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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Shemot

Parshat Shemot

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Shemot
23rd of Tevet, 5777 | January 21, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro
Worth Thousands

ותחיין את הילדים

And they caused the boys to live (Shemot 1:17)

Whenever I have related this story in the presence of gedolim (prominent Torah leaders), they have always told me that I leave out the most important point. So I will tell you in advance. This story took place not one hundred years ago, not fifty years ago, nor even twenty-five years ago. But seven years ago.

For one school which was folding under due to lack of tuition, maintaining the school was not the easiest. However, they did their utmost to ensure that the children’s education did not suffer in consequence.

For one parent, though, times were quite trying. Being a young widow with a child in third grade, understandably so, she struggled to pay tuition. As for the school itself, due to its own difficult financial situation, the administration decided on a basis of various factors that when a parent was behind in paying tuition, the child would tentatively be sent home for a number of days or weeks. During this time, matters would be sorted out and a payment plan would be agreed upon between the parents and the school. While the school only looked after the best interests of each child, it was felt that doing so was necessary. Otherwise, they reasoned, the school was at risk of closing down.

And so, here was this young widow who found herself faced with such circumstances. Considerably behind in tuition, the boy was one day sent home with a note stuffed in his lunch bag and addressed to the mother:

“Your son has been sent home on account of late tuition payment. We are more than willing to arrange a payment plan with you, though for the next few weeks, we ask that he remain out of school. If we make an exception, we are afraid that our entire tuition system will fold. Please understand.”

As the young widow read the note, she told her son to wait one moment. Walking into her bedroom, she took care of something, and within a few minutes returned. “Here you go,” she said handing him his lunch bag. “You can now go back to class.”

Listening to his mother’s words, the young boy headed back to school. Entering the classroom, he walked straight over to his desk, set his lunch bag on top and took a seat. Watching the boy make his way from the door to his seat was none other than the Rebbe. Exasperated, the Rebbe could not understand. First, he needed to stop the class for the principal who informed him that the boy had to go home. Now, the boy interrupted again by returning to class. It would only be moments until the principal reentered and asked the boy to once again go home. Knowing that he could not continue teaching as it was, the Rebbe gently made his way over to the boy to kindly ask him to leave until further notice.

But things didn’t go as smoothly as the Rebbe envisioned. On his way over to the boy, he accidently knocked the lunch bag off the desk and onto the floor. With the bag hitting the ground, its contents spilled out and lied in display for all to see. And there the Rebbe saw – a diamond bracelet, a plain gold wedding band and a note. Picking up the note, the Rebbe saw that one simple line had been written by the mother:

“Tov li Toras picha mei’alfei zahav va’kesef – Better to me is the Torah of your mouth than thousands in gold and silver” (Tehillim 119:72).

To this mother, her child’s Torah education mattered more than all the money in the world. If she was behind in tuition, that didn’t mean her son would miss out on one day of learning Hashem’s beautiful Torah. And if relinquishing her jewelry for her son’s learning was what was needed, she was ready to do so. We can only imagine how sparkling bright those words of Torah her son studied that day and from then on were. More beautiful than the most dazzling jewel. Indeed, “Better to me is the Torah of your mouth than thousands in gold and silver.”

Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein
Handling the Situation

ויאמר כי אהיה עמך

And Hashem said, “I shall be with you…” (Shemot 3:12)

Let me share with you an article from the Jerusalem Post entitled, “Flight from New York to Israel makes emergency stop in Athens,” August 15, 2013.

“An incoming El Al flight to Tel Aviv from New York landed in Athens on Thursday morning after a smoke detector alarm sounded, the company said. The flight, El Al 004 from John F. Kennedy Airport, contained 324 passengers and crew members on the Boeing-747 aircraft. After debarking the plane, passengers were sent to hotels within the city, while a team of El Al technicians left from Tel Aviv to Athens in order to evaluate the plane.

“El Al considers flight safety of paramount importance and is handling the subject with precision regarding every detail,” a statement from the company said.

That is one side of the story. Now, let me tell you the other.
My brother-in-law, Meir, was on that flight to Israel. Yet, while most of the flight passengers viewed this stopover as both a disturbance and unpleasant delay, my brother-in-law couldn’t have been happier and more appreciative. Twenty minutes after the plane landed in Athens, Meir suffered a massive heart attack. Immediately, he was rushed to the hospital and attended to by nurses and doctors. Baruch Hashem, he survived and made it through healthily.

Athens is nearly a two-hour flight to Israel. Meir and my family shuddered to think what would have happened if the plane did not land in Athens and allow him to be treated in a hospital. Had that not been the case, who knows what the results would have been.

Now, reread that quote from the El Al representative one more time.

“El Al considers flight safety of paramount importance and is handling the subject with precision regarding every detail.”

The El Al representative was right that the situation was being handled with precision. But it was not the technicians’ professionalism, but Hashem’s. When reading about this story in the newspaper, one half of the story appears, but the other half is obscured. And that is often the case with many situations in life. Most of the time, we are not privy to knowing the other half of the story. But we would be wise to believe that indeed there is one.

We can never know for certain, but who knows if 323 people were inconvenienced for one person. Meir, living as someone who devotes his life to helping others, was perhaps the reason for this plane touching down in Athens. Yes indeed, there was Someone Above who was “handling the subject with precision.”

Rebbetzin Tzipora Harris
Disconnected and Connected

והאמינו לקל האת האחרון

They will believe the voice of the latter sign (Shemot 4:8)

It seemed to be just another, normal workday for Leah Henkin. And in fact, it was. At least she thought so. Not until she arrived at work and turned her cellphone on did things change and the problems begin. Needing to connect her phone to the internet for work, she tried once, and then she tried a second time, and a third time. Nothing.

While one would have advised her to simply use a computer and do whatever she needed to do, there was one issue. Her phone had important information that she needed and could only be accessed from the phone itself. Understandably so, she was quite frustrated. Calling her service provider, she asked if they could help her. But that didn’t go too far. It still wasn’t working. And so, she was left with the last resort of actually driving to the store and having her phone fixed. But they too couldn’t help her at the moment. All that could now be seen on the phone was the image telling her that she was disconnected.

In a moment of desperation, she sat there wondering what else there was to do. Was there anything else possible? She began to imagine the word disconnected, and with that, her mind began to race. “Disconnected…” she thought. What else am I disconnected from?

Leah had always been a religious woman and such an incident only got her thinking one thing: I must be disconnected from G-d. I haven’t prayed this morning; maybe I should do so now and ask Hashem to help me. And so, without further delay, she did so. Davening slowly and with focus, she connected to Hashem for a few minutes in silent prayer.

And then she turned her phone back on. Connected.

For Leah, a moment of disconnection is what brought her to connection. We all experience moments like these in our life. Sometimes, it is a serious issue which we must overcome, and other times, it is a small, commonplace inconvenience. Why isn’t my phone working? And that is a good question; but there is good answer. It may not always seem apparent, but all that occurs to us is a message from our Provider Above. Yet all that we must do is reach out and plug ourselves in. And then oftentimes, quite quickly, we will come to realize that the connection we were looking for all along was right within our reach.

Rabbi Gil Freiman
Three Hundred Dollars

והיה כי תלכון לא תלכו ריקם

When you go, you will not go empty-handed (Shemot 3:21)

Some time ago, I met a woman who founded a wonderful chesed organization which takes care of orphaned kallahs. With numerous women networking together, these kallahs are provided all the houseware items needed to set up their home and start married life out on the right foot. One woman will donate pots, another various kitchen accessories, and so on.

In addition to setting up kallahs in terms of their home, the organization assists as well in another very important way. Each orphan is assigned a certain woman who, acting as a mother would to her daughter, accompanies her from store to store and helps her purchase whatever she needs. With the same excitement, love and attention a mother would express at this time, so do these woman. Their warmth and care goes beyond empathy. It provides these girls with the emotional and social support they need at this very important juncture and ensures that they happily walk down to the chuppah feeling supported and cared for and with all the wedding preparations covered.

On one occasion, a certain lady named Leah was taking a kallah to purchase some linen for her home. Having a prearranged deal with a certain store, as matters normally worked out, Leah would typically walk out of the store along with the kallah with new linen for free. And for this visit, she expected it to be no different. However, she was soon to learn otherwise.

Pulling up to the curbside in front of the store, she phoned the storeowner and mentioned the “key phrase” that she had a kallah with her who needed to buy linen. While normal protocol had it that the store would grant free linen to the kallah, this time, the answer was a bit different. “Leah,” said the owner, “I am really sorry. While I usually give out to kallahs so freely and faithfully, lately, business has been difficult, and I cannot do so. I can, though, give you a discount at half price. Instead of the routine $600, I will only ask for $300.”

Listening to the given circumstances, Leah thanked the owner and hung up the phone. With the kallah sitting next to her in the passenger seat and oblivious to what just transpired over the phone, Leah remained unsure what to do. And so, she turned to Hashem. “Hashem, this is your daughter. I don’t have $300 to lay out for this kallah, but she doesn’t have a mother and she needs this linen. Please, help your daughter and grant her the money for what she needs.”

As soon as Leah finished whispering this silent prayer, she heard a honk. It had come from the car just next to her. Glancing over to the side, Leah noticed a man roll down his window, stick out his head from his white Rolls Royce and yell out, “Ma’am, I am in a big rush and I need a parking spot right now. I’ll give you $300 cash if you let me have your spot.”

And now you know the rest of the story.

That is what happens when you care for a fellow Jew like your own child. Everything can turn around with the blink of an eye. Or, as in this case, with the honk of a horn.

A Short Message From
Mrs. Shandee Fuchs

Imagine, says the Chofetz Chaim, that you are traveling from one place to another. What happens if the sign which directs you to your destination falls down? How will you be able to navigate your route? All you must do is turn around and look at the sign which indicates your starting point. By knowing where you came from you will realize that the opposite way is towards your destination.

Along these lines, in one study conducted in South Africa, a group of children were asked if they knew the life story of their grandparents and great-grandparents. After following these children throughout school for some time, it was interestingly seen that those who knew more about their personal family history met greater success than those who had no idea about their family background. The same is true of our direction in life. If we wish to know where we are going, we must first and foremost know our point of origin.

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