JERSEY SHORE TORAH BULLETIN
FINE DIFFERENCES by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"[If your Hebrew slave] says to you, 'I shall not go out from you'
because he loves you and your house because he fares well with
you" (Debarim 15:16)
The Gemara teaches that the owner of a Hebrew slave must
treat him and view him as an equal in every respect, and he
sometimes even has to treat him as a superior! However, the
Gemara also teaches that if two Jews are in dire need of water, and
only one of them has a jug of water, his own life takes precedence,
and he is not obligated to give the water to the other person. Why
is this case different than the case of the slave who must be treated
at least as an equal, if not better?
A poor man and a rich man can live in harmony with one
another, even though the poor man can't satisfy his physical needs
like the rich man. Still yet, he does not feel inferior in any way to
his friend as a human being. The slave, on the other hand, is always
reminded of his bitter status as a mere servant of another man.
Therefore the Torah goes out of its way to demand special
treatment for him.
There is a very important lesson to be learned from this.
We must understand that different people have different
sensitivities. We must recognize each person's uniqueness, and
treat him in a way that we will not hurt his feelings or make him
self-conscious of his station in life. Let's take it upon ourselves
now, as we approach the selihot season, to treat our fellow man
with the proper respect, and to make amends with those to whom
we may have shown disservice to in the past. Shabbat Shalom.
Last Sunday, Rabbi Semah's shul held grand opening ceremonies
for the opening of their new shul building. The following dvar
Torah was directed primarily to the community members, but the
message is universal.
CAN WE TALK? by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"This is a day that Hashem made. May we rejoice and be happy."
Sunday, August 24, was a day that will be remembered by
me and by all of our members for many years to come. The
emotions ran high, especially when we danced all of our sifrei
Torah into our new hechal. This was dedication day of
Congregation Magen Abraham. I know it was a great day simply
by the outpouring of love for each other, the feeling of a team in
victory - a day that only Hashem can make.
At this time, we are all anxious to pray in our new shul and
midrash, to learn Torah in the holy rooms that have been dedicated
for these purposes. What does our holy Torah want us to do at this
time? The name of our shul is Magen Abraham. Magen Abraham
is also the name of an important commentary on the Shulhan Aruch.
His words, many times, determine the halachah in our community.
In chapter 151, the Shulhan Aruch rules that we should not talk in
the shul non-essential talk, even if not during prayers, implying that
no talk at all should be done during prayers. The Magen Abraham
adds that if there is no talking during prayers, this will cause that
shul to stand for many years to come.
What a wonderful opportunity to preserve the great feeling
of holiness we feel now in our new shul by remaining silent during
prayers. May Hashem bless and preserve our new shul along with
all of the shuls in our nation, Amen.
FATHER AND SON
"See! I set before you this day a blessing and a curse." (Debarim
The usual way for a person to act with his friends, or for a
government to treat its citizens is to reward them for good deeds
while punishing them for bad actions. However, it is not found that
people are rewarded for refraining from evil or punished for not
doing good. For example, while society would punish a thief or a
killer, it would not reward somebody for not stealing or killing. In
the Torah, though, we see that a person is either rewarded for
doing a misvah or punished for not doing it, and punished for
committing a sin or rewarded for avoiding it. Why is this so?
We do see one situation which is similar to the Torah in this
respect - a father's actions towards his son. When a father tells his
son to do something for him, he may promise him a reward for
listening, but if the son doesn't listen he will be punished.
There are two types of reward and punishment - for the past
and for the future. For example, if a person were to find a robber in
his basement, he may run over and start hitting and beating him.
Obviously, his intention is not to teach him not to steal in the
future, but to punish the thief for trying to steal from him. The
same would apply for a reward that someone may give to one who
returned his lost wallet. His aim is to thank the person for his
kindness, and not simply to encourage him to do it again in the
The case of the father and son differs in that the father's goal
is to teach his son how to act in the future. If, for example, he
punishes his son for not going to shul, his main purpose is to train
his son to fear him and obey him in the future. When a father gives
presents to his son, it is not merely to reward him for the past, but
to encourage him to continue his good ways.
We can understand Hashem's intentions if we view reward
and punishment in this light. Rewards and punishments are not
given because they are "deserved" but rather their purpose is to
guide us on the proper path. (Lekah Tob)
Pop quiz:What is the punishment for trying to entice another
person to worship idols?
Answer to pop quiz:Death by stoning.