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Haftarah: Obadiah 1: 1-21

November 19-20, 2010 13 Kislev 5771


“He put the handmaids and the children first.” (Beresheet 33:2)

Ya’akob Abinu gets ready for his confrontation with Esav. Despite the blessing that he received that he would prevail against Esav, Ya’akob did not rely on miracles. When he learned that his brother was coming towards him with four hundred men, Ya’akob became very frightened and distressed. He kept the children with their own mothers. He put Bilhah and Zilpah and their children first, followed by Leah and her children, and last were Rachel and Yosef. Rashi comments; the further back, the more dear to Ya’akob (Midrash).

It is difficult to comprehend that Ya’akob would do this. Would Ya’akob put one life in front of the other because he loved one more? This comment that Rashi brought from the Midrash is beautifully explained by the Dibrei Yehezkel (quoted in Hame’ir). He says that Ya’akob’s actions are explained by the rule “Hashem seeks out the pursued.” Hashem gives special protection to the one being pursued. Even if a saddik is pursuing by a rasha, Hashem will seek out and protect the rasha!

Now we can understand Ya’akob’s actions. G-d forbid, Ya’akob would never choose the life of one over another. He was utilizing the rule of the pursued to put forward the one most protected. Bilhah and Zilpah and their children were pursued by the regular wives and their children. The nature of the situation was that the handmaids and their children were given a somewhat lesser status and were, in a sense, chased and pursued. Therefore they weren’t in danger because Hashem protects the pursued. That’s why Ya’akob put them first. Similarly, Leah and her children were pursued by Rachel who was the main wife, so they went next. However, Rachel and Yosef, the ones that Ya’akob loved the most, were in the most danger. The fear for their lives was the greatest; therefore they were last. This was the intention of Rashi when he said, “The further back, the more dear to Ya’akob.”

The words of the Dibrei Yehezkel should be a source of comfort to us Jews. Throughout history, no one has been pursued more than the Jews. Therefore we have the most protection from Hashem. The next time you hear an anti-Semitic slur, you should thank him, for he s blessing you with Divine protection! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Ya'akob remained all alone." (Beresheet 32:25)

Rashi tells us that Ya'akob was alone that night because he went back to get some jars that he had forgotten behind. This led to his struggling with Esav's angel the entire night and finally emerging victorious. Although we know that Ya'akob was extremely wealthy, he still went back across the river to retrieve some inexpensive utensils. This is not to say that Ya'akob couldn't part with his money, because when it came to buying a burial plot from Esav, the Midrash tells us that he placed a pile of money at Esav's feet in order to purchase his right in the Me'arat Hamachpelah. We see from here that Ya'akob could spend a lot of money for something important. However, he didn't want to waste anything of value and he was even willing to go across a river to get his jars.

This teaches us an important lesson. We are given money and resources to use properly. When buying something worthwhile, we may spend as much as necessary in order to obtain it. But we should never waste money or valuable items for no good reason. Especially today, in our throw-away society, we must teach our children the value of money and the value of our possessions. To throw away something of value is wrong. If we show our children by example that we appreciate our money and our valuables, spending them when necessary and saving them when not, we will be raising them in a proper way, so that they will have the correct attitude towards their possessions and will likewise do the same.

The most important thing which we have to teach our children not to waste is time. With all of our “time-saving” conveniences, we have a lot of extra time on our hands. When we waste this valuable time, we are wasting our very life itself! Just as Ya’akob didn’t waste any resources, even something worth very little, we have to value everything Hashem gives us, especially our time in this world. The expression “to kill time” means “to kill life,” G-d forbid. This is the best lesson we can impart to our children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

How do we see the names of the Abot and Imahot alluded to in the name Yisrael?

The yud stands for Yitzhak and Ya’akob. The sin stands for Sarah. The resh stands for Ribkah and Rachel. The alef stands for Abraham, and the lamed stands for Leah. (Torahific)


Many grandparents feel that toys, candies, or other treats must accompany them on visits to their grandchildren. After all, it pays to be prepared for the chorus of “What did you bring me?” that rings out from the mouths of the precious little ones. However, the grandparents don’t consider that the toys or trinkets they bestow so lovingly have a life span shorter than that of a fruit fly, and will soon pass into oblivion.

It is very important to bond with children and to forge connections between the generations. A toy or candy is a useful icebreaker, but once the novelty is gone – and how quickly that happens! – adults should give of themselves to the little ones. Sharing a personal story, reading a book aloud, or taking a walk together are joint activities that give children a feeling of special importance. They also give Grandma or Grandpa the chance to teach and share experiences with a beloved youngster while enjoying the grandchild’s company and unique personality.

Next time you get ready to visit the kids, think hard about what to bring along. Be sure to bring yourself along with your purchase. If you inject yourself into the things that you bring, it will build your relationship with your offspring and pass on your traditions to future generations. (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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