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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1-2:3

JUNE 28-29, 2013 21 TAMUZ 5773


"You shall place some of your majesty upon him." (Bemidbar 27:20)

Hashem tells Moshe Rabenu that Yehoshua will be the next leader of the Jewish nation and that he is to give Yehoshua some of his special honor. The Talmud comments that Moshe was commanded to give some of his majesty but not all of his majesty. So Yehoshua was great, but not as great as Moshe.

The elders of that time commented that "the face of Moshe was like the face of the sun and the face of Yehoshua was like the face of the moon. Oh the disgrace of it, oh the shame of it." The great Rabbi called the Chida asks, "What is this shame and disgrace of which the elders speak? What do they despise?"

According to the Midrash, Yehoshua merited the leadership of the nation because he served Moshe faithfully. He also performed such tasks as arranging the benches in the Bet Midrash and sweeping the floor. The elders had been ashamed to perform these mundane tasks, but now they realized that these very tasks had made Yehoshua worthy of the mantle of leadership, and they felt a sense of shame.

Rabbi David Goldwasser illustrates this with an amazing story said by the Sephardic sadik Baba Sali. Baba Sali once said that a certain soldier's life had been saved in the merit of his having cleaned up the Bet Midrash and straightened the chairs when the rest of the troops had finished praying.

What a great merit it would be for all of us if we would volunteer to keep our shuls in order after prayers. Let's grab this opportunity! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

When Pinhas saw the Prince of the tribe of Shim'on doing a sinful act in public, he acted with zealousness and put the sinners to death. By acting with "jealousy" for the sake of Hashem, he stopped the plague from consuming the Jewish people, and was credited with saving the entire nation.

This act of zeal, although the appropriate response during this particular crisis, is not usually the way that Moshe and Aharon led the Jewish people during their years of leadership. We find Moshe almost always praying to Hashem, sometimes falling on his face and tearing his garments, and rarely getting angry at the people. However, there is always something that occurs during a crisis. Even crying out to Hashem and begging Him for His help is a response, in that we recognize the problem and realize there is nothing for us to do. What we don't find is that a problem arises and it's accepted as is, with no reaction at all. In our times, society is constantly putting pressure on our Torah way of life. When a situation becomes unacceptable and leads to a crisis, we must know not only to react, but how to react! Sometimes, what's needed is a soft word, sometimes a cry of anguish and maybe even an isolated act of zeal, but we can't just ignore or accept problems, hoping they will go away. When we see someone stuck on the road, we can either help out ourselves, give him a lift somewhere, or call someone else to help him. However, if we just slow down, rubberneck and see the situation and then do nothing, not only didn't we help out with the problem, we created more traffic problems. Life is like traffic; let's respond rather than rubberneck! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Day of Beauty

It is often difficult to decide what to buy when gift-giving occasions arise. The reason for the present may be a special occasion or it may be a show of appreciation for performance above and beyond the call of duty. Sometimes it is just a tangible expression meaning "I am proud to know you" or "Thanks for just being you." In any event, in a society overloaded with consumer products and services, choosing something different and appropriate is a task that requires effort and ingenuity.

A gift item in today's marketplace is called "A Day of Beauty." A gift certificate is delivered in a beautiful package advising the recipient that the giver has arranged for a day of relaxation and pampering at a spa that provides all kinds of physical enhancements to soothe and beautify the tired body. The recipient calls for an appointment and enjoys a visit to a modern-day Shangri-La. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Well, I am not so sure. It is true that we are commanded to take good care of our bodies and to stay healthy and fit, but to devote an entire day to physical pampering could possibly be a little excessive. When our Sages talk of a day of beauty, they refer to a day of spiritual accomplishment; a day of keeping busy with the performance of Hashem's commandments (between man and Hashem as well as between man and man); a day spent increasing our knowledge of Torah; and taking care to stay fit. That is what our wise men would call a beautiful day.

When you schedule your To Do list, you should fill it is (as much as possible) with good deeds and time set aside to study Hashem's Torah. In this way, your day can become "A Day of Beauty" - day in and day out. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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