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Haftarah: Yehezkel 37:15-28

December 10-11, 2010 4 Tebet 5771

The fast of Asarah B'Tebet will be on Friday, December 17.


"Then the spirit of their father Ya'akob was revived." (Beresheet 45:27)

After discovering that Yosef was still alive, Yosef's brothers began their journey to Canaan, where their father Ya'akob resided. They realized that if they would reveal the news too suddenly, it might be harmful to their father. As they approached him, Serah, the daughter of Asher, met them. She knew how to play the harp and they told her to play music to Ya'akob while revealing to him that Yosef was alive. Serah agreed and played her harp and informed him, in her pleasing voice, the wonderful news. She repeated it a number of times and Ya'akob began to feel joy in his heart. A Divine spirit came over him and he then knew that it was true. Then Ya'akob gave Serah a berachah that she should not experience death because she had caused his spirit to come alive. (Based on Midrash Sefer Hayashar.)

We can learn a very important lesson from this. Rabbi David Rosman explains that sometimes the way we speak or act can actually give life to another person. This is illustrated in a short true story told by Rabbi Hanoch Teller. Once, Jamie, a new ba'al teshubah, was at the local men's mikveh on Ereb Yom Kippur. He still had a ponytail and earrings. He had a little problem; he had a number of tattoos on his biceps that he was trying to cover up with his hands. Suddenly Jamie slipped on the wet floor. He lunged for the railing to avoid a hard fall, revealing his biceps. Silence enveloped the room as the men saw what Jamie was trying to hide, and he was totally humiliated.

Suddenly an elderly man approached Jamie and placed his hand on his shoulder. In heavy Yiddish-accented English, the elderly man said, "Look here my boy, I also have a tattoo" and he pointed to the row of numbers etched into his skin, "in case I should forget what those monsters had planned for me. It seems we've both come a long way." With just one short sentence, this man restored life to a fellow Jew, and this is why Serah merited to live forever. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Ya'akob saw the wagons that Yosef sent him." (Beresheet 45:27)

Rashi tells us that Yosef sent his father, Ya'akob, a sign that he still remembers the Torah that he was taught, and he reminded Ya'akob of the last subject they had learned together. When Ya'akob saw that, he knew that his son was truly alive in a spiritual sense, and he rejoiced! Similarly, when Ya'akob sent his son, Yehudah, to Egypt before the whole family, he instructed him to establish a Torah academy so that they could study Torah in Egypt. We see from here how important the Torah was to our forefathers. Although we only read of their deeds and their character in the perashah, the Midrash is teaching us how pivotal the study of Torah was to them. They were engaged in it constantly, and this is what kept them alive. Ya'akob mourned very deeply for his son for twenty-two years, yet the only thing that kept him strong was Torah study. Yosef was in a very difficult position for many years in Egypt, spending twelve years in jail, yet his faith and trust never wavered because he was constantly reviewing the Torah he learned.

This should be an inspiration for us to strengthen our Torah learning, especially when the going gets tough. The more we are connected to Hashem through Torah study, the more we can endure all of life's challenges. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Why did the predicted seven-year-long famine stop after only two years?

When Ya'akob came to Egypt, the hunger stopped in is merit. (Torahific)


Moshe was eager to try out his new gift. He lay down behind the large living-room window, his entire body well hidden below the sill, and slowly raised his new periscope. Focusing on the scene outside, he saw three or four neighborhood children gathered around the portable hoop in the quiet cul-de-sac, shooting baskets. When little Yanky missed a rebound, the ball bounced and rolled towards the house, right up to the window through which Moshe was spying on his friends. Wouldn't Yanky be surprised if Moshe were to suddenly pop up from his hiding place and give him a play-by-play of the game? But Yanky didn't even know that Moshe was watching them. He could not see Moshe hiding behind the wall of his house, peering through his periscope.

Without a periscope people can't see around corners or over window sills, and without x-ray vision, they can't see through walls. This simple observation could be very useful when it comes to controlling temper.

You never know what lies around the corner or behind closed doors. Every day when you arrive home you enter your house through the usual doorway. What you find behind the door, however, may vary greatly from day to day. The same is true when you enter your office or classroom. The door, walls and furnishings may be the same, but the state of affairs that awaits you might potentially be upsetting.

To minimize being surprised by what lurks behind a closed door, pause before entering, with your hand on the doorknob. Some situations may contain unpredictable elements; consider the possibilities that may await you. Imagine a worst-case scenario, and picture yourself dealing with that set of circumstances in a mature and patient manner. Then open the door. Even if the scene that confronts you is not as imagined, you will be mentally prepared to deal with whatever lies ahead. It only takes a minute to compose yourself and prepare for the unexpected. You can't eliminate what is there, but you certainly can deal with it. (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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