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Haftarah: Melachim II 4:1-23

OCTOBER 30-31, 2015 18 HESHVAN 5776

Remember to turn your clocks back one hour on Saturday night.


"Then Hashem said to Abraham, 'Why is it that Sarah laughed saying, 'Is it even true that I shall give birth, though I have aged?'" (Beresheet 18:13)

Rabbi Avigdor Miller shares with us a lesson for life. Hashem did not divulge to Abraham that Sarah had said also that he had become old. Abraham would not resent this, because he too had said, "Could there be born to one that is 100 years old?" (17:17). Yet G-d wished to spare him the knowledge that Sarah considered him an old man. Abraham was too noble-minded to be irked by this, and indeed would fully agree with her. Yet even for the noblest of men, no matter how old they are, it is preferable that they do not know that their wives consider them old, and it is recommended that a wife never express such an opinion. (The same is true of a husband concerning his old wife.) To each other, they should forever remain youthful, and they should endeavor always to maintain their early impression of each other. This is what G-d teaches by omitting from Sarah's words the expression, "And my master has become old," although such an omission borders on untruth. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Yitzhak said to Abraham, 'Where is the sheep for the sacrifice?'" (Beresheet 22:7)

The Midrash tells us that Abraham and Yitzhak both went out to do the Akedah (Binding on the Altar) with the same zeal, love and dedication. The Satan, attempting to prevent them from doing this great misvah, came up with many arguments, all in vain. Then the Satan turned to Yitzhak and said to him that all of his prized possessions would go to Yishma'el, his half brother, if he let himself be sacrificed. It says in the Midrash that at that point, Yitzhak hesitated, and that's when he asked his father, "Where is the sheep for the sacrifice?"

We see from here a powerful lesson. All other arguments were not able to penetrate Yitzhak and prevent him from his self-sacrifice, but when he realized he would lose his possessions to his brother, that was enough to make him stop for a moment. The power of jealousy, of someone else taking from me is such that even a perfectly righteous person, such as Yitzhak Abinu could be affected, even momentarily. We see many incidents where friends, partners, brothers and families are torn apart because of this kind of jealousy. We become blinded by our interpretation of the facts, and we don't hear the other side or acknowledge that we could be wrong! The only way to view the situation objectively is through a third party who is neutral and has no personal considerations. The fact that our forefather, Yitzhak, was able to overcome his hesitation and do the Akedah shows that we have it within us to rise above jealousy and pettiness. If we look for the truth, Hashem will help us find it. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Do not look behind you." (Beresheet 19:17)

When Hashem destroyed the city of Sedom, Lot, his wife, and two of his daughters were saved from the destruction by two angels. As they were fleeing, they were told that they should not look back. The pasuk says later that Lot's wife did not heed the command, as it says, "She looked behind him, and became a pillar of salt." Why were they given such a command?

Hazal explain figuratively that Lot and his wife were "looking back" with regret at the wealth that they were leaving behind. While they were in Sedom, they had many possessions, and now they were forced to leave it all behind. It needs to be understood, though, why the pasuk says that she looked behind him, rather than saying that she looked behind herself. Also, the commentaries explain that she turned specifically into a pillar of salt, because she was not generous with others, and would not even give them salt. If so, why did she receive this punishment specifically now when they were running from Sedom?

The Keli Yakar explains that there is an expression in the Gemara "Melah mamon haser - the "salt," or preservative, of money is accomplished by taking away from it, by doing hesed and giving sedakah. When the Torah says that Lot's wife looked behind him, it is saying that she was looking beyond Lot, meaning that she was worried what will be after Lot dies. Until now, they had wealth and she wasn't concerned, but now they were leaving all of their wealth behind, and she was wondering, "What will be left for me after he is gone?" Therefore, she was now punished for her sin of stinginess. Since she did not "salt" their money, meaning that she did not do sedakah with their money, now at this point when she is worried about their lack of money, she was punished by being transformed into a pillar of salt.

The lesson is clear. We may sometimes be in a position where we are struggling financially, and we wonder what we can do to climb out of it. Rather than simply complaining or bemoaning our fate, we need to look back and see if we had ever been in a better financial position than we are in now, and we didn't properly salt our money. By the same token, if we commit now to do the right things with whatever Hashem gives us from now on, it will preserve what we have and open the door for Hashem to send us more berachah and success.

"How was your day?" Bella asked her husband as he came through the door and dropped his briefcase on the couch.

"Routine," Matt replied. "Just the same old thing, day after day. You know, I get up in the morning anticipating excitement in my life, but somehow, by the end of the day, I realize that I lead a pretty boring life. I go to the synagogue at the same time every day, and pray and learn with the same people. I even sit in the same seat all the time. Then, after a quick bite, I am off to work in the same train daily. I pretty much handle the same kinds of issues at work all the time, and then come home to a similar routine every night."

"It sounds as though you are complaining, my dear," Bella replied calmly, with a smile on her pleasant face.

"Well, it seems like other people are having all the fun," Matt responded. "Is it so bad to want a surprise once in a while to spice up my life?"

"Surprises can be good, but they can also be bad," Bella wisely commented. "There were people who left their homes in the morning in the Holy Land to go about their business, who never got home because a terrorist had other plans. I also hear some tragic news about that nice young man Simon who lives in the green house on the corner. He went for a routine check-up, only to discover that he had a terrible disease. I don't think boring is so bad."

Life is full of surprises. Some are very pleasant and some are very tragic. When things fall into a groove, don't complain. The same old routine is not so bad when you consider some of the alternatives. When Hashem puts a little routine into your life, thank Him for the kindness of keeping your life on a good track without too many unpleasant surprises. (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)

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