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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 66:1-24

JANUARY 20-21, 2012 26 TEBET 5772

Rosh Hodesh Shebat will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 25.


“Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Say to Aharon, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt.’” (Beresheet 7:19)

Our perashah contains a most important message. This message teaches us about the most important character trait that one must have to be able to dedicate oneself to serving Hashem. Rashi explains in his commentary on the above verse that Aharon, not Moshe, will hit the Nile because the Nile protected Moshe when he was cast into it as a baby. Similarly, later in the perashah, the sand was given the same treatment since the sand helped Moshe. One must show gratitude even to inanimate objects, because if one damages something he benefited from, it will have a detrimental effect on his trait of gratitude.

Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon said that it is not coincidental that this lesson is derived from the parashiyot dealing with the exodus from Egypt. The miracles of the exodus demonstrated beyond any doubt that Hashem created the universe, that He is all-powerful, and that He is intimately involved in the happenings of man. However, for this awareness to translate into dedicated service of Hashem, a person must possess the trait of gratitude. Only by recognizing the endless goodness that Hashem constantly bestows upon us can a person experience a true love of Hashem and be inspired to dedicate himself to serve Hashem. It is for this reason that great Torah personalities have always excelled in their trait of gratitude (hakarat hatob) towards those from whom they benefited.

This point is pivotal in understanding the inner workings of the story of the exodus. When Hashem told Moshe that he is the one and only redeemer, Moshe responded that he must ask his father-in-law, Yitro, if he could go. After all, Yitro opened his home to Moshe. How could Moshe contemplate not going to Egypt just because he owes Yitro a debt of gratitude? The answer is that the redemption is not only physical, it is also spiritual. The Jews were held sway under the tremendous trait of ingratitude of Pharaoh towards Yosef who saved Egypt. As a result of this, the Jews were influenced by Pharaoh and Egypt. Therefore, Moshe argued, how will the Jews be able to be freed from this terrible trait, which blocks one from serving Hashem? If his mission is to be a success, it must be with the exercise of gratitude to counteract the evil trait of Egypt. The goal is to create a nation that will serve Hashem, whose foundation must be with gratitude.

A day must not pass without sincerely saying thank you to Hashem. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The second plague to befall Egypt was the plague of frogs. As the children's song goes, "Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were truly everywhere." The amazing thing about this plague was that at the outset, Hashem brought upon the Egyptians one huge frog. When they began hitting the frog in anger and frustration, it multiplied again and again, until they were everywhere. The Steipler Rebbe Z"l asks the obvious question; Why didn't they stop hitting it when they saw the results of their actions?

He answers with a very profound truth about human nature. When a person is angry and does something in his anger, although he sees that no good will come out of it, he can't help himself. His anger carries him further to do what he knows intellectually he will regret later on. How often do we get into an argument and begin saying things we know we will have to take back. At the time, we feel that we just "have to" do this regardless of the consequences. Later on we realize how foolish we were and wish it never happened.

We should realize that the majority of the time getting angry does more harm than good. Although the Rabbis tell us that there are certain times we are allowed to act angry if we are truly calm inside and there is good reason for it, nevertheless, experience has shown that this is difficult to rely upon. Next time we think about losing our temper, let's remember the big Egyptian Frog, and think about the consequences. This will help us find alternatives to solve our problems without losing our temper. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Impatience is a personality trait of the young. True even in simpler, slower times, this fact definitely cannot be denied in our high-speed, fiber-optic, DSL world of e-mail, electronic transfer of funds, and wireless communication. Indeed, today the inability to wait has spread to the older, usually more patient age groups as well.

Some things are, in fact, so time-sensitive that we could legitimately label them “urgent,” but most issues are just not that important. The fact that an instant answer is possible does not mean that a quick response is necessary, or even beneficial. Often people answer unimportant e-mails as if they were high priority, just because they have gotten used to the concept of instant response.

Admittedly, getting everything off the desk and back in the other party’s domain has its benefits, despite the pressure it creates. However, an answer given on the fly lacks consideration and evaluation. Recognizing this can make you decide to delay your electronic response and answer a question only after thinking it through carefully.

You might even have the chance to get another’s opinions and insights on the matter, and may ultimately come to see the issue from a totally different perspective.

Immediacy is the enemy of reflection, and reflection is the mother of success. Before you rush to reply, think about that for a minute. Then decide whether your need to reply is really urgent. (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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