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Haftarah: Yeshayahu 6:1-13

FEBRUARY 17-18, 2017 22 SHEBAT 5777


"And Yitro, the minister of Midyan, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard." (Shemot 18:1)

Yitro heard about the Exodus from Egypt and this prompted him to cast his lot with the Jewish people. Rashi explains that there were two specific things that he heard that motivated him to come, the splitting of the Red Sea and the war against Amalek. Our Sages (Zebahim 116) teach us that these two events tugged at the heart of Yitro to cause him to convert. It seems that these two events are connected to each other, that together they had the great effect on Yitro. What was the connection?

The sefer SImhat Torah (quoted by Torah Lada'at) explains the strong connection. The war with Amalek showed the strength and courage of the Jewish people, that they were able to defeat that powerful enemy. If so, why did they need the miracle of the splitting of the Yam Suf? They could have defeated the Egyptian army the same way they defeated Amalek. The reason is the following. The Israelites had to leave Egypt by being sent out and not by war. It would have been inappropriate to go to battle against Egypt, a country that hosted them at a time of need. War would show a lack of gratitude.

This is what caused Yitro to be so inspired. The war against Amalek led him to understand deeply the true nature of Israel. This nation refused to fight against Egypt, a war that they could win, because of their feeling of gratitude. That put them in a position that the only way to escape was the splitting of the Yam Suf. A nation like this, that these considerations play such a pivotal role in their decision making, was a nation that Yitro felt he must join. So it was this amazing combination that brought in Yitro. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And Yitro heard." (Shemot 18:1)

This is the perashah which tells us about the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, perhaps the greatest event that ever took place in the world. Wouldn't it be proper to have the entire perashah devoted to that special occurrence, rather than begin with Yitro joining the Jewish? What was so important about Yitro that this had to precede Matan Torah?

The answer is the first word - ????????? - and he heard! The Torah is teaching us that if we don't hear, we will not be able to receive the Torah. Hearing means being able to concentrate and focus on someone else and not only on ourselves. It means to accept that we're not perfect and we can hear advice and criticism. The whole world was aware that the Jews came out of Egypt with great miracles but did nothing about it. Yitro, however, heard and came. Because he was willing to truly hear and understand, he changed his own life and ultimately gave some very useful advice to Moshe. That is why the giving of the Torah must be preceded by the story of Yitro, to teach us what hearing can bring.

We often ask others how they are, but do we really hear their answers? Our kids are constantly talking to us, but are we truly listening? Even if we do allow the words of others to enter our ears, do we hear "between the lines"? Let us learn from Yitro to truly hear and listen to what's around us and this will make our lives a little bit better.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

9-1-1 Having a major problem is not unusual. Unfortunately, too many people face health problems, child-rearing crises, or financial difficulties. The nature of human beings causes them to hide problems from others out of embarrassment, or to deny the situation even exists in order to calm their own hurt egos. This course does not eliminate the anguish of the moment, nor does it remove the pain of the future. It actually makes a simple situation grow into an insurmountable mountain.

It may not be within the capacity of an individual to effectuate the solution to a personal problem, but an advisor or friend may be able to come up with a feasible answer or plan of action. Seeking help when times are rough is not embarrassing; it is smart.

In Mishlei (12:15) it is states: "The ways of a fool are correct in his eyes; but the person who heeds advice is wise."

The sooner you call for help, the better. It is not unusual to find that the experts are people who once suffered from the same circumstances as those you are presently experiencing.

Whenever you see a mountain you can't climb, call for help. It is nothing to be ashamed of; it is the first step to a happy solution. (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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