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SHABBAT VAYAKHEL-PEKUDEI
Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18 - 46:15

MARCH 8-9, 2013 27 ADAR 5773

Don't forget to move your clocks one hour ahead on Saturday night.

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 12.

RABBIS' MESSAGES

"Moshe saw all the work and behold they had done it as Hashem commanded so had they done and Moshe blessed them." (Shemot 39:43)

At first sight the above verse is merely telling us that Moshe blessed the people upon completing the Mishkan. However, there is an additional emphasis in this pasuk. It says, "As Hashem commanded." Rabbi Shimshon Pincus says there is an important message here. Actually, the people were commanded to do this project. They weren't volunteers and had they been lazy and laid back it would have been considered a sin. But, when they did it, they got the best berachah, "May the Shechinah dwell in your handiwork."

The lesson for us is great. Imagine Friday afternoon and the housewife is busy cooking and cleaning. She tries to create great-tasting food and at the same time she works to put the house in order. At times it might enter your heart to say, "Well, that's her job, to run the house," and you forget to bless her. The same blessing, "May the pleasantness of Hashem be upon you." Even though it's her job.

We also find in Parashat Shemini when Moshe and Aharon finished the korbanot (offerings) on opening day of the Mishkan, Moshe blessed them again. Why the second time? The first time when they finished the building, the second time when Moshe and Aharon used the building.

Back to our homes. We know that with our efforts to build our Jewish home, the Shechinah dwells there. Let's apply the same idea. The first blessing should be right away on Friday afternoon when all the work has been completed and all is ready for the Shabbat meal. The second after the meal, when the holy work was completed, when everyone tasted and enjoyed the meal. It's worthy to bless her the second time.

We know our Sages teach us that if someone does not show appreciation to his fellow man, eventually he will not show appreciation to Hashem. We see that the Sages equate appreciation of man to appreciation of Hashem. So just like when we eat we thank Hashem twice, with the blessing on the food before and after, so too we must show our appreciation to our fellow man both before and after. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

This Shabbat, we read an additional portion of Torah dealing with the month of Nisan, since Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be this coming week. This Shabbat is therefore called Shabbat HaHodesh, which refers to Nisan.

However, there is an additional significance to this Shabbat. The word Hodesh is related to the word hadash, which means "new". The Passover season has within it the ability for one to renew and to revitalize oneself. The Jewish People were slaves to the Egyptians, and for a slave there is nothing new; everything stays the same. However, when we were freed, we became a new nation, and in addition, we were given the ability to rejuvenate ourselves. This is a very important trait in a human being, and especially in a Jew. In business, the word "new" seems to be on every standard package. When we see someone we know, it's always "what's new?" To renew oneself insofar as Judaism is concerned means to reevaluate our practices and customs, and to improve upon them. It means taking a fresh look at our surroundings, appreciating what we have, and looking forward to each new day for what it can bring us. It means we don't have to be the same today as we were yesterday; rather, each of us can become a new person.

Just as we see nature renew itself in the coming weeks, let us rejuvenate and revitalize ourselves this Passover season, bringing out the best that's in us in many new ways.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

LASTING EFFECT

"And all of the congregation of B'nei Yisrael went out from before Moshe." (Shemot 35:20)

The Or Hachaim questions the apparent redundancy in mentioning from where B'nei Yisrael departed. Is it not obvious that since Moshe had assembled B'nei Yisrael for a specific purpose, upon completion of his speech they would leave from "before Moshe"? The Alter of Kelm answers this question insightfully. When B'nei Yisrael left Moshe's study hall after listening to a lecture from their great teacher, it was apparent from where they had come, and from whom they had heard words of Torah. Moshe's students did not reflect his teaching only in his presence. Their essence was permeated by their Rebbe's Torah. Thus even upon departure they mirrored his influence. Hence, the Torah emphasizes their place of spiritual sustenance, for it was obvious that they had been coming from before Moshe. They conducted themselves as if they were still in Moshe's presence. One who studies Torah should always portray the image of a Ben Torah. The character development and refinement which are direct benefits of Torah study should be manifest in every activity of a Ben Torah wherever he may be. (Peninim on the Torah)

SMALL VICTORIES

Military experts explain that the size of an army and how well equipped it is vis--vis its enemy is not necessarily the factor that determines victory or defeat. The formula for victory has one key ingredient called morale, and keeping the troops in a positive mental frame of mind is an essential part of leadership. Throughout history, many wars were won by the less likely combatant, simply because the officers were able to bolster their soldiers' morale.

A person who seeks spiritual growth is in a constant battle with the Yeser Hara, the Evil Inclination. One of the most powerful weapons in this enemy's vast arsenal is: depression; the Yeser Hara would like you to think that you're a failure and unable to succeed in the lofty task of spiritual achievement. In order to overcome this dangerous weapon, you must shield yourself with a positive attitude.

Let's say you're on a diet, and you want to lose a certain amount of weight in a specified time. You might eat a perfectly sensible dinner; so far, so good. But then dessert is served, and you hear the calorie-laden sweets calling your name. Loudly. And try as you might to hold back, you do indulge. After tasting a chocolate-covered something, and a cream-filled something else, you finally manage to put on the brakes and stop yourself from reaching for the mousse.

A negative person might view this scenario as a crushing defeat. After all, you ate chocolate! And cream! But this attitude is incorrect; you should consider the end result a great victory. After all, you refrained from eating the mousse! This positive approach will make you feel good and strengthen your resolve and ability to fight off the next wave of temptations.

The same with our spiritual lives. Most people have been taught to constantly evaluate their deeds and measure their behavior against the yardstick of perfection. This exercise could become quite depressing if you focus on your failed attempts to fight the enticements of the Yeser Hara and your thwarted attempts to grow.

Success will become more possible, however, if you consider the small victories. Sometimes you refrain just a little bit, but that's enough, because the enemy was out to kill - and you have survived! Self-evaluation does not necessarily mean you must bang yourself over the head, criticize yourself, and belittle your behavior. With the right approach you will come to the realization that you have tried your nest and survived the onslaught. This positive attitude will help you succeed in your spiritual battles. (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 kol18@attglobal.net (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.


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