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Haftarah: Hoshea 11:7 - 12:12

NOVEMBER 20-21, 2015 9 KISLEV 5776


"And I will be with you and I will protect you." (Beresheet 28:15)

Hashem promised Ya'akob Abinu that he would take care of him and provide for him.

We all know that the expenditures for Shabbat and Yom Tob are not included in the amount that is predetermined for us on Rosh Hashanah. Rather, the rule is that one will be reimbursed for whatever he spends in honor of these special days.

With this in mind, Rabbi Dovid Kaplan explains, we can understand the quaint custom practiced by Harav Shimshon Pincus z"tl. Rav Pincus would take his kids into a grocery store every Friday and tell them to pick out some goodies, but he didn't do it in the way most parents would have. As a true man of faith, he would tell the kids to pick out anything they wanted in the store. "Take whatever you want!" he would tell them. "It's all free, absolutely free. No matter how much you have to pay, Hashem is going to give it back. The whole store is yours, all yours! Just help yourselves!" And he did that week after week.

Please don't get into "but all that sugar is bad for the kids," mode. Please try to absorb the real message here. It's free. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Ya'akob was afraid and he said, 'How awesome is this place.'" (Beresheet 28:17)

Ya'akob Abinu was traveling to Haran when he was suddenly plunged into darkness, and he lay down to sleep. At that point, he had a phenomenal dream where Hashem revealed Himself to Ya'akob, and promised him Divine protection until he would return to his father's home. The Midrash says that he also saw the future exiles and the final redemption in this dream. And yet, when Ya'akob wakes up, his first instinct is to cry out, "This is a holy place! Had I known that, I would not have slept here!" That means that Ya'akob would have given up all of the Divine revelations and the promise that he saw in the dream, because he wouldn't want to sleep in a holy place.

From here we see that the ends do not justify the means! If we talk in shul words of Torah during the time we are not allowed to speak, such as Kaddish, Hazarah or Sefer Torah, instead of getting a misvah, we are getting the opposite. We tend to justify our misdeeds by saying, "Hashem would want me to do this for this specific reason" and yet Ya'akob, our forefather, is teaching us that it's not worth the outcome if it means doing something wrong. Let's listen to Sefer Torah, Kaddish and Hazarah, and not talk about anything, and our Torah study will be enhanced by the fact that we are doing the right thing! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"An angel of Hashem said to me…Now arise, leave this land." (Beresheet 31:12-13)

An angel of Hashem appears to Ya'akob in a dream and tells him to leave Laban's house. However, when telling Laban's daughters, Rachel and Leah, about their necessary departure from their father's home, Ya'akob first tells them that Laban no longer shows favor towards him and then after presenting further reasons to leave, Ya'akob finally says that Hashem had actually instructed them to go. Surely this should have been the first reason, and perhaps the only reason that he offered to Rachel and Leah?!

In fact, we can ask the same question later in the Torah on the words that Yosef used to reject Potifar's wife's advances. Yosef said to her, "He [Potifar] has not denied me anything except for you, for you are his wife, so how can I perpetrate this great evil and sin against Hashem?" Once again we can ask, sinning against Hashem should have been the ultimate and definitive reason not to give in to his yeser hara, so why did he not mention that first?

From these questions, the Alter of Kelm learns a fundamental teaching. While we must always follow what Hashem wants from us, it is important for us to be creative in reducing the test that we are facing, thereby making it easier to overcome. Obviously Rachel and Leah needed to leave Laban's house because of Hashem's instruction, and it is clear that Yosef would have been "sinning against Hashem" had he succumbed to Potifar's wife's enticement. Nevertheless, in order to somewhat reduce their struggle, they thought of other reasons why following Hashem's will was the right decision. This way they would be infinitely more grateful to Hashem for His Supreme direction in life, and never feel a hint of remorse over doing what was right. (Short Vort)


Some foolish people who wish to lighten the demands made by the Torah may say, "Why exert ourselves with so much piety? So what if we won't reach the highest levels of Gan Eden (Paradise)? It is enough that we will avoid Gehinam (Purgatory). No need to deprive ourselves of worldly pleasures in order to attain a greater share of Paradise. A lesser share will suffice."

Let us ask them: "Are you being truthful with yourselves? Are you not envious when other people have more than you, or occupy more exalted positions? How would you feel if someone who was subordinate to you surpassed you? And if you feel distressed by envy in this world, whose pleasures and honors are all transitory, how distressed will you be in the Eternal world? How will you feel to see others who have achieved higher levels in Paradise, while you not only lag far behind, but can no longer do anything to better your status and must resign yourself to an inferior status for Eternity?"

I wish I would have written these golden lines, but I did not. They are excerpted from Mesillat Yesharim, the classic mussar sefer by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, zt"l. These words are as clear and pointed today as they were over two hundred years ago when they were penned.

It only takes a minute a day to review these words until they are etched on your psyche. Eventually they will make the impression that they must - and inspire you to earn the best place in Eternity that you are capable of achieving. Don't settle for second best! (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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