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Haftarah: Melachim II 4:1-23

NOVEMBER 14-15, 2008 17 HESHVAN 5769

Pop Quiz: Where did Akedat Yitzhak take place?


"Hashem appeared to him in the Plains of Mamre" (Beresheet 18:1)

We begin the perashah with Hashem visiting Abraham Abinu after he performed the misvah of milah. It is interesting that Hashem waited until Abraham was ninety-nine to command him to perform the berit of milah. Rabbi Nisan Alpert explains that we should study the life of Abraham. For the first ninety-nine years of his life, Abraham directed his energies to transmitting to the multitudes the message of pure faith. He traveled from place to place proclaiming Hashem's name. Then he received a new direction from Hashem. "Enough of going to as many people as possible and traveling as far and wide as possible. The time has now come to focus on the qualitative expansion of yourself. Your energies must now be directed towards building up yourself." Perhaps this was Hashem's intent when he said, "Go before Me and be perfect." Perfect yourself qualitatively, make yourself perfect.

Many of us are busy with beautiful misvot. We want to spread our religion to as many people as possible. We want to spread the learning of Torah. Don't forget that you have to learn also. We want to have a shul with beautiful prayers. Don't forget that you also have to pray with good concentration. We want to make activities for our youth. Don't forget to learn with your own kid. We want the people to be charitable. Don't forget to give as much charity as you can. In short, we shouldn't forget to spread Judaism to the most important one, yourself. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

We are all familiar with the story of the three angels appearing to Abraham, and how he ran about doing kindness for them in order to show them hospitality. We also see in this same perashah that Lot received angels graciously and exerted himself on their behalf. There is, however, a major difference in how they are referred to in the Torah. When the angels came to Abraham, they are called "anashim" - people - and indeed, the Midrash says they looked like Arab peasants. When they came to Lot, they are called "malachim" - angels - because they looked like what they were. This is not coincidental, but rather to teach us an important lesson about the different types of hesed done by Abraham and Lot. Lot went out of his way to entertain his guests because they looked like angels. Had they appeared as regular people, and for sure as peasants, they would not have gotten such treatment. Abraham was on a higher level and even when he saw peasants, he went all out to take care of them. We, who are descendants of Abraham, must emulate our forefather and do kindness to everyone, not only the important people who need favors but even (and especially) the regular folks. That shows our hesed to be genuine and part of our inner self. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Perhaps there are fifty righteous people in the midst of the city" (Beresheet 18:24)

Rabbi Meir Simcha Hacohen explains that there is absolute good and good that would only be considered good in relationship to evil. Abraham, the pillar of kindness, requested of Hashem that even if there could only be found fifty people in Sedom who would be considered righteous when compared to the rest of the evil city, their merit should save everyone else.

This concept is important to remember in two instances. If you are very idealistic and a perfectionist and therefore feel like a failure because you are not on the high level you wish you were, remember that in relation to the majority of the world you are probably righteous. This will prevent you from becoming discouraged. But if you look around and see that other people are on such a low level that you begin to feel arrogant, focus on where you stand in absolute terms. When you view your present state in relation to the highest Torah ideals you will be able to regain feelings of humility. (Growth through Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: On Har Hamoriah (the Temple Mount).

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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