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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 51:12-52:12

SEPTEMBER 9-10, 2016 7 ELUL 5776

Rosh Hodesh Elul will be celebrated on Shabbat & Sunday, September 3 & 4.


"Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities."

In our perashah the Torah gives the formal command that courts be established in every city of the land of Israel. In addition to judges, the Torah requires the appointment of officers of the court who would have the responsibility to enforce the decisions of the judges.

Our Sages teach that there is an important hint in the pasuk we quoted. It could be read, "Judges and officers you shall place upon you," meaning, make sure that when you appoint judges you accept their authority on you, not only on others. Rabbi Dovid Kaplan tells of an imaginary conversation with a fictitious family, that could happen.

Moshe's son Yossi, who is sixteen years old, has been continuously bringing up the topic of getting an iPhone. After telling him repeatedly that it's unacceptable and having him stalk away in tears, his parents, Moshe and Sarah, have decided to sit down with him and try to explain what their objection to this instrument stems from. They feel he's old enough to accept their decision in a mature way.

"Yossi," his father began, "Mommy and I would like to discuss the iPhone thing with you." Yossi looked surprised. Until now it had simply been, "No," with no discussion, and, while he assumed his parents would still not bend, a slight ray of hope sprang up in his heart. "Dad," Yossi interrupted, "you said you want to discuss it with me. Does it mean I'll have a chance to talk or are you just going to say what your objection is?"

"Yes," Sarah said. "We want very much to hear you. In fact," she glanced at her husband, "we really only have one thing to say and after that we are all ears."

Moshe took over. "The bottom line is that the Rabbis have said it is assur and therefore any argument in its favor has already been overruled."

"Mom, Dad," he began after a couple of moments, at the point when he felt he could speak without dissolving into a torrent of tears, "I have something to say but I have to know in advance that you will let me finish and not call me disrespectful or punish me for what I say." "Go ahead," said Moshe. "I won't get into trouble?" "No." "No matter what I say?" "We promise."

"Ok then, I would like to know why you're holding me to a higher standard than you hold yourselves."

"What do you mean?" asked Sarah. "What I mean is that Mom, you don't obey the Rabbis. They have said that fitted clothing is inappropriate." "Yossi!"

Moshe burst out, but his wife cut him off. "We said we'd hear him out, and we will," she said firmly.

"Mom, almost all of your skirts are tight and we all know it. Do you think I don't see? Why don't you obey the Rabbis? And Dad, what about your computer? You never upgraded the filter that we all know how to get through, even though the Rabbis say without a proper filter, the internet is absolutely assur. Do you consider what I'm thinking when I walk into your study and you suddenly hit a button on your computer? But I should obey the Rabbis and not get an iPhone? Do we listen to the Rabbis or not?"

The room was as silent as an unplugged computer. Sarah had tears in her eyes and Moshe was looking down. The truth hurts. It doesn't have to!

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah "Justice, justice shall you pursue." (Debarim 16:20)

We know that every word in the Torah is important, and teaches us a lesson. If so, why does the Torah repeat the word ????? - justice? Isn't is sufficient to say - pursue justice?"

One of the commentaries learned from here a very important lesson. We have to read the pasuk as if it says pursue justice with justice." That means that it's not enough to have the ultimate goal of justice. We must achieve these goals using justifiable means. The ends do not justify the means. Just like it is obvious to all that we cannot steal money and "kosher" it by giving it to charity, so too with other misvot. When we are involved in our prayers in shul, we shouldn't be disturbing others by praying too loudly or talking to our friends. We shouldn't be promoting peace with some people by hurting others in the process. In every area of serving G-d we would do well to learn the lesson: Pursue justice using means of justice. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Heat Wave

The temperature rises and the temperature falls, and people react differently to the changes. When living in a temperate climate, you must expect variation as the seasons change. But you can't control the weather.

Some people love when it gets really hot, and others can't stand the heat but love the cold. Those who prefer hot to cold, or vice versa, must expect to feel comfortable during many days of the year.

In contrast to the extreme cold of winter and the humid, hot days of summer, spring and fall offer moderate temperatures. It is then that you can dress, go out and play, travel, or relax comfortably throughout the day. This should tell you something about extremes.

The advertising world works on selling the public on a client's product by feeling the pulse of the masses and capitalizing on their idiosyncrasies.

Recently, marketing experts have latched into the pulse of the public and determined that the jaded society we live in needs extremes to enjoy life. Extreme physical pursuits such as sky-diving and high-speed racing have been translated into "extreme" deodorants and "extreme" power bars and drinks.

Our Sages, on the other hand, teach that life is not only more satisfying when you behave in a moderate mode, but also that this is what the Torah prescribes for our behavior patterns. "One should take the middle road," says Maimonides, "and not go to the extreme" (Hilchot Deot 2:2). Generosity and stinginess each have drawbacks when taken to an extreme, and the same is true of mercifulness and cruelty or any other character traits.

When it comes to observance of Torah commandments extreme is acceptable, but when it comes to character traits the best course is the middle course.

You might find yourself over-reacting. Instead, keep yourself on track; don't drive yourself off the road. "Extreme" may be a concept they are trying to sell right now, but it takes a Torah perspective to redirect yourself to the safer lane in the middle of the road. (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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