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Haftarah: Yehezkel 28:25-29:21

JANUARY 23-24, 2009 28 TEBET 5769

Rosh Hodesh Shebat will be celebrated on Monday, January 26.

Pop Quiz: Which was the first plague that Pharaoh's magicians could not duplicate?


"Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles and the laws from His mouth" (Tehillim 105:5)

If I were to ask you how do you define happiness, what would you say? Well, you might look it up in the dictionary. It says: Happiness is a feeling of pleasure, and joy. The thesaurus expands the meaning to include cheerfulness, contentment and gladness. Now if I would ask you what is your working philosophy of achieving happiness, what would you answer? Avi Shulman's answer is, "Happiness is when you are in a state of progressive realization of a worthy ideal." Progressive means moving forward or onward. Realization means to make real, to make it happen. The sentence taken together means, that when a person has a worthy ideal or a lofty goal, he is happy not just when he reaches his goal, but now, as he takes successive steps to make it happen.

On a very practical level, a housewife who has an ideal to create a happy, wholesome home, to nurture a family of loving, productive, positive, Torah observant children, is (or should be) in a state of happiness every step of the way. She should realize that the supper she prepares and the rooms she cleans are all realizations of her worthy ideals. The man who moves ahead every day in his learning Torah, doing misvot and earning an honest living is likewise in a progressive realization of his lofty goal and should appreciate his happiness. When understood this way, "happiness" is within reach of all of us and is not dependent on external forces. Think about the definition for a few weeks, try it out in your day to day activities and see if it fits.

In our perashah we see the great miracles of the Ten Plagues. In our verse quoted above from Tehillim (which is from the "Hodu" prayer in Shaharit), King David tells us to remember the wonders He has performed. This is referring to the miracles of the ten Plagues. Why is it important to remember them? The Tehillim tells us why, two verses before, "????????????????????????? - Be glad of heart, you who seek Hashem." Once you set a lofty goal - seeking Hashem - you are glad of heart. A lofty goal is to seek and know Hashem. Studying miracles is the road for those who seek Hashem. Once you begin, you are already happy. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Go to Pharaoh in the morning, behold he is going to the water." (Shemot 7:15)

Rashi tells us that Pharaoh would rise very early each morning to relieve himself in the Nile so that people would think he is a G-d and doesn't use the facilities all day long. Imagine the discomfort he had all day just so he could make an impression! Remember the '60's when people would drive in the sweltering heat without air-conditioning and still have the windows closed so that others thought they had? Of course, this is absurd; we would never do such a thing!

So how come we still make affairs that we can't afford? Why do we put ourselves in debt just so others can comment on our occasions? People always ask, why can't the Rabbis do something? Let's have guidelines for our own benefit. But will everyone listen? Will someone be the first to show that we don't have to impress others and fall behind in our payments to people we owe!

If we read about Pharaoh and say how silly to be uncomfortable just for appearances, shouldn't we take the lesson to heart and really do something about it? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"I will take you out…rescue you…take you…bring you to the land, and give it to you as a heritage" (Shemot 6:6-8)

At the Seder table we drink four cups of wine in honor of the four expressions of redemption. Why don't we drink a fifth cup for the fifth expression, "vehebeti - I will bring you"?

The first four expressions of redemption are addressed to the entire Jewish community. However, the fifth expression, "I will bring you," refers to the giving of Eress Yisrael to the Jewish people and does not apply to the tribe of Levi, because they did not have their own portion of Eress Yisrael. They only had 42 cities plus the six cities of refuge which were given to them by the other tribes. Since "I will bring you" does not apply to everyone, we do not drink a fifth cup.

Nevertheless, a fifth cup is placed on the table and called "kos shel Eliyahu" because he is the prophet who will announce the coming of Mashiah. When Mashiah comes, Eress Yisrael will be divided into 13 portions (Baba Batra 122a), and also the tribe of Levi will receive its own portion. The tribes of Efraim and Menashe will together have one portion of the tribe of Yosef, and the 13th portion will be for Mashiah. Hence, it is most appropriate to associate Eliyahu with the fifth cup, for through him all the Jews will be given a heritage in the land. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Lice.

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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