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Haftarah: Yehezkel 37:15-28

DECEMBER 26-27, 2014 5 TEBET 5775

The fast of Asarah B'Tebet will be on Thursday, January 1.


"He sent Yehudah ahead of him…to prepare." (Beresheet 46:28)

Ya'akob sent Yehudah ahead of him to Goshen. The Midrash explains: to establish a yeshivah where he could teach Torah.

Since the times of the Patriarchs, the Jewish people always maintained yeshivah study (Yoma 28). Their ancestor Shem established the first one. It therefore comes as no surprise that Ya'akob did not wish to go down to Egypt until he opened a yeshivah there.

The Oznayim Latorah asks: But why did Ya'akob assign the mission to Yehudah and not to Levi, the Jewish people's future teacher of Torah (Debarim 33:10) or Yissachar, whose wisdom the Torah praises (Dibrei Hayamim I, 12:33)?

The answer is that Ya'akob had already decided to hand over the mantle of leadership to Yehudah, and wished to teach him a lesson about government. The lesson is that religion and state must not be separated (when it comes to the Jewish people), contrary to the demands of "progressives" in recent generations. It is the king who must see to spreading Torah and observance among the Jewish people, and it is he who must go before the people, teaching and establishing yeshivot from which the Torah can go forth. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The parashah begins by telling us about the dialogue which Yosef, the ruler of Egypt, was having with his brother, Yehudah, about whether to release Binyamin or not. The Midrash tells us that the debate was very heated and Yehudah threatened to destroy Egypt and all of its inhabitants. When Yosef saw that Yehudah had reached the limit of his patience, he revealed his identity thereby diffusing the entire drama. The Midrash calls Yosef a wise man who can appease people. It seems that it would be obvious to anyone that this is what Yosef should have done in this situation. What great wisdom is seen from Yosef's actions?

The lesson that can be learned from here is that there is usually a point during an argument when it is wise to back down and retreat. When one is involved in a dispute, it often escalates to levels far beyond the original issues. One needs to look at it with a clear head, and know when to cut it short. Otherwise it reaches another level which can bring pain and destruction. Although it takes wisdom and foresight to be able to concede to someone else, especially during the heat of "battle," one who can muster inner strength like Yosef will diffuse the tension bringing peace and harmony among all parties involved. Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Feeling true happiness comes through performance of a misvah. Those who live a Torah lifestyle are not confused by the bombardment of media messages promising joy through consumerism. The "joys" of this world are temporary, while the "joy" of misvot is everlasting.

Rabenu Bachye teaches that not only are we required to feel joy when fulfilling our duties to Hashem, but that the joy we feel when we perform a good deed is, in itself, a misvah.

People feel a natural sense of satisfaction when they overcome an obstacle and succeed in reaching their goal. Visualize, for a moment, the football player who has just crossed the goal line, the batter who has just hit a home run, or the professional sports team that has just won a championship. The athletes jump up and down elatedly on the field, offering and receiving congratulations, basking in their moment in the limelight, however fleeting. Their exuberance should be a lesson to us, demonstrating how we should feel when we defeat our Yeser Hara (Evil Inclination) and reach our own personal "goal line!"

If we truly appreciate the value of a misvah, we will react with real and lasting joy. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

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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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