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Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The 3 malachim resting under the tree and Avraham by his Tent.
Hurricane Sandy.
A few days ago there were warnings about an upcoming hurricane in the northeast.   How many times have there been warnings about storms and yet they weren't really such major storms at the end.  Was this going to be another one of them?  My family was in New York for the last major storm known as Irene.  We prepared for the storm and anxiously awaited for it to come.  The kids were a bit disappointed that it turned into a minor storm after all that preparation and anticipation.

When they heard about hurricane Sandy approaching, they were not so impressed.  If nothing happened last year, what is the big deal.  Why go insane and it will end up being nothing at all.  Is that necessarily true?  How do we know for a fact that it will be the same storm as Irene?

There were many warnings notifying people to  evacuate certain areas, yet many people were not sure what to do and many were convinced that nothing was going to happen to them if they stayed.

What lessons can we learn from Sandy?  We heard the constant concern throughout the world and recommendations on how to prepare for the storm.  It was pretty incredible that people were given ample warning of the approach of the storm.  

Here we can learn an interesting life lesson.  We don't always get a chance to prepare for the storm; for the unexpected.  It might hit us full force when we are not even ready.  However, sometimes, we receive a warning, a signal to improve, to prepare.  Do we listen to those warnings or do we ignore them and think they will not happen to us?

One example is a person's health.   Someone very near and dear to us was having chest pain and trouble breathing.  He thought that nothing could ever really happen to him and ignored the warning signs.  Sure enough, he woke up in middle of the night and felt tremendous pressure in his chest.  After being rushed to the hospital, he had a mild heart attack and needed stents inserted.  Did he ignore those early warning signs?  Another person close to us was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  She also ignored the early warning signs and ended up hospitalized and diagnosed with a mini stroke.  Both patients were very lucky and the warning signs were clearly visible.  They were both given another chance.  They have to now change their life style and habits, but hopefully with these life changes they will have another chance at a beautiful life.

Sometimes we can prepare for the storm, but sometimes it totally hits us by surprise.  Sometimes, we don't think about the early warning signs, or even ignore it.We have to try to ride the wave at those instances, and make the best of the situation we are in.  Life is full of different storms, sometimes expected and sometimes completely not.  Sometimes when we are in the storm, everything shuts down and seems like we cannot get out. We can sometimes prepare for the upcoming storm, yet sometimes it is just beyond our control.

In this week's parsha, Parshat Vayeira, we encounter many of the different storms Avraham Avinu had to face.   

The greatest sacrifice of all was when Hashem asked Avraham to sacrifice his long-awaited and beloved son, Yitzchak. He went ahead to fulfill the will of Hashem with  enthusiasm and complete dedication. Suddenly, amidst that storm, Hashem burst forth a message saying: “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad nor do anything to him for now I know you are a G-d –fearing man, since you have not withheld your son, your only one from Me.” (Bereishit 22/12). Avraham had passed the test and the continuation of Am Yisrael was born.  After that earth shattering moment, the pasuk continues:  “Avraham returned to his young men, and they stood up and went together to Beer Sheva” (Bereishit 22/19). 

What life lesson can we learn from the end of the parsha?  After Avraham faced the ten nisyonot, and the last being the biggest challenge of all, it seems a bit anti climactic.   This event of Akeidat Yitzchak, brought Avraham to a higher level of spirituality.  He survived his storm and now had to decide in which direction to go.  He might have given up, or perceived himself as lofty, being so close to the divine, that he would put himself on a higher caliber. How does the parsha end?  That he returned with the young men and walked with them together.  He was equal to them and treated them equally.  Avraham taught us that true greatness is about emunah, reaching for the stars and riding the storm,  while understanding and giving to those around us.     

This is what every Jew should strive for.  

We have seen tremendous care and hachnasat orchim from Jews throughout the world this past week when Sandy hit the northeast.  Many people cooked up a "storm" for there fellow beings, like Sarah Imenu in this week's parsha. 

Even when one thinks he had enough time to prepare, one never knows in which way the storm will actually go.  Everyone must try to weather the storm and wait for the calm after the storm.

Thinking of all of you on the East coast and wishing you a dry and safe Shabbat.  May we brainstorm together to have peace and tranquility in Am Yisrael.

  •  Avraham is sitting at the opening of his tent, when he notices three "men" approaching.                        
  •  The three angels inform Avraham and Sarah that Sarah will bear a child in her old age.
  •  Sarah responds to this news by laughing. 
  •  Two of the messengers make their way towards Sodom, while Hashem tells Avraham the plan to destroy the sinful city. Avraham tries to convince Hashem that there are righteous people in the city.     
  •  When not even ten righteous people are found in Sodom, Hashem proceeds with the city's destruction. 
  • Avraham's nephew Lot,  escapes the destruction with his two daughters.
  • Avraham then moves southward, and settles near Gerar. Avimelech,the  king of the Philistines, tries to take Sarah, but through Hashem's intervention, she is released unharmed.
  • Yitzchak is born to Avraham and Sarah. Avraham, who is now a hundred years old, circumcises his new son with great celebration. 
  • Sarah noticed that Yishmael, Avraham's son with Hagar, was a  negative influence on her child. She told Avraham to kick out Yishmael, and his mother Hagar
  • Hashem tells Avraham: "Whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her voice!"
  • Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the desert and soon ran out of water. Suddenly, a malach (angel) opened Hagar's eyes and showed her a well of water.
  • This is the final test for Avraham.  Hashem appears to Avraham and commands him to go and offer his son Yitzchak as a sacrifice. They travel to Mount Moriah, where Avraham binds up Yitzchak and is about to slaughter him. Hashem stopped him and  provides a ram instead.
  • Avraham then returns to his home at Beer Sheba.
 This week's Parsha teaches us about the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim and Bikur cholim.  A nice activity to do with your kids is visiting a sick person.  If you live near a hospital or nursing home, you could buy little treats and give them out there.  You could also bake a cake for someone you know who is sick and bring it over.  You can pick up the phone or send an email to someone you know who is not feeling well and let them know you are thinking of them.  These suggestions can really brighten someone's day :-).

If you are having Shabbat guests, this is a perfect week to talk about Hachnasat Orchim and making them feel good.  You might even want to serve the Parsha cake just like Sarah prepared cakes for the malachim.

Avraham broke his leg; he could not go to school,
And for the same reason, he could not attend shul.
The car he  wassitting in had skidded in the rain,
He got hurt, not that badly but was in lots of pain.
Baruch Hashem, he was buckled up in the car,
Or G-d forbid he would have been thrown pretty far,
When he was sent to the hospital and was seen by a nurse,
She said, “Bee thankful  to G-d, it could have been worse.”
The other people in the car were luckily not hurt,
Though one of the others gott some blood on his shirt.
Avraham was shaking and scared and at first unable to speak,
And the doctor told him that now he must rest for a week.
He thought staying at home might actually be fun,
But he was stuck in his bed; he could not walk, play or run.
He missed all his friends, what was there to do all day?
He wished he could feel better and go learn, run and play.
His friends allsurprised him; they each wrote a letter,
And when he read all their wishes he felt so much better.
In shul one late morning, the men could not begin,
They were nine all together, not enough for a minyan.
Since Avraham was 13 he could be counted with the men,
Because to have a minyan, you must have at least 10.
Two men were determinded to have their minyan
And knocked at the door of our hero, Avraham
They carried him all the way to the car
And brought him to shul, which wasn’t that far
We know Bikur Cholim we learn from Vayera,
What else in this rhyme talks about this Parsha?

What You Need:

Apple Cake Delight (recipe below)
People figures or cookie figures
Paper Towel roll
Green construction paper
Round red stickers

Apple Cake Delight:
3 apples, peeled and slice thinly
Sprinkle cinnamon/ sugar to cover the apples
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ cup orange or apple juice

Grease a bundt pan. Slice the apples and place them in a bowl.  Mix the cinnamon and sugar mixture, and sprinkle over the apples.
In another bowl, beat the oil and eggs.  Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in vanilla and orange juice.
Pour half of the batter into the bundt shaped pan.  Place the apples over the batter.  Pour remaining batter on to the apples.  Bake for 1 hour or more.  The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool.
Make a tree by cutting strips ¾ of the way down the green paper.  Roll it into the papertowel roll and fan out.  Place stickers on the paper.
Place the tree inside the bundt cake and lean the people figures against the tree.
Place a figure on the side to represent Avraham.  You can take a round paper plate and cut a triangle and form it into a tent.  Cut 4 doors around.

Answer to Parsha Puzzle: Hashem wanted to destroy Sedom and Avraham pleads with him not to destroy the city if ?are were at least 50 righteous people there. He goes down in numbers until he reaches 10. Avraham did not ask for less than ten men, because less than that is not a community; the minimum number for a minyan (quorum) of men. 

Wishing you a wonderful and restful Shabbat!  All the best!                                                  Ruchie

Thursday, October 18, 2012



Shifra was excited; she was skipping and hopping,
Her mother promised her that she could go shopping.
She looked at the “green” and “yellow” dresses all over her floor,
She thought about the clothing, she’d find in the store,
She thought that “purple” boots would make a great “pair”,
Or the “orange” and “red” ribbons she would buy for her hair.
Her mother told her she could buy one thing, maybe two,
She was not happy with that answer and she felt a little “blue”.
She thought she would go to “seven” different stores,
Her favorite one was the one with “three floors”.
As they left the house, it started “pouring” nonstop,
Her mom wanted to wait a bit before they went to shop.
So they went to her “indigo” room and you know what they found,
There were lots of different clothing lying around.
Her mother suggested that she look through her piles,
And choose which she wanted from all the different styles.
And the rest of the clothes she should give away,
To the local gemach, which she passes each day.
Shifra looked in her room and just got quite dizzy,
The “mess” on the floor would keep her quite busy.
What does this have to do with the parsha: here’s my clue
I’ve put the parsha-related words in quotes for you.


In this week’s Parsha,  Hashem  tells Noach and his family to go into the teiva and to take with him seven pairs of each kind of kosher animal.  In this game you will find your pair. Before Shabbat write down on pieces of paper, names of different pairs. Each paper should have his own name.  For example: Esther and Mordechai, Adam and Chava, Moshe and Aharon, etc…  Give each person a headband to put on their forehead.  Then go around the Shabbat table and put a name in each band.  No one will be able to see who he received, but will be able to see everyone elses.  Every person will ask questions about his person.  He has to try to guess who he is.  At the same time he has to find his pair.  So for example, if someone is Adam, he will ask, am I a boy, am I in the Torah, etc…  See who can find his pair the fastest.


What better cake to make for Parshat Noach then a “Mabul” (marble) cake.  You will be flooded with compliments…

What You Need:
Marble cake recipe (see below)
Plastic toy animals or animal cookies
Graham crackers

Marble Cake:     
  • 9 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 pkts. Vanilla sugar
  • 1 gl. Oil
  • 3 ½ gl. Flour
  • 1 ½ gl. Orange juice
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 bars of chocolate, melted

Beat egg whites. Add sugars. Add yolks and oil. Add juice, alternating with flour and baking powder. Pour 2/3 of mixture into a loaf pan and a 7x11 inch pan, pour on melted chocolate, and pour on remaining batter. Swirl chocolate in batter with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
When cool, put the loaf cake on top of the bigger cake.  Add the graham crackers as the roof.  You can add another graham cracker as the ramp going up to the teiva.  Place pairs of animals going into the teiva.  Use your imagination!

                Enjoy!  Have a great Shabbat!
 Answer to Parsha Puzzle: The colors of the rainbow, pair for the animals that went into the teiva, pouring rain for the flood, seven kosher animals, 3 floors of the teiva, a big mess, just like the world was when the mabul came down.