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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 51:12-52:12

AUGUST 9-10, 2013 4 ELUL 5773

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


"You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d." (Debarim 18:13)

Rashi explains this verse to mean that we should accept what Hashem has in store for us wholeheartedly with perfect faith, and without trying to divine what will be in the future. We often hear stories from people who went to Israel and visited a "mekubal," and were informed of secrets of their lives. These people will tell you that these mekubalim are clearly privy to information that they could not have known through natural means, and they are convinced that they can also predict the future accurately. Why not avoid hardship, broken marriages, financial distress and the like by visiting one of these practitioners?

Rabbi Frand explains that there is only one reason: It's prohibited! According to Rashi and the Ramban, it's prohibited. They hold it's a misvah not to try to "outsmart" Hashem by trying to determine what will happen in the future. The Rambam holds the Torah is giving good advice, not an actual commandment. Besides all of this, our Torah leaders, Rav Schach one of them, have warned us that many of these "mekubalim" are fakers. One should not go to these practitioners for advice unless he is already known as a saddik and a great Torah scholar. Even if we follow the Rambam's approach and consider the verse good advice, our Sages teach that it can be dangerous to rely on these soothsayers, even if they are honest.

Our Sages teach us that King Solomon knew the language of all wildlife. Someone once asked King Solomon to teach him the language of the birds. At first he refused, but the man pestered him until he finally relented. One day, after learning the language, he was walking in the field and heard one bird telling the other, "You see this fellow? His entire flock of cattle is going to die within the next couple of weeks." The man rushed home and sold his entire flock to the first man willing to buy it. Sure enough, two weeks later the entire flock died, and he avoided a major disaster. Some time later he heard the birds saying that his house will burn down to the ground. The man took action and again sold his house on time.

The third time, he heard the birds saying, "This man is going to die next week." This time he didn't have a way to save himself, so he ran to King Solomon for help. The King said, "I told you that I didn't want to teach you the language of the birds! You see, a while back you had sinned, and Hashem had to deliver some sort of punishment as a message to you that you should do teshubah. He was going to punish you by killing your cattle. The financial setback would cause you to repent. But you 'outsmarted Him' and sold your cattle. The same think happened with your house. Now the only option left is that Hashem will have you die as punishment for your sins."

This story might actually be true, or a parable, but the message is clear. We have to learn that when trouble comes our way, it is the best thing that could happen to us. We should accept it and try to interpret the message he is sending us with those hardships. Hashem doesn't send difficulties our way to make us suffer, but either as a lesson, an atonement, or to cause us to repent. With this advice we can spare ourselves much worse suffering that we might otherwise have to endure. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"You shall be simple with Hashem, your G-d" (Debarim 18:13)

After commanding us not to seek out the future using soothsayers and magicians, the Torah tells us to be simple in our faith with Hashem. The word ohŠnšT means simple and also means perfect, to be whole and complete with G-d. Even though the meanings don't seem related, they are really along the same line. To be simple with Hashem means to put our faith only in Him and not let ourselves be consumed by what may be and all the "what ifs" of the future. Although we must plan and be prepared as much as is the norm, we must not be overanxious or use desperate means to figure out the future. By focusing on the "simple" trust that Hashem controls everything and He can do anything he wants, we turn to Him with complete faith, and this becomes a perfect faith.

Especially in these turbulent times, when events are rushing past us at dizzying speeds and we are tempted by those who claim to know what's ahead of us, let us remember that simple means perfect, and that by going back to our ancestors' ways of simple faith in Hashem, we will get closer and closer to perfection. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


People mature at different ages. Some youngsters act much older than their age, and then there are older folks who never seem to grow up. The way you behave is a function of your emotional development and sense of self.

But what about the aging of the body? How can we explain the differences in physical functioning among people as they grow older? While it is true that diet, exercise, and sleep habits, as well as vitamins and dietary supplements, can retard the aging process, the fact remains that whatever you do to keep fit is still subject to your personal metabolism and pace of aging.

There are many active and vibrant men and women, well on in years, who seem young to all who meet them. Their enthusiastic pursuit of new goals, ideals, and objectives recharges both body and mind and injects them with new doses of youthful eagerness which, in turn, work to supply energy to their aging bodies.

If you should suffer from lethargy or even the aches and pains that come with the later years of life, take a look in the mirror. Is it the body that is getting weak, or is it the mind that is submitting to a lack of spark? Decide to take on a new project and watch your vigor increase. This initiative will keep the wrinkles and the pains of old age at bay, and keep you feeling young and vibrant. (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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