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Lech Lecha 5777

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  It was an awesome lightning storm in South Florida -- God's fireworks! For some reason, the question popped into my mind "How many people die from being hit by lightning each year in the USA?" Google provided the answer: 73. How many by being hit by a golf ball? The answer: 49 -- though 900 people die while playing golf each year. And how many people die from falling coconuts? About 150 yearly worldwide. Then my thoughts turned to the question, "Besides staying off of a golf course during a lightning storm and not walking under coconut palms, how does one live long?

The answer was short in coming! I came across articles on how to live long -- while not written in stone, these are the latest observations from scientific studies -- though they seem pretty obvious:

  1. Stay young mentally -- make new (and younger friends), read, develop hobbies.
  2. Eat a plant based diet -- more fruits and vegetables -- as well as olive oil, legumes, nuts and whole grains.
  3. Being optimistic, joyful, flexible and adaptive.
  4. Eat fish and raise your omega-3 levels.
  5. Regularly taking a 30 minute nap reduces heart disease.
  6. Remaining active -- running, walking, biking ... and weight training.
  7. Have a purpose in life. Do something meaningful that you enjoy... and makes you feel productive and needed.
  8. Keep your weight down.

What does the Torah teach us about living long? Of all the commandments in the Chumash, the Five Books of Moses, which contains 613 commandments, only 1 includes the words "very much" --that you should guard your health (Deut. 4:9, 4:15).

The Talmud takes a decidedly more spiritual approach. The Talmud (Avodah Zorah 19b) tells the story of Reb Alexandry who called out in a market place, "Who wants life? Who wants life?" Figuring that he had an elixir for long life to sell, people gathered around. Reb Alexandry then quoted Psalm 34:13-14, "Who is the man who desires life and loves days that he may see good? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit." In truth, Reb Alexandry gave people a prescription for long life in this world as well as the World to Come! So, if you would like to live long and be healthy, here are:


10 Practical Guidelines for Positive Speech

  1. Do not express damaging or derogatory information about someone that might cause him physical, psychological or financial harm, even if it is true and deserved.
  2. Promote people's well-being. When in doubt, don't speak out.
  3. Humor is great, but make sure jokes aren't at someone else's expense.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Speaking badly even about yourself is unethical.
  5. Don't listen to gossip. If you can't change the direction of the conversation, it is advisable to leave.
  6. If you inadvertently hear damaging information, you should believe that it is NOT true.
  7. Always give others the benefit of the doubt and focus on the positive.
  8. Words once spoken can't be erased. Think before you speak, especially if you are angry, hurt or jealous.
  9. Use kind and supportive words with your children and spouse whenever possible. Harsh words can cause irreparable harm as can speaking derogatorily to others about the ones you love most.
  10. It is not only permitted, but required, to warn a person about potential harm -- for example, that a potential business partner has a repeated record of embezzlement.


A must read for every individual desiring to perfect the gift of speech ... and to live long Guard Your Tongue, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.


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Torah Portion of the week

Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1 - 17:27

The Almighty commands Avram (later renamed Avraham) to leave Haran and go to the "place that I will show you" (which turned out to be the land of Canaan -- later renamed the Land of Israel). The Almighty then gives Avram an eternal message to the Jewish people and to the nations of the world, "I will bless those who bless you and he who curses you I will curse." Finding a famine, Avram travels to Egypt (once renamed to be part of the United Arab Republic) asking Sarai (later renamed Sarah), to say she is his sister so they won't kill him to marry her (the Egyptians were particular not to commit adultery ... so they would kill the husband instead).

Pharaoh evicts Avram from Egypt after attempting to take Sarai for a wife. They settle in Hebron (also known as Kiryat Arba) and his nephew Lot settles in Sodom. Avram rescues Lot -- who was taken captive -- in the Battle of the Four Kings against the Five Kings.

Entering into a covenant with the Almighty (all covenants with the Almighty are eternal, never to be abrogated or replaced by new covenants), Avram is told that his descendants will be enslaved for 400 years and that his descendants (via Isaac, "... through Isaac will offspring be considered yours." Gen. 21:8) will be given the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."

Sarai, childless, gives her handmaid Hagar to Avram for a wife so that he will have children. Ishmael (the alter zedeh -- the grandfather -- of our Arab cousins) is born. The covenant of brit mila, religious circumcision, is made (read 17:3-8), God changes their names to Avraham and Sarah and tells them that Sarah will give birth to Yitzhak (Isaac). Avraham circumcises all the males of his household.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And (the Almighty) took (Avraham) outside and He said to him, 'Please, look heavenward and count the stars if you can count them ... so, too, will be your descendants" (Gen. 15:5).

Why did the Almighty direct Avraham to look at the stars to tell him about his offspring?

According to the Midrash, Avraham knew that according to astrology, he and Sarah would not have children. Rashi cites the Talmudic statement (Nedorim 32a) that the Almighty told Avraham to discount the effects of astrological influence. Even if there is a sign in the stars that you will not have children, you will rise above this and merit having children.

From here, the Talmud (Shabbos 156a) states, "There is no mazal (astrological influence) for Israelites. "This then is one meaning of the latter half of the verse, 'so, too, will be your descendants." The Jewish people need not fear any negative predictions in the stars.

Some people become nervous if someone predicts a negative future for them through astrology, chirology (palm reading), cards, etc. Trust in the Almighty and awareness of His unlimited power will free a person from any fears of such predictions.Prayer and the merit of good deeds will be able to change a negative destiny to a positive one.


Candle Lighting Times

November 12
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:06
Guatemala 5:13 - Hong Kong 5:23 - Honolulu 5:33
J'Burg 6:14 - London 3:58 - Los Angeles 4:33
Melbourne 7:48 - Mexico City 5:41 - Miami 5:15
New York 4:23 - Singapore 6:33 - Toronto 4:38

Quote of the Week

Enjoy your birthdays.
The more you have,
the longer you live!



With Everlasting Gratefulness
Craig & Karen
With Deep Appreciation to
Jay & Caroline Schechter


With Great Gratitude
Lawrence Kopelman
With Special Thanks to
Dorit Pourdavoudi

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