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IT'S A SECRET! by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Hashem will command the blessing for you in your storehouse" (Debarim 28:8)

Our perashah predicts abundant blessings as a result of keeping the misvot. The Talmud says that the word 'asamecha - in your storehouse' is related to the word 'samoi' or hidden. The Talmud teaches that blessing is more likely to come if it is hidden. If something is counted, measured or weighed, it is not likely to miraculously multiply. Open miracles are hard to come by. However, Hashem is more likely to perform hidden miracles. Therefore, if you don't really know how much you have in your storehouse, Hashem might multiply it for you.

The Mayana shel Torah says it is the same thing regarding the observance of misvot, the source of blessing. A person really can't perform misvot easily if he makes too many calculations. If you keep weighing all your options, the yeser hara, man's evil inclination, will involve himself in your business and stop you. Many times it's advisable to jump in and do the misvah. If you feel like doing it, if you are inspired, go right ahead, keep it hidden. It will bring you berachah. In this month of Elul, we need as many tools as possible to help beat the yeser hara and bring us a great year, Amen. Shabbat Shalom.

BE HAPPY, DON'T WORRY by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with joy and gladness of heart" (Debarim 28:47)

This pasuk teaches us that serving Hashem without happiness brings punishment to a person. The Arizal says that precisely because the Jewish people worshipped Hashem in an unenthusiastic manner, without excitement, they would ultimately serve their enemies. A major component of serving Hashem is being in a constant state of happiness. In fact, if we had not failed to serve Hashem with joy, we would not have been exiled.

The Yalkut Me'am Loez tells a parable which illustrates this point. There was once a king whose son was uncontrollable. His constant acts of disrespect and disregard for the law brought great embarrassment to the king. Often, his father would be about to punish him, but at the last minute, the son would put on a sweet angelic smile. When the father saw the happiness and innocence in his son's eyes, he couldn't bring himself to punish his son.

This is a great tool to protect us from punishment. When Hashem sees the joy coming from a person's performance of a misvah, He defers punishment. It is not enough to be intellectually aware of the greatness of the Torah and a Torah life. A personmust experience it with joy. If one doesn't see the happiness which Judaism brings upon us, he may eventually turn elsewhere to search for happiness.

Let's take the initiative in these days of Elul, as we approach the High Holidays, to do our misvot with extra excitement and happiness. This will serve us well on Rosh Hashanah when Hashem reviews our deeds for the year. May we all be written in the book of life and happiness, Amen.


"Cursed be he that does not confirm the words of this Torah to do them." (Debarim 27:26)

As translated above, this pasuk is ambiguous. How does one "confirm" the words of the Torah? The Ramban offers various interpretations of the word 'yakim' from which we may derive important lessons. First, the Ramban states that the word yakim means to "uphold and accept" the validity of the Torah in all generations. Consequently, the curse applies to anyone who denies the relevance of any part of the Torah. Accordingly, it is our obligation to impress upon all Jews the Torah's relevance as a living source of guidance for modern society.

Second, the Ramban cites the Yerushalmi in Sotah 7:4, which interprets this curse as referring to one who has the power to uplift the Torah, yet refrains from doing so. It is imperative that we see to it that everyone is availed of the opportunity to study Torah. No child should be turned away from Torah study, due to financial concerns, family problems or just not fitting into the image of its student body that the school would like to project. Conversely, those who support Jewish education are worthy of the prosperity, joy and happiness which preceded the curse.

The Ramban cites another interpretation which focuses upon the literal translation of yakim: Hold it up and do not let it fall down. The Torah must be placed in the Aron Hakodesh in such a manner that it is settled with dignity and not likely to fall down. In truth, everything in a shul must be respected, including the physical structure and its holy appurtenances. This same level of decorum should likewise be reflected by the congregants, who should show the proper reverence for a holy place.

Last, the Ramban says that the pasuk refers to "holding up" the Torah high for all to see. The one who is honored with Jillian, lifting up the Torah, should raise it so that it can be viewed by all of the men, women and children present. In a deeper sense, this idea alludes to our responsibility to provide Torah to all members of the community, regardless of their age or background. As the Torah scroll is raised up high for all to see, so too should its message be transmitted to everyone, so that it can sustain us all. (Peninim on the Torah)

Pop quiz: What were B'nei Yisrael commanded to write on large stones when they entered the land of Israel?
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