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Parsha Vayishlach - 5762
By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

       A Rabbi was giving a lecture and commented that everything mentioned in the Torah teaches us a deep eternal lesson that has a dramatic impact on our lives today and for all time. Every word of Torah is precious. 

        A scoffer in the audience sneered,"What great lesson do we learn from the verse 'Va'achos Lotan Timnah?' 'and the sister of Lotan was Timnah' (Gen 36:22) This is just a boring historical factoid.  I don't care about Lotan and I don't care about Timnah, and I certainly don't care that they were brother and sister. What marvelous inspiring lesson do we learn from this insignificant statement?" 

        The Rabbi responded, "Why we learn one of the most profound lessons in  Judaism from this verse. The Torah wrote previously (Gen 36:12) that Timnah was the concubine of Eliphaz the son of Esav the grandson of Avraham. Now it is telling us that she was the sister of Lotan - a Chief of Edom. She was born into royalty. Why would she make herself a mere concubine?" 

        The reason was that she recognized the greatness and holiness of the G-d of Avraham, and decided to be connected to this greatness by marrying one of Avraham's descendents. The only way she could do this was by becoming a concubine to Eliphaz. 

        Being attached to G-d's shechina (presence), even in this tangential manner, meant so much to her, that this regal princess was willing to make herself a lowly concubine in order to attain this closeness to Hashem (G-d)." 

        The Rabbi concluded, "If Hashem's holy shechina meant so much to her that she was willing to sacrifice so much - think of how much it should mean to us and how much we should do to be close to Hashem and walk in His ways."


Parsha Vayishlach - 5761
By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

        Late one night on his journey, Yaakov encountered the angel of Esau. Yaakov wrestled with the angel for hours and hours, till the dawn. Yaakov was fighting for his life. The struggle was intense and exhausting. It took every ounce of Yaakov's strength, endurance and willpower and then some. In the end, Yaakov prevailed. Our sages learn a lesson from here that G-d gives us trials and tribulations up to the limit of our ability but not further. After all, the angel could have been twice as strong and easily have defeated Yaakov, or the angel could have been twice as weak so that Yaakov could have easily won the fight in minutes. Instead, G-d calibrated the angel's strength exactly so that Yaakov would have the struggle of his life, yet still be able to survive and thrive.

        On December 5, 1941 (Kislev 15, 5702) Rav Dovid Leibowitz ztz"l passed away after a terrible illness. He was a relatively young man, building up a small yeshiva in Brooklyn with a grand vision of spreading Torah in and across America. The burden of his dream fell on his 26 year old son Rav Henoch Leibowitz who took over the helm of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva. He served for twenty years when he reached a crossroads. The yeshiva never quite got off the ground - twenty years of sacrifice with barely anything to show for it. This was incredibly frustrating and depressing. Rav Leibowitz had so much to give, yet precious few talmidim (students) were coming to receive it. He wanted to call it quits. He considered going into a different area of Rabbinics which didn't have the same issues, pressures and problems. After much soul searching, he reached deep within himself and recalled that his father Rav Dovid had told him that leading the yeshiva was within his grasp and was the greatest thing he could do. Rav Leibowitz strategized and revamped the methods by which he led the yeshiva. The yeshiva began to turn around.
        Since then, the yeshiva has served thousands of talmidim. Talmidim of Rav Henoch Leibowitz have established branches and affiliates all over the world and continue to do so. Congregation Kehillas Torah is a proud affiliate of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva

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