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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 6:1-13

FEBRUARY 5-6, 2010 22 SHEBAT 5770


"The entire people responded together and said, 'Everything that Hashem has spoken we shall do!'" (Shemot 19:8)

The climax of the Exodus is now at hand. The Jews would prove that they were worthy to be redeemed by their readiness to serve Hashem at the mountain of Sinai. Our nation immediately accepted the Torah and all of its laws, then and forever. The following story, told by L. Finberg, illustrates the depth of this acceptance, even by the most simple Jew.

A sign was posted in the shul of Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Meissels, the Rabbi of the city of Lodz. The sign said that a person lost 10,000 rubles. A few days after the sign was posted the person, a businesswoman, went to the Rabbi to hear if there was any response. He assured her that all the necessary signs were posted, but no response had come as of yet. The woman owned a few stores in Bialystock and had come to town to buy merchandise, but this time she lost the money with which she would make her purchases. After a lot of crying she left her address with the Rabbi and returned home.

Not long afterward a porter, a simple laborer who hauled small loads asked to speak to the Rabbi. The Rabbi was very surprised when he said, "I found the money. Do I have to return it?" After the Rabbi determined that he was referring to the 10,000 rubles, he asked the porter why he thought he could keep the money. He related that even though he was a simple laborer, he attended classes in his shul. The Rabbi taught that if someone loses something and he stops believing that he will ever find it again, he gives up hope. Meanwhile, if another Jew finds it, since the owner despaired of ever getting it back, the person can keep it. Rabbi Meissels agreed with him in theory, but who said she gave up hope? The porter answered, that since she returned home, she gave up, because he never would have left the town without turning over every stone in town. "Rebbe, I am not a dishonest person; I don't want to do anything wrong. But, I am a poor man with a large family to support. If the halachah says I don't have to give back the money, I don't want to do it." The Rabbi responded that he will have the answer in a few days.

After studying the subject, the answer was simple. Since the woman was married, the money actually belonged to the husband. He didn't even know about the loss and therefore never gave up. Therefore, the money belongs to the woman.

The Rabbi summoned the porter and the woman. The Rabbi said his ruling. The porter immediately removed the money from his coat pocket. After the woman received all of the money, she offered to give the porter one thousand rubles as a reward. However, the porter refused to accept even a single ruble. "I only did what the Torah tells us to do. There is no need to give me a reward for doing that."

With these words the simple laborer left the room and disappeared into the crowded streets of Lodz. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Yitro heard." (Shemot 18:1)

This is the perashah which tells us about the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, perhaps the greatest event that ever took place in the world. Wouldn't it be proper to have the entire perashah devoted to that special occurrence, rather than begin with Yitro joining the Jewish? What was so important about Yitro that this had to precede Matan Torah?

The answer is the first word - ????????? - and he heard! The Torah is teaching us that if we don't hear, we will not be able to receive the Torah. Hearing means being able to concentrate and focus on someone else and not only on ourselves. It means to accept that we're not perfect and we can hear advice and criticism. The whole world was aware that the Jews came out of Egypt with great miracles but did nothing about it. Yitro, however, heard and came. Because he was willing to truly hear and understand, he changed his own life and ultimately gave some very useful advice to Moshe. That is why the giving of the Torah must be preceded by the story of Yitro, to teach us what hearing can bring.

We often ask others how they are, but do we really hear their answers? Our kids are constantly talking to us, but are we truly listening? Even if we do allow the words of others to enter our ears, do we hear "between the lines"? Let us learn from Yitro to truly hear and listen to what's around us and this will make our lives a little bit better.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Achieving happiness is the lifelong goal of most people, yet so many find it an elusive fantasy. One of the problems with finding happiness is knowing exactly what it is. To some it is the absence of pain. Yet that is not happiness; it is comfort. Happiness is a state of mind that follows achieving a goal, overcoming an obstacle, or stretching yourself to grow closer to your still unachieved potential.

Happiness is hard work that shows results. There are really no quick fixes to get you there. Some people try drugs or alcohol. When you achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, you feel a sense of inner worth that doesn't fade so quickly.

When you confront a new challenge, don't cower in fear and employ avoidance tactics. Welcome the opportunity to flex your free-will muscle and make some meaningful decisions that can, if successful, invigorate your soul.

It's the real thing! The difficult path, the realistic road, may be harder to take, but it is the way to real and lasting results. (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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