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Haftarah: Yehezkel 28:25-29:21

JANUARY 8-9, 2016 28 TEBET 5776

Rosh Hodesh Shebat will be celebrated on Monday, January 11.


(Shemot 13:14) " ?? ?"

"When your son asks you at a later time saying, 'What is this?'"

The members of our synagogue suffered from two tragedies this past week. We lost two grandchildren, two precious neshamot. We as a congregation prayed for them for a long time, and we mourn their passing and we wish to console the grandparents, as well as the parents. I would like to dedicate my message this week to them with a beautiful message from Rabbi Shimon Schwab from next week's perashah. May this message be le'ilui nishmatam.

The Ba'al Hagadah tells us that the Tam, the simpleton asks, "What is this?" However, Rashi on this pasuk says that zeh tinok tipesh - this is a foolish son. One might ask, what is foolish about this question? Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch z"l answers with a parable to explain the pasuk in Tehillim, "Uchsil lo yabin et zot (91:78).

A person entered the cockpit of a plane and noticed the various instruments, levers, gauges, and flashing lights. He saw the wheels spinning and the dials rotating but comprehended not a single thing about any of the instruments, which determined the airplane's thrust, altitude, velocity, etc. Although the person knew nothing about aeronautics, seeing the maze of technology, his curiosity was piques. He pointed to one dial and asked the pilot, "What is this? Why does this particular dial turn from left to right, instead of from right to left?"

Were such a scenario to occur, the pilot would express incredulity, and view the questioner as a fool. How does a person who knows nothing about aeronautics zero in on one insignificant detail? Obviously the pilot will not be able to explain one detail of a plane's function to someone who knows nothing about its overall operation.

Similarly, David Hamelech says that a wise man who observes Hashem's mysterious conduct in this world realizes that he cannot understand Hashem's ways and that he had best remain silent. However, a kesil, a fool, lo yabin, will claim that he does not understand et zot, just this one thing. "Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer?" he asks, as if he understands everything else regarding Hashem's conduct in the world. Such a person is indeed a fool,

On the other hand, the Hacham, the wise son, who knows that he can't begin to fathom Hashem's ways, asks about the many obligations of the Torah, "What are all of these testimonies, laws and judgments?" (Debarim 6:20) He understands that the service of Pesah is only one aspect of the Torah, and he yearns to acquire a broader understanding of the entire Torah. This is in direct contrast to the son who zeroes in on one particular detail of the Seder night and asks, "What is this?" This son is likened to that person who entered the pilot's cockpit with foolish questions.

The parents of these beautiful children have faith in Hashem's mercy, even when these righteous souls pass away at so young and tender an age. Our Sages tell us that the merit of emunah brought about the redemption from Egypt. May the merit of their emunah end our exile speedily in our days, Amen. 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

Research and Development

When an innovative product hits the market, its selling price is usually way out of proportion to the bottom-line cost of the labor and materials necessary to make the unit. But within several years the same product, or even an improved version of the article, is sold for a fraction of the original price.

When Apple introduced the personal hard drive stereo system known as the iPod, the item cost many hundreds of dollars. Yet it could not compare in size, features, or overall quality to a product that the same company has on the market today for a fraction of the original's cost.

What went into the first iPod that the consumer no longer has to pay for today?

"R&D" is the secret, expensive ingredient. Research and development is what cost the company a small fortune while designing the original format for the product.

When a corporation is doing well, it usually does not rest on its laurels. The successful firm, looking to improve, takes a portion of its profits each year and reinvests the dollars earned into the research and development of items that will improve the company's market share in the future. Past success is no reason to fall asleep at the wheel. Instead, it should prompt motivation to repeat good performance and even improve upon it.

The individual should learn from the corporation. A person should never rest on past accomplishments, but should invest a certain amount of time and money in the "R&D" of one's personal growth. Put time into reading. Attend classes that will help you grow. Spend money on tapes and books that will advance your progress towards personal profit.

When you are doing well, don't stop and indulge in self-congratulation. Take a minute and decide how you are going to invest in yourself. Specify the areas that need improvement, and "buy" the time and materials needed to fine-tune yourself to a higher level of performance in the super-competitive game of life.

This valuable minute spent planning your future growth will keep your top-priority product - you - current, marketable, and profitable in a fast changing world. (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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