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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40: 1-26

JULY 23-24, 2010 13 AB 5770


"I am Hashem, your G-d" (Debarim 5:6)

In our perashah, we read about the Ten Commandments. The first commandment says that we must believe in Hashem, our G-d. Included in this great misvah is the fact that one may not deny his Jewishness. Rabbi Aharon Pollack of Manchester tells a true story about a young woman who would not deny her roots. Her name was Pearl Hoff. Her father was Rabbi Shemuel Unsdorfer. Pearl was 16 years old when the terrible events of the Holocaust began. Her family paid a sum of money to hide Pearl for a certain amount of time. When the time ran out, no other member of her family remained alive to renew the payment. The gentile promptly threw her out into the street. The street was crawling with Nazis looking for Jews to kill on the spot. Her only chance was to find a hideout where Jews were taking refuge. She heard people talking about a certain bunker where she could go, but when she arrived there, it turned out to be a trap. The bunker was filled with Nazis. They had let the word out that this was a safe hideout only to ensnare unsuspecting Jews and kill them when they arrived.

She realized that she was already trapped and it was a waste to try to escape. She prayed to Hashem to save her. The Nazi commander yelled, "Are you Jewish?" Young Pearl remembered her great father and would not deny her Jewishness. She merely did not answer. Her silence intrigued her questioner. "What is your name?" he yelled. In a gentile dialect, she answered, "My name is Yorishka." "Where do you live?" he demanded. Pearl gave him a fake address in a completely gentile neighborhood. The Nazi was sure he had captured a Jew but decided to follow her claim anyway. He sent one of his men with her to go to the address and see if she truly lived there. Pearl tells how she was walking in the street with a Nazi following her with a rifle pointing into her back. She knew her minutes were numbered; she would be shot as soon as he realized she was lying. Suddenly a nearby peddler called out her name, "Yorishka, what are you doing here?" Pearl, in complete shock, answered, "I am going home!" The soldier was now convinced that her name is Yorishka so he asked the peddler her address. Lo and behold, the peddler recited the exact number and street. The Nazi left Pearl alone, and Pearl turned around to see who this savior was. However, it was to no avail. The man was nowhere to be found!

Pearl always told this story to her children and grandchildren, and was ready to swear to its truth. She told this story to teach them that a Jew who doesn't deny his Jewishness will not lose out. 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


Jacob stood patiently in the valet-parking waiting area, waiting for his late-model vehicle to be driven up from the underground parking garage. Samuel was standing nearby, talking on some new wireless device that Jacob had never seen before. Its design was really different from that of the cellular device which Jacob had recently bought.

Samuel's car arrived first, and Jacob's eyes immediately settled on the unusual nameplate and emblem on his friend's automobile. "Must be a new Italian model that I haven't seen or read about," he deduced.

The final blow came when he caught a glimpse of the knockout timepiece on Samuel's wrist, exposed briefly when Samuel reached towards the valet with a tip.

"I wish I were more like Samuel," Jacob sighed. "He is so special.

Jacob was a successful entrepreneur who also managed to carve out a substantial amount of time for delving into spiritual pursuits. His wife and children never felt that Jacob did not have enough time for them. His health was good, and so was his social standing in the community. You might assume that Jacob was a happy individual.

Unfortunately, rather than look at what he had, Jacob was constantly eyeing what others possessed.

Envy causes people to desire more things than they naturally would. Just because someone else has something is no reason for you to feel its lack. Rabbi S. Wolbe zt"l, said, "The essence of envy is the desire to be someone else."

Life is a roller coaster. Everyone experiences ups and downs. Envy comes from focusing on the few moments of good fortune in another person's life.

One way to deal with jealousy is to realize that if something did not exist, you would not feel bad about not having it. So, when the green monster starts to gnaw away at you, ask yourself: "If I were living in 1801, would I even imagine coveting my neighbor's twenty-first century toy?" Then focus on your blessings and appreciate your lot in life! (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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