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Haftarah: Hoshea 2:1-22

MAY 26-27, 2017 2 SIVAN 5777


“Who chose us from among all the peoples and gave us His Torah.” (Daily blessing on the Torah)

The Talmud (Nedarim 81a) teaches us that the reason we lost the Land and the Bet Hamikdash was because we didn’t say the blessing on the Torah first. The Ran quotes Rabenu Yonah who explains the concept of not reciting the berachah before learning. Their failure to say the berachah before learning was indicative of their level of regard for Torah. “The Torah wasn’t important enough in their eyes.” They didn’t feel its true worth.

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro quotes Rabbi Aharon Kotler zt”l who wonders about this explanation. The Talmud in other places lists the specific sins that caused the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash and the sin that destroyed the second. Why then does Rabenu Yonah tell us that the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because we didn’t appreciate the Torah, whereas the Gemara clearly states that the specified sins were the catalysts of destruction?

Rav Aharon explains with the following parable. Imagine that a man is driving his car on the highway and receives the news that he just won millions of dollars in a lottery. A moment later another driver cuts him off. How will this man respond? Perhaps, before he won the lottery, he would have responded with road rage. Now that he was won a fortune, he barely reacts to the person who cut him off, thinking, “I am not going to waste my time becoming frustrated and furious over something that is so inconsequential.” The incident does not even register on his radar.

“The Torah is far more precious than pearls (or jewels).” One cannot compare winning the lottery to “winning” the Torah. If we realized what we won we would not allow ourselves to become angry or jealous or exhibit baseless hatred. If we valued the Torah we would not be lured into a lifestyle of sins. With this explanation, Rav Aharon reconciles the contradiction in the Gemara. Both temples were indeed destroyed for the specific sins listed, but on a deeper level, we committed those sins because the Torah was not important enough in our eyes.

As we approach the holiday of Shabuot, we must ensure that the prominence of Torah is the purpose of our existence. We will then remove any obstacles to rebuilding the third and everlasting Bet Hamikdash.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The Talmud relates a fascinating episode. When Moshe went up to the heavens to receive the Torah, the heavenly angels didn’t want to let the Torah go down to earth. Moshe was afraid to tackle the angels but Hashem told him to answer them. Moshe then told the angels, “Why do you want the Torah? Did you go out of Egypt? Do you have parents to honor? Do you steal, murder, etc.?” At that point they agreed with Moshe and let the Torah come down to the Jewish people and even gave Moshe “gifts.” The question is obvious. What was the angels’ point and how did Moshe convince them otherwise?

The Rabbis tell us that of course the angels knew they could not fulfill the Torah. However, they wanted to be the ones to decide the laws of the Torah. If ever there is a controversy or a question, the Heavenly Academy should be the decider. Moshe told them, you have to be involved and obligated in order to decide the laws of the Torah. The Torah is not just a subject to voice our opinions on; it is a way of life. If we live a life of Torah and study thoroughly, we have the ability to expound upon it and indeed even be one of the deciders of the Torah. All of our great scholars were indeed permeated with Torah through and through and were able to decide the halachah. It’s amazing that although no one would ever contradict a brain surgeon as to his field of expertise, many people venture an opinion in halachah without even studying the subject. Let us recommit ourselves this Shabuot holiday to study, to learn, to understand and indeed to live a life of Torah. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Pirke Abot

It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat.

“Rabbi Meir says: Whoever occupies himself with the study of Torah for its own sake merits many things” (Pirkei Abot 6:1)

Why doesn’t it say “kol halomed” - “whoever studies Torah”?

In every business, there is a primary difference between the employer and the employee. An employee is mainly concerned with his own tasks, and he does not need to think about the business during his off hours. Unlike the employer, who thinks about his business unceasingly, he has little concern for the business as a whole.

In Hebrew the word “esek” means “business.” Rabbi Meir teaches that a person’s approach to Torah should be similar to an employer’s attachment to his business. Even after he leaves the Bet Midrash and is home eating or sleeping, Torah should always be uppermost in his mind. (Vedibarta Bam)

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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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