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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 66:1-24

JANUARY 27-28, 2017 1 SHEBAT 5777


"Hashem strengthened the heart of Pharaoh and he did not listen to them as Hashem had spoken to Moshe." (Shemot 9:12)

During the first five plagues, Hashem did not interfere with Pharaoh's power of free choice. During the final five, however, when Pharaoh had already displayed his reluctance to repent, Hashem punished him with the loss of his personal free will. Although Pharaoh was no longer in control of his own destiny, Hashem punished him as though he continued to sin of his own volition. From Hashem's treatment of the wicked Pharaoh, we may determine how Hashem would treat the righteous in a similar situation.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein explains, that just as Pharaoh was punished for his evil deeds by losing the ability to fight his evil inclination, there are those who are rewarded by Hashem for their good deeds with the removal of their evil inclination. The Talmud tells us (Baba Batra 17a) that this is the meaning of David Hamelech's statement in Tehillim (109:22), "My heart has died within me." King David said that through his good deeds, he earned the removal of his evil inclination. Therefore, his "heart," a reference to the evil inclination which until that point had resided in his heart, could be said to have died.

When Hashem rewards a person for his good deeds, He takes into account the amount of effort a person invests in his actions. The lame person who limps to shul every morning may earn more reward with his five-minute walk than the athlete who jogs two miles to shul. When Hashem removes the evil inclination from the righteous, it allows them to serve Hashem without any struggle at all. Will this lessen the amount of reward they will receive? Surely not. If Pharaoh, who no longer had the ability to fight his evil inclination, was punished as if he chose not to fight it, certainly the righteous, who no longer must fight their evil inclination, will be rewarded as if they battled mightily - and won. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Go to Pharaoh in the morning, behold he is going to the water." (Shemot 7:15)

Rashi tells us that Pharaoh would rise very early each morning to relieve himself in the Nile so that people would think he is a G-d and doesn't use the facilities all day long. Imagine the discomfort he had all day just so he could make an impression! Remember the '60's when people would drive in the sweltering heat without air-conditioning and still have the windows closed so that others thought they had? Of course, this is absurd; we would never do such a thing!

So how come we still make affairs that we can't afford? Why do we put ourselves in debt just so others can comment on our occasions? People always ask, why can't the Rabbis do something? Let's have guidelines for our own benefit. But will everyone listen? Will someone be the first to show that we don't have to impress others and fall behind in our payments to people we owe!

If we read about Pharaoh and say how silly to be uncomfortable just for appearances, shouldn't we take the lesson to heart and really do something about it?

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

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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)

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