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This week we have featured a class by Mrs. Shira Smiles from the Naaleh series Living the Parsha 5773. The class is entitled Existential Equality and Equanimity- Parshat Vaeira.  In this class on Parshat Vaeira, Mrs. Smiles discusses the equality and humility of Moshe and Aharon

To view this class now and learn more please click on the image below:
living the parsha 
This week's edition of our Torat Imecha Newsletter on Parshat Vaeira is available on our Newsletter page Click here for the printer friendly version, to share at your Shabbat table! Be sure to visit the homepage as well, for many more inspiring Torah classes! 
Shabbat Shalom!

-Ashley Klapper and the Naaleh Crew
Parshat Vaeira: Frog Fundamentals
Based on shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles 
The ten makot (plagues) represent the ten sefirot, which signify Hashem's interaction with the world. The makot were meant to show both the Egyptians and the Jews the greatness of Hashem's hand and the intricacy of His Divine Providence.  

In order to turn leather into parchment it must go through an arduous tanning process. Similarly, the makot punished the Egyptians while refining the Jews. They revealed the mighty hand of Hashem. Likewise, the tests Hashem gives us are tailor made for us. The challenges and difficulties we face force us to tap into our dormant potential, which in turn helps us become all we can be.

The word maamar is often used when a person talks to someone or to himself. When Hashem created the world, He was hidden. There was no one to listen when he uttered the ten maamarot (sayings). In contrast, the aseret hadibrot were given with great revelation. Dibur is about relationships. With the ten commandments, Hashem bound himself to the Jewish people. The makot served as the transitional point between the ten maamarot (sayings) with which Hashem created the world and the ten commandments of the Torah. It took Hashem from the world of concealment to the world of revelation. 
Honorable Mentchen II:
Appropriate Criticism #1 
Based on shiur by Rabbi Hanoch Teller

In his Shabbat Shuva drasha, Rav Chaim Brisker would say, "Chaim is speaking to Chaim, but if you wish you can eavesdrop." A very productive way to give criticism is to accept part of the blame and admit that you too have the same problem. This makes the perpetrator far less ashamed of doing wrong, and moves him towards rectifying his flaws.

Confine your criticism to a specific act. General criticism demoralizes people. It's important not to make unrealistic demands. Suggest small steps and ways to improve.  A good way to offer criticism to a miser would be, "Maybe this year you can give one percent more." Increase the amounts little by little and soon the miser will turn into a generous donor. It is forbidden to shame someone in public. However if by remaining silent you will condone unethical behavior, you may speak out. In fact the gemara in Avodah Zarah says that if you don't rebuke a sinner, you bear responsibility for the sin as well. If someone is speaking lashon hara and circumstances make it difficult to stop him, try to change the subject. If that fails, get up and leave.

The quintessential example of proper criticism is the story of King David and Natan Hanavi.  The prophet approached the king after he had sent Bathsheva's husband to his death. He came in the guise of one soliciting advice. There were two men, one wealthy and one poor, who lived in the same city. The rich man had many sheep while the poor man had one small lamb. One day, a guest came to call at the rich man's house. The wealthy host took the poor man's lone lamb and prepared a meal for his guest. The prophet then asked the king, "What should be done to this wealthy man?" King David immediately answered that he deserved death. Natan Hanavi then told David that he was the man.  By depersonalizing the rebuke, the prophet was able to make King David view the act in its moral simplicity and indeed he had no choice but to admit and repent.

Think about all the times you were criticized and didn't change. Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv of Kelm would say, "Don't become angry if you can't make people be the way you wish them to be, because you too can't make yourself the way you wish to be." Confront the person himself.  It's very tempting to share our resentment of someone with others. However, the obligation is to rebuke the person himself, not destroy his good name. Give him an opportunity to defend himself. Before criticizing someone, ask yourself the following questions: Am I being fair or am I exaggerating?  How can I express myself without inflicting too much pain? How would I feel if someone criticized me this way? Am I enjoying criticizing this person? Is my criticism confined to a specific act or trait? Are my words non-threatening and in part reassuring?

In Parshat Kedoshim, the verse says, "You shall rebuke your fellow man and do not bear sin because of him." Rashi explains that rebuking should be done with sensitivity. Do not publicly embarrass the offender. It is both ineffective and immoral, and only puts the sinner on the offensive. In addition, you will have lost the opportunity to bring about change. The Sefer Hachinuch notes that criticism should be delivered privately, with tact and refinement. 

Mastering the art of constructive criticism takes thought and insight.  Let's invest the effort to do it right.
Builder of Her Home: The Three Mitzvot #10
Based on shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller   

Chazal say about Sarah imeinu that while she lived a cloud hovered constantly over her tent, her candles would stay lit, and her dough would stay fresh from the eve of Shabbos to the following Shabbat. When Rivka was married to Yitzchak, her desire to imitate Sarah caused the blessings to return. Siyata d'shmaya comes on the basis of will. Hashem wants a person to be all he can be. Just having the ratzon will start you on your way.

The challah remained fresh in the merit of the mitzvah of hafrashat challah. The candles stayed lit in the merit of hadlakat neirot. The cloud rested above in the merit of taharat hamishpacha. Through these three special mitzvot, a woman draws down the power of light, blessing, and holiness into her home.

When Chana prayed to Hashem, she used the word maidservant three times. A woman's femininity and loyalty to Hashem is expressed through fulfilling these three mitzvot. Challah is about sanctifying and uplifting the home. Candle lighting is the ignition of souls and the creation of shalom bayit (marital harmony) and a common identity. Taharat hamishpacha is about separation, purity, and holiness. These mitzvot serve as a conduit to bringing wholeness and eternity into the home.

Why were these mitzvot specifically given to the woman? Chava spilled the blood of Adam and brought death to the world. Therefore, she was given the mitzvah of niddah. Adam was called chalato shel olam, the perfect combination of body and soul as represented by the mixture of flour and water. When Chava caused him to sin she reintroduced separation into the world. Therefore, she was given the mitzvah of challah. She extinguished the light of Adam so she was given the mitzvah of lighting candles.

A woman can bring her home and family back to the state of Gan Eden by connecting to Hashem via these three mitzvot. She can create transcendence. She can build where she once destroyed. She can fill her home with emunah, transcendence, light, and purity as Sarah did long ago.
Featured Classes
Zechus Of Zoar:
Parshat Vaeira

Mrs. Shira Smiles 
Monumental Men
Rabbi HanochTeller
Dayan Shlomo Cohen
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