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Thursday, November 21, 2013


Reuvein was the least likely candidate to save Yosef. Reuvein was the rightful heir to the throne. He was the oldest and he had championed the cause of Leah too often to stand idly by while one of Rachel’s children took the reins in the next generation.

Of all of the brothers, why did Reuvein choose to save Yosef’s life?

Rav Aharon Kotler explains by quoting a Medrash that is astonishing in its simplicity. Reuvein, the Medrash says, knew that he had sinned in moving his father’s bed. Later Yaacov would tell him that he had acted rashly. Knowing that historically not everyone had made it into the forefather club, Reuvein feared that he had lost his edge. He feared that he would go the way of Yishmael, Eisav and the Bnei Keturah. He spent his days repenting.

Reuvein’s glimmer of sunshine came when Yosef had his first dream. Yosef saw eleven stars bowing down to him. Everyone else was upset about the elevation of Yosef, but Reuvein was busy counting stars. He was still in!

Reb Aharon Kotler explains that this attitude saved Reuvein from becoming jealous of Yosef. He was too happy to be jealous. He didn’t take his own position for granted and he certainly had no aspirations for Yosef’s position.

This was Reuvein’s secret and it needs to be our approach as well. If we don’t have shoes we need to be happy that we have feet. The Shtefenishte Rebbe used to say that if we had a chance to walk into a room and choose a burden in life we would all choose our own. We should spend time being grateful for the life we have, rather than being jealous of the life the other person is leading.

Posted on 11/21 at 11:48 PM • Permalink
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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