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Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18-46:15

APRIL 15-16, 2016 8 NISAN 5776


"I will place a sara'at affliction on a house in the land of your possession." (Vayikra 14:34)

"On the tenth of the month they shall take for themselves each man a lamb/kid for a father's house." (Shemot 12:3)

Not infrequently, Shabbat Hagadol coincides with the weekly perashah of Mesora, which deals with the laws of leprosy. As we know, nothing is by chance. There must be a link which connects the Exodus from Egypt with the Divinely ordained affliction of sara'at of body, clothes, and property.

Rabbi Pinhas Roberts refers to a comment in Rashi (Vayikra 14:34) which helps to shed light on this idea. "And I will place a sara'at." Rashi explains, "This is a good thing to them, that afflictions are to come upon them, because the Amorites hid treasures of gold in the walls of their houses, all forty years that Israel were in the desert. As a result of the affliction, he breaks down the house and finds them."

Imagine the scene. A Jew wakes up in the morning and notices some ugly streaks discoloring the walls of his newly acquired residence in Eress Yisrael. He rushes to the Kohen and after a number of inspections, he orders the demolition of the house and the beautiful residence will become a pile of rubble! It's not difficult to imagine the grief of this family. Their world has collapsed in front of their eyes.

Say our Sages, do not jump to conclusions. Have a close look at the debris and perhaps you may find some gold or silver hidden there. And, suddenly, if discovered, everything changes in a flash. The tears vanish and smiles return. The ways of Hashem are impenetrable.

Is this not a parallel to what happened in Egypt? As the decades of slavery rolled on, tens of thousands of Jews wilted under the strain. Their despair increased with the duration and intensity of their bondage until even Moshe Rabenu was provoked into asking, "Why have you wronged this nation?" (Shemot 5:22).

In truth, however, this too was a judgment based on face value, without knowing the Divine plan. Instead of the original 400 years of slavery, it was condensed into 210 years to shorten their stay in Egypt and prevent them from falling into a spiritual abyss of no return. Like the leprosy which distressed at the time but led eventually to great jubilation, so too their very affliction proved to be a blessing in disguise.

In the midst of every adversity lies a kernel of salvation. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"For the person being purified there shall be taken two live clean birds" (Vayikra 14:4)

The "leper," one who has sara'at, after going to the Kohen and determining that his condition is cured, must bring certain sacrifices to purify himself. Among these are two birds, one which is slaughtered and one which is dipped in the blood of the slaughtered one and sent away. The Rabbis tell us that the birds, which chirp all the time, symbolize the cause of his leprosy to begin with. Most people are not careful with the way they speak, and end up speaking lashon hara, gossip, which brings on leprosy. The problem with many is that not only are they not careful with words, but they just chatter away, just like birds! If one constantly and continuously prattles on, with no thought to the fact that each word must be accounted for, he's guaranteed to get leprosy! So his purification is the bringing of birds, which remind him that as a human being, he must be watchful of his words and not chatter away without control! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Stock market analysts consider the market volatile when the prices of shares on the exchange move up and down dramatically. For most, life also has its ups and downs; thankfully, these fluctuations are usually not too dramatic. Still, our reaction may not be what is expected of mature individuals.

When people receive a Heaven-sent gift, they are very willing and ready to thank their Heavenly Benefactor. One of the easier obligations to fulfill is the recitation of the blessing of Shehehiyanu which is said on Holy Days, at weddings and other happy occasions, and upon donning new garments. People don't usually question why they merit joy. On the other hand, however, when misfortune strikes, many are quick to ask, "Why me?"

Why is it that when a "present" arrives from Heaven in the form of a business success, a new child, or some other gratifying benefit that life has to offer, nobody asks, "Why me?" When something good is taken away, people challenge why they were chosen to be "punished," but while a benefit is being enjoyed, they take it as deserved and fail to consider why they merit this blessing.

The mature approach is to accept that everything we receive is by Heavenly decree, and to also accept that it is what is best for the recipient - whether profit or loss, pleasure or pain.

When something happens that you feel is negative and undeserved by someone such as yourself, remember that we start our day with the words "Modeh Ani - I thank You, Hashem." Thank Him for another day of life, and for whatever He deems that day should bring into your life. We shouldn't ask "Why me?" but, instead, happily accept that Hashem has chosen to give us another day to enjoy in this world. Starting your day this way will raise your level of appreciation and help you see that "fair" or not, life is a gift for which you should be thankful. (One Minute with Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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