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Haftarah: Yehezkel 37:15-28

DECEMBER 6-7, 2013 4 TEBET 5774

The Fast of Asarah B'Tebet will be on Friday, December 13.


"I am Yosef." (Beresheet 45:3)

In our perashah Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers. The Midrash Rabah quotes Rabbi Abah Cohen Bardelah: Woe unto us when the day of judgment comes, woe unto us on the day of rebuke. If the brothers were unable to endure the rebuke of Yosef, the younger of the brothers (as the verse says, "The brothers couldn't answer because they were overwhelmed from him") when Hashem rebukes us, each one according to his ways, all the more so will we be unable to endure that rebuke!

The famous question is that if we look into Yosef's words we don't find a hint of rebuke to his brothers. He only said "I am Yosef." What was the rebuke? (Check out the Bet Halevi for his answer.) Rabbi Nosson Wachtfogel, the Mashgiah of Lakewood Yeshivah, has a unique answer. He says that Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz z"l of the Mirrer Yeshivah used to say that if you take a horse and cover it with ten coats and with fifteen hats, another horse will always recognize it as a horse and greet it with the usual neigh sound. This was the rebuke of Yosef. It's as if he said, "I am Yosef! How was it that you didn't recognize me? After all of the hints that I dropped, how I knew so much of your lives, how could I fool you by merely attributing the knowledge to my mystical cup? How could it be that you didn't recognize me only because I had a beard? I must conclude the reason why you didn't recognize me is because the jealousy and hatred that you had, blocked the feelings of love of one brother to another. This caused each brother not to recognize his own brother." This was the powerful rebuke.

The Mashgiah adds, that in the future this will be our rebuke from Hashem. In the future Hashem will say, "I am Hashem. How was it that you didn't recognize me throughout the exiles? All the events of the exiles, even though they are cloaked with circumstances, always attributing everything to politics and wars between nations, why didn't you see that it was all really the hands of Hashem and not by chance? Anyone with eyes can see that all that transpired during the exile was the hand of Hashem. 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


As you cruise up and down the supermarket aisles, you can't help being dazzled by the sizes, shapes, and colors of the wide variety of packages filling the shelves. Billions of dollars are spent every year in order to present manufacturers' products in containers that will attract consumer attention and dollars. Convenience features such as twist-off caps or pull-off tabs may be the clincher in wooing customers to a particular maker's product over that of the competition.

One such feature is called the wide-mouth bottle. It lures potential customers into buying a particular brand of ketchup or honey or some other hard-to-get-out-of-the-bottle product by promising an easy exit by the otherwise difficult-to-access foodstuff.

The fact is that a wide mouth may be good for ketchup, but it is certainly a negative attribute for a human being. One of the health tips offered by our Sages is, "All of my days I have lived amongst the wise men, and there is nothing as good for the body as silence" (Abot 1:17). A more frightening rendition is, "Life and death are in the hands of the tongue" (Mishlei 18:21).

If you doubt the veracity of these statements, just think about your most embarrassing moments. You will find that they usually occurred when you were talking, and rarely happened when you were listening to someone else.

Before opening your mouth, stop to consider your spiritual and physical well-being. Hold your words in. A moment of thought will help keep the lips sealed, thus preventing great damage and yielding untold benefit for years and years to come. 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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