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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Surmountable Odds

Yaacov Avinu was able to uncover the well for Rachel when all of the shepherds could not. He cared for her and he wanted her to be able to water the sheep and go home.

How did he do it? Rashi tells us that he had superhuman strength. He was able to lift the stone like someone might pop a cork out of a bottle.

Yaacov did not lift the stone with his muscles; he lifted it with his heart. In Tefillas Geshem we say “Yichad lev v’gal even m’al be’er mayim”. He united his heart and all of his concentration into lifting the stone from atop the well. It was an impossible task but he did it because he wanted to with all his heart.

We come across so many impossible tasks in life. There are so many things that we just can’t do. Have we really tried? Have we ever given it all of our undivided and undiluted effort? There is no guarantee that we will succeed, but we will be rewarded for trying.

We ask Hashem to send us rain thousands of years later because Yaacov tried really hard. Trying is a really big deal and, in Yaakov’s case, it worked.

Reb Zalman Volozhiner was once sitting in his Beis Medrash learning when he realized that he needed to look something up. Unfortunately, the sefer was on a high shelf and was blocked by a heavy piece of furniture.

“Ribono shel Olam”, he said, “you did not put the Torah in the heavens or across the sea. You put it right here in this room for my benefit. Please give me the strength to get that sefer down to where I need it”.

He said this over and over before he was able to get up, move the bookcase and reach the sefer.

We would all do well to remind ourselves of our strength and to do things with our entire heart.

Good Shabbos.

(Based in part on an essays by Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz and his son Rav Avraham Shmuelevitz) 

Posted on 11/07 at 10:59 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