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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3

December 24-25, 2010 18 Tebet 5771


"And these are the names of the Children of Israel." (Shemot 1:1)

The week of Parashat Shemot ushers in the six weeks of Shovavim. The Kabbalists teach us that this is a time designated for improvement through teshubah on matters of kedushah, specifically from refraining from forbidden talk and guarding our eyes from forbidden sights. Protecting our eyes might seem too difficult a task, but our Sages teach us ??????????????????? - One who seeks to purify himself will be granted Heavenly assistance. They also teach that each day the yeser hara seeks to overpower us anew and if not for Hashem's assistance we could never win the battle.

On international flights, videos, often of an immoral nature, are shown. On a particular Tel Aviv to New York flight some years ago, the crew was preparing to show a film, when a flight attendant was approached by a distinguished Rosh Yeshivah. "Excuse me, but I have just spoken to all the passengers in my section, all of whom are religious Jews. None of us want the film shown in our section."

The attendant politely responded, "We understand your feelings, but we cannot honor such requests. The film will be shown throughout the plane."

Everybody was ready and the power switch was pressed, but nothing happened. The screen remained blank. Something was wrong. The flight crew became concerned. If there was a short circuit somewhere, this could endanger the flight. An emergency landing would have to be made.

Before informing the pilot of the problem, the attendant approached the Rosh yeshivah. "Rabbi, we sincerely ask forgiveness for not accommodating you. It was a reasonable request and we should have honored it. Now we have a problem. We can't get the film running and we don't know whether or not there is a short circuit, a potentially serious problem. Before we declare an emergency, we want to make one last try to see if we can get everything to work. If we can, then I give you my word that we will immediately shut off the screen in your section." The Rosh Yeshivah nodded affirmatively. The power switch was pressed and everything worked. The flight attendant then turned off the screen in that section of the plane.

If we make the effort to shield our eyes and ears from the forbidden, Hashem will help us to succeed. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Moshe said, [when he saw the burning bush] 'Let me turn and see this great vision.'" (Shemot 3:3)

Moshe saw a bush burning in the wilderness and realized it wasn't getting consumed. He decided to investigate this wondrous event and, according to the midrash, he either took three steps in that direction or turned his neck towards the bush. Because of his willingness to see what was taking place, Hashem appeared to him and appointed him the leader of the Jewish people. He took the Jews out of Egypt, brought down the Torah, taught it to them, and led them for over forty years. All this because of three steps, or just turning his neck.

We have seen many wondrous acts in our lifetime. At the time, they may not seem as miraculous as a burning bush, but when we stop and think about them, they are just as marvelous. They all point to a Creator Who rules the world, and Who has a plan for everything in this world. How often do we turn our necks or take a few steps to stop and see? How often do we think about the message being transmitted to us? The one who is fortunate to look a second time, to act upon it, may be getting his or her calling from Hashem! May we open our eyes and turn our necks at the right time to hear what is being told to us. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Why didn't Moshe pray to Hashem to cure his childhood speech impediment?

Moshe didn't want to cure himself, even at Matan Torah (when all sick people were cured), to remind himself to stay humble. Humility was his greatest quality, and he didn't want to become arrogant about the fact that he was the greatest leader in history. (Torahific)


Many situations can render people speechless. A confrontation with an important person, a frightening situation, or a set of unexpected circumstances can leave even individuals who are otherwise very talkative, dumbfounded.

Three of the hardest words for people to get out of their mouths are "I don't know." Many people feel that they must know everything about everything and give some answer - any answer, even an incorrect one - in order to avoid being classified as stupid by their friends and associates.

The urge to respond in order to cover ignorance can send people miles out of their way with incorrect travel directions. It can, unfortunately, even result in serious health complications when the perpetrator is a doctor who doesn't know something but gives an answer anyway to a trusting patient.

Our Sages teach that you should train your tongue to say, "I don't know." It prevents you from placing a "stumbling block before the blind." It also gives you the opportunity to learn and grow if you are one of those courageous souls who can admit to a lack of understanding.

When asked for information that you might not have, gather the courage to admit ignorance. Push the words past your lips: "I don't know." It's not so hard. After doing it a few times, it will become easier. As a bonus, you will start to accumulate a vast array of data from others that will turn you into someone who is "in the know!" (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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