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Haftarah: Obadiah 1: 1-21

NOVEMBER 28-29, 2014 6 KISLEV 5775


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

Ya'akob Abinu is about to meet up with Esav. After crossing his family over the river, he realizes he forgot a small jar. He returns back for the jar and while he is alone he is attacked. Our Sages tell us that he was attacked by the angel that represents Esav. Why did Ya'akob return alone to retrieve a seemingly unimportant jar?

The Arizal is quoted in the book called Shaar Hapesukim on our perashah. He says, "The righteous love the things they own because it is something that Hashem has given them. Since it came from Hashem one should not belittle the object for if the object was not important for him to have, Hashem would not have given it to him. Therefore, Ya'akob returned for even a small jar, for if he didn't retrieve it, it would seem as if he didn't want it. Anything that comes from up High, one must retrieve it."

Obviously the sadik has a very different viewpoint of objects than most people commonly have. The small objects are Heaven-sent!

The Steipler Gaon was very careful not to waste anything. When building his sukkah, he would hammer out nails that were bent from previous use. His son once asked, "Is it really worth the time straightening out bent nails, rather than taking new ones? After all, wouldn't your time be better spent studying Torah?"

"Just as any other misvah requires time and effort to fulfill," the Rav answered, "the misvah of not being wasteful also requires time and effort. It is worth the time to show our appreciation for what has been given to us." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

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

When Ya'akob was traveling alone at night, the angel of Esav appeared to him like a man and began struggling with him the entire night, until the angel said he couldn't conquer Ya'akob. The angel of Esav represents the evil side, the yeser hara; why did he only choose Ya'akob to battle and not Abraham or Yitzhak?

The answer is that Abraham represents hesed, kindness, and Yitzhak represents abodah, which is prayer, whereas Ya'akob represents Torah study. The yeser hara is not as threatened by deeds of kindness or by prayer as he is by Torah study. When we pray and do hesed, of course we are doing great things, but we can't vanquish the evil inclination that way. He is still lurking, waiting for an opportunity to ensnare us. However, when we learn Torah, we become clear as to our purpose in life and we reorganize our priorities. The yeser hara realizes we will see through his wily ways and feels threatened and therefore doesn't want us to go to that class or pick up that book to learn. That's why the angel of Esav attacked Ya'akob, the patriarch who symbolizes Torah study! But just as Ya'akob was not overpowered, so too do we have the ability to overcome the yeser hara and to grow in Torah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And Ya'akob asked and he said, 'Please tell me your name,' and he replied, 'Why do you ask me my name?'" (Beresheet 32:30)v Ya'akob fought with the spiritual being which was the personification of Esav, which was also the personification of the yeser hara (evil inclination). When Ya'akob was victorious, he asked the being for his name, but was told, "Why do you ask me my name?" This reply might appear to be a refusal to give a truthful answer. But Rabbi Yehudah Leib Chasman explained that this was actually the name of the evil inclination, "Don't ask."

The desires of this world draw a person like a magnet. The best way to overcome one's negative impulses is to be aware of how illusory these pleasures actually are. As soon as you take a close look with your intellect at worldly desires, you will see how empty and meaningless they are. "Don't ask!" As soon as you start asking questions to clarify the reality of the evil inclination, you will find that there is nothing there. This is analogous to seeing a shadow and thinking that something is actually there. As soon as you light a candle you realize that what you saw was only an illusion. Use your intellect to see the emptiness of negative desires and you will be free from their pull. (Growth through Torah)


Rush, rush, rush. Our lives are so hectic. In an effort to give us more time to do the things we like, scientists and inventors are employed by major corporations and research companies to find new ways to speed up the performance of everyday tasks. Technology has developed high-speed computer chips, digital, laser-speed communications equipment, and jet-propelled vehicles for travel beyond Earth's atmosphere.

We, in the process, have learned to value speed:

The young pitcher who can throw a baseball at ninety-eight miles per hour earns a hefty multi-million dollar contract, as does the speedy runner for a football team.

Customers choosing communications equipment for business use generally favor the system that promises the fastest connections.

Passengers are willing to pay more to get to their destinations if travel times are reduced by even an hour.

Drivers who purchase Global Positioning Systems for their automobiles have the option to select a scenic road, but more often than not choose the directions that promise the quickest route.

It seems that people have become more concerned with when they will arrive rather than where they will arrive. Speed is good if it gets people to where they should go. They should not lose focus, however, and spend their concentration and efforts on reducing the time it takes to get somewhere, unless that place is going to benefit them.

In business, the goal must stay clear if we are to succeed. In life, we are all travelers and are all supposed to seek self-improvement and character development. Efficient use of our time and zeal in the performance of our responsibilities is commendable and advisable. Yet we should make certain that haste does not make waste by causing us to forget where we are going. (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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