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Haftarah: Obadiah 1: 1-21

DECEMBER 9-10, 2011 15 KISLEV 5772


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

In Our perashah Ya'akob Abinu returns home to his father's house. Ya'akob went back alone across the Yabok River to retrieve some small jars. It was at that time that the angel of Esav - Satan - in the guise of a man attacked Ya'akob and struggled with him. Ya'akob won the struggle and Satan was forced to bless him before departing. Their physical struggle symbolized a deep spiritual struggle. The Be'er Yosef explains that Ya'akob returned for seemingly insignificant small jars because such is the way of a saddik. Ya'akob knew that he had acquired these jars through Divine Providence (Hashgachah Peratit). Therefore, there must be some purpose in owning them and he had no right to leave them behind.

The Gemara relates the word ???????????(and he wrestled) to ??? (dust) and comments that in their struggle Ya'akob and the angel "brought up dust that reached the Heavenly Throne." They struggled over dust, seemingly unimportant things. Ya'akob maintained that even the small things in life "reach the Heavenly Throne," that is, they happen through Divine intervention. Satan tried to convince him otherwise, but Ya'akob, who symbolized truth, could not be swayed.

We descendants of Ya'akob must strengthen ourselves in the belief that whatever happens in our lives, even seemingly insignificant happenings, is orchestrated by Hashem. The more we live with this belief, the more we will come to recognize Hashem's involvement in our daily lives, which is a source of happiness.

A true story related by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman tells it all. One day Yisrael David and Ezriel Dillman, yeshivah students, were walking down a main avenue in Boro Park during their lunch break. Suddenly they heard the ringing of a pay phone on the street. "It's surely a wrong number," Yisrael said to his friend as he lifted the receiver.

"My I speak to Yisrael David?" said the voice on the other end. "Mom…?" Yisrael couldn't believe it…It was his mother calling! "Oh Yisrael! How wonderful that you should be the one to answer the phone! Mazel Tov! Uncle Yisrael and Rivki just had a baby girl!"

After responding to the news, Yisrael asked, "Mom, do you know where I am right now?" "What do you mean, Yisrael? Of course I know where you are - at the pay phone of the yeshivah!" Yisrael looked at the pay phone's number; it was almost identical to the yeshivah's pay phone number, only the last digit was different, by one. His mother had meant to phone him at the yeshivah but Hashem had caused her to misdial by one digit so that she could reach her son as he walked down the street and share the good news with him. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Esav ran toward his brother and hugged him...and kissed him" (Beresheet 33:4)

Rashi tells us that although it is well known that Esav hates Ya'akob, this time, when he saw Ya'akob bowing down to him, he was filled with pity and he kissed Ya'akob with genuine feeling. The Rabbis tell us that the way we feel towards others will reciprocally make them feel towards us, as the pasuk in Mishle (Proverbs 27:19) says "As in water, face answers to face, so the heart of a man to a man".

Many times we feel stalemated in our relationships with others, and we look for ways to thaw the coldness between us. The Torah teaches us that if we could muster genuine good will towards others, be understanding of their ways and try to see them in a positive light, then the feelings will be communicated heart to heart, and we will see the same and more from them to us. Let's try it and we will benefit the most. Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Do you have a nickname? Most people would prefer to be called by their given name rather than a name that might imply something odd or unusual about them. Sometimes childhood friends give each other nicknames, and these names stick to them throughout their lives. Children might tease a person about physical characteristics, and names such as "Shorty" or "Red" might replace a victim's real name for many years to come. Others are given names based on similarity in looks or behavior to a famous personage. In all cases, a nickname is not chosen; it is given to a person by friends or associates.

Individuals, say the Sages, have three names:

1) The name given by their parents;
2) The name given by their friends;
3) The name people give themselves.

The names given by parents do not really represent who people are or what they are about.

The names given by others can only be based on what they see of a friend's exterior, and what these same friends choose to reveal about their thoughts.

The name people make for themselves, however, is their true identity.

During any given day, people face many situations in which they can enhance or, Hashem forbid, detract from their reputation. The behavioral choices they make build upon past performance to establish reputation. "A good name is better than good oil,"

said King Solomon, the wisest of all men; yet some value the material gains yielded by unethical or immoral acts more than they value their own good name.

Whenever you are confronted with a behavioral choice, use your good sense to make the decision that will give you a good name. The name you make for yourself is the real you. (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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