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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40: 1-26

AUGUST 12-13, 2011 13 AB 5771


“Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d.” (Haftarat Vaet’hanan)

The haftarah of Parashat Vaet’hanan is always read on the Shabbat following Tish’ah B’Ab. It begins with the words of comfort. Hashem tells us He will comfort us after the destruction that occurred. But, it says be comforted twice. Why does it say that we will be comforted twice? The Midrash explains that since the Jewish people sinned doubly, they will be punished double. As a result, when they repent their sins they will be doubly comforted, as the pasuk says, “Nahamu nahamu ami.”

What is difficult here is, what does it mean that they sinned double? If it means they sinned a lot, then let it just say they sinned many sins. Does it mean each of their sins was doubled?

Rabbi Ozer Alport explains in the name of the sefer Darkei Mussar. Hashem gave us the Torah to be a light unto the nations of the world. This means that the Torah is not only for us but it is also to benefit the nations. If we live according to the Torah and live an elevated life, the nations will notice this and strive to live a spiritual life as well. Unfortunately, if we don’t live up to those standards, then the nations will not have that model and they will descend spiritually. If we see the gentiles acting immodestly, instead of focusing on them, we should focus on ourselves. We will realize if we behave properly, so will they. On some level we are responsible.

Now we can understand what the Midrash means when it says we sinned doubly. It means not only did they sin, but their actions had a negative impact on everybody around them. However, the Midrash adds that the time will ultimately come when we will properly fulfill our mission and purpose and not only will we be elevated, but the entire world will be elevated with us and we will be doubly comforted for all of our pain and suffering. May it come speedily on our days. 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


Things don’t last the way they used to. It seems as if the speed of mass production, coupled with the demands of price competition, have forced manufacturers to cut corners and produce inferior products. Sometimes there is a flaw in craftsmanship, and other times there is a mechanical defect that is difficult to locate and repair.

People have learned to accept inferior taste in their coffee, lack of nutrition in their meals, and aggravating hours trying to get technology to perform as advertised. The “time-saving” conveniences offered for sale become frustrating time wasters as unsuspecting consumers attempt to get the results they expected when they first carried home their new purchases.

The multi-tasking, light-speed life people live in today’s modern world forces them to keep moving without looking back. Consideration and review are archaic thought processes not in sync with a fast-paced, productive work ethic. “Do it and move on!” is the order of the day.

This might work sometimes, and in some circumstances – but many life situations demand reflection. Not only that, but they require people to seize the moment and consolidate the inspiration received into a lasting element in their life’s behavioral repertoire.

Many individuals attend an inspirational event or experience a special miracle, and feel the urge to improve – yet in a very short time they return to “business as usual.” The trick is to realize that the emotional high will fade and the great idea will float into oblivion. You must do something to turn the good thought into reality.

For example, if you attended the Siyum Hashas (celebration of the completion of the study of the Talmud at a pace of one two-sided page a day for seven-and-a-half years), you were probably inspired to learn more, or to start the Daf Yomi cycle (the page-a-day Talmud study program) yourself, or to do something extra in your spiritual learning. If you did not start the very next day, you had already begun to waste the inspiration and lose the moment.

Bu tit is never too late. Tomorrow is only one day later than today, and although weakened considerable by one day of your regular routine, the inspiration you felt is still a positive force. Capture it and use it to go forward and grow from day to day.

Don’t delay. Don’t lose it! Seize the moment.

“Start right now!” is a philosophy that counteracts natural laziness in initiating self-improvement projects. Try it and you will not be sorry when a very different you looks back at this moment, years from the starting point. (One Moment 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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