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Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18-46:15

MARCH 23-24, 2012 1 NISAN 5772


"When a person among you will bring an offering to Hashem." (Vayikra 1:2)

Early in our history, we had the ability to bring sacrifices to the Holy Bet Hamikdash in Jerusalem. These brought to us great benefit. Our Sages teach us that today we have a remnant of that benefit, and that is our daily prayers. It is interesting that recently the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, sent a message about the importance of decorum in shul and no one even noticed it! What? - you ask - when did the Prime Minister speak about decorum in shul? OK, he didn't make an explicit reference to shul, but he implemented a new policy that should provide food for thought for G-d-fearing Jews.

According to the policy, no cell phones are allowed in his inner office. If you're invited to meet with him, then you will be asked to deposit your phone in a large container at the doorway known as the aquarium. According to senior officials, the Prime Minister got sick and tired of the use, or abuse, of cell phones in his office during important meetings. People would take phone calls, send messages or play games when the topic bored them. You really can't blame the Prime Minister for getting upset. Can you imagine someone having the nerve to put the Prime Minister on hold to take a call?!

The message to those of us who are fortunate enough to meet three times a day with the Commander-in-Chief (Hashem) is obvious. We have a serious problem with cell phones in shul, and it's not just with someone occasionally forgetting to turn off his phone.

We consciously keep them on (even if only on vibrate so as to benevolently avoid disturbing others) and answer them during prayers. Even if we're really "frum, " we'll mutter "Uh uh" to the party on the other end of the line so as to not actually talk. Some people waiting for hazarah to start are typing messages in the open.

Praying requires concentration and we get distracted easily. We need to learn decorum from the Prime Minister. Every shul should have an "aquarium" at the door, where people can deposit their phones. If we would be insulting the Prime Minister by answering the phone in his office, I don't want to think how infinitely more insulting it would be to our Creator. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

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

The first word of this week's perashah, Vayikra, is written with a small alef at the end. The Rabbis tell us that this was a compromise between Hashem and Moshe. When Hashem called out to Moshe, which signifies a very special honor, Moshe, who was extremely humble, didn't want to write it that way. He asked Hashem whether he could skip the alef and write "vayikar", which means "He chanced" upon Moshe. Hashem said, "No, but you may write it with a small letter."

With this, we can understand a very amazing Midrash. We know that Moshe had rays of light shining from his face. The Midrash says that this came about when Moshe took the leftover ink from his quill and put it on his face. It gave him a special light. What ink was leftover, and how could ink produce light? In a homiletic approach we can understand it based on the previous thought. Moshe was a self-effacing, extremely humble person. He wanted to make sure that no attention is called to his greatness. Therefore, he wanted to write "vayikar?, and finally wrote "vayikra" with a small alef. When a person makes himself smaller, he eventually becomes greater, because people who are humble are those we appreciate and acknowledge. This was the light on Moshe's face. Those that toot their own horns, however, are usually known as precisely that: people who make a lot of noise.

We know many people who suffer from "I" trouble, always punctuating their sentences with "I" this and "I" that. We also know those who are quiet, self-effacing, looking to stay out of the limelight. We know whom we'd rather be with. That's also who we should try to be. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The ball soared over the little boy's head, flying out of his family's yard, over the fence, and into the neighbor's garden.

"Where are you going?" yelled his father, as the little boy headed for the seven-foot-high fence that separated the two properties.

"I am going to get the ball," replied the brave child, starting to climb the fence.

"Stop!" commanded his dad. "That fence is too high for a little boy to climb!"

The boy ignored his father's warnings and stubbornly continued to climb the fence. He reached the top and pulled himself over as his dad gazed in disbelief.

"How did you do that?" asked the shocked parent. "How come you didn't listen to me?"

"I knew I could do it - and I did!" replied the proud child, tossing the retrieved ball back to his dad. "Play ball!"

Sometimes people fail to achieve, not due to lack of ability, but to lack of self-confidence. You cannot draw on talents or powers that you do not realize you have. While it's true that nobody is perfect, you, like everyone else, often sell yourself short and fail to accomplish because of a poor self-image.

When you think you cannot, assume that you can. Reach down deep into your untapped potential and remember the four-foot-tall boy and the seven-foot-high fence. It only takes a small dose of self-confidence to provide the impetus to help you reach success in areas you were unable to excel in before. (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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