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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 40:1-26

AUGUST 19-20, 2016 16 AB 5776


"You shall do what is fair and good in the eyes of Hashem." (Debarim 6:18) In a city in Israel there was a beautiful gemach that extended large loans to pay for wedding expenses. Rabbi Shimon Finkelman tells a story about this gemach. The one in charge of the fund, the gabbai, was a busy person and was "open for business" one hour a night. If a borrower was not seated with the gabbai when the hour ended, he had to return another night. There were no exceptions to this rule.

One evening there was only one person remaining on line when a second person entered the waiting room panting for breath. He had just gotten off the bus from another city and had run from the bus stop to reach his destination. He asked the person ahead of him where he lived. "In this neighborhood," the man replied. Since the hour was almost up, the second man asked the first to allow him to take his place so that he would not have to make the bus trip again to procure his loan. "It will be hard for me to return another night," he explained. "For you it's not a problem."

But the first man did not agree. "I'm sorry, but my time is valuable. I don't want to have to come back another night."

The second man went home very disappointed. The first man got his money. Unfortunately, he was pick-pocketed later that night and came home with only half his money. He later related this incident and said that he felt that his loss was a Divine punishment for having failed to show compassion and give up his turn for the second man.

One may wonder, true he did not show compassion, but then again didn't the man have a point? After all, he was there first, and as he explained, his time was valuable!

In this week's perashah it says, "You shall do what is right and good in the eyes of Hashem." The Gemara (Baba Mesia 35a) derives that in his dealings with others, a Jew is required to go beyond the letter of what strict justice would require.

The Gemara (Kiddushin 20b) says, "Yerushalayim was destroyed only because its people decided judicial cases according to the strict letter of the law. When we go beyond the letter of the law, Hashem responds in kind. He shows compassion even when our service of Him is wanting.

Shabbat Nahamu is a time to reflect on our relationships with others, to ensure that we do go beyond the letter of the law when the situation calls for it. In this way we will earn Divine compassion so that the three weeks of mourning will be transformed into days of unparalleled joy. 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 ????????????????, "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 ????????????????, 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


The study of physics is fascinating. If you spend time learning this science, you will begin to understand the intricate way things interact in Hashem's beautiful creation. The principles and laws of physics explain the many phenomena that you observe daily. For example, you can learn how an elevator works, a car stops, and a baseball is hit over the fence, and how a jet plane lands safely on the ground. The laws of gravity, friction, inertia, and the like reveal rules of the way things happen in our physical world.

The branch of physics called aerodynamics has always intrigued me. It explains how a steel aircraft weighing thousands of pounds can lift off the ground and transport hundreds of passengers for thousands of miles. Automobile companies spend millions of dollars analyzing the best way to design their vehicle so that they can cut through the resistance of air with minimal "drag." Professional cyclists spend big bucks developing lightweight, aerodynamic equipment and clothing in order to increase their ability to ride faster with less effort. Baseball coaches use computers to study the effects of wind on a baseball to help their pitchers and their hitters. These studies share a common goal: to reduce the friction that air creates when a physical body is traveling through it.

People should realize that it is even more important to decrease "drag" in their personal relationships. Friction may stop the motion of an object or vehicle, but it also can kill a business deal, career, or personal relationship.

Our Sages suggest many techniques to help you travel through the day with very little friction. For example, you should "Greet all people with a pleasant countenance" (Abot 1:15), and also "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Vayikra 19:18).

Next time you are about to "give it" to someone, think physics. Remember: friction can stop a high speed train, and it can kill a relationship. It only takes a minute to think aerodynamically and "glide" from where you are to where you would like to go. (One Minute with Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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