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Haftarah: Yehezkel 43:10-27

FEBRUARY 19-20, 2016 11 ADAR I 5776


"You shall make garments of sanctity for Aharon your brother for glory and for splendor." (Shemot 28:2) The Torah describes the garments of Aharon as garments of glory and splendor. Aharon wore these special garments when he served Hashem in the Mishkan. Rabbi Shimshon Pincus adds that every Jew serves Hashem and his garments must be special. There are three requirements that Jewish garments must fulfill. They must be modest and not like the fashions of the day that aspire to reveal the body instead of covering it. They mustn't have Shaatnez. Lastly, the Jew wears garments of misvah, such as sisit. The sisit is a garment of spiritual light that saves a person from injury in the same way a mezuzah protects one's house. So too a kippah, which is like a crown, and like a candle of Hashem on his head that protects him from harm.

Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky tells an amazing true story of the garment of Jews we call sisit. The story takes place in Gaza during an operation that took place a number of years ago. As the fierce fighting in Gaza continued, the list of the dead and wounded grew longer. In America the Jewish people looked for ways to increase the spiritual armor that protected these young soldiers. People prayed for individual soldiers, said Tehillim for them, and learned Torah on their behalf. One project that caught on in shuls and communities throughout the country was a campaign to supply the soldiers with sisit, the strongest armor a Jew can wear.

Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff participated in this project and raised money to purchase sisit for tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers who did not have their own. After the war Rabbi Leiff heard a story that illustrated the life-saving power of this protection.

The soldiers of the Yahalom Counter-Terrorist Unit were a subdivision of the IDF's renowned Golani Brigade. They were assigned a delicate and dangerous mission that would take them, undercover, into enemy territory to search for a certain group of terrorists. To do the job, they had disguised themselves in Hamas uniforms, but underneath, they wore sisit they had just received from the American sisit campaign.

They entered the building in Gaza and began searching for the terrorists, knowing that any moment they could be discovered and shot. All at once, the mission went wrong. Shots rang out form hidden places in the building. The soldiers returned fire, while running to the roof of the building to lose their attackers or at least draw them into the open.

As they reached the roof of the building they saw a welcome sight. Glinting above them in the blazing sun, an Israeli helicopter had come to save them. But in one terrifying moment, their relief turned into panic. The helicopter was not positioning itself for a rescue; it was getting ready to fire! Suddenly, the men realized that because of their disguises, they had become targets. There were only seconds left before the helicopter would open fire. There was no time to make radio contact, and no place to take cover. The group's leader screamed out to his men, "Take out your sisit!" Frantically the men grabbed for their sisit and began jumping up and waving them in the air. Viewing the strange sight, the helicopter gunner held his fire. No matter what the men on the roof were wearing on the outside, their sisit had shown instantly who they were on the inside. They were saved. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

One of the eight garments that the Kohen Gadol wore was the me'il - the robe which was made of totally blue wool. It also had bells attached to the bottom so that when the Kohen Gadol walked it would be heard that he was approaching. The Torah emphasizes that these sounds should be heard when he enters the Holy Chamber and this way he will merit to live.

The Rabbis learn from here that although there are deep and esoteric reasons for these bells, on a simple level they are there to announce the arrival of the Kohen Gadol. We learn from here the importance of derech eress, common protocol. When we enter a room or a house, even our own, we should always knock so as not to startle others. If there are strangers inside, how much more so should we not enter without permission. Sometimes we think that since we're involved in a misvah it's OK to bypass derech eress. From the Kohen Gadol who is doing the biggest misvah we see otherwise. As the famous statement goes "Derech eress precedes the Torah."

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


When we were in school, we were taught that the true story of a person's life is called a biography. It should include basic facts regarding time and place of birth, education, family background, and people who influenced the hero. Then the author should offer information about the subject's accomplishments. What great things did this person achieve? Which traits should elicit our admiration and respect? How did certain choices and decisions ultimately lead to success and fame? And why would anyone want to read an account of this individual's life?

An autobiography is somewhat different. While it is also the story of a person's life, it is not told in third person. It is a first-person account narrated by the subject of the book.

Each of us is writing his or her autobiography. You many never lift a pen or write a word, but your decisions and your actions are "writing" the autobiography of your life.

This is not just figurative. Rabbi Kohen and Rabbi Yehoshua Diskin in the name of Rabbi Levi (Midrash Rabba, Ruth, Chapter V) state: "In the past, if a person performed a misvah, the prophet would write it down. Today, if one performs a misvah, who writes it down? Eliyahu (the prophet) writes it down, and the Mashiah and the Holy One Blessed-Be-He endorse it."

Even if it is not interesting it is being written. Try to find time every day to ask yourself a few questions: "Is this something I would want to include in my autobiography? Am I proud of this deed?...Years after I am gone, will this make for interesting reading?"

Affirmative responses to these simple queries will yield a "story" you would be proud to have others read. (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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