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Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26-6:13

FEBRUARY 15-16, 2013 6 ADAR 5773


"And they shall take for me a portion." (Shemot 25:2)

The Bet Halevi explains that the order of the parashiot, last week Mishpatim and this week Terumah, has great significance. Our parashah of Terumah speaks about making donations to build the Mishkan. Last week's parashah speaks about the laws of honesty in one's money dealings. The Torah is teaching us that first we must make sure our money is earned honestly and then that money can be given to charity. Our Sages tell us that the Mishkan was never destroyed because all the money used was pure.

One time Rabbi Chaim Volozhin had a group of Rabbis as guests in his house. Suddenly one of the guests mistakenly tugged at the tablecloth and all the glassware fell on the hard floor. Rabbi Chaim said that they should not think that anything broke. They looked and were amazed to see that nothing broke. He explained that the money used to buy them was earned with complete honesty and he has a tradition handed down that utensils bought with pure money will never break.

I recall about a year ago there was an interesting event. A shoplifter entered a store in the Bronx and stole some merchandise. Two employees saw him and screamed at him. The thief ran away with the goods and they gave chase. They caught up with him and held him down until they could call the police. At that point a crowd gathered and started heckling the people that caught the thief, saying, "Why are you calling the police? What do you care, it wasn't your merchandise. You only work there!"

Society's definition of honesty is very different than ours. It's up to us to raise the standard. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Make an Ark of cedar wood...and cover it with gold." (Shemot 25:10-11)

The Aron (Ark), which held the two Tablets in them, had to be made out of cedar wood and covered with gold from within and from without. Since this is one of the most important vessels in the Mishkan, shouldn't it be made totally out of gold? What is the significance of the wood between the layers of gold?

The answer is that the Torah must be kept in something wooden because wood is a substance which symbolizes growth. The scholar and the layman both must be like wood in the sense that they are constantly growing and improving. The gold covering symbolizes the midot, the character, which must be sterling and pure like the pure gold in the Mishkan, but the main substance which can hold the Torah is wood. The lesson for us is that no matter what our level of understanding is, we must try to increase our learning and be constantly on the move towards perfection. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Experience is the best teacher," declared Grandpa to his twelve-year-old grandson.

"In some ways you might be right," countered the precocious pre-teen. "It really depends on whether or not you learn from the experience.

There is a very big difference between the learning processes of humans as opposed to those of animals. Both have the ability to learn from experience, but the animal's potential is limited. Animals can only learn from their own experience. They learn to avoid situations that cause them pain, and repeat activities that bring them pleasure or satisfaction.

Human beings, on the other hand, can learn from the experience of others. "History repeats itself" is more than a catchy phrase. People who study events of the past and analyze their causes learn from the experience of others without having to live through each situation. Much can be learned from the mistakes of the foolish and the wicked, and students of human behavior can also grow as a result of analyzing the actions of the righteous.

It is quite true that if individuals merely repeat their behavioral patterns over and over, experience teaches nothing! Repeated mistakes just become more ingrained and sometimes develop into bad habits. Experience is a good teacher only when people analyze their own errors in order to determine and eliminate their causes. But if everyone continues to act in an unevaluated, habitual fashion, nothing is gained from experience.

It pays to take advantage of your human faculties, to learn from the lessons of the past, and to grow. Don't live like an animal. (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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