Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Terumah

Parshat Terumah

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Terumah 6th of Adar, 5777 | March 4, 2017 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro Like


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Terumah
6th of Adar, 5777 | March 4, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro
Like Father, Like Daughter

מאת כל איש אשר ידבנו לבו

From every man whose heart motivates him… (Shemot 25:2)

It was just a few hours after Shabbos ended that sixteen-year-old Nechama said aloud, “Baruch Hashem, tonight I can resume sleeping with a pillow.” Just barely making out what Nechama muttered, her parents paused their own conversation. “Nechama, did you say something?” “Oh, don’t worry,” replied Nechama, “it’s nothing.” Having caught fragments of what was said, her parents asked her to repeat herself. “Okay,” Nechama said, “I’ll tell you.”

“A year ago, my class was told that our Rebbe had unfortunately turned ill. I really admired and respected him, and when I heard that he needed to undergo treatment, I wondered if I could do something special to identify with his discomfort and perhaps serve as a merit for his recovery. I decided to remove my pillow from under my head whenever I would go to sleep until his health was restored.

“It was just today, a year after he started his treatment, that I heard great news. He has fully recovered and is ready to return to a normal schedule. This is what I meant when I said, ‘Baruch Hashem, tonight I can resume sleeping with a pillow.’”

Such was the care and concern of a sixteen-year-old girl. Someone else’s discomfort was her own discomfort. She looked at another Jew’s situation and felt as if it were her own.

That is one story. Now let me share with you another.

Allen is one of my beloved congregants in North Miami Beach. A sweet and considerate man, I was happy to run into him and a number of other gentlemen at a wedding. They were all partaking of the ice cream dessert being served, except for Allen. I knew Allen to be an ice cream lover, and his abstinence led me to wonder if maybe something had occurred. Turning to him later, I said, “Allen, don’t you love ice cream? You didn’t want to have any at the wedding?” Looking back at me, Allen replied, “Rabbi Shapiro, allow me to explain.

“You probably remember how last year, when the situation in Israel wasn’t the best, you mentioned that every one of us should consider what we can take on to feel the pain of our fellow brothers and sisters. ‘Don’t be apathetic,’ you said; ‘be empathetic.’ After hearing you speak, I thought about what I could do. I then decided that I would refrain from eating ice cream until the conditions in Israel improved.

“That is why I didn’t have any ice cream at the wedding. I have stopped eating ice cream now for a while, and I wasn’t going to start then.”

Now what relevance do these two stories have with each other? Allen never knew about Nechama’s practice nor did she know about his.

Because the girl who chose not to sleep with a pillow for a year is the daughter of the man who refrained from eating ice cream. Nechama is the daughter of Allen. Nechama never knew about her father’s abstinence, yet her education within her home was such that when she heard about another’s pain, it became her own. And where did she learn to feel that way? Her father.

The messages we send our children, even those which are nonverbal and seem so ever subtle and subliminal, have the greatest of impacts. Sometimes, we need not even say anything to them, yet they pick up on our cues and follow in our ways.

That is what it means to educate a child.

Rabbi Chaim Rosenfeld
Seizing Miraculous Moments

ופניהם איש אל אחיו

With their faces towards one another (Shemot 25:20)

After David and Shimon had gotten together one morning, they both headed back to their cars and began driving behind each other down the New York State Route 42. Not too long after entering the state highway, David noticed a middle-aged man standing off to the side of the road. He seemed to be collecting tzedakah for a certain cause and in need of a ride somewhere. But before David knew it, he was already too far past the man that he decided to continue on driving. Looking back in his rear-view mirror, David hoped that Shimon would notice the man and offer him a lift. Sure enough, Shimon stopped off by the side of the road as the man, who introduced himself as Zev, climbed into the car.

Shimon, now sitting together with his guest passenger, was pleased to be of help. He figured that he would drive Zev for a couple of miles to his destination and continue on from there. But, just a few minutes into the drive, Zev began to have shortness of breath. “I don’t feel too good; I’m having chest pains.” Worried about Zev’s health, Shimon immediately pulled over and phoned Hatzalah.

Shimon relayed the current situation and location, and within minutes, Hatzalah arrived and rushed over to check on Zev. Providing him with oxygen in the meantime, they proceeded to load him into the ambulance and rush him to the hospital. And sure enough, after a quick examination, the doctors determined that he had suffered a heart attack. “If you would have waited a little bit longer,” the doctor told Shimon, “he might not have made it. You saved his life.”

When Shimon heard this news, he couldn’t believe it. In no way was he expecting to save someone’s life that day as he drove down the highway.

A few hours later, Shimon asked the nurse if it would be okay to visit Zev who was now stabilized and resting in bed. Being granted permission, Shimon gently knocked on the door and entered.

“How are you feeling?” Shimon asked. “Baruch Hashem, much better,” said Zev. “My only concern is that I will be unable to continue traveling around and raising funds. Maybe the reason I had this heart attack is because I am under a lot of stress. I have a big family and just recently my daughter got engaged. The problem is that I was let go of my job and I have no means to support my family, let alone pay for the wedding. My goal was to raise $20,000, but it doesn’t seem like that will happen any longer.”

As Shimon listened to Zev’s stressful predicament, he wondered if there was something he could do. “Just give me a few minutes,” he told Zev. “Let me see what I can come up with.”
Shimon proceeded to walk to the room next door and take out his cellphone. And then he got to work. Calling a number of his business contacts, he told each of them the same thing. “I just met a man from Israel who lost his job, needs to support his large family, pay for his upcoming daughter’s wedding and just now suffered a heart attack. Would you be able to give him a hand?” Within an hour, Shimon had raised $20,000.

Heading back over to Zev’s room, Shimon reassured him. “Zev, you have nothing to worry about. Thank G-d, your heart is fine and you are on your way to recovering. And neither should you worry about raising $20,000. I took care of it all; you are set. I just made a few phone calls, and you can expect the $20,000 by tomorrow.”

Zev could not believe his ears. “I never thought I would meet Eliyahu HaNavi, but I guess I just have.” Guaranteeing Zev that everything was taken care of and it was his absolute pleasure to perform an act of chesed,Shimon asked Zev to please stay in touch with him. And with that, Shimon headed off home.

Later that night, Shimon decided he would make one more call. It had been a long and busy day, but he knew that he needed to speak with someone. And that someone was David. “David,” said Shimon over the phone, “you won’t believe what happened today! Do you remember the man you passed by this morning on the highway?” “Yeah,” replied David. “Well, I picked him up.” “I know that,” interrupted David, “I saw you pick him up.” “No, you don’t understand,” said Shimon. “Just a few minutes into the ride, he had a heart attack and needed to be rushed to the hospital. Thank G-d, he got there in time and survived. The doctor told me that he almost didn’t make it.” “That’s amazing!” said Shimon. “You’re like Eliyahu HaNavi.”

“But that’s not all,” continued Shimon. “The man then told me that he had come to America to collect money because he had just been let go of his job and he needed to support his family and pay for his upcoming daughter’s wedding. When I heard this, I immediately called some of my business associates and asked if they could help him. Within an hour, I raised the $20,000 he needed.” When David heard this, he was even more taken aback. “You really helped this man out. What a tremendous zechus (merit) you have!”

As David hung up the phone and thought about what he had just heard, it suddenly hit him. His mind began to picture how after a hundred and twenty years he would come before Hashem. “So David, did you ever save someone’s life?” “No.” “Did you ever help someone make a wedding?” “No.” And then Hashem would inform him of what could have been. “You had the opportunity to both save someone’s life and help them pay for their child’s wedding. Do you remember that day when you passed by that man on the side of the road? Had you picked him up, you could have changed the life of a fellow Jew, his family and generations to come.”

David could just imagine that now Zev would continue on living a healthy life and accomplishing extraordinary things. And for his family, as well, they would be able to live comfortably. And his daughter, too, she would go on to build a wonderful family and raise Jewish children with beautiful Torah ideals. David could have taken the first step to helping a family, which would have in turn likely lead to helping a community, and perhaps at some point, the world. What an opportunity he had skipped over and Shimon had seized.

In life, oftentimes the difference between changing nothing and changing the world is a moment. It all comes down to that one opportunity which seems so small, yet in truth, is so great. All we must do is make sure we do not skip over those miraculous moments. Because quite literally, they can make all the difference in the world.

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
One Word, Unlimited Effect

Dovid Hamelech in Sefer Tehillim (22:7) tells us, “I am a worm and not a man.” In this self-description, it is quite interesting to see what Dovid Hamelech chooses to highlight. Sharing similar qualities to a worm does not seem particularly complimentary. What then did Dovid mean with this statement? In what way was he, representing the individual Jew, similar to a worm?

The Midrash offers the answer: “Just as a worm has only a mouth, so do the Jewish people have only their mouths.” Our most potent method of reaching our Father in Heaven is through our mouths – through prayer. Just as the worm digs into a tree with its mouth and penetrates little by little, so do we with our tefillos. They penetrate the Heavens and reach Hashem directly.

But the comparison to the worm goes further.

Imagine staring at a large oak tree which has rotted and fallen to the ground. “How did that occur?” you wonder. The answer is that one worm opened its tiny mouth and began chipping away at the bark, as did another worm and another worm and so on. Eventually, the tree rotted and collapsed.

If we would look to identify the effect of any individual worm, it would be hard to pinpoint. But without question, every single time each worm opened its mouth, it impacted the tree. Not once did its effort go to waste.

The same is true of each time we pray. As the Midrash underscores, “Just as a worm has only a mouth, so do the Jewish people have only their mouths.” Every time we open our mouths in prayer, it has an effect. There is no such thing as a wasted tefillah. The results may not always be apparent, but unquestionably, every word we utter is listened to by Hashem. Our comparison to the worm reminds us to never underestimate the power of even a single word of prayer.

Let me share with you an example.

For one nine-year-old boy, life at school was not the greatest. It wasn’t due to his poor academic work, but something else. Unfortunately, he was the boy who was made fun of, insulted and teased quite often. It wasn’t all too easy to get through a day of school, although he managed.

One day, the boy’s Rebbe called home to speak to the father. “Your son is a wonderful boy,” began the Rebbe, “but as you may know, he is often picked on.” Although the father was already aware of this fact and was in the process of making improvements, the Rebbe had something else to add. “I have noticed lately, however, that every time someone insults him, he mutters something under his breath. I am not sure what exactly he is saying or if it is something to be concerned about, but I just wanted to mention it to you.” As the father listened to the Rebbe relay this added information, he wasn’t surprised.

“Every once in a while,” replied the father, “when one of his siblings says something not so nice to him, I have also noticed that he whispers something under his breath. I have not asked him about it, although now that you bring it up, I will make a point of doing so.”

A few days later, when the father found an opportune time, he gently approached his son. “Tell me, your teacher and I have noticed that whenever someone hurts your feelings, you mutter something under your breath. Would you be able to tell me what it is?”

Looking back at his father, the boy explained. “Abba, there is a statement in the Talmud (Yoma 23a) which highly praises one who is insulted and does not insult back. At the very moment a person is humiliated and remains silent without replying, their prayers have a special effect in Heaven. What I have therefore done is go around to the local shuls where they have a list of all the sick people in the community and memorized their names. Whenever I am insulted, I recite a special tefillah for those people whose names I have seen on the list, asking Hashem that He grant them a refuah sheleimah (complete recovery).”

Every word we say in prayer, every person we ask for a refuah sheleimah, and every tear we shed for a fellow Jew has an impact. And even when we ourselves are undergoing a difficult time, imagine if we would channel those moments of our own discomfort to thinking about someone else’s distress. The power of those thoughts and words are beyond compare. And what is the age requirement for achieving such results? There is none. Even a young child can shake the Heavens.

A Short Message
Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer

It is well-known that the word “בשמחה,” with happiness, shares the same letters as “מחשבה,” thoughts. More than anything, our state of mind is what determines our state of happiness. However, there is another rearrangement of the word “בשמחה,” which yields a further level of insight. These same letters also spell “בחמשה,” with five. It is through appreciating our five senses that we infuse our lives with gratitude and happiness. Our ability to smell, taste, touch, hear and see are our most basic gifts, yet our greatest gifts. There can be nothing more precious than that.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.