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AUGUST 15-16 2008 15 AB 5768

AUGUST 8-9, 2008 8 AB 5768

Pop Quiz: What did Moshe pray for in the beginning of this perashah?


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

The Shema Yisrael that we say every day is in this week's perashah. The Shema is in the very fiber of our body and soul. It is unforgettable, or is it? There is a famous story about Rabbi Eliezer Silver that proved that even the Holocaust was unable to erase the Shema from our minds. The story is that many Jewish children, in order to escape from the Nazis, were placed in orphanages run by the church. After the war was over, most children were not returned. Rabbi Eliezer Silver decided to make the effort to retrieve these children. Rabbi Silver had permission to wear the uniform of a high ranking U.S. army officer. Upon entering the churches in Europe he was told that no Jewish children were there. Even the children didn't think they were Jewish! Rabbi Silver, in desperation, made the final try. He approached the children and cried out, "Shema Yisrael…!" The children, after spending many years in the church, remembered their Jewish mothers putting them to sleep every night with these beautiful words. The children ran towards the Rabbi declaring they were Jewish.

Teaching little children to read Hebrew can be a challenge. One of the difficulties is in differentiating between the shin and the sin. The sh sound has the dot on the right side. One tool to get them to remember is that the word Shema has the sh sound and we cover our eyes with the right hand. This way the student can remember that the shin sound has the dot on the right. The amazing thing is that several teachers have told me that some children don't know what the Shema is, and don't know anything about the right hand! Therefore, a new guaranteed method was invented, that the "s" key on the keyboard of the computer is on the left side! So the "s" sound of the sin has the dot on the left.

My friends, it seems that the Holocaust could not wipe out the Shema from the minds of the kids. However, the Western lifestyle has replaced the Shema with the computer. The tragedy is awesome. It is up to us as parents to make sure the Shema is returned to its rightful place in the minds of our children. 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

Anecdotes of Ethics Debugging Over Dinner

"There it goes again. I'm telling you, there is something seriously wrong with this computer. We must bring it to be fixed." Sensing his wife's frustration, Mr. Levy agreed. "I'll call a technician in the morning." Afterwards he reconsidered. "One second! Didn't we invite the Pinto family for dinner tomorrow night? Why don't I ask Mr. Pinto to have a look at it when he comes over? He's a computer technician. I'm sure he'll be glad to help!"

The next night at dinner, found Mr. Pinto toiling over the Levy computer. After about a half hour he returned to the table with a grin. "Your computer is good to go. I will skip the soup and join everybody for the main."

A week later Mr. Levy was shocked to receive a bill from his 'good friend' Mr. Pinto. The bill read "For services rendered" and was priced quite exorbitantly. "Can you believe he actually charged us for the work?" Mr. Levy asked his wife incredulously. "Do you think I have to pay him? I thought he was doing it for free. I had no intention of paying him. After all, we are friends." "Humph!" Mrs. Levy added indignantly. "Well if he really saw this as a business engagement why don't we send him a bill for dinner? Do you know what such a meal would cost in a high class restaurant?!"

Upon reading the above story, one might conclude that the individuals in this case have extremely poor etiquette. At the very least, the Levys should have asked Mr. Pinto before he came over if he minded having a look at their computer. It is also likely that most of us would have the common sense to clarify that services were being rendered for a fee, before just sending a bill.

However, according to the Poskim, the points being made by both the Levys and Mr. Pinto touch on some very practical issues that relate to us all.

Ramah teaches: "If one performs a task or a favor for his friend, the recipient may not say 'You surely did this for me as a favor.' Rather, the recipient of the favor must pay the ordinary wages."

Ramah in another location quotes a similar but even more surprising Halachah in the name of the Terumat Hadeshen, "One who invites his friend to a meal saying, 'Why don't you eat with me' may charge his friend for the meal afterwards, unless it was clearly stipulated, or otherwise obvious from the circumstances that he was offering to cover the cost of the meal."

Netivot HaMishpat clarifies the first ruling with an important limitation. The worker may only charge for the work if he clearly intended to do so when he performed the work. However, he is not allowed to charge if he initially thought about doing it for free, and only decided afterwards to ask for payment.

Consequently, in the above case, the Levy family must pay Mr. Pinto for his services although they had no intention of doing so when they actually 'hired' him. In contrast however, Mrs. Levy may not send a bill for her delicious meal. For unlike Mr. Pinto, she served the meal with no intention of charging for her goods and services. (Rav Dovid Grossman of Kollel Zichron Gershon)

Answer to Pop Quiz: He prayed to be allowed to enter the land of Israel.

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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