The Blessing of Necessity


 Necessity is the mother of attraction.  -Luke McKissack 


Jacob has an emotional reunion with Esau, his twin brother who wanted to kill him 20 years earlier. In preparation for the potentially explosive meeting, Jacob sends multiple flocks of various domesticated animals as a gift to his estranged brother.

Esau, in an understandable display of magnanimity declines the extremely valuable and generous gifts and states “I have a lot, brother. You should keep what’s yours.” However, Jacob is not to be dissuaded and gives a long speech pressuring Esau to accept the gift, finally stating “I have all.” Esau yields and accepts the gift.

The Sfat Emet in 5634 (1874) explains that there is a significant difference between having “a lot” and having “all.” Having a lot is the trait of the wicked Esau, who has more than he needs and may even boast of his wealth. To such individuals God gives more than necessary and that is the end of further divine care or involvement in their lives. The extreme material wealth and success they have may be the extent of their reward for the meager good they have done in their lives. No more rewards or happiness will come their way, in this world, or the next.

However, the trait of the righteous Jacob is to be content with what he has. It is all he needs. It is sufficient. God continually makes sure he has everything he needs at the time and nothing more. Nothing extraneous is given until such a time as it is needed. A person who requests and just gets his current necessities on a regular basis is likened to a vessel that can continually receive God’s blessings.

Furthermore, the righteous when they request their needs do not do so out of a sense of entitlement, thinking that somehow they deserve it. They realize that these are underserved gifts from God that we request in humility. God, out of a sense of benevolence grants us our daily necessities.

When a person realizes this reality and as the Mishna in Pirket Avot states, is happy with their portion, then they are truly wealthy.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Mauricio Macri on his successful election as the new President of Argentina. We hope that he is what the country and the continent needs.







Mark of the Righteous


 We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us. -Sir Winston Churchill 


There is a principle in biblical studies that the Torah does not include extraneous words. This leads to a famous question as to why the Torah needs to mention that Jacob is departing the city of Beer Sheva (Genesis 28:10), when we already know from previous verses where he’s leaving from. The popular answer that is given is that just as a city feels the effect of the arrival of a righteous man, so too they feel the departure of the righteous.

The Sfat Emet writing in 5636 (1876) is not satisfied with the popular answer. He feels that there is a deeper answer to the redundancy of mentioning Jacob’s city of departure. He explains that the effect of the righteous upon the city is so strong that it leaves a mark even after they have departed and that it becomes a source of merit to the city to have had the righteous living in their midst.

He further compares the effect the righteous have upon a city like that of the performance of commandments upon the body. Whenever a person performs a commandment with their body it leaves a mark of holiness upon their limbs which remains even after the commandment has been performed and serves as a merit to the body.

May we perform commandments with all of our selves and merit health and holiness for our entire body.

Shabbat Shalom,



For the Jewish community of Paysandu on the inauguration of its building and its wonderful hosting. May they have many more visits and successful community events.

In memory of my friend and neighbor, Yaakov Don h”yd, murdered by Muslim terrorists in Gush Etzion.







Wells of Truth

 It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it. -Johann von Goethe

Water Well

When one reads parts of the story of Isaac, there is a sense of déjà vu (Genesis Chapter 26). Among the scenes which seem repetitive, Abraham dug wells around the area of the Philistines. Isaac, his son, goes ahead and digs up the same wells. It is curious that after the death of Abraham, the Philistines had covered up those wells.

The Sfat Emet in 5635 (1875) takes a more metaphorical look at the story and explains that the “wells” were sources of spiritual light and truth. When the Philistines “covered” them, it created a distance and enmity between them and Isaac to the point where they banished Isaac from their midst. However, once Isaac “uncovered” these mystical “wells”, holiness and light was able to flow once again from them. The glory of God became revealed and the Philistines once again saw the truth. The king of the Philistines then goes with a delegation to Isaac and submits himself, seeking a peace accord with the son of Abraham, clearly exhibiting fear of Isaac.

May our own digging for the truth reveal light, holiness, strength and peace.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Hillel Neuer of UN Watch who incessantly calls out the truth against the lies of many in the United Nations.












Programmed Luck



 I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. -Thomas Jefferson 


The servant of Abraham, named in the Midrash as Eliezer, is tasked with the mission to travel north-east out of Canaan to return to Abraham’s family in Haran and find a bride for Isaac. However, Eliezer has a conflict of interests.

According to the Midrash, Eliezer was hoping that Isaac would marry one of his own daughters thereby uniting the venerable servant to the family of the man he so admired. But Abraham prohibits Eliezer from allowing Isaac to marry any woman from Canaan, including Eliezer’s daughters, even if he should fail to find a bride for Isaac. Nonetheless, what choice would there be if Eliezer failed in his mission? If Eliezer were to return empty-handed from his search, then perhaps it would be better for Isaac to marry one of Eliezer’s presumably well-educated daughters rather than the local idol-worshipping Canaanites?

However, we see Eliezer acting honestly and nobly and even praying for the success of his mission. The Sfat Emet in the year 5632 and 5633 (1872 and 1873) explains that Eliezer was praying that he shouldn’t be biased. He prayed that he should fulfill his mission with completely pure intentions of finding the best bride for Isaac and completing Abraham’s wishes, despite his own personal hopes and desires. By suppressing his own private aspirations and staying purely focused on his mission, he merited unprecedented fortune in accomplishing his task. He finds the bride, Rebecca, our Matriarch, immediately – what are the odds amongst an entire city of people? Against family resistance, proposed delays and according to the Midrash, an assassination plot, Eliezer returns with Rebecca the very next day – his mission a historic and miraculous success – against all odds.

The Sfat Emet states that when one has a pure heart, God nullifies the very fabric of time and nature to assist man with his mission.

May we be so pure of purpose and lucky in our results.

Shabbat Shalom,



To outgoing President of the Jewish Community of Uruguay, Alberto Buszkaniec. He has had purity of purpose and great success in his noble charge.









The Paradox of Happiness


 Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. -Joseph Addison 


Based on the biblical accounts, it is easy to imagine the patriarch Isaac as a somber man. This is a great irony, given that his name in Hebrew, Yitzchak, translates as “will laugh.” Isaac’s life is filled with trials: his father is prepared to sacrifice him; he struggles against the farmers of Gerar for possession of wells he dug; his wife and son deceive him, taking advantage of his blindness to steal a blessing; he is disappointed by the wives of one son and sends the other son into exile to search for better wives.

The Sfat Emet in his comments during the year 5643 (1883) digs deeper into the subject of laughter and happiness. He explains that there are two types of laughter and happiness. There is frivolous laughter that is the side-effect of what is at best a superficial happiness or pleasure. Then there is the laughter and happiness of the man who fears God, as Isaac did. When a man fears God exclusively and follows His commands, he fears no man or mortal agency. His laughter is pure and his happiness complete.

May we achieve improved and more meaningful levels of laughter and happiness.

Shabbat Shalom,



To my mom, Tamara and Tiferet –  the birthday girls.


Circumcision Power

 The earth seemed to move with me. I found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never knew existed. -Roger Bannister 

The first commandment given to the proto-Israelite nation, in the form of our patriarch Abraham is circumcision, the Brit Mila. I don’t believe it is coincidental, that of all the myriad of commandments in our tradition, circumcision is perhaps the most widely practiced to this very day, although it has fallen under attack in isolated venues.

The Sfat Emet on Parashat Lech Lecha, writing in 5636 (1876) explains that a person is composed of two forces. Man has a spiritual force that is present in his body in this world, but he also possesses a spiritual force in the upper metaphysical realm that is independent of his body. For a man specifically, (as opposed to a woman), the Brit Mila (literally, the Covenant of the Circumcision), is a ritual that creates a connection between these two forces, in a way binding them together, and granting the person access to an otherwise unprecedented amount of spiritual power. When a Jewish male has a Brit Mila, he has the capacity to reach completeness, to be existentially whole.

However, it seems there is really only one way to activate this incredible power, and it is an aspect that is intrinsic to the covenant between the Jewish people and God. The key to accessing that storehouse of spiritual energy is the Torah. Learning the Torah, becoming acquainted with the Torah, knowing the Torah and living the Torah allows a person to tap into that infinite power that was used for the creation of the universe. The divine guidebook for our lives has a much deeper and pervasive effect than one might imagine. And it is there for the taking.

May we grow in our spiritual capacities and power, using that ancient yet entirely relevant guide, the Torah.

Shabbat Shalom,



To The Shabbos Project.

The Root of Tranquility

 The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. -James Allen


Perhaps one of the most popular words in Uruguay is “tranquilo” which espouses a relaxed outlook on life. There is a related Hebrew word “menucha” which has a tremendous depth to it, signifying, among other things, pleasurable physical, mental, spiritual and emotional rest that also leads to rejuvenation.

The most well-known use of the word menucha is in conjunction with Shabbat, the Sabbath. Shabbat Menucha is a description of the fact that the Sabbath is designed for rest and rejuvenation.

The Sfat Emet on Parshat Noach during the year 5631 (1871) wrote that “when man is cleaved to his root, where his place of menucha is, he has no worries.” The Sfat Emet correlates ones roots with menucha, and menucha to a worry-free life. By attaching oneself to our sources, which include the familial, historical and textual, we approach a tranquility of spirit. It has to do with tradition, with a faith that imbues one with confidence and hope for the future. The tree with deep roots grows strong. We have amongst the deepest roots of any people on earth. We will know it is our root when we achieve “menucha”, a refreshing oasis of tranquility, of strength and of peace.

May we correctly identify our true roots, cleave to them, and experience menucha and peace.

Shabbat Shalom,



To World Bnei Akiva and an outstanding event for over 200 participants from all over the globe in Israel this past week.