MARCH 1-2, 2013 20 ADAR 5773
"The Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant." (Shemot 31:16)
This famous pasuk of the Torah is recited every Shabbat in all Jewish homes when Kidush is said. It is truly a beautiful statement. However, there is a redundancy in the pasuk. Why does it say, "the Shabbat" twice? It could have said, "And Israel shall keep and observe the Shabbat." Our Sages tell us that there is a hidden promise here in the Torah. The Torah is telling us that if a person observes the Shabbat completely for two times, then it will be kept by him and his family for generations to come, as it says, "okug ,hrc o,urusk, for generations to come."
This is based on the Talmud in Tractate Yoma, "If for two times a sin comes to the person's hand and he doesn't sin, he will not sin after that." This is a promise from Hashem that he will help that person not to sin. This fact is hinted to in our pasuk.
There is a well known statement of our Sages that if a person comes home Friday night from shul and finds the candles lit, the table set and the house in order, the good angel that accompanies him says, "May it be the will of Hashem that the next Shabbat should be the same." Why doesn't he say that it should be this way every Shabbat? Because, if the next Shabbat is this way, then the Shabbat will be observed always.
This idea, said by Rabbi Rephael from Hamburg, gives us great encouragement and hope. Hashem wants to help us observe his misvot for our own benefit. All that is needed is some effort by us. The observance of the entire Torah is within our reach. All we have to do is reach out for it. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
The Gemara tells us that the Evil Inclination (Yeser Hara) works in a slow, methodical manner. First he tells a person to transgress something minor. When the person violated that minor transgression and got over it, the "Yeser hara" tries a more substantial act until ultimately, the person can be convinced to worship idols.
Here in the perashah, we see an exception to this rule. The Jewish people had accepted the Torah on Mount Sinai just 40 days ago and now they were dancing around a Golden Calf. How could they fall so quickly to do such a grave transgression? R' Hayim Shmuelevitz Z"l says that the Yeser Hara has to work slowly only when a person is in good spirits. If a person is depressed, however, then the Evil Inclination can get him to do the worst sin in the slightest amount of time. Here, the Jewish people thought that Moshe Rabenu had died, and got into a deep depression. Therefore, they were able to commit an act of idol worship without going through the slow process of deterioration.
We must always be vigilant of this principle and try our best to stay in good spirits. When things start getting us down, we should do whatever we can to bounce back into our regular self either by talking to others, listening to the right music or going places that will bring us more happiness. By maintaining our spirits properly, we can have both our physical and spiritual health in the best shape possible. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Powerful desires were instilled in the human being in order to perpetuate the species. Hunger drives a person to eat, and food provides the nutrients needed to fuel the body. The strong attraction to the opposite gender promotes behavior that yields offspring. Even the desire to accumulate wealth - greed - was created so that people would compete and create products and services to improve the human condition.
Heavenly wisdom also provided brakes to limit the speed of the human engine - in the form of intellect. Human intellect can rule over desire and emotion. Common sense, or sometimes deep analysis, can cause a person to pause and think: "Is this really what is best?" - thus averting major errors that can be committed by submitting to an inappropriate desire.
Recently, while driving through a business district in heavy traffic, I passed the time by reading the various signs and awnings that advertised each establishment's wares. One caught my eye. "Mind-Body Balance Spa" was the name over the door of an unassuming storefront. I did not stop and I did not get a chance to enter and investigate what, exactly, goes on in that place, but it did start my mind buzzing. Isn't that what life is all about? Life's mission is to find the right balance between desire and intellect - to balance the wants and needs of the body with the high ideals of the Heavenly soul.
Just as automobiles are designed with adequate brakes, so, too, people are provided with good sense. And just as drivers who do not choose to step on the brake pedal will head into a crash, so, too, individuals who do not use their brains will end up in trouble. Human judgment is fallible and mistakes do occur, but the biggest mistake of all is not to use the tools given to us to control the course of our lives.
Use of the mind to control the body is the road to achievement of the elusive goal. Mind-body balance is the path to happiness. (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.
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