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AUGUST 19-30, 2005 15 AB 5765

Pop Quiz: How many nations in Israel were Bnei Yisrael commanded to wipe out?


"Hear O Israel Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One." (Debarim 6:4)

This coming Shabbat is called Shabbat Nahamu. Nahamu means, be consoled. Hashem, through his prophets, tells us to be consoled because the Jewish people will be redeemed and restored to its former greatness. Rabbi Rephael Malki writes that a clear sign of the imminent redemption is the rebuilding of housing in Jerusalem. When the Mashiah comes, Jews all over the world will be demanding housing in the Holy City. If one visits Jerusalem today, he will see a tremendous boom of housing, a true sign that the city is getting ready to accommodate this great demand that is about to arrive. Our perashah contains our motto as Jews, "Shema Yisrael." Throughout our history, it had great meaning. It still does today. A story is told by a Jew who was very far away from his roots. He eventually returned fully to his religion and he tells the story of how it happened. Once he was watching an old World War I movie. The movie was not about Jews but one amazing thing occurred in the movie. A Russian soldier captured a German soldier. The Russian placed his prisoner against a tree and aimed his rifle. The German prisoner realized his end had come so he cried out "Shema Yisrael!" A Jew crying out his last words that would last forever. The Russian soldier lowered his rifle and finished the verse, "Hashem Elokenu Hashem Ehad!" He also was Jewish! These were the only Hebrew words in the movie. The Jew watching the movie was shocked. This Jewish credo was something he never heard, and it saved the soldier's life. Obviously this was something known to Jews for generations. But, he didn't know it. Now, he felt, the time had come to learn about it.

On this coming Shabbat Nahamu, let us look forward to cry out these great words to greet the Mashiah in our days, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And you shall love Hashem..." (Debarim 6:5)

In this modern age of ours, the word love has been used and abused to encompass all kinds of things, including those which are an abomination. When we are told to love Hashem, is it the same kind of love that we are familiar with, just directed to G-d, rather than other subjects? If we stop and think, we will see how this is not so.

When a person says he loves fish, does he really love the fish? If so, why would he kill it, cook it and then eat it? The obvious answer is that when one says he loves fish or other things, he really loves himself and how the fish or other items give him pleasure. That is a selfish love. When we love Hashem, we do so not because of the benefit we will derive, but because He is so great and so kind and so merciful and because He loves us more that anything in the world. We are therefore commanded to love Hashem with all our hearts and souls and might. That way, we become attached to G-d and that brings down more Divine blessing from Heaven. May we merit to truly love Hashem and become blessed with His Heavenly love, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"From there you will seek G-d, your G-d, and you will find Him." (Debarim 4:29)

Why does the pasuk start "ubikashtem - you will seek" in plural, and conclude "umasata - you will find" in singular?

While it is permissible for one to pray individually, our Sages (Berachot 8a) have emphasized the importance of praying with a quorum of ten men (minyan). Praying in a group is known as "tefillah besibur." The word "sibur" is an acronym for sadikim?(righteous), beinonim (intermediate), and resha'im (wicked).

One who prays individually is under much scrutiny, but when praying together with a group, even one who is a "rasha" can successfully "sail through" on the merit of the other congregants. The Torah alludes to this by telling us, "ubikashtem" - if you do your seeking together with the public and not individually, be assured that "umasata" - you will find, i.e. receive your desires from Hashem. (Vedibarta Bam)


"Hear O Israel G-d is our G-d, G-d is the One and Only." (Debarim 6:4)

The first Mishnah in Berachot asks, "Me'ematai korin et haShema be'arbit - at what time may the evening Shema be recited? It answers, "From the time a Kohen who was defiled is permitted again to eat teruman." Why does the Mishnah connect the recital of Shema with the Kohen's eating terumah instead of simply saying, "From the time of set hakochabim - when stars appear in the sky"?

Reciting the Shema is a misvah in the category of ben adam laMakom - between man and G-d. In it a Jew declares his "kabalat ol malchut shamayim - acceptance of the yoke of heaven - and declares the Oneness of Hashem. Unfortunately, there are some very pious Jews who are meticulous in their relationship with Hashem, but lacking in their inter-human relationships. The Mishnah is therefore teaching that before a person can pursue his relationship with Hashem, he must make sure that the Kohen - the Jew who is dependent on others - has enough to eat for himself and his family.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Ladi, the founder of Habad Hasidut, once said that ahabat Yisrael is superior to ahabat Hashem and is the gate through which one can come and stand before Hashem to pray. In its merit the prayers of the individual are accepted. (Vedibarta Bam)


This week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:1-26.

After completing the series of three haftarot that dealt with rebuke and punishment, we now begin a series of seven haftarot, from Tish'ah B'Ab to Rosh Hashanah, that deal with consolation. Each one is a prophecy which gives comfort to the nation after the destruction of the First Bet Hamikdash.

This Shabbat is widely known as Shabbat Nahamu because the haftarah begins with the words "Nahamu nahamu ami - Comfort, comfort My people."

Answer to Pop Quiz: Seven.

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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