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Haftarah: Hoshea 11:7 – 13:5

NOVEMBER 16-18, 2007 7 KISLEV 5768


“And it was in the morning and behold it was Leah” (Beresheet 29:25)

From his first encounter with Rachel, Ya’akob made it clear that he saw the future of the Jewish people coming from their union. However, Rachel told Ya’akob how conniving her father Laban was. Ya’akob gave Rachel a series of secret passwords and signs to ensure that Laban would not trick him into marrying someone else. Nevertheless, at the last moment, when Rachel discovered that her sister was going to be humiliated, she revealed all the passwords to Leah. This effectively meant, as far as she was concerned, that she gave up her position as Matriarch of Israel. She had no way of knowing that Ya’akob would be prepared to work another seven years for her.

We all stand in awe and admiration of Rachel’s tremendous sacrifice on behalf of her sister. But, there is one question that no one seems to ask: What about her breach of trust with Ya’akob? How was Ya’akob going to feel when he found out that his lofty plan had been foiled? Isn’t this an example of acting piously at someone else’s expense?

Rabbi Aryeh Carmell z”l answers that Rachel must have known that the distinguishing characteristics of the Jewish people would be their three basic traits. Jews are rachmanim (compassionate), bayshanim, (bashful) and gomlei hasadim (generous). To allow Leah to be embarrassed by her inability to supply the correct passwords would have been the opposite of these three traits. It would have been cruel and it would have shown a lack of sensitivity to her sister’s embarrassment.

It was clear to Rachel that even if Ya’akob would subsequently have married her after Laban’s attempted switch was foiled, their family could not have borne these refined traits. Beginnings have a tremendous effect on the outcome, just like a long range rocket that is slightly off course at launching will never arrive at its destination. Realizing this, it was obvious to Rachel that after the fact Ya’akob would be in full agreement with her decision. Ya’akob was a man who accepts Hashem’s plans for him. If circumstances dictated that there was no choice but to let Laban get away with his trickery, then obviously Hashem’s plan included Leah being a Matriarch of our people. In retrospect, Rachel acted as Ya’akob would have wanted her to.

The rest is history of a nation blessed with compassion, bashfulness and generosity. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Ya'akob awakened from his sleep and he said 'surely Hashem is in this place...'" (Beresheet 28:16)

When Pharaoh awakened from his sleep, the Torah relates that he went back to sleep. The Rabbis point out that this is a typical difference between Ya'akob and Pharaoh. When Ya'akob awakens, he is immediately aware of the presence of Hashem and does something about it, whereas Pharaoh turns over and goes back to sleep!

In the last few years, we have seen and continued to see monumental and awesome events; natural disasters, political upheavals, besides many mind-boggling situations on an individual level. We must truthfully ask ourselves, are we "just turning over" like the Pharaoh of old, or are we following in the footsteps of our father Ya'akob, and dedicating our lives to Hashem and the Torah? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


“And he encountered the place, and he lay there because the sun had set, and he took of the stones of the place and put under his head” ???(Beresheet 28:11)?????????

The Midrash offers what seems to be contradicting explanations for the meaning of ?????????????????. It states that the word ????????? means to pray. Since this scene transpired in the evening, the Midrash says this alludes to Ya’akob’s instituting Tefillat Arbit. There is another Midrash which interprets this pasuk differently, “He wanted to proceed and the whole world became like a wall in front of him.” Perhaps we may suggest a relationship between these two Midrashim. They reflect the life of a Jew throughout galut, exile, and suggest the effective response one must offer. ????????????????? - wherever the Jew turns, he meets a blank wall. Just when things seem to be going his way, something stops him, denying success. How does one respond to the challenges which we confront in our daily endeavor? ????????????????? - respond through prayer! Turn to Hashem, entreat Him through your prayers at times of darkness. Ya’akob Abinu teaches us that a prayer from the heart can overcome any obstacle. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Eleven sons and one daughter.

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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