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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Haazinu - The Pintele Yid

The Medrash on Haazinu begins with an interesting statement. If someone has an earache on Shabbos, they are allowed to treat it as if the entire body is at risk. The ear is the gateway to the entire body. Good words have the power to change the entire person. Evil words have the power to damage our entire body. Such is the power of the ear.

The Medrash further points out that in Parshas Haazinu, Moshe addressed the Heavens and the Earth. If Moshe addressed the heavens, we can assume that they were affected by the words of Torah. If the words of Torah have the power to affect the heavens and the earth, they surely have the power to affect us.

The Izhbitzer in Mei Hashiloach writes that it is not really our ears that are affected by the words that we hear. The ears are only the conduit for information to travel to our neshamos. Our neshamos are affected very deeply. The word Shomayim has the same numerical value as Neshama because when Moshe addressed the heavens in this week’s Parsha he was also addressing the Neshama.

He told the Neshama about what the Ramban describes as the natural cycle of the Jewish people. We are inspired by the Torah and achieve great things only to be distracted and led astray by success and ideas that we swirl around us. Finally, Hashem says “I will marginalize them; I will erase their memory”.

Thankfully, Hashem does not go through with his plans. “When Hashem judges his people; He changes His mind” - Hashem reconsiders, as it were, and does not allow us to fade into oblivion.

The Chidushei Harim writes that this is the meaning if the blessing of “Magen Avraham”. We thank Hashem three times daily for actively protecting the spark of Avraham within us. Even if we work to extinguish that spark through what we hear and what we do, Hashem keeps His promise to Moshe and does not allow us to disappear.

On Yom Kippur, Hashem gave us a chance to separate ourselves from what we had become and return to that tiny spark. We have a chance to do teshuva and to make real changes. If we can keep from slipping back into our old habits, we can become truly changed people.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana writes that the Leviim would sing the song of Haazinu every Shabbos at Mussaf. It is the story of our lives. We have ups and downs but we never, ever lose the special spark that is inside of us. There is always a place where we can be reached.

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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at senderhaber@gmail.com