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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5

AUGUST 2-3, 2013 27 AB 5773

Rosh Hodesh Elul will be celebrated on Tuesday & Wednesday, August 6 & 7.


"When Hashem your G-d will broaden your boundary as He spoke to you and you say, 'I would eat meat.'" (Debarim 12:20)

Moshe Rabenu explained to the Israelites that when they settle in the Land and follow the Torah, they would find success in their endeavors and Hashem would expand their borders. When this occurred they would desire meat and they would be allowed to eat it anywhere they wished. While the Jews were in the desert they were permitted to eat meat, but only meat from the offerings in the Mishkan. However, when the people entered the Land and lived far away due to the expansion of the borders, they could then eat meat at home even if it wasn't from a korban. The broadening of the boundaries is referring to distance from the Mishkan, but it also refers to wealth and success.

Rashi explains: The Torah here has taught proper conduct, that a person should not desire to eat meat, except out of broadness of hands and wealth. Rabbi Benzion Shafier asks that Rashi seems difficult to understand. What is wrong with desiring meat? The Torah might tell me that if I can't afford meat, I shouldn't eat it. If it is beyond my means and purchasing it would create an undue burden on my budget, I couldn't buy it. But what's wrong with simply wanting it?

The answer to this can be understood by focusing on the distinction between pleasure and lust. Pleasure is the amount of enjoyment you receive from a given activity. Lust is the pull you have to engage in that activity. Pleasures are things that Hashem created for man to enjoy. Passions, or lusts, are things man must learn to control. As unusual as it may sound, most people fail to make a distinction between pleasure and passion.

Hashem created us to be happy. If one brings new desires into his world, desires he can't possibly fulfill, he is destined to be miserable. He will be constantly wanting, constantly hungry; his life will become the opposite of a pleasurable existence. Our desires are things that we can and must control. If we have the capacity to fulfill the desire to eat meat, we can allow those desires to surface. Hashem created many pleasures for man to enjoy and we should use those pleasures to better serve Him. 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


Human beings have an innate need to be in touch with others. Knowing that others care about us is essential to our self-esteem and general mental health. "Small talk" is a big issue that relieves frustrations and gives life to the lonely.

Understanding the need for connection to others, however, does not explain the addiction to telephones and e-mail. Life is certainly more fast-paced and hectic than it was twenty-five years ago. Response time can determine success or failure, but it is no excuse for rudeness.

And rudeness seems to be the order of the day. Although most individuals spend precious few moments a day with a spouse, sibling, or other family member, they often spend this valuable time pressing little buttons with their thumbs rather than connecting directly with the live person before them. Or people go to a house of worship - and suddenly their specially downloaded ring tones blare out and disturb others. Similarly, there are those who carry on loud - and often long - phone conversations while traveling on public transportation or carpooling with friends. This is not pleasant for the vehicle's other occupants, to say the least.

The solution is really simple to understand and difficult to achieve: Go on a wireless diet. Cut back on your connected hours. Turn your wireless devices off when you are in company or in a place where your conversation deserves the old "phone booth" privacy. Give yourself and your neighbors a break. Try this, and your reduced consumption of cellular spam will increase your self-esteem and self-respect in your eyes and in the eyes of others. (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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