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Haftarah: Melachim II 7:3-20

APRIL 16-17, 2010 3 IYAR 5770


"If a person will have on the skin of his flesh a "se'et" or a "sapahat" or a "baheret." (Vayikra 13:2)

In the days of old, speaking lashon hara could cause a skin blemish called sara'at. The Torah lists three major types. The se'et, which is white like plaster; the baheret is white like snow; the sapahat is a blemish that is one step removed in color from the other two, and we might call it an off-se-et or an off-sapahat (like an off-white). Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch tells us a beautiful hint in these blemishes that reveals a lot about lashon hara. The word se'et also means to uplift. Sometimes a person will talk about people to make himself look good. The word baheret means something clear. Sometimes a person talks about people because everything must be clear to him, including everyone's private lives and their secrets. He must know everything. The third one is the sapahat which means something which is connected to something else, like a tag-along. Some people don't speak lashon hara but they tag along with those that speak and don't have the courage to stop them. He can't beat the se'et or the sapahat so he joins them.

What's the remedy? Rabbi Shimshon Pincus says, it is in the Torah: "He will be brought to Aharoan the Kohen or to one of his children who are Kohanim. Instead of sitting and talking about the world and all of its inhabitants, connect yourself to those that learn Torah and are G-d fearing people who always emit purity to the world. Or one can turn to the Kohen of our time, the Hafess Hayim (who was a Kohen) and study his books on the subject. And finally, sara'at is always white because the one who speaks evil says he is white, he is only trying to fix the world, it's even a misvah!

Learn what is permitted and what is not, until you become an expert on the subject and bring purity to Israel and expect the Mashiah! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And he that owns the house shall come and tell the Kohen 'It seems to me there is a leprosy in the house.'" (Vayikra 14:35)

Rashi tells us that even if the owner of the house is a Torah scholar and feels certain that what he sees is leprosy, he should still say, "It appears to me" rather than definitively, "It is!"

The lesson we learn from here is very profound and yet very practical. We tend to be very sure of our perceptions, and we therefore jump to conclusions. Many times, however, our information is incorrect, or our inferences are mistaken. Because we were so assured of our opinions, we find it difficult to admit our mistakes, and therefore exacerbate the situation. However, if we learn to speak and think using terms such as "it appears to me," "I believe so," "I'm not sure but," then even if we were mistaken, it will be easier to concede and change our views. Of course, there are times when it's appropriate and necessary to make strong statements, but in many instances, by saying, "It appears to me" we will avoid confrontation and will assess the situation correctly and properly. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat.

"Increasing charity increases peace."

What peace is made by giving charity?

On the pasuk, "Do not glorify a destitute person in his grievance" (Shemot 23:3), the Ohr Hahayim asks, "What is the grievance of a poor man?" He answers, often the poor man is grieved about his economic situation and may express his frustration and anger against Hashem: "Why does He take care of everyone else and forsake me?"

When one extends sedakah to the needy, he refutes the contention of the poor man. Now that his situation is alleviated, his complaining will cease and he will be at peace with Hashem.

Alternatively, in our prayers we beseech, "He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace for us." What is the analogy?

Hashem called the heavens "Shamayim" because they consist of two components: esh - fire - and mayim - water. These are two rivals, since water extinguishes fire and fire can evaporate water, and Hashem made peace between them (Hagigah 12a).

The physical body consists of four elements: fire, water, air and earth. A healthy person's body must have a specific amount of heat, and the water cools the body. If the body temperature is too high, one can expire, and if it is too low, one can die due to hypothermia. Our prayer to Hashem is that just as He makes peace in the heights - between fire and water so that the heaven can exist, likewise - may He make peace upon us so that there will be an equilibrium between the fire and water in our body.

King Shelomo says, "Sedakah tasil mimavet - Charity saves from death" (Proverbs 10:12). Thus, through sedakah the peace between the fire and the water in the body is maintained. (Vedibarta Bam)

* * * * *

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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