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Tetzaveh 5763

Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!  This week is the eleventh anniversary of the Shabbat Shalom Fax! And they have been eleven fabulous years. I would like to share with you one of my favorite true stories:

A young rabbi from Israel was traveling the D train from Brooklyn to Manhattan on his way to a meeting. As the subway rattles towards its destination, he sits quietly reading the History of Submarine Warfare in the South Pacific In World War II. Enters the train two post-six foot battle-scarred young men in gang jackets - with an oversized boom box playing at full volume.

Near the rabbi stands a little old lady tipping the scales at 80 pounds and reaching her full hunched-over height of nearly five feet. The little old lady does not like the booming "grunt" music and starts yelling, "Who's going to make them turn it off?" Everyone takes a deeper interest in what they are reading - including the rabbi.

One of the young toughs smiles wryly and says to the woman, "Lady, if you want to turn it off, you can turn it off." She shuffles across the subway car with her hand held in front of her, index finger poised to flick the power switch. And she turns it off! Young Tough puts down the boom box and hauls back to deck her. Up jumps the rabbi and with a parrying move with his forearm, blocks Young Tough's punch.

Young Tough is puzzled and looks down at the rabbi and says, "What do you want, boy?" The rabbi replies with a big smile, "Just don't hit the lady," and returns to his seat to continue his book. The lady shuffles back across the car. And Young Tough flips the power switch on to bathe the car in full-force, deep-based, woofer and tweeter enhanced, penetrating sound waves.

The little old lady shries (yells), "Who's gonna make him turn it off?" Everyone re-reads their previous sentence with increased concentration. Young Tough smiles and invites her over. Once again, the little old lady shuffles over, index finger extended and flicks the power switch off. Young Tough hauls back to hit, Rabbi jumps up to block, Young Tough looks confused and says, "Now you're getting on my nerves," Rabbi smiles and says, "Sorry. Just don't hit the lady" and returns to his seat. Little Old Lady shuffles towards the rabbi's seat and stands with her back to him. And ... both young toughs thankfully get off at the next station!

As the rabbi is settling back into his book, he glances up at the back of the little old lady standing right next to him and thinks, "Gee, I just risked my life not once, but twice to protect her and she doesn't even thank me." And after two minutes of self-righteous indulgence, the rabbi stops in his mental tracks with an incredible realization - "The Almighty just performed not one miracle, but two to save my life and did I stop to thank Him?"

There are probably many lessons to learn from this story -don't ride the subways in New York, beware of little old ladies who can get you killed, learn to love loud music, the power of an incongruous smile.... However, I think the most powerful lesson is to remember: When you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you ... and be sure to thank the Almighty!

Torah Portion of the Week

The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary: oil for the Menorah and clothes for the Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for constructing the Incense Altar.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states in reference to the Breastplate of Judgment, one of the vestments worn by the Kohen Gadol, High Priest, that:

"...Aaron shall carry the judgment of the Children of Israel on his heart..." (Exodus 28:30)

What is the meaning and implication of the phrase "on his heart"?

Rabbi Aharon Levine, author of Hadrash Vehaiyun, elucidates: When a judge has to render a decision in a quarrel between two people, he cannot rely on the feelings of his heart. Following one's feelings can lead to a distortion of justice. When a wealthy person and a poor person are involved in a financial quarrel, one's feelings might be prejudiced in favor of the poor person. However, it is possible that the wealthy person is right and justice should be on his side. Therefore, the Torah states, "on his heart" to teach us "above his heart" - one cannot decide by his feelings, but rather that law and justice must be the key deciding factors.

While compassion and mercy are important, they are not always appropriate. One cannot pervert justice. If you want to help a poor person, do so at your own expense, not at the expense of someone else and not at the expense of justice.


"Let your fellow man's money be as precious to you as your own, apply yourself to learn Torah for (knowledge) cannot be inherited, and make all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven."
    - Rabbi Yose

CANDLE LIGHTING - February 14:
(or go to

Jerusalem  4:46
Guatemala 5:47  Hong Kong 6:01  Honolulu 6:09
J'Burg 6:32  London 4:54  Los Angeles 5:17
Melbourne 6:58  Miami 5:55  Moscow 5:14

New York 5:11  Singapore  7:04


Life is a grindstone.
Whether it grinds you down
or polishes you to a shining jewel,
depends upon what you are made of.
--  Helen Berman

Mazal Tov to
Dan and Beth Sher
on the birth of their child
With love,
Richard & Nancy Sher

1 2 3 2,915

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