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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5

AUGUST 14-15, 2015 30 AB 5775

Rosh Hodesh Elul will be celebrated on Shabbat & Sunday, August 15 & 16.


"Giving, you shall give him and let your heart not feel bad when you give him for because of this matter Hashem your G-d will bless you in all your deeds." (Debarim 15:10)

A true story illustrates the point of the above verse. Two men were waiting at a bus stop on a steamy hot day. They just missed the bus that comes twice in an hour. They couldn't take the heat and were considering hiring a car service that they couldn't afford. At that moment someone from their neighborhood pulled up in a minivan. He jumped out and rearranged his items in the back and offered them a ride in his air-conditioned minivan. They were so grateful and couldn't stop thanking him. He told them no need to thank, it's his father's car and he gave it to him on condition that he shares it with others. He was not young, and they realized that his "Father" was Hashem!

This driver recognized the truth that all of what we have actually belongs to Hashem and is given to us to use it appropriately. The Apter Rav zt"l says that whenever a person sees that he has more money than he actually needs for his living expenses, he should realize that the extra money isn't his, but that of the poor. That's the meaning of our pasuk above. Give the poor man what is actually his, for it was in order that you should be able to give him that Hashem blesses you with more than you actually need.

The Hafess Hayim says that when the Sages say that one shouldn't give more than a fifth of his possessions to sedakah they are not speaking to the wealthy. The reason for the rule is that the prospective donor's own life and basic needs come before those of another. "Your life comes first, but not your wealth."

The Ben Ish Hai interprets our pasuk on another level. There are some individuals who give very generous amounts to sedakah and resent what they perceive as the failure of others, including some far wealthier individuals, to give "their fair share." However, the failure of some individuals to pass this difficult test is what makes the actions of those who do rise above so much more praiseworthy. He therefore explains the pasuk above that says, "For because of this matter." The very fact that you are giving while others aren't, "Hashem your G-d will bless you in all your deeds." 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


The modern consumer is bombarded with claims. Every product is declared to be the best, the cheapest, the strongest, the most effective in its class. After purchasing the "Super, new and improved" item, the buyer is often disappointed with its good - but not great - performance.

Expectations determine satisfaction. If you anticipate 100%, you will be dissatisfied with 95%, while someone who expects 75% will be elated with 85%. That's the way the human psyche is built. The same result, the same quantity, can be a fulfillment of one person's hopes and dreams, but leave someone else feeling empty. It's all a matter of perspective.

It's fine to say that you can control your reactions by adjusting your personal expectations. But how can you satisfy the expectations of others regarding your own performance?

People can satisfy their teachers, parents, or bosses by under-promising and over-delivering. A customer or client does business with those who deliver what they say they are going to deliver. How close someone comes to delivering what was promised is the yardstick for consumer satisfaction.

We are all very accustomed to people who over-promise and under-deliver. "Trust me," they plead. "You will be satisfied." Then they fall short when it comes time to carry out their exaggerated claims.

If you want to be liked and want to build successful relationships in your business and social circles, learn this simple technique. Do as the Sage Shammai suggested, "say little and do a lot (Pirkei ABot 1:16). If you under-promise and over-deliver, your performance rating in the eyes of others will skyrocket. (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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