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PARASHAT AHAREI MOT/SHABBAT HAGADOL
Haftarah: Yehezkel 22:1-16

APRIL 11-12, 2014 12 NISAN 5774

RABBIS' MESSAGES

"It would have sufficed for us." (Haggadah of Pesah)

On the Seder night we sing the song of "Dayenu." It's a great song that speaks about all the wonderful things Hashem did for us. For instance, the first stanza says, "If Hashem would have taken us out of Egypt but didn't punish the Egyptians, dayenu (it would have been enough. If He punished the Egyptians but didn't destroy their gods, dayenu." The song goes on and on. If Hashem didn't give us the Torah, if He didn't give us the Shabbat, etc., it would have been enough for us. But would we really be satisfied with that?

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt"l explains that this song is said by Dayenu Jews." This song was sung by Jews that weren't matured yet, Jews that first got out of Mitzrayim. They would have been satisfied with no Torah and no Shabbat. We would have been happy just to get out of Egypt and would not have cared if Hashem didn't punish the Egyptians. We would have been happy to go to a land of freedom and would not have cared about the impression left on the rest of the world, as if it's ok to be wicked and get away with it. It would have appeared as a world without justice, but Hashem wasn't happy with that; He wanted to show the world that there is a Leader that runs the world. Hashem wanted to destroy their gods to show that true redemption doesn't begin until idolatry is wiped out.

Had Hashem not killed the first born the world would not know that there is a justice system of measure for measure. The Egyptians enslaved the Jews who are Hashem's first born, so He killed their first born. Hashem gave us great wealth because He promised it to Abraham. But us? We would have been satisfied without all of this. The Dayenu Jew is satisfied with very little spiritually, doesn't mind so much about Hashem's image in the world. The Dayenu Jew would like to get by with the minimum observance.

But, Hashem wasn't satisfied. He knew that without Torah, without Shabbat, a nation with a minimum appetite for these things would never remain a redeemed people. Baruch Hashem today we are a nation who would never make do without all of these spiritual gifts. We sing an unending thank you to Hashem for all He has done for us. Happy Holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"G-d has bestowed many favors upon us." (Passover Haggadah)

Gratitude and appreciation are virtues that are not simply praiseworthy, they are essential traits. On the Seder night we are enjoined to recount the many wonders and miracles that Hashem wrought for us. Ibn Ezra contends that appreciation goes a step further. We are to remember how it used to be, how we suffered, the pain and affliction to which we were subjected, the thirst and hunger which accompanied us and the depression and hopelessness that ruled our lives. Hashem rescued us from all that. He took us out of misery, granting us the opportunity to live as free people.

Harav Mordechai Gifter, shlita, explains that one must appreciate and give gratitude where it is due. Does one, however, analyze the good that he has received? Does one ever think about what life would have been like had he not been saved? Do we ever really evaluate the good? Do we simply say, "Thank you," and continue with "business as usual?" One must remember what it had been like; think back to the days of misery and pain, feel some of the frustration and grief that used to be so much a part of his life. Then and only then will he truly understand the essence of the favor he has received. All too quickly we pay our respects to our benefactor and forget about him. If we pay more attention to our past we might more fully appreciate the present.

This, according to Harav Gifter, is the purpose of the Dayenu format of the Haggadah. We must delve deeper into the "good" that we have received, reviewing it, analyzing every aspect of it, so that we will experience greater appreciation at the present time. Let us appreciate all that we have so that we may merit to be blessed continuously. Happy Pesah. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Little Mistake, Big Mistake

Everyone suffers from different phobias. Some people are afraid of dogs. Others won't fly in airplanes. Still others are afraid of the dark, or petrified of enclosed places. Some fears are rational and others irrational - but fear is part of almost everyone's life.

Fear is much like pepper. A little can enhance the taste of a meal, while too much can spoil the efforts of even the greatest chef.

Fear of making mistakes fits into this category. A mistake is part of life. After making an error, the best reaction is to consider what caused it, and then develop a plan to avoid repeating it. A mistake can be productive if you learn from it, and destructive if you deny the error and proceed without change.

When you make a mistake, don't deny it and don't justify your behavior. You can shrink the mistake into something small by revising your behavior to eliminate repeating the same error in the future. But should you rationalize it away, you will probably do it again and, in doing so, magnify even a little mistake into a big one.

The size of your error is determined by your reaction. A minute of honest evaluation will convert a mistake into success by helping you learn from it. (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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