GOOD MORNING! People often ask the question, "How do I know there is a God?" There are intellectual answers and evidence.   If you are curious, you would enjoy Permission to Believe by Lawrence Kelemen. There are intuitive appreciations that there is a God -- you see a newborn baby, watch the sun set over the ocean or look out over the majesty of a mountain range. And then there are experiential confirmations when you see the "hand" of God in your life. My friend, Rabbi David Olesker, shared with me the following story:

Rabbi Olesker gave a seminar in Boston. During a break, one of his students, a Jewish man in his early fifties, asked to speak with him about a very important matter. They agreed to meet for dinner. And where do two Jews go when they want to have dinner? They went to a Chinese restaurant.

About half way through dinner the man began to broach the issue. He and his wife got married relatively late in life and thank God, were blessed with children. However, now the children were about to enter school. "Rabbi, I want my children to identify strongly as Jews and to marry Jews. I know the tremendous risk of assimilation by putting my children into a public school -- in addition to the problems of the drugs and violence. However, how can I send them to a yeshiva or a Jewish Day School, and have them come home to a non-religious home? Should my wife and I become religious for the sake of our children?"

Rabbi Olesker laughed and the man asked him, "Why are you laughing at my question?" Rabbi Olesker responded, "Because you already know the answer to the question. You are uneasy with the answer; you want me to tell you what you already know. Then you'll disagree with me and feel justified in not following what you know is the right answer." "How can you possibly know that?" asked the man. "Simple," responded Rabbi Olesker, "Why else would you ask this question to an Orthodox rabbi?"

The man laughed and said, "Maybe you're right, but I would still like to hear your thoughts."

"OK," replied Rabbi Olesker, "a parent only owes his child three things -- example, example and example. If having your children being part of the Jewish future is important to you, then there is no better way than to send them to a Day School and to have a consistently religious home."

The man responded, "But it is so hard. I could never change." Rabbi Olesker, who came from a non-observant home, responded, "Look, no one has made more changes than me. If I can do it, you can do it, too!"

The man retorted, "It's easy for you. You are a very adaptable person, but I am too old to change." The conversation continued for a couple of minutes to no avail and then the topic changed for the duration of the meal.

After dessert, the waiter brought two fortune cookies. Rabbi Olesker opened his and began to laugh. "Why are you laughing?" asked his companion. "Look what my fortune cookie says," and handed it to the man to read -- "You are a very adaptable person." The man joined in the laughter and then queried, "I wonder what my fortune is," as he opened his own cookie. When he read the fortune, he immediately turned white and began to tremble.

"What's wrong?" asked Rabbi Olesker. "It's the fortune from the cookie." Rabbi Olesker took the slip of paper and read -- "You are never too old to change."

Today the man attends synagogue regularly, and he and his family are growing in their observance of the mitzvot. And his children are attending Jewish schools.

The Almighty speaks to every person each and every day. We have to pay attention to get the message and then to understand the lesson in a manner that helps us grow, improve our character traits and observance of Torah and come close to the Almighty. Not always is the answer as direct or as clear as the message this man received. Not always can we understand the whole message. However, if one is searching for buried treasure and only finds a diamond, he is still richer in life. All the more so with our efforts on a spiritual level!


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Torah Portion of the week

Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26

The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.

Ramban, one of the essential commentaries on Torah, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva -- correcting his erring ways.

This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt offering, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), the first grain offering, peace offering, unintentional sin offering (private and communal), guilt (for an intentional sin) offerings -- varied upon one's ability to pay, and an offering for personal use of something designated or belonging to the Tabernacle or the Temple.

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Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And He (God) called to Moses, and God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying..." (Lev. 1:1).

The Talmud (Yoma 4b) teaches that from the word "saying" (which denotes "say to others") we learn that a person has no right to repeat what someone tells him unless that person gives him explicit permission to do so. Below are a few of the basic laws pertaining to secrets:

1) If someone tells you private information about his business or any personal matter, you are forbidden to disclose it to others. Your doing so could cause the person who confided in you financial loss, embarrassment, or other damage. Even if the speaker did not request that the matter remain secret, you are not allowed to repeat it. It is self-evident that the speaker does not want such information to be divulged.

However, if that person related information concerning himself in the presence of three or more people and did not request secrecy, you are permitted to relate it to others. We can assume that he does not mind if the information will be known. If, however, someone tells you about his wrongdoings in the presence of three, you are nevertheless forbidden to try to spread that information to belittle him. It is forbidden for anyone to deliberately publicize his actions to embarrass him. (Chofetz Chayim, ch. 2).

2) When someone reveals to you seemingly harmless information in a manner which shows that he would like it to be kept secret, you are forbidden to repeat it to others even if he did not explicitly tell you to keep it secret. (B'air Mayim Chayim 2:27)

3) You have no right to repeat someone's secret just because you add the phrase, "Don't repeat this to anyone else." (Pele Yoatz, section sode)

4) Husbands and wives have no right to tell each other secrets that someone told him or her in confidence. (Pele Yoatz, section sode)



Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for Yom Tov (the holiday). This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to get an extra 10% on every dollar you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them money! Send your tax-deductible contribution to:

Keren Y&Y
805-A Roosevelt Ct.
Far Rockaway, NY 11691

Fulfill the special mitzvah of Maos Chitim, helping the poor for Pesach!


Candle Lighting Times

March 13
(or go to

Jerusalem 5:10
Guatemala 5:55 - Hong Kong 6:16 - Honolulu 6:24
J'Burg 6:08 - London 5:55 - Los Angeles 6:47
Melbourne 7:15 - Mexico City 6:29 - Miami 7:14
New York 6:50 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 7:12

Quote of the Week

You can ignore reality. However, you cannot ignore
the consequences of ignoring reality.
-- Ayn Rand



With Deep Appreciation to

David & Marilyn Zinn
Happy Anniversary!

Sam & Marsha Nevel


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Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Copyright © 2021 Rabbi Kalman Packouz