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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1-2:3

JULY 11-12, 2014 14 TAMUZ 5774

The fast of the Seventeenth of Tamuz will be on Tuesday, July 15.


"May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the assembly." (Bemidbar 27:16)

Moshe Rabenu's first concern upon hearing that he would not enter the Land was that someone should take his place. This shows his extreme selflessness (see Rashi on pasuk 15). Let's see a recent example of the changing of the guard in the Torah world.

In the year 1977, after the passing of Rabbi Ezra Attieh zt"l, a meeting was held with the Rabbis of Porat Yosef Yeshivah to decide who would be the new Rosh Yeshivah. The Rabbis decided to appoint Rabbi Yehudah Tzadka zt"l as the new Rosh Yeshivah. However, he humbly refused the offer and said his beloved colleague Rabbi Bension Abba Shaul zt"l is more worthy of the position.

Rabbi Abba Shaul, however, strongly refused to accept. The two Rabbis argued with each other that the other one is more worthy and suited for the position. Finally, Rabbi Tzadka stood up and said that a Rosh Yeshivah also must be a posek (one who renders halachic decisions). Therefore it is fitting that Rabbi Abba Shaul, who is a renowned posek, should be the Rosh Yeshivah, not I!

Rabbi Abba Shaul countered that "if you are right that I am a posek, I hereby rule right now that the honorable Rabbi Tzadka be the new Rosh Yeshivah!"

Three weeks went by and no Rosh Yeshivah was appointed. Finally, Rabbi Tzadka yielded to the extreme urging of Rabbi Abba Shaul to be the new Rosh Yeshivah, but only on condition that Rabbi Abba Shaul will decide with him on all important questions related to the daily running of the Yeshivah. And so it was from then on, two great ones stood up and guided the Yeshivah for decades with dedication and love. Their fiery love still burns today in the heart of the Yeshivah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint…" (Bemidbar 27:16)

When Moshe asked Hashem to appoint the next leader, he described Hashem as G-d of all spirits of men. Rashi explains that Moshe was saying, just as mankind is made up of all kinds of people, each with their own mind and personality, You Hashem should find a leader who can relate to each one on his own level. This lesson is not only regarding leadership. We all know that no two people are exactly alike. What we don't realize is that since there are so many different kinds of people, we must have an enormous amount of tolerance and patience when dealing with others. This is where we tend to go wrong and what causes relationships to be strained. We expect others to know how we are feeling and what we need or want, and then we get disappointed when they don't come through. Very often, two people are in the same situation and one thinks it's a great place to be and the other is miserable. When we realize how we are all different from each other, we will be patient and tolerate each other's peculiarities. This will bring us peace and unity. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"[On Rosh Hodesh bring] one he-goat for a sin-offering to Hashem." (Bemidbar 28:15)

Rashi writes that Hashem requested, "Bring an atonement for Me because I have made the moon small."

Why do we have to bring an atonement because Hashem made the moon smaller?

When the sun and moon were originally created, they were of equal size and strength. The sun was appointed to rule over the day and the moon over the night. The moon came before Hashem and argued that it is improper for two kings to have an identical crown. In response, Hashem diminished the moon.

Why did Hashem diminish the moon? In reality, Hashem had another alternative: to leave the moon as it was and to enlarge the sun. He did not because after He created the world He decided that the wicked were not worthy of enjoying the original intense illumination of the sun and he stored it away for sadikim to enjoy in the future (Hagigah 12a). Therefore, He had no alternative but to diminish the moon.

Thus, human misdeeds necessitated Hashem's decision to diminish the moon, and humans must bring an atonement "for Hashem." (Vedibarta Bam)


The educated American consumer has become reliant upon labels.

When shopping for food, the buyer checks ingredient labels for caloric content, nutritional information, and the presence of potentially dangerous ingredients such as foods to which the consumer is allergic, or even chemicals or dyes which the buyer deems undesirable. When purchasing medicine, the consumer wants to be sure that the item being prescribed or bought over the counter will address the condition for which it is being purchased; that the medicine does not interact negatively with anything else the person is ingesting; and that there is no allergy alert.

Clothes-shopping at the mall is another exercise in label checking. People tend to search for the labels of manufacturers or designers they recognize, labels which, in the past, assured the desired quality, fit, value, and/or status. The care labels sewn into garments advise how to clean them properly in order to ensure satisfactory long-term wear.

Then there are warning labels. Cigarettes and alcoholic beverages carry labels cautioning consumers about their harmful effects. Electronic devices come with labels warning customers of the dangers of product misuse.

Labels are mini-directories of information that helps us maximize our sage use of consumer products. However, when applied to human beings, labels can cause great damage.

When we negatively label people, we harm their potential for positive action. If a parent or teacher tells a child, "You are bad," the child becomes shackled to a pattern that is, in fact, "bad." The label reminds the child of what he or she did. It is as if the parent or teacher is constantly saying, "This is what you were, this is what you are, and this is what you always will be." The same is true when the victim of harsh labeling is an employee or a friend.

Labeling a person negates the fact that there is always potential for change. We cannot assume future behavior based on past actions with any degree of certainty; everyone deserves to start the day with a clean slate.

When you are unhappy with someone's behavior, criticize the activity in a constructive manner. Don't label the person for life with indelible ink. (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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