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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5

AUGUST 26-27, 2011 27 AB 5771

Rosh Hodesh Elul will be celebrated on Tuesday & Wednesday, August 30 & 31.


"You shall not eat any abomination." (Debarim 14:3)

Our perashah lists the foods we are forbidden to eat. The fact that the Torah calls these foods abominations implies that one would refrain from eating them even if they were not forbidden. We know, however, that many of these items are eaten - and may even be regarded as delicacies - and that observant Jews would desire them if they were not forbidden by the Torah. Why are they called abominations?

Rabbi David Feinstein explains that the Torah's very ban creates the desire to eat these foods, since "stolen waters are sweet" (Mishlei 9:17). As son as the Torah bans something, the evil inclination tempts people to transgress the ban. Another example of this can be seen in the prohibition against eating blood: "Only be strong not to eat the blood" (12:23). Although the Mishnah describes blood as "something that a person finds disgusting" (Makkot 3:15), the Torah finds it necessary to caution people to be srong to avoid drinking it. Clearly, the very commandment not to ingest blood creates the desire to do so against the Torah's wishes.

This phenomenon can be seen in the word ????????? - abomination. These letters may also spell the word ????????? - a claimant. Although the prohibited item is an abomination, it will "claim" your attention and tempt you to sin.

This idea can help us remain strong and committed to our Torah way of life. We should remember that all that they eat and all that they do, that the Torah calls abomination, are truly so. How fortunate we are to have the Torah to guide us. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"[If your Hebrew slave] says to you, 'I shall not go out from you' because he loves you and your house because he fares well with you" (Debarim 15:16)

The Gemara teaches that the owner of a Hebrew slave must treat him and view him as an equal in every respect, and he sometimes even has to treat him as a superior! However, the Gemara also teaches that if two Jews are in dire need of water, and only one of them has a jug of water, his own life takes precedence, and he is not obligated to give the water to the other person. Why is this case different than the case of the slave who must be treated at least as an equal, if not better?

A poor man and a rich man can live in harmony with one another, even though the poor man can't satisfy his physical needs like the rich man. Still yet, he does not feel inferior in any way to his friend as a human being. The slave, on the other hand, is always reminded of his bitter status as a mere servant of another man. Therefore the Torah goes out of its way to demand special treatment for him.

There is a very important lesson to be learned from this. We must understand that different people have different sensitivities. We must recognize each person's uniqueness, and treat him in a way that we will not hurt his feelings or make him self-conscious of his station in life. Let's take it upon ourselves now, as we approach the selihot season, to treat our fellow man with the proper respect, and to make amends with those to whom we may have shown disservice to in the past. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


In a business environment, people develop allies and enemies. This leads to office politics, one of the most destructive forces in the workplace.

While some people get along with everyone, others can't seem to blend into the corporate culture. Although an analyst would probably explain the various employees as different personality types, and follow up with a detailed analysis of why each behaves in a specific way, it is much simpler to zero in on one basic difference between those who get along and those who stand apart.

There are fundamentally only two types of people. Those in the first group can't find anything right with anyone or anything. They view every situation and every person as a problem. Individuals of the second type have a totally different way of looking at the world. "No problem!" is their response to all the vicissitudes of life.

The basic difference between these people is attitude. The complainer views all challenges and problems, while the positive individual views all problems as challenges. People who respond to new situations with a confident "No problem!" are actually saying, "We see the problem as another challenge which we must and will overcome. We must do what it takes to put it behind us and build the opportunity.

As you begin your day, stop and evaluate your attitude, see the world as a variety of challenging opportunities for growth and success. The bright new world you see through yellow-tinted lenses is happier and more satisfying than one seen through dark glasses.

This is the way our Creator prefers that we approach our lives, a way that will make life more cheerful and satisfying, regardless of the circumstances. (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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