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Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34

MARCH 14-15, 2014 13 ADAR II 5774

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.

Remember to bring your Megillah to shul before Shabbat.


"I with my maids will fast also. Then I will go in to the king though it is sinful, and if I perish I perish."(Esther 4:16)

The story of Mordechai and Esther is full of profound lessons for us. The plan was for Esther to go in to the king and beg for the lives of the Jews. This was a plan full of danger because anyone going in to the king without being called was to be killed immediately unless in that second the king extended his royal scepter to spare the life of the intruder. Why would the king want to spare the intruder's life? The Megillah states: if the person finds grace in his eyes. So everything was hanging on that second, and how the king would view that person.

If so, all efforts should have been made that Esther should find grace in the king's eyes. Rabbi Elyashiv zt"l analyzes the situation and wonders what is the king interested in seeing? Is it Esther's righteousness? Her piety and pureness of her heart? Bottom line, the king is interested in physical beauty. If so, Esther should have used these three days to eat the best foods to enhance her beauty. Even unkosher food would have been permitted because after all, her life and the life of all Jewry was on the line. And so it was that she found grace in his eyes, as the Megillah states: And he extended his scepter. It was not because she was his wife nor because she was the queen, but because he liked what he saw. If so, the decision should have been for her to eat and beautify herself.

What was Esther's decision? Fasting for three days and nights! Her and her servants. It is understood that this debilitating fast took its toll on Esther. She could hardly walk. The Gemara says (Megillah 15b) that an angel came and put upon her a special look of "grace of kindness." This amazing look captured the eyes of the evil king.

How would we have reacted today? We would all be saying that she is risking all of the lives of the Jewish people. But, what did people say then? They believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the evil decree down here originated in the decree in Heaven. Therefore, we must first address the Heavenly decree and after that we could work on the decree on earth. We must first beg for mercy from the King in Heaven and then He will send a messenger to save us. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

When Haman's great-grandfather, Amalek, attacked the Jewish people in the wilderness, the name of the place where he was able to fight them was Refidim. This was a station where the Jews were in a weakened state of Torah study, and because of this, Amalek was able to start up with us. Indeed, whenever a tyrant or despot threatens the Jewish nation, it is invariably because of our lack of Torah study. Thus we find that right after the Purim miracle, when Haman and his people were defeated, there was a tremendous resurgence of Torah study amongst the Jews, and this eventually culminated in the compilation of the Oral Law.

The week before Purim, we read Parashat Zachor, which is to remember what Amalek did to us. It is just as important to remember the cause that led to Amalek's battle against the Jews, and that is our weakness in Torah study. Let us commit ourselves to Torah study every day so that we can merit to see Hashem's salvation.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Here's a great activity for a rainy day: pull out boxes of old photographs and take a walk down memory lane. Revisiting the places you have gone, the things you have done, and the friends and acquaintances you have known is a better trip than any travel agent could arrange.

You may find it surprising to see how much more difficult is sometimes is to identify all the people in a picture than to recall the place or event at which the photo was snapped. Group shots taken in the park, or at a party or charity affair, generate excitement as the game of "Who's that?" intensifies. But this game is potentially embarrassing, especially when parents have trouble identifying their own son or daughter, still in diapers, playing happily on the carpet or lawn!

Children change so much as they grow - from newborn to toddler to school age to teen - that, years later, one sibling can be mistaken for another in photographs. "My!" exclaims the slightly mortified parent. "The kids really changed - didn't they?"

Are the kids the only ones who changed? Look back at pictures of yourself, and compare them to how you look today. A wrinkle here or there, some hair loss, or maybe a little belly are the most noticeable changes. One thing is certain - as we age, we change!

Did you change? Your external appearance certainly did. One of the benefits of looking at old photographs is the fact that they can serve as a wake-up call for self-evaluation. "My body has changed - has my soul? I've matured in appearance - have I matured in character traits?"

In Pirkei Abot (1:13), it is written, "oodla moseef yasef" - one who does not go forward - goes backward.

The mission of a Jew is to constantly go forward, to constantly change for the better.

Take a minute for yourself to think a little about change. You can use an old photo album, a box of loose pictures, or the family photos on your desk. Time is passing. Your body is changing. Are you growing - or just aging? Self-evaluation may hurt at first, but it will put things in perspective, so that as time passes, you will learn how to become better, not just older. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


1. This is a bus: Which way is the front of the bus facing (left or right)?

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2. Four cars come to a four way stop sign, all coming from different directions. They can't decide who got there first, so they all proceed at the same time. They do not crash into each other, but all four cars go. How is this possible?

3. What is the difference between a dollar and a half and thirty five-cents?

4. It's been around for thousands of years, but it's no more than 30 days old. What is it?

tnediccA oN s'tI

"And [the plot] became known to Mordechai and he told it to Queen Esther." (Megillat Esther 2:22)

Why did Mordechai get involved with the plottings of Bigtan and Teresh? Why did he not simply sit back and allow them to assassinate King Ahashverosh?

Mordechai understood that it was no accident that he was privileged to overhear the conversation of Bigtan and Teresh when they discussed their plot to kill the king. Generally, when people are discussing matters of such great secrecy, they would take no chances that they may be overheard. Even though they assumed that Mordechai did not speak their language, they should have used greater caution. Mordechai realized that he was given this information for a purpose. Even though Ahashverosh was known to hate the Jews and his assassination might actually benefit the Jews, Mordechai passed the information along to Esther.

This is an important lesson for all of us. When we hear of a person who is experiencing hard times, we tend to feel sorry for him for a moment, and then continue on our way. We should realize that the fact that we heard about this person's distress (assuming that we were not engaged in speaking lashon hara, of course) is not by chance. It could be that his salvation lies in our hands, and by simply saying, "I feel bad for him" and moving on, we are actually prolonging his suffering. (Tallelei Orot)


1. Left, if it was facing right you could see the door of the bus.

2. They all made right turns.

3. Nothing. A dollar and a half is the same as thirty five-cents (nickels).

4. The moon.


Although it is a misvah to drink on Purim, please remember that it is forbidden to endanger one's own life and the lives of others. Please do not drive if you have been drinking.

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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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