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Haftarah: Shemuel I 20:18-42


"Yitzhak pleaded to Hashem opposite his wife for she was childless." (Beresheet 25:21)

The Sages note that the Matriarchs, Sarah, Ribkah and Rachel were barren. The commentators explain that their experiences prove that the emergence of the nation of Israel is a miracle, because each new generation was a gift of Hashem to a mother who could not have given birth naturally. One might ask; why did Hashem do this? After all, Hashem could have given them the ability to have children. The Gemara (Yebamot 64a) asks this question, and explains that Hashem desires the prayers of saddikim. Their pleas for mercy and attempts at self-improvement show how human beings can raise themselves to spiritual heights. The Michtav Me'Eliyahu explains that prayers are not merely a means of asking Hashem to grant us our needs. Through our prayers, we can develop a true closeness.

Rabbi Elya Roth of Jerusalem would tell his students, "Do you understand the essence of the prayers that you say before Hashem? Do you ponder the meaning of the words that you utter before Him? Have you ever experienced the closeness one should feel when he says to Hashem 'Baruch Atah' ('Blessed are You')…?"

A student related, "Once I met R' Elya at a minyan for Minhah in shul located in Jerusalem's Bucharim neighborhood, quite a distance from his apartment in Battei Ungarin. I asked him, 'Wouldn't it be easier for you to pray close at home?' R' Elya replied, 'Who comes to pray in this shul? Carpenters, painters, plumbers and storekeepers… they stop whatever they are doing in the middle of the work day, even if they stand to lose some profit and come to pray with a minyan. Such a prayer is very precious and immediately ascends above. I want my own prayers to go up together with the prayers of these precious Jews.'"

I am so proud of our community members that have many minyanim of Minhah in Manhattan. They stop whatever they are doing, even though they are very busy, to get close to Hashem and pray. How great is their merit. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Esav came from the field and he was tired." (Beresheet 25:29)

Rabbi Nissan Alpert z"l points out that this is the first time the Torah uses the word "ayef" - tired. When a word is introduced to us in the Torah in a certain context, we are supposed to learn from that usage and apply that same meaning all over.

Abraham was one of the busiest men we have ever seen. He traveled from place to place, building altars, serving guests, being tested and passing those tests successfully, and we never find that he was tired. He lived for 175 years and had a full and very involved life and yet the Torah never describes him as tired. We know from our own experiences of great people who are very busy, involved in a million things, and we never perceive them as tired. The lesson here is that someone who is involved with a spiritual dimension to his life has the energy for many more things than someone who is just existing a mundane life. Esav was busy doing sins on the day he sold his birthright and he was not rejuvenated by anything spiritual of any meaning. Therefore, he was "tired." If we fill our lives with meaning, if we have spiritual contact in the things we do, we will have the spice and sparkle which will keep us from getting stale. Only someone who lives a life of materialism, without letting Hashem into his world, will become "tired" easily. Let us be like Abraham and have the energy for much more in our lives. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And Ya'akob was a simple 9perfect) man dwelling in tents." (Beresheet 25:27)

Many definitions are applied to the word "tam" - simple, plain, scholarly, single-minded, etc. These attributes all apply to Ya'akob's character. The phrase "dwelling in tents" seems to refer to his amazing diligence in Torah study. Noting the plural term "tents", the Midrash interprets the Torah's emphasis to be a message that Ya'akob went from one tent of Torah to another seeking whatever Torah knowledge was available. It therefore seems peculiar that the word used for describing Ya'akob's singular devotion to Torah study is "dwelling." Would it not have been more appropriate to state that "Ya'akob studies" in the tents of Torah, rather than dwells in them?

We may derive from this pasuk that it was not only Ya'akob's extraordinary diligence which distinguished him, but rather it was his entire attitude towards Torah study. Ya'akob "dwelled" in the Bet Hamidrash. The relationship between Ya'akob and the Torah was not measured by the amount of time he spent studying it, but by the manner in which he focused his entire life around Torah. Ya'akob did not merely study in the Yeshivah; his home and place of sustenance was the Yeshivah. Hence the term Yehsivah (a place for Torah study) is more than an educational institution for the scholarly study of Torah. It is a ben Torah's home in which his life is completely enveloped and guided by Torah study. (Peninim on the Torah)


"And Ya'akob said, 'Sell this day your birthright to me.'" (Beresheet 25:31)

The Midrash cites that Ya'akob resorted to self-sacrifice in order to attain the birthright from Esav. It continues to justify Ya'akob's desire for the birthright. This seems puzzling, for we have no indication of self-sacrifice on Ya'akob's part in order to gain the birthright. The Torah only mentions that Ya'akob was able to exact the birthright from Esav through cunning and guile. We may suggest that Ya'akob indeed displayed a magnificent sublime form of self-sacrifice. The attribute which characterized Ya'akob is emet (truth) and he excelled in it. For Ya'akob to resort to what seems to be subterfuge, even justifiably, goes against the very essence of his personality. His inability to act with complete veracity at that point is tantamount to the most supreme form of self-sacrifice. (Peninim on the Torah)


"And he dug a third well and they did not fight over it; he called it 'Rehobot,' saying, 'Now G-d made ample space for us and we shall be fruitful in the land.'" (Beresheet 26:22)

What is the significance of the three wells?

The three wells represent the three Batei Mikdash. They are the wells of "living waters" which broughtr, and will bring, spiritual life to the Jewish people.

In the times of the first "well," the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnesar fought with the Jews, ultimately destroying the Bet Hamikdash. Afterwards, the second Bet Hamikdash was built. War was declared by Titus (Caesar) and his armies, and eventually this Bet Hamikdash, too, was destroyed.

Now Ytitzhak, after fighting over the second well, moved away. A period of time passed, and finally he dug a third well. This time there was peace and tranquility.

Similarly, since the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash, we were exiled from our Holy Land - Eress Yisrael, and a long period of time has elapsed. We are eagerly awaiting a third Bet Hamikdash, and hopefully, we will soon happliy proclaim, "Now G-d has made ample space for us and we shall be fruitful in the land." (Vedibarta Bam)

How do we see from this perashah that we shouldn't skip saying korbanot in the prayers?

Esav rejected and despised the future service in the Bet Hamikdash. We must not follow in his ways of ignoring and skipping korbanot, which in a sense is a type of contempt. Every man must say at least the pesukim mentioning the Olat Hatamid and ketoret every day. This is the minimal requirement! (Torahific)


Recently someone mentioned four sisters who had grown up to become very special women. They had not only raised beautiful families, but also served as community volunteers in a variety of do-good organizations.

"That's amazing!" replied the impressed listener. "Sometimes we see that one child or another from a family succeeds well beyond the accomplishments of his or her siblings, but for all four to succeed so spectacularly is truly a feat!"

It was not long after the question was raised that a friend of one of these special sisters learned the secret to this foursome's success.

"We were really very ordinary girls," admitted one of the siblings. "None of us was really very smart or very pretty. But," she added, "our mother always encouraged us with constant love and praise. Our lives were a series of compliments and words of encouragement which made us believe we could succeed at whatever we wanted to do."

The lesson is simple. An inspired individual will outperform an uninspired person. A person with confidence will achieve where others fear to tread.

Most people, however, feel that just as some people are tall and some are short, some are born confident and others are not. This is simply not true. A person can grow confident through the encouragement of parents, teachers, co-workers, and friends. Any word of praise will increase an individual's self-confidence.

The Torah calls us a Nation of Kohanim. It informs us of our special status, then charges us with the responsibility of conducting ourselves in accordance with our exalted positions.

Many don't realize that they can increase their own potential for success by reading inspirational and motivational material. They can surround themselves with people who exude confidence and breed success. Such an environment will create a positive mood.

There will be times when you might begin to doubt your own ability to achieve one of your goals, whether physical or spiritual. Think positively about any past success. Think back to something you thought you could never do - but did. Carry a motivational pocket book and pull it out at the right time, or call one of those positive people who just seem to get everything right, and ask for a boost. It only takes a minute, but you will "learn" self-confidence that you will use for success in other situations. (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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