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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23

MARCH 27-28, 2015 8 NISAN 5775


"And he shall remove his garments and put on other garments and carry out the ashes." (Vayikra 6:4)

This Shabbat is Shabbat Hagadol. The reading in the Torah is the perashah of Sav. We call the Shabbat before Passover the Great Shabbat because of the miracle that happened on the Shabbat before the Jews left Egypt. However, there is an important message in our perashah that tells us that every Shabbat is great.

The kohen had many important functions when he offered the korbanot in the Mishkan. One of those jobs was to remove the ashes from the altar. The Torah says that the kohen should change his clothing when he cleans the altar so that he shouldn't soil his holy garments. Rashi comments that from here we learn that the garments that one wears when he cooks a pot of food for his master should not be the same garments that he wears when he serves a cup of wine to his master. The Talmud learns from this that a person should change into beautiful clothing for Shabbat. Just as the kohen during his service in the Mishkan didn't wear the same garments that he wore while cleaning out the altar, but wore beautiful clothing to perform the service, the same applies to Shabbat. We shouldn't wear the same garments that we wore to prepare for Shabbat, on Shabbat. We should wear more beautiful garments for Shabbat.

Every Shabbat is a great Shabbat and it deserves our full honor. If we dress up for our important appointments, we should at least accord to Shabbat the same respect. Make every Shabbat Shabbat Hagadol. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Command Aharon and his sons" (Vayikra 6:2)

Rashi tells us that the word um-command - is needed to encourage someone if there is a loss of money involved. The Kohanim were being commanded regarding the Olah sacrifice which was fully burned on the Altar, and they had no share in the animal except for the skin. Therefore, in order to make sure that they did this korban with the same zealousness as the other sacrifices, the word tzav is used. We see from here that loss of money doesn't only mean an actual loss but even a lack of gain. The Kohanim didn't personally lose anything by doing this sacrifice. They just didn't profit, and still the Sages call this a loss.

This has major significance for us. We tend to do certain misvot with enjoyment and gusto, especially those we benefit from, either benefiting with physical rewards or deriving honor and recognition for it. But when it comes to doing things that have no glory attached to them, we may feel we are not gaining from these activities and even consider them somewhat of a loss. That's when we need to be encouraged, just like the Kohanim. Whatever we do in the service of Hashem, regardless of the instant payback, ultimately will benefit us in this world and most certainly in the next world. We should feel privileged to be able to help others and to fulfill Hashem's will, and we should try to do it with enthusiasm and enjoyment as if we would be getting rewarded on the spot. The reward will be had sooner than we could imagine when we realize how our lives are immeasurably richer. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"This is the law of the sin-offering; in the place where the elevation-offering is slaughtered you shall slaughter the sin-offering." (Vayikra 6:18)

The Gemara explains that the sin-offering was to be sacrificed in the same place as the elevation-offering so that the sinners would be saved from embarrassment; because anyone who witnessed his friend bringing a sin-offering would instead assume that it was an elevation-offering, which could be brought as a donation and not in relation to any sin.

Based on this practice, the Gemara explains that Hazal dictated for us to say the Amidah in silence, so that someone who is confessing his sins to Hashem will not be embarrassed in front of others.

The following story involving Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky shows just how far one should go in order to avoid someone else's embarrassment:

One day, a stranger to the town stopped the Rav to ask for directions how to get to his destination. The man had a terrible stutter, so Rav Chaim Ozer walked him all the way to his host's home. After the stranger was safely where he wanted to be, Rav Chaim Ozer's students asked why he had taken the man all the way considering his unusually busy schedule that day. Rav Chaim Ozer answered, "If I didn't take him there, he might have needed to ask for directions again, and because of his stutter he may have been embarrassed; to avoid this, I took him all the way myself!" (Short Vort)


It would be really great if we were in control of our own destinies. Reality, however, doesn't work that way. Life is controlled by many outside influences, and we are not always able to steer our own course. True, Hashem is in charge, but He has many messengers who always seem to force our hand.

A woman finally feels secure in her job - when the pink slips begin to fly, and she is out looking for work.

A couple decides on a place to live, only to find that circumstances require them to move somewhere else.

A businessman invests great effort towards closing a deal, only to have it fall through.

Or it might even be a plan to marry that is suddenly cancelled.

The best way to keep from going crazy as the winds of life blow us around like dry leaves is to acknowledge that everything comes from Hashem - without exception. Even the seemingly insignificant details of our lives are under His complete control. It is comforting to know that our Sages teach that all that Hashem does is for the best. Every change, regardless of whether we perceive it as a victory or a defeat, is, in fact, for our good. How often a forced move - something we would never expect to do except under duress - turns out to be, in retrospect, the best thing we could have undertaken at that juncture of life. The messenger of Hashem may seem like an enemy while actually bringing good tidings.

Whenever you find it difficult to deal with life's latest knockout punch, remember that it comes from Hashem and that He has your best interests in mind. Repeat to yourself: "Gam zu l'tovah - This, too, is for good." (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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