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Haftarah: Shemuel I 20:18-42

NOVEMBER 13-14, 2015 2 KISLEV 5776


"The voice is Jacob's voice but the hands are Esav's hands." (Beresheet 27:22)

The episode of the blessings of Yitzhak is one of the most crucial episodes in the Torah. This is so because the decision about which son was to receive the patriarchal blessings would determine which would be G-d's chosen people. The eternal destinies of Jacob and Esav and their offspring were in the balance.

The Oznayim Latorah has a powerful message for us. If we wish in our days to learn from our forefather, Jacob, who merited Yitzhak's blessings, we must consider that his "voice" was a natural real part of him. He learned Torah in his father's house, in the Yeshivah of Shem and Eber, when he was watching over Laban's sheep, and when he returned to the land of Canaan. By contrast, his "hands of Esav" were an artificial, temporary "adornment" of goatskin, so that he could resemble Esav when necessary. When Esav threatened war, even though Jacob was a mighty soldier, he steadfastly held back from battle. The Torah testifies as to Jacob's "fear" and "distress" (32:8), that he was afraid both of "being killed" and of "killing others" (see Rashi). It didn't matter to him whose blood, only that blood should not be shed.

If in this generation we must learn to be soldiers as a defense against our enemies, we must only wear "Esav's gloves" on our hands. Our hands themselves, and our hearts, must be faithful to the living G-d, and the voice of Jacob, and our heritage must not be weakened. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"[Yitzhak] called the well 'Esek' because they argued about it." (Beresheet 26:20)

When Yitzhak lived near the Philistines, they were jealous of him, and whatever he tried to do, they attempted to block it. When he dug wells they tried to stuff them with sand, so as not to be usable. It is interesting to note that Yitzhak gave the wells special names, which is meant to teach us something. The word "Esek," although it is used to mean "argument," really means "to get involved with" or "to get entangled with." The lesson we can learn from here is that Yitzhak realized this well needed too much involvement with it, which ultimately led to arguments. Therefore, he let it go, and dug a different well. For someone like Yitzhak, who spent his whole life serving Hashem, it wasn't worth it to hassle about this well, since it would involve him too much. He would ultimately lose out on his service to Hashem.

We can see this in our own lives very often. Sometimes we want to do things, thinking that they are hassle-free, but then we see that we get too involved. At that point, we can either let go and do something else, or try to force the issue and get entangled. This could lead to arguments, and to being taken up with something we didn't want. We should learn from Yitzhak and go on to the next thing - don't get involved unless necessary. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"How come you never have time to go anywhere with the kids?" Sarah peevishly asked her husband. "I really would like to," replied Jack, "but I am always too busy making a living - or simply too exhausted - to enjoy the family.

Sarah stared out the window for a few moments as she carefully considered his words. "Why don't you analyze how you spend your time," she finally suggested, "and maybe we could reset your priorities to make time for us?"

The exercise that Sarah proposed would benefit most people. It might even shock some who function on auto-pilot just to keep up with their overloaded schedules.

There was a time when people were mainly concerned with acquiring the basic necessities: food, clothing, and shelter. In today's world, these basics are covered for many members of the populace. (Of course, there is still a poverty level about which we must all be concerned, but the general standard of living is higher than it has ever been.)

The problem today in Western society is not what to live "on," but what to live "for." Leisure time has become an industry. Sports, exercise, travel, and entertainment advertisements vie for the attention of pleasure-seeking consumers. The choices people make in deciding what to do with free time tells much about their values and spiritual maturity. Time is a valuable commodity; it's not at all "free."

Conduct and record a time study of your own. Evaluate how much time you spend earning a living, and how much time you spend actually living. Your value system may need some adjustment, but in the expensive game called life, it pays to do damage control and cut your losses as soon as possible. (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)

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