Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Parshas Bereishis Message 5778

It is that exciting time of year again when we begin anew the Torah, and I would like to share with you a short Bereishis message (please feel free to quote):

Says the Alter of Slobodka -- Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt"l:  Adam HaRishon was formed by the "Hands" of G-d in His Image and endowed with great spiritual powers.  After Adam sinned, the lofty attributes of man began to degenerate, and as generation after generation continued to sin, man continued to degrade himself spiritually and physically.  Nevertheless, man is still born in the Image of G-d and with the ability to regain his former heights. (Sparks of Mussar).

As we begin the Torah anew, this is such an important message for us to take to heart:  That if we really try to, we can yet again regain the lofty spiritual levels trod by the Gedolim of old, and even of the Avos (forefathers)!  Is it hard to do this?  Well, becoming great isn't easy... But we can -- and must -- try, and put in a little extra effort.  And you know what; if we really strive to serve Hashem better and to a higher level, He will surely help us.  May He do so always, Amein.

May HaKadosh Baruch Hu give you and your family a very Chag Sameach, a Gut, meaningful Yontiff, and of course, a Gut and inspiring Shabbos Bereishis.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Please be Mispalel for The Spinka Rebbe shlit"a

Please say Tefillos and Tehillim for the Spinka Rebbe shlit"a, HaRav Moshe Elyakim Beriyah ben Chana.  


Spinka Rebbe at Shacharit
Yeshiva World News reports (with the photos as well).... "The Spinka Rebbe from Bnei Brak, the eldest of the Admorim in Israel was transported to the hospital on Sunday morning. The 96-year-old Admor, who lives on Yehoshua St. in Bnei Brak, was taken to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer after he was was not feeling well. The Rebbe was suffering from a shortness of breath.


The Rebbe was in the midst of Davening Shacharis when the incident occurred. Already yesterday he had complained that he wasn’t feeling well and the issue apparently escalated this morning. Emergency medical volunteers from Hatzalah who responded to the incident provided the Rebbe with first aid treatment at the scene.

On Thursday night the Admor held a tish in honor of the 40th Hilula of his father the previous Admor. After the Admor received treatment at the scene he was transported to the hospital.
The public is asked to pray for the health and recovery of Moshe Elyakim Beriyah Ben Channa among the cholei amo Yisrael."

Spinka Rebbe at the Tish on Motzei Chag

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sukkos Message 5778

At the Seudah, Motzaei Yom Kippur, my father and Rebbe, HaRav Chesler shlit"a related a beautiful insight into this time of year, that I would like to share with you:

On Yom Kippur, he says, we reach a high level by denying ourselves (i.e. afflicting ourselves by not eating, etc.) and by not concentrating on the physical.  

But then, a little bit afterwards, we have Sukkos -- a time when we rejoice in the great Festival with lots of various "Gashmiusdikke" (physical) things. (We eat nice food, we drink nice drink, etc. -- but it is all for real part of the service of this time).  

We could reach a high level when we separated from physicality, says my father shlit"a.  But now the test is; can we serve Hashem to a high level even while involved in physical things?  Can we still rejoice with "Gashmius" but yet in purity?

May Hashem help everyone to do so and give you and your family a Gut Yontiff, and a very Chag Sameach -- with true joy, and also a Gut Shabbos.

Chag Sameach everyone!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Yom Kippur Message 5778

Rav Yisroel Salanter zt"l used to say: "How great is the Mercy of HaKadosh Baruch Hu upon us!  For if He had given us the Command of Yom HaKippurim to observe only once in seventy years to forgive us for all of our sins, this would be considered for us great fortune and very supreme kindness!  And now that He has given us this opportunity each year, how very much do we need to feel our fortune and the kindness of Hashem upon us!" (HaMeoros HaGedolim).

Rabbosai!  Now that we do have this opportunity, we must use it well.  It is not only the chance to have a clean slate (with Teshuva), but also a new beginning in a way.  

As we discussed for Rosh Hashanah, we need to try to have lasting Teshuva and lasting changes for the better.  But how do we do so?

Perhaps we can glean the answer from a quick story that happened to me this morning:  I had just stepped out before going to do Shacharis, when I saw that some of our outside-rugs needed adjusting, as they had been blown out of position by the wind.  Now, this could easily have waited until after Davening, but I decided to take care of it really quick.  As I went to fix them up, however, a bee came buzzing right near me -- near my legs, mid-section, and even face and head -- and I had to stay almost totally still until, finally, it flew away.  

Well, I was glad it was gone.  Anyway, now I could fix the rugs.  But as I was doing so, yet again, this bee came buzzing all around me, and even landed on my one of my fingers.  Baruch Hashem, however, I didn't get stung and it buzzed away.  After this, I rushed back inside.  But I began thinking about the fact that maybe it wasn't just a bee just happening to fly around here at this moment, acting aggressive; maybe it was a message from Hashem that I should Daven first.  So indeed, I went to do Shacharis.  

After Davening was finished, I went back to fix up the rugs, and sure enough, (Baruch Hashem) the bee didn't bother me at all, and I didn't even see it

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The message from this little story is that we might not be able to hear Hashem speaking to us like Moshe Rabbeinu, but maybe we can in a way... Indeed, Hashem does speak to us every day just like we speak to Him!  He sends us messages, but it is up to us whether we hear and take them to heart as we should, or Chas V'Shalom, take them as just coincidences.  The example of this I like to give is say you are about to go do something you aren't supposed to (whatever it is), and you trip.  Hashem is trying to tell you to not go do that thing!

And this is one of the ways to be a better person and have lasting changes for the better:  To try to listen to and internalize the messages Hashem sends us every day.

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Before we finish, though, I would like to share with you something beautiful I heard from my Rebbe, Rav Moshe Shulman shlit"a:  He quotes from the Kedushas Levi (Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev zt"l) who explains that the difference between having a broken heart (Sheviras Lev) and depression (atzvus) is that if we, Chas V'Shalom, did something wrong, that thing was bad -- we aren't bad.  What we did was evil, but deep down, we are still good people.  

It is up to us, with the Help of Hashem, to clean those bad things out of ourselves, and bring out our true selves -- not just for right now, but for all time, B'Ezras Hashem.

May Hashem inscribe you and your family and friends in the Book of Good Life, may you be helped to do proper Teshuva and have lasting affects for a long, long time to come, and may you continue to grow and grow -- and help others to grow -- in Torah and Mitzvos, for many, many, many more years in good health and be zocheh to see Mashiach Tzidkeinu with your own eyes, very speedily in our days!

Gmar Chasima Tovah, Gut Shabbos, an easy fast, and a Shanah Tovah U'Mesukah to you and your family!

Kol Tuv!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rosh Hashanah Message 5778

We begin to do Teshuva more around this time of year, but the question is; does it last?  Or does it just stay at the Yomim Noraim?

This year, let's try to make sure that we really do improve -- not just for 10-20 days, but to make a lasting change.  It's obviously easier said than done, but we should at least pick one thing to try to make a lasting transformation in.  Let's take the Yomim Noraim with us.  

And it is not too late:  We say in the Mincha Shemoneh Esrei today (as almost every other weekday) 'Bareich Aleinu es hashana hazos...' -- 'Bless upon/for us this year...':  Wait a minute; the year is basically over!  How are we asking for Hashem to bless 'this year'?!  

I heard from my Rebbe, Rav Moshe Shulman shlit"a an explanation in the name of the Ruzhiner Rebbe, or some say it in the name of one of his grandchildren: 'Yeshuas Hashem k'heref ayin' -- 'The Salvation of Hashem (comes) like the blink of an eye'.  Says the Ruzhiner Rebbe zt"l; even if it hasn't been the greatest of years, (Rachmana Litzlan), in the last minutes before Rosh Hashanah, Hashem can still help turn it into a great one -- even in the last seconds...

May Hashem inscribe and seal you and your family and friends into the Book of Good Life, and make this Rosh Hashanah  not in Gallus.  May we be able to perform all the Avodos of Yom HaKippurim like it was in days of old, Amein, Kein Yi'hi Ratzon.

A Kesiva V'Chasima Tovah, Shanah Tova U'Mesuka, and Gut Shabbos to you and your family!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Parshas Ki Savo Messages 5777


פּרשׁת כּי תבוֹא:
The Sages Say: 

This day Hashem your G-d commands you to do these Statutes and Ordinances, and you shall guard and you shall do them with all your heart and with all your Soul.’ (Devarim 26:16) 

Says Rashi HaKadosh (from Midrash Tanchuma):  Every day, they (the Commandments) should be new in your eyes, as if in that very day you were commanded regarding them. 

(We usually do a longer Chazal for this section, but the above one, though only around a line, is so meaningful and important to take to heart, I chose it). 

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A “Lamdanishe” Insight: 

An Arami tried to destroy my father, and he descended to Egypt…’ (Devarim 26:5) 

Aside from the general connection, why, we may ask, are Lavan tricking Yaakov Avinu and Yaakov descending to Egypt put together, seemingly as if saying that one caused the other? 

Explains the Alshich HaKadosh:  One did cause the other:  Since Lavan tricked Yaakov Avinu and gave him Leah first, then Yosef HaTzaddik ended up not the firstborn, and thus, when Yaakov Avinu did special things for him, etc. it caused jealousy among the brothers, which eventually led to Yosef going down to Egypt.  For if Yosef HaTzaddik had been the firstborn, his brothers would not have been jealous of him, because a firstborn is entitled to certain things. 

(Of course Hashem orchestrated things so that Yosef would end up in Egypt before Yaakov Avinu, but the Alshich HaKadosh explains to us the chain of events that took place, and how the two topics in the verse are connected). 

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Mussar Message: 

And it will be when you will come to the Land that Hashem your G-d gives to you as an inheritance, and you will take possession of it, and you will dwell in it.  And you shall take from the first of all the fruit of the ground...’ (Devarim 26:1-2) 

Says HaRav Nosson Scherman שׁליט"א:  After the Land was conquered and allocated, farmers were to take the first ripened fruits to the Temple and present them to the Kohen, in a ritual that included a moving declaration of gratitude to G-d for His eternal role as the Guide of Jewish history.  The Jew’s gift of his first fruits, or Bikkurim, to the Kohen symbolizes that he dedicates everything he has to the service of G-d.   

For a Jew to say that his every accomplishment -- no matter how much sweat he invested in it -- is a gift from G-d, is one of the goals of Creation. (The Stone Edition Chumash). 

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Chassidishe Vort: 

And you shall take from the first of all the fruit of the ground, that you bring in from your land that Hashem your G-d gives to you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place which Hashem your G-d chooses to dwell His Name there.’ (Devarim 26:2) 

This is the Commandment of Bikkurim -- First Fruits.  When the Beis HaMikdash stood (may it soon stand once again), we would take the first of all the seven species of produce which Israel is known for (see Rashi HaKadosh to the second verse), put it a basket, and bring it to the Beis HaMikdash.  But what about now; what about when we don’t have a Beis HaMikdash and cannot perform Bikkurim properly?  How can we in a way fulfill it? 

Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Peshischa זצ"ל asks a very similar question -- and he gives an answer too:  Says the Rebbe Reb Bunim זצ"ל:  In our generation, we can keep the Mitzvah of Bikkurim by making the beginning of the day holy. (Instead of sanctifying the first fruits, we sanctify the first moments of the day).  After rising in the morning, our first thoughts, words, and deeds should be dedicated for the Service of Hashem. (Meoros HaParsha). 

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Chazak V’ematz: 

Cursed is the man who will make a carved or molten image, an abomination of Hashem…’ (Devarim 27:15)  

And it will be if you will surely listen in the Voice of Hashem your G-d, to guard to do all His Commandments that I command you today, and Hashem your G-d will put you supreme upon all the nations of the earth.  And all these blessings will come upon you and they will overtake you…’ (Devarim 28:1-2) 

And it will be if you will not listen in the Voice of Hashem your G-d, to guard to do all His Commandments and His Statutes that I command you today, and all these curses will come upon you and they will overtake you…’ (Devarim 28:15) 

In this parsha we read a lengthy portion dealing with the blessings we will get if we keep the Commandments, and the curses that will come upon us if, Chas V’Shalom, we do not.  It is noteworthy, though, the order in which the Torah lists them:  #1, The curses pronounced on Mount Eval, #2, the blessings contingent on keeping the Torah, and #3, the curses if, C”V, we don’t… What is the significance of this order and what does it teach us? 

We need to understand the truth about problems and bad things:  If something bad happens, Chas V’Shalom and Rachmana Litzlan, we more than often complain about it and become bitter.  What’s not to complain about? 

But the Torah teaches us with the above order that the inside and truth of hardships is good.  Hashem never wants bad to happen to us, Chas V’Shalom.  All the things that look bad, really only seem bad, but truly are for the best.  The midst of seeming curses are blessings.  Remember whenever anything happens to you that Hashem is making it for your benefit.  (Tal U’Matar). 

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Maaseh B’Rabbi… 

One time, an arrogant sinner came to the holy Arizal for the purpose of scoffing at him.  The Ari took one look at him, and began to enumerate all the sins that he (the sinner) had committed that day.  The man fainted from the shock.  Upon reviving, he fell down before the Ari, and asked how he could repent.  And he added "Let the mouth that dared to mock receive its punishment."

 The Ari suggested that he die by having molten lead poured down his throat, as his Teshuva (repentance).  The now-penitent was so sincere about his Teshuva, that he agreed to accept that terrible death -- since it would be his atonement.

The Arizal's men laid the penitent down, blindfolded him, and poured down his throat... a teaspoonful of honey!  That man was ready to accept a terrible death as atonement, and so it was considered as if he had actually had suffered it. (Sparks of Mussar). 

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A Gut Shabbos to all!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Loving our Fellow as Ourself -- #4

#4:  The Alter of Slobodka (HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l) emphasizes that the Torah says that we must love our fellow ‘like ourselves’.

Just as we love ourselves instinctively, without looking for any reason, he explains, so too, we must love others without even looking for any reasons to. (Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash).

Kol Tuv!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Loving our Fellow as Ourself -- #3

I apologize for missing yesterday.  Hashem should forgive me if I by accident broke my word of saying this program was daily.  

#4:  One of the very foundations of the Mitzvah to love our fellow as ourselves is as Hillel the Elder said (see Shabbos 31a): "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." Meaning that what we would not want someone to do to us, such as treating us badly, etc. we shouldn't do to someone else.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Loving our Fellow as Ourself -- #2

#2:  In the midst of the command to love our fellow, Hashem gives us a piece of advice how to perform it: 

The language of the words is 'And you shall love your fellow as yourself'.  One of the ways to indeed love our fellow, treat them well, etc. is to try to see things from their perspective at times.  Before saying or doing something to them that could, Chas V'Shalom be offensive, think about how you would feel if someone did that to you.  

And the same goes for other things:  If they are, Chas V'Shalom, not so nice at times, don't just jump and dislike them.  There are always reasons behind things -- so try to think fom their perspective:  Perhaps there are things going on in their lives that aren't so pleasant, Rachmana Litzlan, and so they are bitter.  And there are many other possible things.  

In summation, we must try to sometimes see things from others' perspetive's -- and, B'Ezras Hashem, this will help us to fulfill many times a very important Mitzvah.

Kol Tuv everyone!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Loving our Fellow as Ourself -- #1

With all the Achdus problems in the world, it is important to fortify ourselves with Mussar against strife, and so let us, B'Ezras Hashem, begin a short program of insights into the Mitzvah of 'Vi'ahavta li'reiacha kamocha' -- ('And you shall love your fellow as yourself'):  

#1:  Perhaps first and foremost, we must all understand that it is just as forbidden to do something mean to someone else as to, perhaps even break Shabbos or eat treif, Chas V'Shalom.  Because treating another Jew badly is a transgression of the Mitzvah to love our fellow as ourself -- which is just as much from the Torah as any other Mitzvah.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Parshas Shoftim Messages 5777


פּרשׁת שׁוֹפטים:
The Sages Say: 

But if there will be a man who hates his fellow, and he ambushes him, and he rises against him and strikes him mortally and he dies, and he flees to one of these cities.  And the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and they shall give him in the hand of the redeemer of the blood, and he will die.’ (Devarim 19:11-12)

 Because of his hate for him, he comes to ‘and ambushes him’.  From here they [the Sages] said that one who transgresses a “light” Commandment, his end [if he is not careful] will be to transgress a severe Commandment.   

Because he [this killer] transgressed ‘You shall not hate [your brother in your heart’], [and he did not mend his ways] his end was to come to a situation of shedding blood.   

Therefore it says: ‘But if there will be a man who hates his fellow, etc.’... (Rashi HaKadosh from Sifri and Midrash Tannaim). 

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A “Lamdanishe” Insight: 

Judges and officers you shall appoint for yourselves in all your gates that Hashem your G-d gives to you…’ (Devarim 16:19) 

The word in this verse used for ‘judges’ is שׁוֹפטים.  But another one of the words for that is אל-הים -- the same word as one of Hashems Names! 

The Maharal of Prague (HaRav Yehuda ben Betzalel zt”l) explains that judges are called by one of Hashem’s Names is because Hashem is the Absolute and True Judge, and He administers justice in the proper time and proper place.  So too, our human judges are exhorted to follow the example of Hashem and try to adjudicate each case fairly and honestly. (Quoted in Sparks of Torah). 

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Mussar Message: 

And you shall not establish for yourself a pillar that Hashem your G-d hates.’ (Devarim 16:22) 

A person needs, says HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, to go level to level in Torah and Mitzvos -- even if someone has already lived 70 years and they are a Tzaddik, and they would think that they have so many good deeds that even if in the years afterward they don’t occupy themselves in Torah and don’t do good deeds, and more yet, they sin; their good deeds would be enough to claim that they are already a Tzaddik who has enough merit for reward in the World to Come.  

 This is the prohibition of a pillar, says Reb Moshe zt”l, which is from one stone that stands and does not add at all any merits, (i.e. does not move forward). (Darash Moshe). 

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Chassidishe Vort:

 Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue…’ (Devarim 16:20) 

Says Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Peshischa זצ"ל:  You should pursue righteousness with righteousness. 

We cannot seek good things using the wrong means.  Both what you are seeking and how you seek it should be righteous. 

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Chazak V’ematz: 

Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue…’ (Devarim 16:20) 

Although we cannot give the reason for why the wording is this way, the fact that the Torah says ‘righteousness’ twice teaches us a valuable lesson:  So many of us strive for righteousness.  But what if when we try, things get in the way (may Hashem help us)?  Or perhaps it feels very far away from us?  What should we do?   

The verse tells us: ‘Righteousness, righteousness’ -- righteousness and holiness may not come right away, but keep trying.  Twice, thrice, and many more times.   

Parshas Shoftim always falls out in the month of Elul:  A person might, Chas V’Shalom think that since they have gone through so many Eluls and have tried to change, but haven’t as they would have wanted to -- how are they going to become better?  Will now be any different?

But we must take to heart the above message and keep trying to be better.  Because, as we are taught, if the Torah says it, you can do it.  So we can all be Tzaddikim. (Tal U’Matar). 

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Maaseh B’Rabbi… 

In his old age, HaRav Chaim Kapusi זצ"ל’s eyesight began to fail him until he became totally blind.  

 When this became known, some people began talking behind his back.  They accused him of having taken bribes when he served as judge, for the Torah says that bribery blinds the eyes of the wise.   

Rav Chaim saw that he must put an end to it all and he summoned the entire congregation to the Shul one Shabbos.  When he reached the end of his Drosha, he addressed the insinuations against him, and beseeched Hashem that if they were true, his bones should dry up so that he would fall down before the congregation. “However, if I am innocent,” he pleaded, “Let it be the Divine Will that my eyes be opened once more, so that I can again behold the sun.  And may this entire congregation see that there is a Judge of Truth and of Justice!”

 The moment Rav Chaim finished his words, a great miracle occurred:  He was suddenly able to see again!  Hashem had answered his prayers and proved to all that he was innocent of all charges against him.   

The Chida (HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai זצ"ל), in his work Shem HaGedolim, testifies that he saw Rav Kapusi’s signature when he was blind and it was hardly legible; but he saw another one after the great miracle and it was firm and clear! (Tales of Tzaddikim; Shemos).

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 A Gut Shabbos to all!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Parshas Re'eh Messages 5777

פּרשׁת ראה:
The Sages Say:

Only be strong to not eat the blood…’ (Devarim 12:23)

Rabbi Shimon ban Azzai says:  The verse did not come except to warn you and to teach you until what you need to strengthen yourself with Mitzvos.  If with the blood, which is [relatively] light (easy) to guard from [eating], for a person does not desire it, it needed to strengthen you with regard to its negative Commandment, all the more so for the rest of Mitzvos! (Rashi HaKadosh from Sifri).

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A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

You are children to Hashem your G-d; you shall not cut yourselves, and you shall not make a bald spot between your eyes for the dead.’ (Devarim 14:1)

The Midrash uses a play on the word for not cutting ourselves (תתגדדוּ) and says that we should not make different groups (אגדוֹת) and be arguing with each other.  

One time, the Chofetz Chaim זצ"ל was asked by someone, why does the world need Chassidim and Misnagdim (non-Chassidim, in this case)?  And even amongst Chassidim there are many different sects.  There are those who engage more in learning, others more with Davening, and there are yet others who put a strong focus on song and praise or dancing.  What is the world lacking -- couldn’t there just be one group of Judaism with the same customs, etc.?

To this the Chofetz Chaim זצ"ל answered that before he asks about the sects with us, he should go and ask about the Emperor of Russia.  Why do they need so many types of army?  Foot soldiers, cavalry, navy, etc.  And what is the world lacking -- couldn’t there just be one type of soldiers using one kind of weapon, with one general over them all?  

Answering his own question -- and thus the question of the man, The Chofetz Chaim explained that since the army needs to defeat the enemy, they need different ways, and each way has its own special thing that other ones don’t.  

So it is with the war with the Yetzer Hara, said the Chofetz Chaim:  All the types of Chassidim -- aside even from the Misnagdim; all are soldiers in the army of Hashem, part of the war against the Yetzer Hara, and everyone does something to vanquish the Enemy; this one with their Davening and this one with their learning.  These with their praise and others with their blowing of Shofar (i.e. using music as praise to Hashem; an aid to serving Him, an expression of it, etc.).  Provided, he concludes, that the intentions of their heart is to their Father in Heaven. (Chofetz Chaim al HaTorah).

This piece is an especially important one for today:  Many people, if they disagree with someone else’s way of serving Hashem, they think that way is wrong.  But we need to understand what the Chofetz Chaim זצ"ל is teaching us; there are many good paths and many ways to serve Hashem properly, and they are all right -- as long as they are within the Laws of Torah and Halacha.  Indeed it is said ‘These and these are the words of the Living G-d.’

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Mussar Message:

See I put before you today a blessing and a curse.’ (Devarim 11:26)

Writes HaRav Zelig Pliskin שׁליט"א:  On the first word of this verse, Reaih, Ibn Ezra comments: “He (Moshe) is talking to each one individually.”

Although Moshe was speaking to the entire Jewish People, says Rav Pliskin, he started off in the singular to tell everyone to listen to what he had to say as if he were speaking to him alone.  When someone is delivering a lecture or giving a class, it is easy to think, “He is speaking to everyone else here.  I don’t have to take what he says seriously since he is not really directing his words to me.” But this is an error.  The way to grow from lectures and classes is to view the words of the speaker as if they were directed only to you.  Try it out.  The next time you are in an audience listening to inspiring words tell yourself, “The speaker has me in mind.  Let me see how I can utilize what he says for self-improvement.” (Growth Through Torah).

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Chassidishe Vort:

The Festival of Succos you shall make for yourself seven days… And you shall rejoice in your Festival… and you will be only happy (והיתה אך שׂמח).’ (Devarim 16:13-15)

The Rashei Teivos (first letters) of the words ‘אך שׂמח’ can spell the word ‘אשׁ’ (since the and can be interchangeable).  This alludes to us the fact that true happiness comes -- and we can be ‘only happy’ -- when we light up a spiritual Aish Kodesh (holy fire) within ourselves.  A burning love for Hashem and His Torah and Mitzvos; a burning desire to serve Him; and an overall warmth. (Tal U’Matar).

*******

Chazak V’ematz:

If there will arise in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream… saying: “We will go after other gods… and we will serve them.” You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of a dream… and that prophet or that dreamer of a dream shall be put to death…’ (Devarim 13:2-6)
We now read the portion dealing with a meisis u’meidiach -- someone who, Rachmana Litzlan (may Hashem save us) tries to lead people to worship idols.  

Says the Alter of Kelm (HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv זצ"ל):  We have a principle that G-d’s reward for a good deed always outweighs His punishment for a bad deed.  Now a meisis u’meidiach, who tries to lead Jews to idol worship, is punished with death even if his efforts were unsuccessful.

From here we can deduce, says the Alter זצ"ל, how great is the reward of one who tries to bring his friend closer to G-d. (Sparks of Mussar).

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Maaseh B’Rabbi…

The Tzemach Tzedek (the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson זצ"ל -- not to be confused with the seventh one, who had the same name) would tell the following story:  
There was a very simple farmer who lived in a village near Yerushalayim.  Every week, when he would come to Yerushalayim to sell fruits, grains, and other produce, he would visit one of the Rabbanim in Yerushalayim, taking along his beloved Siddur.  The Rav would show him what to say from the Siddur until the next time he would come to Yerushalayim.  If Rosh Chodesh was approaching, the Rav would show him what he should say on Rosh Chodesh, and so on.  
Once, on one of his weekly trips to Yerushalayim, he found the streets deserted and the stores closed. "Is it Shabbos today?" he wondered.  He saw people walking with their Tefillin, so he knew that it wasn't Shabbos. "What happened today?" he asked them. "It's a fast day," they replied.  
The simple villager quickly went to his Rav and said, "Why didn’t you tell me that there was a fast day today?  I've already eaten by mistake.  I also didn’t say the special prayers for a fast day."
The Rav explained that this fast was decided upon only a couple of days earlier, and he didn’t know about it when they spoke last week.  "What's the fast for?" The Rav replied: "Since the onset of the winter, it hasn't rained.  The Rabbis of Yerushalayim decreed a fast day, to arouse Hashem's compassion so it will rain." "For a lack of rain you declare a fast day?" the farmer asked. "Yes.  Do you have another recommendation?" "When my field needs rain, I go outside, and I pray and it immediately begins to rain." "Do that now, too," the Rav said.  
The villager raised his eyes Heavenward and said, "Father in Heaven.  Your children need rain.  Will You let Your children die from thirst, Chalillah?" Immediately, the clouds came and it began to rain. (Meoros HaParsha).
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A Gut Shabbos to all!