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Haftarah: Melachim II 4:1-23

NOVEMBER 11-12, 2011 15 HESHVAN 5772


"My Master, if I have found favor in your eyes please do not pass by Your servant." (Beresheet 18:3)

A story told by Rabbi E. Nisenbaum:

A visitor from out of town entered a shul on Shabbat morning and sat down in an empty seat. A few minutes later, a member of the shul approached the guest and informed him that he had taken his seat. The guest mumbled an apology and uncomfortably searched the room for yet another seat.

After prayers the Rabbi chastised the congregant for his insensitivity towards the guest. "You should have let the guest stay in your seat and spared him his discomfort," he said.

The man, however, argued with the Rabbi. "Doesn't the Talmud (Berachot 6b) say that a person should designate a place for his prayer? That's my designated spot!"

"That is true," the Rabbi Said with a smile. "The Talmud's source for praying in a designated place is learned from Abraham Abinu, who designated a place to speak to Hashem (Beresheet 19:27). Yet the very same Abraham excused himself from speaking to Hashem in order to tend to his guests! The Talmud (Shabbat 127a) learns from this that receiving guests is more important than receiving the Divine Presence. We see that it is more important to tend to a guest's needs than it is to pray in a designated place." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"For [Hagar] said, 'Let me not see the death of the child'" (Beresheet 21:16)

Hagar moved away from her son, Yishmael, when he was dying of thirst because, as she said, "I can't bear to see him in this state." One of the commentators points out that although this may be acceptable for Hagar, it is not an attribute for a Jewish mother. Even when things are as difficult to cope with as someone in extreme thirst, a mother stays by her child to see what can be done.

We must apply this to most of life's situations, not only the dangerous ones. It may be more pleasant for a parent not to know when a child is doing something wrong, rather than confront the child and face the problem. This is not the way of life for a Jewish parent. One must be involved in his child's upbringing, and if anything needs correcting, one must face the situation directly. It may be unpleasant but it is the only way that will yield positive results in our children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"He planted an eshel in Be'er-Sheva, and there he proclaimed the Name of Hashem, G-d of the Universe. (Beresheet 21:33)

There is no question that Abraham Abinu was the most successful outreach professional to have ever lived. He was the master in bringing a pagan society into the world of monotheistic belief. What was his recipe for success? What can we learn from his pioneering efforts that are applicable to life in our present society?

My brother-in-law takes the "F" train from Brooklyn to Manhattan daily. In order to make the most of his travel time, he had his Tehillim, travel Daf Yomi Talmud and a small Humash with him. While he usually does not find it a great difficulty to find a seat, this Friday morning was an exception. So, he stood there, holding onto the bar, while he recited Tehillim. Directly in front of him sat a middle-aged man and woman, who appeared to be husband and wife. The wife, although not dressed in the latest observant haute couture, appeared to be of Jewish extraction. The husband appeared most likely to be Jewish, but to the uneducated eye might be mistaken for Italian.

Noticing my brother-in-law hanging on precariously to the bar, the man motioned to his wife to move over to make room for the Jew. My brother-in-law thanked the couple, sat down, and proceeded to study Daf Yomi. In the back of his mind, a question gnawed at him: Were they Jewish? They certainly did not appear to be. As my brother-in-law was about to depart from the subway at the 50th Street exit, he turned to the couple and instinctively said, "Shabbat Shalom!"

Suddenly, as if a heavy cloud had been lifted from the man, his face lit up as he said, "That is the first time anyone has said that to me in years." Hearing this, my brother-in-law decided to remain on the train - even if it meant traveling to the Bronx and back. There began a conversation between a Bobover hassid and two alienated Jews, one of which had grown up in a "semi"-traditional family, but had been swept up in America's pop culture. The other one had never really been exposed to any form of tradition. They were two lost souls, waiting to be saved, but nobody had recognized them as Jewish. No one had taken the effort to care. My brother-in-law took a chance. The worst that could have happened is that they would have ignored him. Today, the couple is beginning to observe, to believe, to return to the heritage of their ancestors.

Abraham Abinu saw what appeared to be three Arabs. They were the most idolatrous of the pagan world - bowing down to the dust of their feet. Yet, the Patriarch did not prejudge them. He invited them into his tent and served them a hearty meal. After explaining to them that everything we possess is a service of the Almighty G-d, he asked them to join him in blessing Hashem. We all know the rest of the story.

It's so easy to prejudge others and to conjure up excuses why they're not worthy of our time: "They are probably not even Jewish", "They are not interested," "Why bother"; "He is not my type," etc. Abraham succeeded because he did not prejudge. He reached out to everyone. The spark is just waiting to be ignited. (Peninim on the Torah)


There is something about a frame that makes a picture beautiful. Whether it is a family photo or an expensive piece of art, a frame takes it to the next level. Choosing the right frame for a picture, and the setting in which it will be placed, are major factors in determining how pleasing it will look to the eye of the beholder. Different frame, different reaction.

People have free will regarding how they react to any given situation. In fact, two people may see the same event and react quite differently from one another. One may sit calmly and "let it slide," while another may blow up and react violently. It depends on how each sees the "picture."

A good technique to control temper is to re-frame pictures that aggravate. One way to react and to defuse an otherwise explosive situation is to say: "This is just a test. Hashem wants me to grow, so he sent me this situation to see if I can control myself." Another is to say: "This, too, shall pass. It always does!" Or perhaps frustrating circumstances call for a frame that says: "The reward is commensurate with the pain."

When something or someone is about to trigger a negative reaction from you, stop and reconsider your response. It only takes a minute to take the picture out of the unattractive frame it is in and reframe it, thereby turning it into a beautiful work that will lead to personal improvement and growth. (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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