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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 43:21-44:23

MARCH 19-20, 2010 5 NISAN 5770


"Speak to B'nei Yisrael and say to them: When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem." (Vayikra 1:2)

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin notes that the verse begins with the singular, Adam, man, and continues with the plural, Takribu, all of you shall bring. He explains that in essence every sacrifice, even when brought by an individual, is an offering for the entire Jewish people. All Jews are truly connected. The Hafess Hayim, citing Zohar, writes that in heaven all Jewish souls are one in a very real sense. Thus, when a Jew does a misvah, he is benefiting not only himself, but all of the Jewish people. When he offers a sacrifice, he is achieving atonement for the entire Jewish people. The unity of Israel is alluded to in the word Adam. The Gemara comments, "You, the Jewish people, are called Adam, but the nations of the world are not called Adam."

I would like to relate to you an incredible story told by Nahman Seltzer that illustrates what two Jewish people can do when they become unified as one. This is a true story that happened recently in Israel. Shira and Zahava were enemies for years. They fought all the time and they hated each other. They had a shared history that extended back thirty years. They had met when they were very young. In first grade the confrontation usually ended in hair pulling and scratching. It moved on to bigger and better things in later grades. Sparks flew whenever they looked at each other. They just never stopped fighting. It is true that each one at different times contemplated making peace, but it could never work out.

One Shabbat morning a Rabbi's class on some honest self-examination broke through to Zahava and she decided that the time had come to end it. Yes, Zahava was going to make a lasting peace with Shira. She would need to do something concrete to show her that she really meant it. With trembling fingers she dialed her enemy's home phone number. "Shira, this is Zahava. Yes, it's me, Shira; it's time to make peace…" After a few minutes of silence Shira began to cry and so did Zahava. Then Zahava told her the plan. In two months Zahava's child was getting married. Zahava wanted Shira to sit at the front table with her to show everyone that they really made peace. Shira was thrilled and started thinking about buying a new dress. They were both thrilled. After they hung up, Shira checked her calendar. She was horrified when she realized that on that night she had an important doctor's appointment that she had waited for for six months which she couldn't change. She called Zahava back to tell her the disappointing news. Zahava understood. Zahava talked to her Rabbi who came up with the idea to try to change the wedding date. Zahava listened and there was a cancellation at the wedding hall. Zahava changed the date. Both Shira and Zahava were delighted.

On the evening of May 24, 2001, a disaster occurred at the Versailles Wedding Hall in Talpiot, Yerushalayim. The building collapsed. Twenty-three people died that night. Zahava's son was to have been married on the lower floor in that building on that exact day. But they weren't there. Their wedding had been rescheduled, because two women, enemies for thirty years, wanted nothing more than to make peace between themselves. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"When a man among you brings an offering" (Vayikra 1:2)

When the Jews were instructed on the laws of sacrifices, they were told that even a non-Jew could bring a korban, sacrifice. The only difference between his korban and ours is that we are allowed to bring burnt offerings and peace offerings, shelamim and olah, whereas the gentile may only bring a burnt offering, olah. Indeed, even if he says he's sacrificing a peace offering, it can only be brought as an olah, burnt offering.

The lesson in this is that the non-Jewish view of religion differs from ours drastically. They understand religion to be only to G-d, only in a holy endeavor, not in the normal course of everyday life. They feel if one wants to be close to G-d, he cannot engage in the everyday pursuits such as eating or having children. Therefore, their sacrifice is a burnt offering, only for the altar. We, however, believe that one must sanctify his everyday living in line with Hashem. We eat and we make a berachah. We get reward because it's a misvah. In business we perform many commandments. Our duty is to take the mundane and make it spiritual. Therefore we can bring a shelamim, peace offering, where part goes on the altar and part is eaten by man. Our mission is to live life the fullest in the ways of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


David and Jacob were the best of friends. They were the same age, similar in height and weight, and very talented in many areas. Each aroused the competitive spirit of his contemporary. Whether in learning, sports, business, or social contacts, there was always an undercurrent of friendly rivalry whenever these two got together.

One day, David and Jacob set out to travel to a wedding. They met at a prearranged spot and started walking towards the bus stop, talking and laughing and planning for a good time at the festive occasion. When they were about a block away, David cried, "There's the bus. Let's run!"

Both men broke into a sprint, but when the bus was ready to leave, only David was aboard. He pleaded with the driver to wait for his companion, and the driver reluctantly agreed. Were it not for his friend's intervention, Jacob would have remained standing alone on the sidewalk, waiting for the next bus to arrive.

A casual observer might say that David was a faster runner than Jacob, and therefore he managed to catch the bus. But he was not a better runner than his friend. The difference between the two was that David was very anxious to attend the entire wedding; in particular, he wanted to arrive in plenty of time for the ceremony. Jacob, on the other hand, was just a casual friend of the groom. He was looking forward to enjoying the party, but was not particularly concerned about being there in time for the start of the actual wedding service.

The driving force that motivates a person is desire. The more a person wants to achieve something, the more effort he will expend towards accomplishing that goal. Jacob's desire to get to the wedding was not as strong as David's, and therefore he nearly missed the bus.

Life is a series of challenges which require effort to overcome. When you want to succeed at what is good, you must develop a true desire for that goal. Reading about the benefits of a particular trait or the rewards of a particular behavior pattern will instill in you a stronger desire for that positive trait or behavior pattern. Even talking to yourself out loud about the beauty of a certain way of conducting yourself will arouse more desire in you to behave that way.

Saying you want something, and really wanting it, are worlds apart. Before you can achieve, you must convince yourself that you truly want to succeed. (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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