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Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34

MARCH 14-15, 2008 8 ADAR II 5768

Shabbat Zachor - This Shabbat, we will read an extra portion of Torah which commands us to remember what Amalek did to us and our obligation to wipe him out. All men are required to hear this special reading and even women should try to fulfill this obligation.


Due to the fact that Rabbi Semah is sitting shiva for his mother and is unable to write a message this week, we have reprinted one of his messages from a previous year.

"And Mordechai knew all that was done." (Esther 4:1)

It is stated in the Megillah that Mordechai knew all that was done, meaning that Mordechai knew all the details and the reasons behind the terrible decree of Haman and Ahashverosh. Rashi comments that the information came to him in a dream. He was told that the decree was because the Jews had participated in the immoral celebration that was hosted by Ahashverosh and that the Jews earlier had consented to bow down to the idol of Nebuchadnessar, the Babylonian ruler. The Midrash speaks more at length on this point and says there was a very urgent scramble occurring in Heaven. When Eliyahu HaNabi heard about the decree he ran to our forefathers to intervene. They responded, "Our hands are tied; the people have sinned." He ran to Moshe and yelled, "Moshe, you have saved the people so many times. Can't you do something now?" Moshe responded, "Is there a kosher Jew on Earth that can pray?" Eliyahu responded, "Mordechai is him!" Moshe commanded Eliyahu HaNabi to notify Mordechai to pray. "Tell him to pray on Earth and I will intervene and beg Hashem in Heaven."

The rest is history. The salvation of the Jews from Haman is our reason we celebrate Purim. Note, though, that Moshe wasn't able to beg Hashem without the prayer of a "kosher Jew"; as great as Moshe is, he is powerless without our prayers on Earth.

Purim should cause every Jew and Jewess to have a much greater appreciation of tefillah, prayer to Hashem. The Ba'al Shem Tob taught that "on Purim one should rise early to pray and ask Hashem for everything that he needs, not only for himself, but for others as well, for Purim is a time of acceptance just like Yom Kippur."

Purim is a day to set aside for many great things. Our prayers have special power on that day. We can feel closer to Hashem on this day more than any other day. We can get closer to our kids by going with them to deliver our Mishloah Manot. We can get closer to our friends by giving gifts and enjoying our seudah together. Have a great Purim! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The holiday of Purim gets its name from the pur, the lottery which Haman used to determine the day on which to destroy the Jews. This seems to be a very minor detail in the whole scheme of the Purim story. Why choose this aspect to give us the name of the holiday?

The answer is that Haman comes from Amalek, who believes everything in this world is random happenings. Amalek was willing to buck the Creator Himself as the cause of everything that takes place and Haman followed in his grandfather's footsteps. There is nothing more symbolic of chance than a lottery. This was the method that Haman chose to decide the fate of the Jews. The entire story of Purim shows how all random events are linked up to bring about the great miracle of Purim. Therefore, the name Purim is meant to bring home to us that our destiny is carefully planned with precision and detail. Just as a lottery is really the will of Hashem, so too are our every day happenings, from the greatest events to the smallest detail.

When we read the story of Purim, we should strengthen our faith in Hashem, thereby meriting to have miracles and salvation speedily in our days. Amen. Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


And He called to Moshe" (Vayikra 1:1)

Why is it customary for children who begin learning Humash to start Vayikra before Beresheet?

Little children are innocent and pure (tahor) and Humash Vayikra discusses korbanot, sacrifices, which are pure and which restore spiritual purity (taharah) to a person. Therefore, it is fitting that the pure little children should begin their education with the topic of purity.

Alternatively, Humash Vayikra primarily discusses the different korbanot that the Jewish people were required to offer to Hashem. Teaching it to young children imparts a message to both parents and children.

Jewish parents are being told that they must sacrifice so that their children may succeed in Torah study. They must forego materialistic lifestyles to conduct themselves in a way compatible with the Torah teaching their children are receiving and may also have to give up luxuries to pay tuition.

Jewish children must also know from the outset that sacrifice and dedication are a prerequisite for success in Torah studies. One cannot just sit back and expect to learn through osmosis. A Torah student must always bear in mind the words of our Sages (Megillah 6b): If a person says, "I have tried hard and succeeded," believe him. Only through diligent and assiduous study will one succeed.

Moreover, the youth is being told that throughout life as a Torah observant Jew, he may encounter hardship and perhaps even persecution. Nevertheless, he should be ready to make a sacrifice for Judaism, and ultimately he will realize that though it may be difficult to be a Jew, his life will be meaningful and rewarding. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: In the city of Jerusalem.

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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