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GOOD MORNING! Mark Twain wrote a fascinating article, "Concerning the Jews," in the Harper's Magazine in 1897. In the epilogue he concludes:
___"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
___If Mr. Twain had looked in the Torah and the Prophets, he would have found the following prophecies setting forth the covenant between the Almighty and the Jewish people for eternity. Prophecies for eternity backed by the Almighty are the secret of the Jewish people's immortality. Here they are:
|"And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations, an eternal covenant, to be your God and the God of the descendants after you." (Genesis 17:7)|
|"Thus, even while they are in the land of their enemies, I will neither reject nor obliterate them, lest I break My covenant with them by destroying them, for I am the Lord their God. I will remember them because of the covenant I made with their original ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, so that I might be their God." (Leviticus 26:44-45)|
|"Because the mountains may move and the hills may be shaken, but My love shall never move from you, nor My covenant of peace be shaken, said God, Who has compassion on you." (Isaiah 54:10)|
|"As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says God. My spirit, which rests upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouths of your children's children, says God, from now and forever." (Isaiah 59:21)|
|"Thus says God, Who establishes the sun to light the day, the laws of the moon and stars to light the night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is the Lord of Hosts: 'If these laws of nature would ever give way before Me,' says God, 'only then shall the offspring of Israel cease to be a nation before Me for all time.' " (Jeremiah 31:34-35)|
|"But fear not, O Jacob My servant, neither be dismayed, O Israel, because I shall redeem you from afar, and your children form the land of their captivity; and Jacob will again be quiet and at ease and none shall make him afraid. Fear not, O Jacob My servant, says God, for I am with you. For I will topple all the nations to which I have driven you. But of you I will not make a full end. I will correct you in just measure, but I will not utterly destroy you." (Jeremiah 46:27-28)|
___The story is told of King Louis XIV asking the philosopher Pascal for some proof of a supernatural force in the world. "Why ... the Jews, your majesty," replied Pascal, "the Jews."
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Torah Portion of the Week
___This week we have the trials and tribulations of Jacob living with and working for his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob agreed to work as a shepherd 7 years for Rachel only to have Laban switch daughters on him at the marriage ceremony. (This is why we have the bedekin, the lifting of the veil, at traditional weddings - to ensure one is marrying the right bride.)
___As Jacob tries to build his equity, Laban changes their agreement time after time. After 20 years, the Almighty tells Jacob the time has come to return to the land of Canaan. Jacob and his household secretly leave only to be pursued by Laban who has claims to put forth. The story ends with peace and blessings between Jacob and Laban.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___The Almighty told Jacob in a dream:
|"And your descendants will be like the dust of the earth." (Genesis 28:16)|
___What kind of blessing is this? Everyone tramples upon the dust of the earth!
___The Almighty was foretelling to Jacob the many trials and travails that the Jewish people would face throughout history - the exiles, the persecutions, the confiscations, the pressures to deny our heritage. However, the Almighty was also telling Jacob an important point of consolation - in the end, in the final days of redemption, in the time of the Moshiach (Messiah), the Jewish people will overcome their tormentors and prove victorious, just as at the end of his life, the tormentor is buried and covered by the dust of the earth.
* * *
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___Laban searched all of Jacob's possessions, but did not find his missing idols. The Torah tells us:
|"And Jacob was angry and quarreled with Laban. And Jacob answered and said to Laban, 'What is my trespass? What is my sin that you have pursued after me?' " (Genesis 31:36)|
___What lesson for life can we learn from how Jacob responded to Laban?
___The Midrash makes note of Jacob's self-control despite his anger. Laban accused Jacob of stealing his idols. After Laban had inspected all of Jacob's possessions and did not find anything, Jacob felt that Laban had fabricated the entire accusation (Sforno). However, despite his anger, Jacob did not say anything that would antagonize Laban or stir up animosity and rancor. He merely defended himself against the accusation and restated his own innocence.
___The Chofetz Chaim taught that from here we learn that a person should avoid becoming involved in a dispute, even when he knows that he is right.
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 16
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Guatemala 5:12 - Hong Kong 5:22 - Honolulu 5:31
J'Burg 6:16 - London 3:52 - Los Angeles 4:31
Melbourne 7:52 - Mexico City 5:39 - Miami 5:15
New York 4:20 - Singapore 6:33 - Toronto 4:34
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"Luck" is how some people spell God.
In Loving Memory of Our Brothers|
Earl B. Slavitt & David S. Sher
-- Richard and Nancy Sher