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Haftarah: Melachim I 2:1-12

DECEMBER 21-22, 2007 13 TEBET 5768

The fast of Asarah B’ Tebet will be on Wednesday, December 19.


“Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I have dug for myself in the land of Canaan” (Beresheet 50:5)

Joseph tells Pharaoh that he must leave Egypt to bury his father in the land of Canaan. Joseph quotes his father’s command to bury him in the grave that he had prepared for himself. We see from here that the righteous prepare themselves for the time when they pass away. I would like to tell an interesting few lines I read from Avi Shulman (quoted from Rabbi Ephraim Shapero).

What Hashem Won’t Ask…

Hashem won’t ask what kind of car you drove,

He’ll ask how many people you drove who did not have transportation.

Hashem won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet,

He’ll ask how many people you helped clothe.

Hashem won’t ask what your highest salary was,

He’ll ask if you compromised your character to get it.

Hashem won’t ask what your job title was,

He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

Hashem won’t ask how many friends you had,

He’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

Hashem won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived,

He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.

Hashem won’t ask about your appearance,

He’ll ask about the content of your character.

Hashem won’t ask why it took so long to seek forgiveness,

He’ll ask why you didn’t forgive those who wronged you.

Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The grave which I have purchased..." (Beresheet 55:5)

Ya'akob Abinu, giving his last request to be buried in Israel, says to bury him in the grave which he has purchased. The word ???????? is understood by the Midrash to mean "pile", that Ya'akob made a pile out of the money he had, and with this pile, he bought the burial place from Esav. This is the same Ya'akob who went back over the river to retrieve small jars that he had left, thereby having to meet up with Esav's angel.

This is no contradiction. To waste money by leaving jars, that Ya'akob would not do. To spend money for something important, like the proper burial place, that Ya'akob would do, even if it meant making a huge pile of money to buy this grave. It's only a question of priorities!

When we hear that a mezuzah or tefillin or a sefer Torah costs a certain amount of money, we are amazed and say, "Wow, so much!" When we hear of mundane things that people spend an inordinate amount of money on, we shrug our shoulders and think nothing of it. Ya'akob is teaching us to reassess our priorities. Let's not waste our money, but rather spend it on what's really important! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


“And like fish they shall multiply in the midst of the earth” (Beresheet 48:16)

Rashi explains that the word vayidgu originates from the word dag, fish. Thus, the blessing was that Efraim and Menashe should multiply and grow just as fish multiply and grow without the evil eye affecting them. This part of the blessing was so basic that the fish symbol served as the emblem on the banner of the tribe of Efraim. Even today, the fish emblem serves as a talisman against the effect of the evil eye. The Sefat Emet states that if Yosef and his offspring were to be shielded from the effects of the evil eye, it was in the merit of Yosef closing his eyes to the seductress, Potifar’s wife. Yosef deserved the title of “saddik” because of the “sanctification of his vision” which he had achieved.

We may suggest that Ya’akob may have had a different reason for invoking the symbol of fish. We have seen that throughout Ya’akob’s life journey, he tended to lead a solitary life. He always kept distant from the native population, forever seeking to raise his children in a homogeneous milieu, sheltered from foreign culture. Accordingly, when he blessed his children, he saw before him the image of the aquatic world. Fish live their own lives in an element apart, in calm and in depths unseen. This is how the Patriarch wanted his descendants to live, but in the midst of the land. They were to flourish in security and happiness in an element which was their very own. They were to be unencumbered by the outside world, which can not appreciate the significance of their lives. This is truly the greatest blessing – to live among the people in a world all our own. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Binyamin.

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)

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