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Haftarah: Hoshea 11:7 - 12:12

NOVEMBER 28-29, 2014 6 KISLEV 5775

Begin saying Barech Alenu on Thursday night, December 4th in Arbit.


"It was in the morning and behold it was Leah." (Beresheet 29:25)

Why did Hashem orchestrate events so that Ya'akob should end up marrying Leah in such a clandestine manner and not by Hashem giving a prophecy to Ya'akob to marry her?

The Ben Ish Hai explains that the entire future redemption of the Jewish people was contingent on the manner in which Ya'akob married Rachel. The Midrash notes that at the time of the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash, the Abot (Abraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akob) beseeched Hashem to have compassion on their children, but Hashem didn't listen to their prayers. Then Rachel stood before Hashem and recounted how Ya'akob had worked seven years to marry her, and on the night of their wedding when her father put Leah under the huppah instead, Rachel selflessly told Leah the signs by which Ya'akob would know that the correct bride stood under the huppah.

Rachel cried and begged, "Hashem, if I, a simple mortal of flesh and blood, was able to overcome my jealousy for my sister so that she would not be humiliated, how much more should You, the Living King, be able to forgo Your honor and spare Your children who have served idolatry!"

It was that prayer that merited the legendary response: "Withhold your eyes form crying, for there is hope…your children shall return to their boundaries (Yirmiyahu 31:15-16).

It was in the merit of Rachel's selflessness that the nation was redeemed. Hashem arranged events to occur as they did so that Rachel would have the opportunity to display the altruism that would rescue the nation in its darkest moment.

We often hear much about inexplicable tragedy and pain, and we know that the ways of Hashem are mysterious. But the Ben Ish Hai reminds us that everything that happens is for the best. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Behold the day is still long; it is not time to bring back the sheep." (Beresheet 29:7)

Ya'akob came to Haran to find a wife as his parents commanded him. He comes to a well which is covered by a large stone, and sees the shepherds just waiting around, wasting time. He first asks them about the welfare of Laban and his family, and then goes on to ask them, "Why are you just lolling around not doing your job? It's not time to go home." To us, it seems that Ya'akob is out of line in criticizing the shepherds. What business is it to him what they are doing? They are not his workers!

The Sforno points out that a righteous person cannot bear to see wrongdoing. When Ya'akob saw them not doing their job, it pained him to see someone stealing from his boss. Therefore, he gave them some constructive criticism. To follow this one step further, when we see something wrong and do not react, so that misdeed becomes light in our own eyes, it is easier for us to fall into that same trap. Many times, we see things which are incorrect, such as disrespectful behavior, or business practices which are less than honest or ethical. If we have the ability to say something and be heard, we should consider the right way to do it rather than just overlook it. This way we will have fulfilled the misvah of rebuking someone and we will be less prone to be influenced by that behavior. Of course, we cannot always say something; each situation must be judged separately. Ya'akob Abinu is teaching us that we should try not to get used to unacceptable practices, so that we will always remain with our proper standards of conduct. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


When people plan to accomplish a goal - be it expanding a business, learning to play a new sport, developing a talent, or improving a personality trait - they often tend to look at the ideal result and measure themselves against it. This approach may trigger resignation and squelch motivation. "I'll never be the piano player / lawyer / student / tennis player / patient person I dream to be."

Growth in any area of life is not constant. Every learning curve shows ups and downs. Life isn't much different from the stock market - some days you win, and some days you lose. What is important is that in the end, all the wins and losses cumulatively reflect an overall gain.

Instead of looking at a small failure as proof that you will never achieve perfection, it is much wiser to do a "progress report" from time to time. If you look back and recall your status at the start of a self-improvement project, you will realize that although perfection may be something you may never attain, progress has been made. You improve daily simply by pursing perfection, even if perfection itself can never be totally achieved.

When you hit a setback, don't let a slight slide become a deep chasm that prevents you from continuing along the road to perfection. Instead, compare yourself as you are today to that raw, imperfect being you were when you began to journey to your goal. You will find that the daily pursuit of perfection brings overall improvement and regular growth. Don't ever let a bad day stop your climb. (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)

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