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V'etchanan 5774

V'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!   What is the strength of the Jewish people? It is our unity. Our love for one another, our respect for one another. The Almighty protects us and keeps us from harm when there is unity. The unity that was forged as we prayed for the safe return of the three Israeli boys -- Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar -- has created a spiritual protection for us as the rockets rain down upon Israel.

Historically, one of the most unifying forces of our heritage is the Shabbat (or "Shabbos" in the Yiddish, Ashkenazie pronunciations) -- a 25-hour weekly observance that lasts from just before sundown each Friday until nightfall on Saturday. Once a week there was a rest in the Jewish community, a peace -- and Jews were together with their family, their friends, their synagogue. In recent decades it seems the speed of the world has increased; tensions, demands, pressures have increased. There are so many attractive options for spending our time that the joy and peace of Shabbat has been lost for many of our brethren around the world.

Last year, the South African Jewish community initiated The Shabbos Project ( with the goal of having every Jew in South Africa observe just one Shabbat together. Amazingly, more than 50% of the 70,000 Jews joined to celebrate Shabbat!

Buoyed by their success, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, has set out to unite Jews around the world to keep one Shabbat together October 24th-25th. So far, over 1,000 partners in over 170 cities around the world have signed on to champion the initiative in their communities and cities.

Why would this be of interest to you? If you don't already keep Shabbat, then you probably have heard of the "Unplug Movement" -- of taking a day to disconnect from the internet, the cell phone, the computer. One might say that Shabbat is the original "Unplug Movement". However, in reality, Shabbat is the original "Plug in Movement" -- connect with the Almighty, connect with your family, connect with your community ... connect with yourself! Shabbat is a day of physical and spiritual delights, a day of relaxation and contemplation, a day of family closeness and interpersonal connection. It is a day of togetherness.

Secondly, there is something very exciting about Jews coming together in any project, but especially experiencing a Shabbat like our people have experienced for the past 3,000 year! It unifies our people, our history, our purpose. Imagine the joy, the excitement of reconnecting with something so essential to our existence as Jews -- and knowing that you are a part of tens of thousands of Jews around the world experiencing what you are experiencing!

If you already keep the Shabbat, then this is your chance to share it with other Jews who haven't had the opportunity to experience a Shabbat. It's a gift that you are uniquely able to bestow.

Sometimes observant Jews are hesitant in inviting less observant Jews for Shabbat -- they're afraid that they may seem too "religious" and make their friends uncomfortable. Sometimes Jews who come from a lesser background would love to be invited into a friend's home to see how they enjoy Shabbat, but they feel embarrassed about what they don't know and feel they will be uncomfortable. It's time to butch up and come together!

For thousands of years the Jewish people have had the secret to balancing life -- Shabbat! One day a week from before sunset on Friday to after the stars come out Saturday night the Jewish people have celebrated Shabbat. For 25 hours no telephone, no televisions, no traffic, no rushing. Shabbat is a time to reconnect to the Almighty, to things spiritual and to put the material world in proper perspective. For as the Almighty said, "You shall observe My Sabbaths for it is a sign between Me and you for all generations to know that I am the Lord, Who makes you holy" (Exodus 31:13).

To find out more about Shabbat, go to . To find out more about joining the Jewish world in celebrating Shabbat together October 24/25th ... go to !


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Torah Portion of the week

Va'etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11

Moshe pleads with God to enter the Holy Land, but is turned down. (Remember, God always answers your prayers -- sometimes with a "yes," sometimes with a "no" ... and sometimes with a "not yet".) Moshe commands the Children of Israel not to add or subtract from the words of the Torah and to keep all of the Commandments. He then reminds them that God has no shape or form and that we should not make or worship idols of any kind.

The cities of Bezer, Ramot and Golan are designated as Cities of Refuge east of the Jordan river. Accidental murderers can escape there to avoid revengeful relatives. They then await there until tried.

The Ten Commandments are repeated to the whole Jewish people. Moshe then expounds the Shema, affirming the unity of God, Whom all should love and transmit His commandments to the next generation. A man should wear Tefillin upon the arm and head. All Jews should put a Mezuzah (the scroll is the essential part) upon each doorpost of their home (except the bathroom).

Moshe then relays the Almighty's command not to intermarry "for they will lead your children away from Me" (Deut. 7:3-4).

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Moshe wanted to enter the land of Israel, but the Almighty did not allow him to enter. The Torah states that Moshe said:

"And I prayed to the Almighty at that time saying..." (Deuteronomy 3:23).

One of the ways of understanding the Torah is through gematria -- examining the numerical values of the words. What do we learn from the numerical value (515) of the first word of the verse, Va'etchanan ("and I prayed")?

The Sages tells us that Moshe prayed to the Almighty as many prayers as the numerical value of the va'etchanan -- 515 prayers. This shows us how strong Moshe's desire was to enter the Holy Land.

Let's picture this: If someone asks another person for something and the other person refuses to meet his request, it is possible that he will ask again. However, after a few times, he will give up. There is a limit to how many times one person will ask another for something. Here we see that Moshe continued to ask five hundred and fifteen times. This is truly amazing. We learn from this the principle that the way to success is through persistence. Especially in spiritual matters one needs to adopt this attitude.

There are three rules for success: 1) Initiative -- you have to try 2) Perseverance -- you have to keep trying 3) The Almighty blesses your efforts. Young children are the paradigm of persistence. (Ask any parent!) If something is important enough to you, you must persist to succeed.


Candle Lighting Times

August 8
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:55
Guatemala 6:10 - Hong Kong 6:42 - Honolulu 6:48
J'Burg 5:26 - London 8:19 - Los Angeles 7:30
Melbourne 5:20 - Mexico City 7:51 - Miami 7:44
New York 7:45 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 8:135

Quote of the Week

The problem with the rat race is that
even if you win ... you're still a rat



With Deep Appreciation to

Mitchell & Karen


In Loving Memory of

Miriam bat Hannah

Jonas & Judy Mimoun



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