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Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34

FEBRUARY 26-27, 2010 13 ADAR 5770

Shabbat Zachor - This Shabbat, we will read an extra portion of Torah which commands us to remember what Amalek did to us and our obligation to wipe him out. All men are required to hear this special reading and even women should try to fulfill this obligation.

Ta'anit Esther will be on Thursday, February 25.
Purim will be celebrated on Sunday, February 28.


"And it came to pass in the days of Ahashverosh." (Esther 1:1)

As I sit in my hotel room in Jerusalem a few days before Purim, I put pen to paper and try to express some of my feelings that I have. The overwhelming emotions I feel as I live amongst the Jewish people in Israel is Ashrechem Yisrael, how great are you , Israel. After all is said and done the Jews in Israel live as Jews. The greatness of the Jews in the period of Purim is what turned it around to save them.

The miracle of Purim took place during what was surely the darkest period in Jewish history up to that time. The first Temple was destroyed and the all important ingredients of Jewish leadership were thrown into question. Let's put forth two ways of thinking, one is common knowledge and the other is Torah knowledge. Common knowledge is of the opinion of the man in the street that interprets the events of the day. Torah knowledge is the opinion of Torah that interprets the events of the day. Torah knowledge is known by Torah leaders who have learned vast amounts of Torah knowledge.

Rabbi Y. Viener quotes Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler and explains that Mordechai declared that it was forbidden to attend the feast, but unfortunately people did not listen. They knew that there might be issues of immodesty and improper interaction, but they decided to go because they felt it would be politically dangerous not to go. They did not want to appear unpatriotic. "Mordechai Hasadik knows halachah well," they said among themselves, "but he does not know politics."

They did not realize that by going, they would be party to the enormous hilul Hashem that would take place there. One of the reasons why the king made the party was to celebrate the downfall of the Jews and that the second Bet Hamikdash will not be rebuilt. In addition to this, there was tremendous immorality displayed. Although the Jews felt terrible to witness this, they still felt it was necessary to be there. One can be sure that after it was over, many of them remarked, "It is a good thing we went for now the king is happy. Who knows how many decrees were averted?" This was common knowledge.

Hashem didn't punish them right away. Nothing happened a month later or a year later or even eight years later. After nine years Haman gained power and decreed all shall bow down to him. Mordechai refused and Haman became angry and decided to kill all the Jews. Many Jews felt that again Mordechai was exhibiting bad leadership. This again was common knowledge. Mordechai explained that Haman's decree was not due to his actions but because of what happened nine years earlier at the banquet. This was Torah knowledge.

Whose side would we be on? To criticize Mordechai's actions or to attribute the events to what took place nine years earlier? The truth was that Mordechai had connection to heavenly knowledge which the common knowledge man did not. At first they didn't get it, but ultimately they turned it around and made teshubah. At that point the whole story turned around. This is what I meant at the beginning when I said Ashrechem Yisrael, how great are you, Israel. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim. Rabbi Reuven Semah

When Haman's great-grandfather, Amalek, attacked the Jewish people in the wilderness, the name of the place where he was able to fight them was Refidim. This was a station where the Jews were in a weakened state of Torah study, and because of this, Amalek was able to start up with us. Indeed, whenever a tyrant or despot threatens the Jewish nation, it is invariably because of our lack of Torah study. Thus we find that right after the Purim miracle, when Haman and his people were defeated, there was a tremendous resurgence of Torah study amongst the Jews, and this eventually culminated in the compilation of the Oral Law.

The week before Purim, we read Parashat Zachor, which is to remember what Amalek did to us. It is just as important to remember the cause that led to Amalek's battle against the Jews, and that is our weakness in Torah study. Let us commit ourselves to Torah study every day so that we can merit to see Hashem's salvation. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


In a course on public speaking, the professor recommended that his students begin their presentations with a good joke. This, he proved, was a time-proven method to get the crowd's attention and to open their minds to the speaker's ideas. Little did the professor know that the Talmud recommended this technique 1500 years ago: "Before Rabbah began his lecture, he would say something lighthearted to make the students chuckle…then he would begin his lecture" (Shabbat 30b).

This technique still works very well in today's high-pressured environment. Too often the weight of an issue - whether political, religious, personal, or financial - blocks the mind's clarity and constricts the ability of a group of sharp minds from remedying a situation.

Another portion of the Talmud (Ta'anit 27a) tells of an incident where a Sage asked Eliyahu Hanavi if he could identify who, in the busy market square, was assured a place in the World to Come. The Prophet pointed to two simple people. When the Sage inquired as to what merit they had to assure them such a great reward, they replied, "If we see someone in the marketplace who is sad, we make him laugh!"

Of course, like all good "medicines," an overdose can be fatal - and lightheadedness can lead to many bad results. However, laughter in the right dose and at the right time, on the other hand, works wonders.

Sometimes things really get tough, and your mind stops operating efficiently due to an overload of intensity. Find something light to relieve the atmosphere. When your meeting stalls, tell a good joke and watch things get back on track. A good laugh seems

insignificant, but it clears the road to lucid, incisive thought that can solve even the most serious and difficult problems. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


1. What are tree mistake in this sentence?

2. Johnny's mother had four children. The first was April, the second was May, and the third was June. What was the name of her fourth child?

3. There is a barrel with no lid and some rum in it. "This barrel of rum is more than half full," said Charlie. "No it's not," says Harry. "It's les than half full." Without any measuring implements and without removing any rum from the barrel, how can they easily determine who is correct?

4. You are walking through a field, and you find something to eat. It doesn't have bones and it doesn't have meat. You take it home and put it on a shelf, but three days later it walks away. What was it?


1. 1) tree is supposed to be three; 2) mistake should have an s at the end; 3) there is no third mistake.

2. Johnny.

3. Tilt the barrel until the rum barely touches the lip of the barrel. If the bottom of the barrel is visible, then it's less than half full. If the bottom is completely covered by the rum, then it's more than half full.

4. An egg.

* * * * *

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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