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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Ki Tavo

Parshat Ki Tavo

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Ki Tavo
21st of Elul, 5776 | September 24, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis a”h
Paving the Way

הורני ד' דרכך

Show me Your way, Hashem (Tehillim 27:11, L’Dovid Hashem Ori)

It was around wartime that my parents made the momentous decision to visit my grandparents at their home a distance away from where my family lived in Hungary. Traveling amid danger and terror, we were fortunate enough to make it there alive. Especially considering my father’s long black beard and rabbinic hat, he could hardly be mistaken for a gentile. But with G-d’s help, we eventually arrived safely.

At the time, it was winter and the beautiful white snow was falling. Yet although it was cold and bitter, there was something which kept me particularly warm while staying in my grandparents’ home for one week. And that was my zaidy’s lap. Comfortably sitting on his knees every morning when he would return home from shul and sit down to study the Talmud, I could wish to be no other place than where I was. Securely cuddled in the embrace of my zaidy, his swaying back and forth and melodious humming put me at ease. My bubby too provided me with hot tea and cubes of sugar, which my zaidy would dip into the hot liquid and give me.

It was on the last day of our visit that I sat down on my zaidy’s knees and noticed something peculiar. He was trembling. Looking upwards, I noticed that he was weeping. I was unsure what had occurred, and so I quickly jumped off my grandfather’s knees and ran to my father. “Tatty,” I said, “why is zaidy crying? What happened?” Taking me by the hand, my father said, “My dear child, let us go on a walk together. Let me explain why zaidy is crying.”

Leading me outside, we were met by the falling flakes of snow and heaps of frost all around. After taking a few steps, my father said, “Come my child, follow in my footsteps.” We proceeded to walk for a few minutes and then came to a stop. Looking at me again, my father quietly said, “Do you understand why I wanted you to follow in my footsteps?” “I think so, tatty. It is because the snow is so deep that you didn’t want me to fall. You walked in front of me and created a path so I would be able to easily walk behind you.”

“Yes, my child,” said my father. “That is why zaidy is crying. It is because he realized as you sat on his knees that he is not learning Torah just for himself, but he is learning Torah to make a path for you and all future generations. He is paving the way for all Jewish children for years to come. The snow will be very deep and you are going to fall many times, but every time you fall, zaidy will have made a path for you to stand up and keep on walking.”

In all honesty, I did not fully comprehend the profundity of my father’s comment at the time. I was just a young girl and did not know what he meant. But very soon I discovered that the snow was much deeper than I could have ever imagined. And indeed, I fell many times. But every time I fell, I remembered my father’s voice, “Zaidy made a path for you to stand up and keep on walking.”

Each and every Jew, no matter who he is or where he is, has had the loving and caring life of his bubby and zaidy create a path for them. The fact that we sit here today as Jews with an eternal legacy and beautiful heritage is due to their paths. And forever must we remember their vision for us and make them proud. And then no sooner than later, it will come our turn to look at our children and grandchildren and say, “My dear children, I have made a path for you. You will fall many times in life, but every time you will be able to get up and say, “Zaidy made a path for us to stand up and keep on walking.”

That is our eternal legacy as beloved grandparents, parents and children. We are to receive direction from previous generations and pass it on to the next, clearing the way for the future with love of our family, love of the Jewish people and love of Hashem.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah and look to create new paths for the upcoming year, we must remember that even if we fall, we always have a way of getting back up on our feet. And that is because we are never alone on the trail. With the warm embrace and guidance of our grandparents, parents and ultimately Hashem, we have footsteps to follow in. We can remain rest assured that no matter how many times we fall, we will always be able to find our way back on track.

Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi
Hashem’s Precious Daughters

On the special occasion I had of visiting HaRav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l, I asked him, “What is the most important idea for me to tell Jewish women and girls? Should I teach them about the mitzvah of hafrashat challah (separating challah), tzniut, saying Tehillim?” He told me, “Bnot Yisrael are tzadikot (righteous). Just tell them one thing: the prayers of a bat yisrael have a tremendous impact in heaven.”

He then said to me, “Do you know what ‘bat yisrael’ means? ‘Bat’ in Hebrew refers to the black of the eye. A Jewish woman is the apple of Hashem’s eye. He dearly loves His daughters. Whenever you finish speaking, tell your students that when many women daven together, five hundred skies open above their heads and their tefillot ascend directly to Hashem’s heavenly throne.”

I continue to follow his advice to this very day. Wherever I go, I have the women in the audience reflect for a moment in silent tefillah after I finish speaking. And the results are astonishing.

Let me tell you about one occasion where I personally witnessed the powerful effect of these few moments of prayer.

When it was time for my son to go to yeshiva, the Rosh Yeshiva of the yeshiva I had sent my older sons called me and said, “Rabbanit Mizrachi, I know that your other sons attend our yeshiva and all your son’s friends will also be doing so during this upcoming year. However, this son of yours is not as advanced as they are. I don’t think we can accept him at the moment. I am sorry, but I think he will need to find somewhere else.”

Knowing that my son was a sensitive boy, I knew that telling him this would break his heart. Although he may not have been the brightest boy intellectually, his middot and fear of heaven were tremendous. I knew he had the potential of achieving great success there if he would only be given the opportunity.

With the first day of Elul rapidly approaching, my son had still not found a yeshiva. But that did not stop me from ensuring that he would be taken care of. While his friends purchased the books they planned on learning that year, so did I. I was hoping that something would happen and he would be admitted into the yeshiva.

On the night before Rosh Chodesh Elul, the day when the yeshiva was supposed to begin, I gave a talk to a group of women in Bat Yam. Telling them about the potency of their tefillot, for a couple of minutes after my speech, we each recited our own personal prayer. I cried to Hashem that He not disappoint my son’s hopes and that he be allowed into the yeshiva.

The next morning at 7:30, I received a phone call. It was the Rosh Yeshiva. “Rabbanit,” he said, “I hear that your son does not have a yeshiva to attend yet. Tell him that he is welcome to come here meanwhile.”

Happily sending him off to yeshiva, he has stayed there for more than a “meanwhile.” He has never left since that morning. I did not ask why this happened because I knew why. When many Jewish women daven to their Father in Heaven, He listens to them. They are His most beloved and cherished daughters.

The impact Jewish women have not only on their homes, but on the entire Jewish nation can never be underestimated. From their caring sensitivity to their potent words of prayer, they ensure Klal Yisrael’s spiritual and physical well-being. And especially when it comes to the tefillot and tears of a mother for her child’s spiritual growth and success, they are something which directly reach Hashem. The keys to unlocking the gates of heaven are in their hands.

Rabbi Shlomo Farhi
On My Way

ולא נתן ד' לכם לב לדעת ועינים לראות... עד היום הזה

But Hashem did not give you a heart to know and eyes to see...until this day (Devarim 29:3)

As the accomplished life of Rav Yaakov Gold z”l came to a close and his son entered the mourning period of shiva, numerous relatives and friends paid a condolence call to comfort the family and offer words of support.

A few days later, in walked a man looking for Yaakov Gold’s son. “I must tell you,” he said, “that your father was someone very special. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I just wanted to personally tell you this.” Moved by the kind words of someone he had never met before, the son listened quietly as the man went on to detail exactly what he meant.

“It was a number of years ago that my mother decided she would make the trip to shul on the day of my father’s yaartzeit. It was only after sitting through the entire davening that she began to head back home. Arriving at the bus stop in Queens, New York, it was by then pouring rain. With no other option available, my mother took a seat amid the freezing cold. She continued to wait for the next bus, but she was not getting too far even after a long wait.

“But then a man pulled up. It was your father. ‘Where are you going?’ he said. ‘The Lower East Side,’ my mother replied. ‘Really? I am also going that way. Can I offer you a ride? It is awfully cold.’ Happily taking up the offer, my mother left the biting cold and entered inside the warm car.

“When your father eventually reached the Lower East Side, he said to my mother, 'You know, I also have a yaartzeit today and I also live here in this neighborhood. If you would like, next year on this day I can bring you back and forth from the shul.' Having just uncomfortably experienced what it meant to wait in frigid temperatures, my mother was elated to hear that she would not need to undergo the same process next year. And so, she graciously accepted the offer.

“Indeed, that was what happened. Every year, on the day of my father’s yaartzeit, your father helped my mother travel back and forth. Your father continued to do so for a number of years, until my mother passed away. I cannot tell you how much she appreciated it.”

By now, Yaakov Gold’s son was in tears. “You don’t know how much you just comforted me,” he said. Unsure what had moved the son so much, the man stood there curious. And then the son spoke up with a big smile.

“Let me tell you something. My father never lived on the Lower East Side, and the day my father had yaartzeit was not on that day. But now I understand. When he saw your mother sitting on the side of the road, he came up with an idea. I am sure that my father figured that if he would tell your mother than he lives in Boro Park and taking her to the Lower East Side was out of his way, she never would have considered troubling him. So suddenly, my father had a yaartzeit on that day and suddenly our house moved to a different location. But that was who my father was. When he saw someone else’s need, it became his need.”

Here was someone who looked outside of his own personal comforts and took responsibility for a fellow Jew. That is how we ought to view our relationship with all of our brothers and sisters. We are one large family for whom we go out of our way to help. But, in truth, it is not “out of our way;” it is on our way. Going out of our way is exactly what leads us to our true destination of diffusing divisiveness and disharmony and infusing love and care. It is precisely this attitude which will dispel the cold darkness and cast a warm, shining light into all of our lives.

A Short Message From
Rebbetzin Ruthie Halberstadt

Anyone who has ever observed and absorbed the radiating light of a candle will notice a most interesting dynamic. Candles are one of the very few commodities in the finite world that obey the laws of a spiritual world. The candle flame always points up, disobeying the laws of gravity. Even if you hold the candle sideways, the flame still points upwards. And if you hold it directly upside down, it goes out. Under all circumstances, it refuses to face down. This reality is reflected within the Pasuk, “Ner Hashem nishmat adam – A candle of Hashem is the soul of man” (Mishlei 20:27). Most aptly fitting man’s spiritual mission and search for meaning in life, just like the candle constantly strives to reach upwards, so are we to do.

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