:9

SEPTEMBER 30 - OCTOBER 1, 2016 28 ELUL 5776


"Remember us for life, king Who desires life." (Amidah)

As we approach these Days of Awe, we need to be inspired as we come to Hashem to ask for life. There is a beautiful and touching true story that will give us much to think about. The story is told by Rabbi Goel Elkarif, and it was given over by Inspiration Daily as an audio class.

There is a fellow who owns a jewelry store in Eress Yisrael. One day, not long ago a nine year old girl walked into the store and said, "I am here to buy a bracelet." She looks through the glass cases and points to a bracelet that was three or four thousand dollars. The man behind the counter asked her, "You want to buy that bracelet?" And she says, "Yes." He says, "Wow, you have very good taste. Who do you want to buy it for?" She says, "For my older sister. He says, "Oh, that is so nice! Why do you want to buy your older sister a bracelet?" The little girl says, "Because I don't have a mother or father, and my older sister takes care of us. So we want to buy her a present, and I'm willing to pay for it." She pulls out of her pocket a whole bunch of coins that totaled seven shekel, eighty agurot, which is a little less than two dollars. The fellow says, "Wow! That's exactly what the bracelet costs." He says, "You write a card to your sister while I wrap the bracelet." In a short amount of time, he finishes wrapping the bracelet, he wipes away his tears, and hands the little girl the bracelet.

A few hours later the older sister comes in and says, "I'm terribly embarrassed. My sister should not have come here. She shouldn't have taken it without paying." He says to her, "What are you talking about?" She says, "This bracelet costs thousands of dollars. My little sister doesn't have thousands of dollars, she doesn't even have ten dollars. So she obviously didn't pay for it." The owner says, "You couldn't be more wrong. She paid me in full. She paid seven shekel, eighty agurot, and a broken heart. I want to tell you something. I am a widower. I lost my wife a number of years ago. People come into my store every day and buy expensive pieces of jewelry, but they can afford it. When your sister walked in, for the first time in so very long, I once again felt what love means." He gave her the bracelet and wished her well.

Says Rav Goel Elkarif, we come to Hashem and we want to buy something very expensive. We want to buy life, but we cannot afford it. We don't have the money to pay for it. We don't have the zechuyot. So we come to Hashem and we empty our pockets, with what? A kabbalah here and a kabbalah there; I'll keep halav Yisrael during the Aseret Yemei Teshubah, I'll keep pat Yisrael like the Mishnah Berurah says, I'll pick up the phone and call someone who is lonely, I will learn an extra five minutes mussar, I will be kind, I won't speak lashon hara for two hours; something small. Hashem says, "Oh, you don't know how long it's been since I've felt what love means." Hashem sees how much we are willing to do, how much we love him, and says, "You know what? You have touched my heart. Here it is, paid in full."

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"You are all standing here today." (Debarim 29:9)

When the Jewish people heard the ninety-eight curses said to them in last week's perashah, the Midrash says that they turned white from fear. Moshe then told them, "You are all standing here today," meaning, although you may have done things wrong in the past, you're still around, so don't worry so much. This seems to be self-defeating, for if Moshe is telling them not to be afraid, why then do we read the ninety-eight terrifying curses?

The answer is that once we took the message to heart and became afraid, at that point Moshe can console us and say, "Don't worry," because that means we got the message. This is similar to a school teacher who shows his students the "stick" that he uses to punish if they don't behave. He will never have to use it during the year if on the first day, he scares them with the stick to keep them in line. It says in the laws of Rosh Hashanah that we don't say Hallel on this holiday, since the books of life and death are open. How then can we say Hallel? Yet the law is that we dress up for Rosh Hashanah and have a festive meal. Aren't these two things contradictory? The answer is the same. Once we come to the realization that it's such a serious day that we can't even say Hallel though it's a holiday, then and only then can we allow ourselves to dress up and eat a festive meal. We must take these days very seriously, realizing that our whole year depends on how we pray and how we act on Rosh Hashanah. Then we can be assured to be inscribed in the book of life, health and happiness.

Tizku leshanim rabot. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The options available to people today cover a broad spectrum, whether they are picking a new car, a mode of dress, or a vacation spot, or making any of the choices individuals are asked to consider every day. There was a time when style was dictated by a mass mentality which forced people to be like everyone else or be labeled a weirdo or non-conformist. Today, however, the fear is not of being called an oddball, but rather, a copycat.

The Talmud says (Berachot 7b): "Greater are the lessons learned by serving a teacher than those learned from his lectures." When you sit attentively listening to a discourse, you learn what the person teaching knows; but when you serve a great person, you observe who the person is. The dress mode, manners, speech patterns, and all the other trappings which make up the total person create a lasting impression on the student and define the right way for the student to conduct his or her own life.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski said, "Tradition is vital to Judaism. Customs adopted by Jews, whether all Jews or by one community, are sacred. At times, customs overrule law. Preserving a custom is not called imitating. Emulating fine character traits is not imitating. Doing something just because someone else did it - that is imitating. We are then doing his action, not our own. If we do something because it is the right thing to do, it is an innovation of our own to do so."

It only takes a minute to think. A moment spent evaluating your action is copying the ways of the wise. Wise people do not just copy what others do; they learn by careful study of the behavior of others. They consider before they speak or do. You, too, can be wise. (One Minute with Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


"For You remember all the forgotten things, and there is no forgetting before Your throne of honor." (Amidah of Musaf on Rosh Hashanah)

At first the poet says, "remember all forgotten things," from which one would gather that there is forgetting before G-d, and afterward he says, "and there is no forgetting before Your throne of glory," from which one could gather that there is no forgetting before Him. How is this possible?

These words refer to commandments and transgressions. If a man has committed a transgression and forgotten it, and has not done teshubah, Hashem remembers it. If a man has observed a commandment, and does not mention it, Hashem remembers it. If a man has committed a transgression, and applies the writ, "My sin is ever before me" (Tehilim 51:5) to himself, Hashem lets it pass from his presence and forgets it. If a man has observed a commandment and praises himself for it, Hashem forgets it.

This is the meaning of the saying that G-d remembers all the forgotten things. That is to say, he remembers what men forget. "And there is no forgetting before Your throne of glory"; G-d forgets what men remember. (Days of Awe)


On Rosh Hashanah we read the first chapter and part of the second of the Book of Shemuel, which discusses Hannah's praying to Hashem and how she honored her vow without any reservation. The third chapter relates an episode with young Shemuel when his mother left him in the Sanctuary to be inducted into the service of Hashem. Hashem called Shemuel, and Shemuel, not realizing it was Hashem, ran to Eli the Kohen, his teacher, and said, "Here I am; have you called me?" Eli replied, "I did not call you. Go back and lie down." Again the young boy heard the voice of Hashem calling him, but the aged Eli sent him back, telling him, "I did not call you, my son. Go back and lie down." When this repeated itself a third time, Eli realized that Hashem was calling the boy.

We are living in a time when many a Jewish child has heard the voice of Hashem. They have experienced inspiring moments in their lives and have expressed to their parents a desire to learn about our golden heritage. The child tells the parent that he or she heard a call and would like to respond, but the unimaginative parent will say, "Go back to sleep." Instead of nurturing this awakening and helping it grow into something positive, the parent stills the child and dampens the flame.

A story is told of a father who wanted to influence his young son with heretical views. When the child was asleep, he wrote on the side of his bed, "G-d is nowhere." When the youngster awoke and began to spell out his father's message, he jumped out of bed, ran to his father and excitedly exclaimed, "On my bed I saw written a message, 'G-d is now here!'"

Fortunately, many young members of our generation are hearing the Divine call and refuse to listen to their parents who tell them, "Go back to sleep." In all corners of the world there is a very strong ba'al teshubah movement - people from all walks of life are returning to the fold. They are coming in throngs to study Torah and have accepted authentic Torah teachings as their way of life. Let us encourage them and help them achieve their goal of learning about our golden heritage. (Vedibarta Bam)

* * * * *

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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