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Haftarah: Yehoshua 2:1-24

JUNE 13-14, 2014 16 SIVAN 5774


"Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves sisit." (Bemidbar 15:38)

In Czarist Russia, it was unthinkable for a Jew to achieve any prestigious public position. When a Jew in Kiev managed to get himself appointed as the head of a bank, it was only because he had become so assimilated that his Jewish ancestry had been all but forgotten.

While visiting the seashore, this banker witnessed a terrible tragedy when a body was washed ashore. While it proved impossible to identify the deceased, because the deceased was wearing sisit, he was given a halachic burial.

The assimilated banker came to the realization that although he had renounced his Jewish identity in order to further his career, this was only applicable in his lifetime. He had put financial success before living the life of a Jew, but he did want to be buried as a Jew, so he began to wear sisit under his clothes.

Wearing sisit had a profound effect on the banker, and he gradually undertook to keep more and more misvot. He eventually was forced to give up his position at the bank, and went on to become a prominent member of the Jewish community. We learn from this never to despair of a Jewish soul.

As a Rabbi for many years, I always made sure to be aware of the level of each member of the Kahal, never to push anyone to do more than he is ready for but, at the same time, never to limit any member of the Kahal. Always prod and encourage all members to grow at their own pace, without pressure. Never to give up on a Jewish neshamah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"To the Tribe of Yosef, to the Tribe of Menasheh" (Bemidbar 13:11)

When the Torah lists the names of the spies who went into Israel, it attributes the Tribe of Menasheh as being part of the Tribe of Yosef. This is very strange, since it doesn't do so when mentioning the Tribe of Ephraim, who is usually mentioned as the son of Yosef only with Menasheh!

The Da'at Zekenim explains that since the prince of Menasheh was one of those guilty of spreading slander about Israel, and he came form Yosef Hasadik, who was also accused of speaking against his brothers, we therefore attribute Menasheh's words as being a result of Yosef's words. However, Yehoshua, the prince of Ephraim, did not say any negative report, so he is not attributed to Yosef.

Amazing! Yosef had lived hundreds of years before this episode, and what he said against his brothers was in a constructive manner to his father. Yet the Torah wants us to know that our actions and words may have far-reaching consequences. We should never think of our deeds as being insignificant. They may have an effect on our families and those we influence for many generations. All the more so when we say or do good things, the effect can be phenomenal! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Raising children is not an easy task. Although the Talmud lists five things a father must provide for his son, the task of molding an infant into an upstanding young adult requires constant vigilance on a 24/7 basis. To a conscientious parent, life seems to be a steady stream of instructions and commands, most of which have been given before but require repetition. The stubborn little ones just don't seem to understand anything the first time, leading to the parent's common refrain: "Why don't you ever hear what I say?"

Spies differ from children in that they are always listening. Espionage experts have developed electronic devices that can penetrate walls and make even whispered conversations audible miles away. The secret agent has an insatiable desire to hear every little word in order to catch the single significant fact he needs to crack his case.

Spies. Your children are spies! They live inside your home, listen to every word, and observe every action. Nothing gets by them. They notice any inconsistencies or contradictions in your behavior - things you are probably not even aware of - and base their own actions upon them. To their thinking, if a parent can "get away" with less than desirable behavior, why can't the children, as well?

Many parents, when challenged by their offspring, have defended themselves with "Do as I say, not as I do!" But experience shows that the best way to teach children is to model your own behavior the way you would like them to act. The Talmud says: "Things those children say, they have herd from the father or the mother" (Sotah 56b).

Keep your promises, control your temper, and act politely. The spies are watching and listening. They will mimic you - for better or for worse. (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)

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