Man And The Parshiot

Bereishit tells one to prepare for his mission. Then Noach instructs man to rest and take in the “sounds” of the atmosphere. Then one is ready for Lech Lecha to approach his destination. Vayeira instructs that after preparation, rest and introspection, happenings become clearer in man’s mind. Chayei Sarah shows how man has now become a man of life and experience. The next step is Toldos, to have a vision for the future. To follow through on the future one must be in a state of Vayeitzei, and leave his own inherent notions of things. At this point he is ready for Vayishlach, to influence the outside world. After conquering the outside, man can come back to a state of Vayishev, and ponder what has occurred. He is reaching the end of his journey, a time of Mikeitz. Near the end, one can personally approach others with the confidence of the knowledge he has acquired. Finally, it may be said he reached Vayechi, a manifestation of the full spectrum of life.

Aleeza Ben Shalom – 3 Ways To Change Your First-Date Experience

What I hear most from self-proclaimed “older singles” is that they feel frustrated. Every first date is another big effort from which they never see results. It’s that feeling of ‘Here we go again, another boringly repetitive date.’ Luckily, there are a few ways to break out of old habits and change your experience (and these tips work just as well for the first first date as for the 40th first date).

1. Change the way you ask questions.
Your goal on a first date is to see if you enjoy spending time together and can start making a connection. That’s it! If this is the latest in a long line of dates, making a connection might feel incredibly difficult. But open-ended question can help making a connection much easier, if there’s a connection to be made. Closed-ended questions, on the other hand, are conversation stoppers.

Here are a few examples of easy rephrasing that can lead to greater success a first date:
Don’t ask: “Where did you move from?”
Try asking: “Why did you decide to move?”
Don’t ask: “Do you have any free time?”
Try asking: “How do you like to spend your free time?”
Don’t ask: “When did you start your job?”
Try asking: “In what ways is this job different from your last job?”

You’ll notice that these questions are nearly the same. The difference is that the first options can be answered in one word, which might be followed by an awkward silence. Awkward silences can be avoided. The second option gives your date the opportunity to tell a little story, to share a small piece of his thoughts or feelings.

You can also answer questions this way even if your date asked a closed-ended question. If your date asks, “When did you start your job?” help him out. Answer the question and then tell him how much you like your job, what it was like compared to the last place you worked.

2. Change the question you ask yourself.
“Is this my soul mate?” That’s the million dollar question. It’s such a consuming question that you might be asking it over and over again while you’re still on the date. And we all want to know the answer asap. If you’ve been dating for a while, you probably think you’ve gotten good at figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. What’s more, you’re probably right! Making a snap judgment may have become second nature to you. You want to be efficient in your dating for marriage process; you don’t have time to waste.

Yes, be efficient. However, really being efficient means that you are dedicating a minimum of one full date to investigating whether or not this person is your soul mate. There’s nothing wrong with asking “Is this my soul mate?” — but not until after the date. That means on the date, the only question I want you to repeat over and over again is, “Am I present in the moment?”

Ask yourself if you are really hearing and seeing who is in front of you (even if you don’t want to marry him or her!). Ask yourself if you are being yourself. Make sure you stay in the moment of the date and out of your head. When you return home from the date you can ask yourself if this was the one. Even if you already know the answer is “no,” practicing this marriage-minded approach to dating will help you on your next first date.

3. Change the way you describe yourself.
“So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” People often ask this on a first date when they don’t have a more specific question. Trying to answer such a blanket question often leaves people speechless. Oy! Where do you even begin?

You begin with the end in mind. What is your goal? Your goal is to identify whether or not this is your soul mate. So share how are you unique, what makes you you. What are you going to say that will quickly and clearly differentiate you from others and express who you are? It’s a good idea to give this some thought before your next date. By first understanding yourself and your unique qualities and combinations you will be better able to articulate who you are to another.

Remember, don’t try to be what he or she is looking for. You simply want express clearly who you are. You may be surprised at how much someone will love exactly that person.

Changing your first date experience isn’t easy. Putting your best self forward can be especially challenging after years of dating. But these simple changes can make a big difference. Pick one thing you want to change on your next first date. And let me know how it goes. You may or may not find your soul mate on the next date, but you will find more of yourself which will ultimately lead to your soul mate. May your journey from here on be short, sweet and filled with support from the network of people who love you!

Originally published on

Rabbi Binyomin Adler – Lech Lecha

No Evil on Shabbos


In this week’s parashah the Torah records a dispute between Avraham and his nephew Lot. Avraham discovers that Lot is allowing his shepherds to graze the sheep in other people’s property. It is said (Bereishis 13:8-9) vayomer Avram el Lot al na sehi mirivah baini uveinceho uvein roay uvein roecha ki anashim achim anachnu, halo chol haaretz lefeonecho hipared na maalay im hasemol vaiminah veim hayamin viasmeilah. So Avram said to Lot; “Please let there be no strife between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not all the land before you? Please separate from me; If you go left then I will go right, and if you go right then I will go left.” The commentators wonder what happened to Lot, who at the time that Avraham set out on his journey, was righteous. How could Lot have turned sour so suddenly? The standard answer to this puzzle is that Lot was blinded by the wealth that he gained in Egypt. Once a person becomes wealthy, his worldview changes, and Lot was no different. What is interesting is that Avraham chose to abandon Lot at this juncture. Although no one seeks strife, it is difficult to understand why Avraham did not attempt to reconcile his differences with Lot regarding the grazing of the sheep. The Torah merely states that immediately subsequent to the quarrel, Avraham requested from Lot that he depart from his midst. It would seem that Avraham felt that until now Lot was dependent on him, whereas now, with his newly acquired wealth, Lot would be able to fend for himself. This being the case, Avraham decided that he could no longer tolerate Lot’s presence. This idea is reflected in the words of the Ramban (Shemos 19:1), who writes that it is likely that HaShem only gave the Torah to the Jewish People and the Erev Rav (the rabble that left Egypt-see Rashi to Shemos 12:38) were separated from the Jewish People. This teaches us that when the righteous are on a mission, they must separate themselves from evil.

The Shabbos Connection

Similarly, in the prayer of Kegavna that is recited Friday night by those who pray Nusach Sefard, it is said: when the Shabbos arrives, she unifies Herself in Oneness and divests herself of the Other Side (any trace of impurity); all harsh judgments are removed from her, and she remains alone with the Oneness of the holy light… All wrathful dominions and bearers of grievance flee together-and there is no power but she in all the worlds. Despite the fact that during the week we may encounter people and ideologies that bespeak evil, on the Holy Shabbos there is no place for evil. Given the fact that we have just emerged refreshed and purified from the Yomim Noraim, the Days of Awe, and the great joy of Sukkos and Simchas Torah, it is worth taking stock of how we honor the Shabbos. I once heard a Rav say that we are prohibited from bringing into the Sukkah utensils that will violate the sanctity of the Sukkah. Yet, are we as particular as to what we allow into our homes?! The same principle should apply with regard to the Holy Shabbos. We welcome the Shabbos by declaring that HaShem is our King and that Shabbos is the source of all blessing. In order to be true recipients of that blessing, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we do not engage in mundane talk on Shabbos and that we are preoccupied with prayer, Torah study and offering songs and praises to HaShem. In this manner we will surely merit to honor and delight in the wonderful gift of Shabbos that HaShem bestowed only upon His Chosen People, and then we will merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and a place in the World to Come, which will be a day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Kel Mistater

This mystical Zemer was composed by Avraham Maimin, whose name with the addition of chazak, is formed by the acrostic. Avraham was a student of Rabbi Moshe Kordevero, a member of the Kabbalistic school of the Arizal, and he lived from 5282-5330 (1522-1570 C.E.)

בְּרֵאשִׁית תּוֹרָתְךָ הַקְּדוּמָה. רְשׁוּמָה חָכְמָתְךָ הַסְּתוּמָה, in the beginning there was Your preexisting Torah, inscribed with Your mysterious wisdom. While we acknowledge that HaShem’s wisdom is a mystery, we must be also cognizant of the fact that HaShem has granted His Beloved Nation the ability to plumb the depths of the Holy Torah. Indeed, Dovid HaMelech prayed (Tehillim 119:18) גַּל עֵינַי וְאַבִּיטָה נִפְלָאוֹת מִתּוֹרָתֶךָ, unveil my eyes that I may perceive wonders from Your Torah.

Shabbos Stories

Shabbos Food from Heaven!

There was once a salesman from Deal, New Jersey, whose business required him to travel around the country for several weeks at a time. He was an observant Jew, and he always tried to schedule his trips around stops for the Sabbath in places where kosher food was more readily available. This way he could stock up for the coming week. One of his usual stops for Shabbos was in Memphis, Tennessee. On one of his trips to Birmingham, Alabama, he contacted the president of a company which he was hoping to get an account with. His attempts in the previous years had been unsuccessful. However, this particular year he was pleasantly surprised. The president wanted to meet with him, and he made an appointment for that day. Unfortunately, the president was in a meeting which took longer than he had expected, and the salesman was told to return the next morning, which was Friday. The same scene repeated itself the next morning, and the salesman needed to get to Memphis, pick up his food, and check into his hotel before sundown. He burst into the president’s office and told him it was now or never. He received a small order, and left. He made it to Memphis too late to get his food, but he decided to at least spend the Sabbath in the better hotel across the street. Embittered by the “mess” he had gotten himself into he took a room and began to unpack. To his utter disbelief, he found in the closet of room a certified kosher meal enough to serve ten people. He even found wine! He could not imagine where it came from, but it had obviously been abandoned. He thanked G-d for the wonderful gift and enjoyed the Sabbath. Some weeks later he was back home with some friends, and he overheard them speaking about their trip to Memphis, and how it had been cut short by a health problem. “What ever happened to all that food we brought in?” one of them said. The salesman interrupted. “I know what happened to it.” All eyes were now on him. “I ate it.” [The story is taken from the book Visions of Greatness, by Rabbi Yosef Weiss.]

Shabbos in Halacha

Wringing and Laundering

Activities Affected by These Prohibitions 

Cleaning a Wet Surface

One may clean an area that is slightly wet with a dry rag. On the other hand, one may not clean an extremely wet area with a dry rag, as the water will saturate the rag and will, in turn, be squeezed out.

One must use discretion in this matter, as that amount of water needed to saturate varies from item to item. Therefore, one should not wipe or scrub a wet surface unless one is certain that no sechita will occur.

Note: One may never use a sponge on Shabbos, as mentioned earlier. In addition, we will see later that sponges are deemed to be muktza.