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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5

AUGUST 6-7, 2010 27 AB 5770

Rosh Hodesh Elul will be celebrated on Tuesday & Wednesday, Aug. 10 & 11.


"Tithe you shall tithe the entire crop of your harvest." (Debarim 14:22)

The Talmud learns from the fact that the Torah repeats the word ????? (to tithe) that a person will become rich (??????) if he gives ten percent (????) to charity. A great story told by Rabbi Yair Weinstock teaches us that it is a zechut (merit) to give.

One day Rabbi Weinstock stopped in to visit the great Rabbi Tcheshik on an extremely hot day in Israel. He found the Rabbi not looking well. He got him a glass of water, and he felt a little better. The Rabbi explained that something happened today to cause him great anguish. He began the story which began five years earlier. Five years ago, he received a phone call to meet someone in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The Rabbi took a cab and found an old friend who knew the Rabbi from America. Robert Goldblum was very wealthy but had no children. He was worth fifty million dollars and he wanted to give all his money to Yeshivahs in Israel to further the study of Torah. But he only trusted Rabbi Tcheshik, so he wanted to put Rabbi Tcheshik's name in his will to be in charge of distributing the money. Mr. Goldblum expected the Rabbi to be pleased but he was mistaken. The Rabbi responded that it is impossible to know what will be in the future. It is better to keep a few million for yourself to live on and give the rest to the Yeshivahs now while you're still alive. He refused and could not be persuaded to change his mind. Mr. Goldblum recorded the Rabbi's passport number for identification, and he instructed his lawyer to enter the Rabbi's name in the will.

Today, five years later, the Rabbi got a phone call from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem informing him that Mr. Goldblum had passed away, and that he should come to the Consulate with his passport. When he arrived, the ambassador confirmed the Rabbi's identity, and told him to take a seat while he brought in all the people involved. The Rabbi wondered, what people? Did they gather all the Rosh Yeshivahs to the Consulate in East Jerusalem? What happened next was a shock. A door opened and over a dozen monks entered the room.

"So here we are," the ambassador began. "Mr. Goldblum has bequeathed his entire inheritance to be distributed among the academies in Israel where Bible is studied, and Bible is studied in the monasteries represented by these monks."

"Torah! Not Bible study. He was a Jew, not a Christian, and I am positive that he never dreamed of bestowing his wealth for monks to study the Bible! This is an enormous mistake."

"It's no mistake," the ambassador replied. "Had your friend desired to bequeath his money to Jews, he would have made sure that it was written explicitly in his will, rather than relying completely on the discretion of his lawyers, all of whom are devout Catholics. And since Mr. Goldblum trusted you, Rabbi Tcheshik, to decide, we have gathered all of the monks, and you will decide which ones will get the money.

The Rabbi just returned from the Consulate. He wanted to shout, "Robbers! Thieves!" but he could only let out a groan. Mr. Goldblum did not merit to give to Torah. He didn't have the zechut. It is a zechut to support Jews who are learning Torah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"If your brother entices you saying, 'Let us go and serve gods which you have not known." (Debarim 13:7)

The Torah seems to emphasize that these other gods which are forbidden are not known to us. What is the difference or relevance whether the other gods are known or not?

The Hatam Sofer points out something which is especially important in our days. There are always people who will propose ideologies which are considered revolutionary. Each one will make a claim that his way is unique, his way is novel and his way will be the answer to all of man's problems. Even though others tried it and failed, they will say that this is guaranteed success. The Torah predicted this from way back and showed how all these "new gods" are all false, just like the old ones. Just like we see new claims to dieting and other fads which are said to be easy and quick, and yet we know it's impossible to do anything without effort, so too when it comes to Torah. None of the "isms", the non-Torah ideologies have worked in the past and none will work in the future. There is only the true Torah way of life, which involves commitment, effort and perseverance, but ultimately brings with it success, happiness and blessing! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Take heed for yourself that you do not forsake the Levi as long as you live upon your land." (Debarim 12:19)

As B'nei Yisrael are about to undertake the settlement of the land, it is significant to note that the tribe of Levi will be scattered among the people. The Leviim will act as the nerves and arteries emanating from the nation's brain and heart, with the Mishkan maintaining the spiritual link and bond between the members of the nation.

Scattered among a population engaged primarily in agricultural pursuits, cattle breeding, and other related industries, such "unproductive" members of the community as the Leviim, could easily become neglected and even despised, if the people fail to appreciate the vital role of the Leviim in the spiritual and moral welfare of the nation. Therefore, the Torah reiterated the admonishment against neglecting the Levi "all your days upon your soil." From this we learn that the length of time that we are permitted to dwell upon the land actually depends upon the respect and reverence accorded to the Leviim, and their influence and dominance on our own moral and spiritual development. (Peninim on the Torah)


It's not so easy to get started on a typical Monday morning. The changes in sleep patterns that usually occur over a weekend upset the body clock so that even the simplest forward movement is difficult. The tension that builds into positive energy during a typical work week dissipates over the weekend and does not automatically re-form simply because it is time to get back to work. In fact, human efficiency is so low on Mondays that in the old assembly-line days of automobile production (in the pre-robot era), folk wisdom advised against buying cars built on a Monday!

There are some people, however, who find it difficult to move anytime, every day. This difficulty does not come from body clock maladjustment, but rather from a simple personality weakness: laziness. The symptoms are clear. "Not now" or "In a few minutes" are their responses to any request for action. Laziness prevents success, and lost opportunities accumulate as these indolent individuals sit idly by - spectators in the game of life, rather than active participants. Every opportunity or challenge is delayed rather than met and overcome, creating a catalogue of failures that these people just can't understand. They will blame the unhappy results on bad luck or any other of an assortment of "causes" - so long as the blame is not placed on their own laziness.

When you just don't feel like doing something now, take a moment to analyze your response. It won't take long to pinpoint the reason for your delay. If, by any stretch of the imagination, it is possibly based on a foundation of indolence rather than caution, remember the words of our Sages (Pirkei Abot 1:14): "If not now - when?" (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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