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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23

APRIL 7 - APRIL 8, 2017 12 NISAN 5777


"You shall rejoice in your holiday, you and your son and your daughter." (Debarim 16:14)

At this time of year, many of our homes fill up with married children or children returning from yeshivah or seminary, coming to visit for Pesah. What a precious gift! It is one that some would give all the money in the world to experience. This is true in concept, but we know that it is not always experienced this way. Sometimes it is taken for granted. Why?

Rabbi Katsenbaum answers with a mashal. Imagine you find yourself in the most expensive restaurant. You order the cheapest thing on the menu, a two-hundred-dollar steak. It has a fancier name, but essentially it's a succulent piece of steak. You are expecting a portion the size of a football, but it is average size. How fast will you eat that steak? Not fast at all. You will probably savor every piece. At ten dollars a bite, you want to enjoy it to the fullest. On the other hand, if you are grabbing an ordinary lunch, you might quickly stuff it into your mouth.

We pray, learn, or perform many misvot, but we might not be enjoying them the way we should. Very possibly, it is because we rush through them. When a person is in a hurry to get something over with, looking at what is next on his list rather than what is on his plate, he will not enjoy what he is doing. On the holiday the focus is on getting things done. The focus is on the next meal and all the practicalities. There is surely a lot of planning, energy, stress and effort expended, and it's not always easy to manage, but we mustn't allow that to prevent us from enjoying the treasure before our eyes. We need to stop every so often, look around the room, and thank Hashem for the life He has bestowed upon us. As the verse quoted above, appreciating spending time with one's family is part of the misvah of Simhat Yom Tob.

Now more than ever, in this fast-paced society, we are running from one thing to another. There is rarely a dull moment. Although the holiday of Pesah teaches zerizut (alacrity), that refers to excitement and anticipation for a misvah. We rush to do a misvah; we don't rush through a misvah. On the contrary, we have to deliberate and drink up all that the misvah encompasses.

May we enjoy our misvot and utilize them for their purpose of drawing closer to Hashem. May we enjoy our families, develop closer relationships and derive much pleasure and joy. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"In every generation it is one's duty to regard himself as though he personally has come out of Egypt."

The Peninim Haggadah quotes Harav M. Gifter Shlita who explains that all the events which occurred to Bnei Yisrael were not singular, transitory events that were meant to be immediately forgotten. Every miracle, every incident bespeaks eternity. The events are eternalized in such a manner that when that date on the calendar arrives, the Jew must relate to "then" as if it were "now." Indeed, as the Haggadah says, one must regard himself as though he came out of Egypt. This is not an event of the past; it is occurring in the present. Consequently, one is obligated to recite Hallel even at night, since it is viewed as if the miracle occurred to him personally.

In a similar vein, Rabbi E. Dessler z"l observes that time is not a line that passes above us, but rather a circle through which we travel. Periodically, we return to those events which have been eternalized as a result of the spiritual values with which they have been suffused. During these unique periods, one has the opportunity to interface with the experiences which have consecrated these moments in time. Thus, at the specific time of the year when we remember zeman herutenu, the time of our liberation, we are infused with the spiritual concepts that highlight that moment in time. We are inspired by the kedushah, holiness, of the moment; we are elevated by the experiences as we relive yesiat misrayim.

May we merit to truly experience these feelings during this holiday season and may we be privileged to celebrate Pesah in Jerusalem with the Mashiah speedily in our days, Amen. Happy and Kosher Pesah to all. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

How Old Are You?

Two three-year-olds accompanied their father to the store, where they spotted a bin full of rubber balls. Each started the singsong nagging which little children believe is necessary in order to get what they want. To avoid trouble later, the wise parent chose two balls and gave one to each child. Much to his surprise, within minutes each was insisting that the ball his brother was bouncing was his. The father switched the balls from one child to the other - but the squabbling broke out again! The children were never satisfied with the balls they had; each demanded the one his sibling was playing with. Silly children!

People don't easily outgrow the possessiveness of their childhood years. Jealousy and competition drive individuals to prefer that which belongs to another. Learning the truism that "Hashem gives everyone exactly what they need to perform their life mission" is easier said than done - but it is a lesson we must internalize.

Inevitably, the time will come when you see a person with something you wish could be yours. You might react with an envious stare, or you might not. It takes a healthy outlook and emotional maturity to focus on what you have and not compare it to another's acquisitions. (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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