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Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34

FEBRUARY 27-28, 2015 9 ADAR 5775


"And you will command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you clean olive oil crushed for illumination to light a lamp continually." (Shemot 27:20)

The Midrash says: The soul and the Torah are compared to a candle. The soul, as it says, "The soul of man is the candle of Hashem (Mishlei 20) and the Torah, as it says, "The candle is a misvah and the Torah is light." Hashem says, "May My candle be in your hand and your candle in Mine. My candle in your hand, this is the Torah, and your candle in My hand, that's your soul. If you watch over My candle, I will watch yours. If you put out My candle, I will extinguish yours."

This is true in life, that if a person keeps the Torah fully without compromise, no suffering will come to him, as King Solomon said, "The observer of misvot will not know of any evil" (Kohelet 8:5). Listen to a true story (Tuvcha Yabinu). Once there was a young Torah scholar who got very sick. This young man, who was learning in yeshivah, had tremendous painful suffering. The doctors now said he needed chemotherapy in the hospital. When he arrived the nurse told him that in order to get the treatment he must wear special sterile clothing; therefore he must change before he receives treatment. The young man agreed, but since the hospital didn't have sterile sisit, he brought with him a freshly laundered sisit to wear when the hospital required sterile clothing.

When the nurse saw the sisit he was wearing she said very clearly that he can't get the treatment until he removed the sisit. He tried over and over again to explain to her that it was very clean, but to no avail. The young man held his own, refused to remove his sisit, and sat in the hallway waiting. After three hours in the hall outside the treatment area, one of the senior doctors walked by. He asked the yeshivah boy why he was waiting. After hearing from the boy the problem, the doctor went inside. A few minutes later the doctor emerged, but he was clearly upset; it was written all over his face . The young man asked what was wrong. The doctor said, "The first thing is to go in and get you treated with the sisit on. I spoke to the nurse. It's alright. And we will talk after to explain why I'm upset." After the painful treatment the doctor approached the patient with tears in his eyes. "I am a Jew who is not observant, but this time I was able to witness how Hashem watches over those that observe the misvot. When I went in to convince the nurse that the sisit is not a problem, I also looked over the procedure that you were supposed to receive. I was shocked to learn that the nurse was about to administer to you something that was not right for you. Had she given you what she wanted to give you, it would have caused a quick death!"

The doctor added that "It was a mistake, but had you not stubbornly refused to remove the sisit you would have gotten the treatment by now and who knows what your situation would be. Now that you refused the treatment you were saved."

As the Midrash stated, if you watch Hashem's candle, He will watch yours.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The holiday of Purim gets its name from the pur, the lottery which Haman used to determine the day on which to destroy the Jews. This seems to be a very minor detail in the whole scheme of the Purim story. Why choose this aspect to give us the name of the holiday?

The answer is that Haman comes from Amalek, who believes everything in this world is random happenings. Amalek was willing to buck the Creator Himself as the cause of everything that takes place and Haman followed in his grandfather's footsteps. There is nothing more symbolic of chance than a lottery. This was the method that Haman chose to decide the fate of the Jews. The entire story of Purim shows how all random events are linked up to bring about the great miracle of Purim. Therefore, the name Purim is meant to bring home to us that our destiny is carefully planned with precision and detail. Just as a lottery is really the will of Hashem, so too are our every day happenings, from the greatest events to the smallest detail.

When we read the story of Purim, we should strengthen our faith in Hashem, thereby meriting to have miracles and salvation speedily in our days. Amen.

Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Upon it shall Aharon bring the spice incense." (Shemot 30:7)

In the 2012 American Presidential Election Campaign, over one billion dollars was spent on television advertising alone. Projecting a positive image is essential for those who wish to influence the world, and publicity is the key. Exposure to the public is essential and the candidate's every move is professionally orchestrated to portray him in the best light. After all, without the world being told who this person is and what he stands for, he cannot possibly have any effect on others.

Whereas this might be true for the President of America, as Jews, we know that it is possible for someone to affect the lives of millions of people even though he does not actively "push his image" in the public forum and even if he has never been interviewed on television or watched one in his life. Our great Torah leaders are able to sit in their modest apartments in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak and direct the Jewish People by the decisions that they make. As Rav Moshe Feinstein writes, "When a person acts according to Torah with all of his might and with knowledge that only this [Torah] is the fundamental life source of the world, then even if he has never given speeches or derashot in his life, we learn from him, even at a great distance."

This, explains Rav Moshe Feinstein, is the lesson that we learn from the incense of the Bet Hamikdash, which despite being lit in privacy, its aroma traveled as far as Yericho and its scent was so strong that the women there did not need to put on perfume.

For this reason, adds Rav Moshe, the lighting of the incense accompanied that of the Menorah; for just as the light of the Menorah shone a great distance even though it was lit in privacy, and just as the scent of the incense covered a vast distance - so too, a Talmid Hacham who devotes his life to Torah, can literally change the entire world from the privacy of his humble dwelling. (Short Vort)


Author and life coach Avi Shulman suggests an interesting experiment. Hand a sheet of paper to a child and ask, "How much does this weigh?" The answer will probably be, "It doesn't weigh anything!" In fact, placing the sheet on a bathroom scale will seemingly prove the child right. Now, place a 500-sheet package of paper on the scale, and it will register four or five pounds.

The point is that everything counts. Whether or not you can measure the effect of every act does not change the fact that every little thing registers in some way. The accumulation of many little actions results in something very big.

In Pirkei Abot, (4:2) ben Azai states: Run after a "light" misvah as you run after a "heavy" one.

All day, every day, you make hundreds, if not thousands, of small decisions. What to eat for breakfast, whether (and how much) to give to charity, what route to take to work, whether or not to allow that tidbit of gossip to leave our lips. When you categorize these choices, you will find that they may be "small," but each falls into a "major" category of your life's priorities, such as decisions about relationships, fulfillment of misvot, or efficient use of time.

Soon after reading this, you will have to make one "small" decision or another. Remember: everything counts. Consider the cumulative effect of the seemingly insignificant choice you are about to make. By spending a contemplative minute before taking action, you can minimize the number of wrong choices and perhaps prevent an accumulation of bad decisions from growing into something big that can hurt you in the long run. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

Purim Riddles:

1. Can you circle exactly three numbers to make a total of 19?

8 2 1

6 8 4

1 2 8

2. Can you stand behind your friend, while at the same time he stands behind you?

3. One day, one of a pair of identical twins celebrated her first birthday. Two days later, the other twin celebrated her birthday. The twins were born 5 minutes apart. How is this possible?

4. 13 people came into a hotel with 12 rooms and each guest wanted his own room. The bellboy solved the problem. He asked the thirteenth guest to wait with the first guest in Room #1. So in the first room there were two people. Then he took the third guest to Room #2, the fourth to Room #3…and the twelfth guest to Room # 11. Then he went back to Room #1 and took the thirteenth guest to Room #12 which was still vacant. How can everyone have his own room?

rettalP a no giP

An assimilated Jew who disliked the town Rabbi and vehemently ridiculed and denounced him, decided that Purim would be an opportune time to get even with him. To fulfill the misvah of mishloah manot, he bought a few pounds of chopped liver which he molded into the form of a pig, put it on a platter and sent it to the Rabbi. When the Rabbi received it, he took a portrait of himself, put it on a platter and sent it to "his friend" with the following explanation:

"For a long time I have been bothered with an extra word in the Megillah. When mishloah manot is mentioned in the Megillah, we are told 'mishloah manot ish lere'ehu - sending of portions, a man to his friend.' I have always wondered, it would have been sufficient to say 'mishloah manot lere'ehu - sending portions to a friend' without the extra word 'ish.'

"After receiving your thoughtful package, my question was answered. The Megillah is saying, the portions being sent should consist of 'ish' - the type of person you are. Obviously, you fulfilled the misvah accurately and sent me a description of yourself. To reciprocate, enclosed is my picture so you may have a vivid description of me." (Vedibarta Bam)

!erehT nI s'tI

Hashem's role in the Purim story was so hidden that His Name does not even appear once in the Megillah. Yet, as Rav Pincus points out, the word Megillah is derived from the word Megaleh, reveal, because the very essence of Purim is for us to seek out the hidden miracles that Hashem performed for us and acknowledge His Divine Providence in the world. This task is so central to the day of Purim that the Maharal is known to have said that if someone would listen to every single word of the Megillah, but misses even just one word, he has not fulfilled his obligation because he did not get to see the full picture and therefore may come to miss out on appreciating one of the miracles that Hashem performed for us.

Revealing Hashem's hidden messages is not limited to reading the Megillah; the Torah itself contains countless codes proving that it could only have been written by the All-knowing Creator of the world. The following "code" was discovered by Rav Michoel Dov Weissmandl, known as the "father of the Torah Codes," and was retold by his student, Rav Yaakov Mordechai Greenwald, after visiting his Rebbe in New York a short time before Purim in the 1950's.

"Did I ever tell you how many letters there are in Megillat Esther?" asked Rav Weissmandl.

"No," Rav Greenwald replied, "I have no idea."

"Well, I counted! There are 12,196 letters in it altogether," he said with a smile on his face.

"That's incredible. But what is the relevance?" Rav Greenwald said, knowing that he asked the exact question that his Rebbe was waiting for.

With a smile, he said, "Please bring me a Humash. Start from the first time the letter aleph appears in the Torah, and count an interval equal to the number of letters in the Megillah (12,196). You will arrive at a letter samech. If you continue another 12,196 letters, then you get to a letter tav; and if you keep going for another 12,196 you land on a letter resh. All of which spells Esther! Amazing, right?"

"It certainly is," Rav Greenwald answered enthusiastically, "but where is the connection to Mordechai?" Rav Greenwald said with a grin.

"Try me again next year," was Rav Weissmandl's only response.

The following year, Rav Greenwald visited his Rebbe, and before he could even say anything, Rav Weissmandl opened a Humash. "You see here that the Torah writes the word Mor-dror, meaning "pure myrrh"? Well, the Gemara writes that this is where Mordechai's name can be found in the Torah. Now, from the letter mem of mor-dror, count forward the number of letters in the Megillah (12,196) and you come to a resh. From there, keep counting the 12,196 letters and you will get a chaf and then a yud, spelling out Mordechai!" (Short Vort)


1. 8 2 1

6 8 4 Note that the puzzle didn't ask for three digits to be circled.

1 2 8

2. Yes, stand back to back.

3. One was born on Feb. 28 right before midnight. The other was born on March 1, right after midnight. The following year was a leap year, so Feb. 29 came in between the two birthdays.

4. It is impossible. The bellboy didn't put guest #2 into any room.

* * * * *

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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