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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40: 1-26

JULY 27-28, 2007 13 AB 5767

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


"I implored Hashem at that time, saying…" (Debarim 3:23)

Our perashah begins with Moshe Rabenu telling Israel about how he implored and begged Hashem to allow him to enter the land of Israel. One may ask, why is Moshe telling us about this? Is the Torah a history book to tell us stories of old, or is there a lesson here for us? The Iben Ezra explains that the purpose is to show us how important the land of Israel is, that Moshe Rabenu prayed 515 different prayers to be allowed to enter the land. Therefore, he concludes that we should cherish the land and avoid being exiled from the land. On this Shabbat, which is called Shabbat Nahamu, or the Shabbat of Consolation, Hashem consoles us that we will be returned to the holy land soon.

Why does the verse state the words "at that time?" It seems superfluous. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter tells us that these words are important. A person should never say, "This is a good time to pray or a good time to learn, or a hard time to pray or a hard time to learn." One shouldn't say, "I had a hard day, I have no strength or I have no head to pray. I have no time. When I have time, I will pray better or learn more." "At this time' teaches us that all times are equally good for prayers, all times are good for learning, for if not now, when?

Once the students of Rabbi Chaim from Tzans asked him, "What does the Rabbi do before praying?" He answered, "Before I pray, I pray that I pray when it's time to pray." This is hinted to in our verse above. "I implored Hashem. What did I ask for? At that time to pray!" "Therefore," concluded the Rabbi, "I hope that it is the will of Hashem that my prayers will be prayers!" Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"You shall do what is upright and good in the eyes of Hashem"

The Gemara relates a story of a worker hired by a Rabbi to carry barrels of wine for him. The worker mistakenly broke the barrels and the Rabbi confiscated a garment for his broken barrels. The went to the Bet Din and the ruling was, "Give him back his garment." Then the worker said he needs to get paid for his work and the employer exclaimed, "How can I pay you if you not only didn't benefit me, you caused me a loss?" The Bet Din told the Rabbi to pay him his wages. The Rabbi asked, "Is this the halachah?" He was told, "In your case you must go beyond the letter of the law." The worker was a poor needy fellow and the Rabbi had the means to pay him, even though he was undeserving. Sometimes we have to go beyond the letter of the law and do what the spirit of the law wants. This is called lifnim mishurat hadin, "going the extra mile." The Rabbis tell us that the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because the people were too exacting with each other, without overlooking faults or problems. To counter that we need to go the other way and be tolerant and sometimes even give in when we're right. Whether it involves money, honor or other things, if we learn to act lifnim mishurat hadin, if we go beyond the letter of the law, we will live life with more tranquility and hasten the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And these things which I command you this day shall be on your heart" (Debarim 6:6)

Rabbi Shalom Schwadron frequently says in the name of his Rebbe, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Chasman: "Just as by tefillin when it says 'on your hand' it means without any obstructions, so too when the Torah says 'on your heart' it means without any obstructions. You must remove faulty character traits and emotions from your heart before you will experience love for Hashem."

The Kotzker Rebbe commented on this verse: At times your heart might be closed and the concepts and ideas you accept intellectually do not penetrate and become part of you. Still, keep them on your heart even if they do not as yet enter your heart. Once they are "on your heart," as soon as your heart opens up they will fall right in.

There are many important Torah ideas that are crucial for a person to internalize, for only when they actually become a part of you will they actually make a difference in your life. In the previous verse the Torah states the commandment to love Hashem. This takes much thought and reflection. You need to meditate on the infinite greatness of Hashem and on all of the kindnesses that He does for you. But even if you do think about this, there are times when it will merely remain cognitive and intellectual but will not be an emotional experience. True love is not merely saying that you love someone, but actually feeling and expressing it. Therefore even if your heart is closed, that is, you do not emotionally feel this love for Hashem, continue to reflect on Him, His awesome power in the universe, and the myriad ways He has helped you. Be patient. Eventually your heart will open up and you will experience an inner love for the Creator and His creations. (Growth through Torah)

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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