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Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34

FEBRUARY 22-23, 2013 13 ADAR 5773

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.

Purim will be celebrated on Sunday, February 24.


"And sending portions, each man to his friend." (Esther 9:22)

Purim is the happiest time of the year. Many of us are busy with mishloah manot, food gifts, to our friends. Rabbi Dani Staum offers a novel reason for the misvah of giving mishloah manot on Purim.

The Gemara (Megillah 12a) says that Haman's decree was punishment for the Jews' bowing to the idol of Nebuchadnetzar. The reason they were ultimately saved was that their bowing was only external. They bowed because they feared Nebuchadnetzar, but in their hearts they remained loyal believers in Hashem. So too the decree of Haman was only an "external" factor, which catapulted them to complete teshubah.

Thus each person knew that his bowing was insincere for in his heart he was still faithful. However he had no way of knowing that his friend, whom he saw bowing to the idol, felt the same way. Therefore every Jew suspected his "friend" of disloyalty. On Purim, we offer each other gifts to demonstrate that we are indeed all friends. Our celebration attests to the fact that not only do we believe in Hashem, but we also believe on the genuineness and inherent faith of all of our fellow Jews.

The Ohev Yisrael of Apt once quipped that there is a hint to the misvah of loving your fellow Jew in every perashah of the Torah. One of his students asked where there is a hint in Parashat Balak. The Rabbi replied that the very name of the perashah was a rashe tevot (acrostic for the words) of Ve'ahavta l'reacha kamocha (love your fellow man as yourself). The student replied that the spelling doesn't work out! Balak begins with a "bet" while Ve'ahavta starts with a "vav." And the last letter is a "kuf" while kamocha starts with a "kaf." The Rabbi smiled and replied, "With such particularity you'll never be able to truly love your fellow man." Rabbi Reuven Semah

The Gemara tells us that the Jewish people accepted the Torah under duress in the wilderness, and at the time of Purim, they re-accepted it willingly. How do we reconcile this with the fact that the Jews said, "gnabu vagb - We will do and we will listen," which symbolizes an acceptance of the Torah which is purely voluntary, without coercion?

The Midrash answers by saying that indeed the Jewish nation willingly accepted the Written Torah, but the Oral Torah was not accepted wholeheartedly until the story of Purim. The reason is fairly simple. If it says in the Torah that I have to do this, fine, that's the law. But if the Rabbis tell me this is good for me and this isn't, this I may do and this I cannot do, this is difficult to swallow. Who says the Sages know everything? Who says that I have to follow them? When the Jewish people saw that Mordechai was right for not bowing down to Haman, and he was also right when he said not to go to the party years back, they realized that Hashem was teaching a fundamental lesson. The salvation came through Mordechai and Esther because they are our spiritual leaders and listening to them is listening to Hashem. As we celebrate Purim, let us rededicate ourselves to the acceptance of the Oral Law and the guidance of our Sages so that we may merit salvation and redemption. Happy Holiday. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Sports fans develop a certain irrational optimism that cannot be explained. No matter what the score, and no matter how late in the game, they cling to the slightest hope that their hometown favorite team will somehow, miraculously, pull off a last-minute win. As the popular saying goes, "It ain't over 'til it's over!"

This is not a bad attitude to adopt in life. In business, the one who is tough and doesn't give up - even when it appears that bankruptcy is unavoidable - may save the business; persistence pays. No matter how bad the situation looks, don't give up.

Life is the biggest test and the most important game you will ever face. Your yeser hara (evil inclination) would like for you to give up. He tries to get you to feel that your past mistakes have put you in a position where losing "the game" is a certainty. Our Sages, on the other hand, teach that a person has the opportunity to make amends - teshubah - and wipe the slate clean even in the last minute of life. The only problem is that nobody knows when the clock will run out! Immediate action is therefore required to avoid running out of time before you manage to score the winning points.

When you start to feel that you are losing the spiritual game of life, restore your resolve. "It ain't over!" Get going and "score" with teshubah, misvot, and good deeds. Your revived positive energy will bring you the victory in the championship game. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


1. Your ping-pong ball fell into a narrow metal pipe imbedded in concrete one foot deep. How can you get it out undamaged, if all the tools you have are your tennis paddle, your shoe-laces, and your plastic water bottle, which does not fit into the pipe?

2. The captain of a ship said, "Once, two of my sailors were standing on opposite sides of the ship. One was looking west and the other one east. And at the same time, they could see each other clearly." How can that be possible?

3. A traveler arrives in a small town and decides he wants to get a haircut. There are only two barbershops in town - one on East Street and one on West Street. The East Street barbershop is a mess, and the barber has the worst haircut the traveler has ever seen. The West Street barbershop is neat and clean, its barber's hair looks as good as a movie star's. Which barbershop does the traveler go to for his haircut, and why?

4. What mathematical symbol can be placed between 5 and 9, to get a number greater than 5 and smaller than 9?


1. All the tools are random things that are not going to help you. Al you have to do is pour some water into the pipe so that the ball swims up on the surface.

2. The marines were standing back against the sides of the ship so they were looking at each other.

3. The traveler goes to have his hair cut at the barbershop on East Street. He figures that since there are only two barbershops in town, the East Street barber must have his hair cut by the West Street barber and vice versa. So if the traveler wants to look as good as the West Street barber he'd better go to the

East Street barber. By the way, the reason teh West Street barbershop is so clean and neat is that it seldom gets customers.

4. Decimal point - 5.9

* * * * *

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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