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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Tetzaveh

Parshat Tetzaveh

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Tetzaveh
13th of Adar, 5777 | March 11, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Paysach Krohn
Trading One for Two

והייתי להם לאלקים

And I shall be their G-d (Shemot 29:45)

My son-in-law’s grandmother, referred to as Oma Roberk, is a wonderfully sweet and optimistic lady in her late nineties. She originally grew up in Stuttgart, Germany before the war broke out where she taught secular studies and her husband taught Torah studies. By this time, all the rabbis who had previously lived in Stuttgart had left, leaving its Jewish community bereft of rabbinical guidance. Aside from this, food was being rationed, with eggs and milk being limited to a certain number per month.

At one point, Oma Roberk was only able to obtain four eggs per month. Living in abject poverty, she decided to nonetheless prepare a little cake every week. Using one egg per week for one cake, Oma would happily bake a cake with Shabbos and her beloved husband in mind.

One Friday, as her husband was teaching and she stood in the kitchen cooking and baking, she opened an egg to prepare her weekly cake. But to her disappointment, it had a blood spot on it. “I’m not going to have a cake for Shabbos,” she worriedly sighed. “Perhaps however,” she thought to herself, “since the blood spot is only on top of the egg and it has not pierced into the yoke, I can simply wipe it off.” But that consideration didn’t last long. “Well, maybe I am not allowed to do that. What should I do? There are no rabbis here to ask.”

After much back and forth, she decided she would use it, mentally noting that if she would ever make it out of Germany alive she would ask a rabbi if she made the right decision.

But then she thought again. “I cannot do it. If it is not kosher, it is not kosher. Moreover, my husband relies on me for kashrus. He trusts me for everything in the kitchen. I cannot go behind his back and do something which is improper.” And so, with tears in her eyes, she threw out the egg and washed out the bowl.

Now Oma Roberk was left in a quandary. Should she use the egg set aside for next week for this week’s cake or would she and her husband just simply not have any cake this week. And then she decided. “Who knows if we will even be around next week? I am going to take next week’s egg and use it for this week’s Shabbos cake.” And so, she washed out the glass bowl again and cracked another egg.

And to her pleasant surprise and sheer astonishment, out came two yokes.

As Oma Roberk said of herself, “Sometimes Hashem sends you a small message and it lasts for a lifetime. I still carry this incident with me until this day. That little gift in that little kitchen was Hashem saying to me, ‘My dear daughter, no one would have known the difference. It was just between you and Me. But because you had such love for the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos, I gave you a special gift.’”

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Meeting Sharon

רוח והצלה יעמוד ליהודים ממקום אחר

Relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place (Esther 4:14)

A number of years ago, my father sat on a 747 El Al flight from New York to Israel. Seated in first class on the upper level of the plane, he and one other respectable gentleman had the entire section to themselves. No other guests were present. The name of this other man was Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel.

My father, having previously served in the American army, was always dressed very respectfully with matching colors and a suit. Extremely well kempt and put together, his contour resembled the finest of high-class businessmen. Aside from this, he was seriously devoted to Yiddishkeit. One of his greatest hallmarks was the concentration and focus he had when davening.

And so, as morning arrived, my father took out his siddur and began davening. Seated a short distance away was Sharon, who gazed at my father intently mouthing the words of tefillah. My father went on to finish what he had to say, after which he sat back down for the remainder of the flight.

When it was later time to deplane, my father began gathering his belongings together when he felt a tap on the shoulder “I just want to tell you,” said Sharon, “that I am so impressed. I thought only big rabbis pray like that.” Sharon proceeded to take out his personal business card with his direct line, and hand it to my father. “If you ever need me, just give me a call.”

Fast forward years later…

As was my father’s minhag, he would every year visit the kever of his father in Petach Tikvah on the day of his father’s yahrtzeit. Yet, before he would do so, he always had two stops to make: Me’aras Ha’Machpeila and Kever Rachel. “I cannot go to my father before I visit my forefathers,” he would say. And so, he would first stop off at the Me’aras HaMachpeila in Chevron where the Avos and Imahos are buried, and then Kever Rachel where Rachel Imeinu resides. He remained unwaveringly committed to this minhag every single year without fail.

One year, however, he confronted a slight issue. The city of Chevron and the Me’aras HaMachpeila were off limits due to Israeli-Arab fighting. The area was heavily clamped down with security and the army on all sides. There was absolutely no way that anyone would be getting near the Me’aras HaMachpeila. But my father had never missed a year where, before heading to his father’s kever, he stopped off in Chevron and then at Kever Rachel. And he didn’t expect this year to be any different.

Taking out the card he had received years ago, my father went on to call Ariel Sharon. “I need to go to Chevron,” he said. “I’m very sorry, Mr. Wallerstein,” Sharon replied, “but it is closed.” But my father was not ready to give up. “I have never missed going to Chevron for every yahrtzeit of my father. You have to help me!” That was all my father had to say.

“Okay, Mr. Wallerstein, where are you now?” “I’m in Jerusalem,” he replied. “If you come out to Beit Lechem,” Sharon told him, “we will pick you up by tank.” So, on went my father to Beit Lechem, where he was picked up by the army in a half-track and privately taken to Me’aras HaMachpeila and then Kever Rachel.

Following this incident, my father, as a sign of hakaras hatov, inserted an ad into the Jerusalem Post publicly thanking Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for assisting him in this endeavor.

Where did this all begin? On that El Al plane when my father decided to daven. The positive impression my father gave off when davening deeply touched and moved Sharon. If my father would not have received Ariel Sharon’s card, there would not have been even the slightest chance he would’ve gotten anywhere. And the same is true for us all. Without question, the positive image we project when dedicating ourselves to Torah and mitzvos has the greatest of impacts. It can take us places we never thought of getting to.

Mrs. Toba Schiffren
The Soy Sauce

It is not uncommon for me to find my desk somewhat messy and disorganized whenever I enter my office. Considering that my office is not only my office, but shared workspace with others, I can tell what everyone has eaten that day for lunch and as a snack. I don’t make any big deal about the mess, though, for after all, other people have the right to use the desk too.

Yet, one day, the mess stopped. No longer was I met with a dirty office when I walked inside. It was so nice and pleasant. A few weeks later, however, I was met by a little surprise. My desk was covered with soy sauce. Unbeknownst to me, a meeting had been held just a short while before, and sushi had been eaten, leaving the desk greasy and sticky.

Not noticing the soy sauce or thinking twice, I simply plopped down my bag and computer. That was one gaffe, yet not the only one. Walking towards the stairs, I soon met a student of mine who I hadn’t seen in school for quite a while. Turning to her, I somewhat frustratingly said, “You are always coming late, you haven’t been in school for two weeks and there is soy sauce all over my desk!” By the tone of my comment, I was clearly overwhelmed.

Yet my student preempted any of my apologies which were immediately to follow. “I’m so sorry!” she said. Thinking for another split-second about what I had just said, I realized that I had overreacted. “I’m so sorry about the soy sauce,” my student repeated. A little bit shaken up myself, I asked what she meant. “Were you at the meeting? What does the soy sauce have to do with you?” As soon as I said that, she started smiling. “I wasn’t at the meeting, but I always come a few minutes before you arrive and clean off your desk. I’m really sorry, but today I was running a bit late, and you got there before me. I apologize about the mess.”

It then hit me. She had been the one making sure my desk was neat and clean every day, and I had never realized. Instead of thanking my student and appreciating her thoughtfulness, I was jumping to the conclusion that something was wrong with her. But in truth, she wasn’t the source of the problem; she was the solution to the problem. From that day on, whenever I walk into my office and see a clean desk, I think of my student and tell her, “I am so happy you are at school today. Thanks for all your help!”

All too often, we see a picture and draw conclusions. “He is the problem,” or “She is the problem,” we tell ourselves. But then something occurs and we realize that we were in fact looking at the wrong picture. Instead of that troublesome person or sticky situation being the problem, it was in fact the solution. “Thank you,” we then say with a changed attitude; “I am so happy you are here today…”

Rabbi Avrohom Asher Makovsky
Thinking about You

R’ Yehudah HaChassid in his classic work Sefer Chassidim (#553) writes, “There are some who pray and Hashem answers them; and there are some who pray and are not answered. What is the distinction? If one takes to heart the pain and shame of his friend. It is for this reason that the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah (Men of the Great Assembly) instituted Shemonah Esrei to be said in the plural so as to include all of Klal Yisrael within one’s prayers.”

Now let me tell you how two families put this into practice. As I was once preparing to speak on the topic of nosei b’ol im chavero, commiserating with the burden of a fellow Jew, a friend of mine told me a story about his brother-in-law.

Having four daughters all of marriageable ages – 27, 25, 23, 21 – and none of them finding their spouses, the father was understandably distressed. Besides this concern, he was also facing hard times financially. But that didn’t mean that he and his family gave up on ever seeing the circumstances improve.

Hearing of another man who also had four daughters involved in shidduchim, the idea was suggested that each one of the girls daven for another girl in the other family. And so they did. Accepting upon themselves this practice, of which Chazal say, "One who prays for his friend when he himself has the same problem, he will be answered first” (Bava Kama 92a), the initial results were quite positive.

Not too long afterwards, the second daughter from the other family was engaged and got married. And not coincidentally, on the very same night of the wedding, the second daughter of my friend’s brother-in-law became engaged.

Such are the paradigm characteristics of the Jewish people: “Compassion, self-effacement and kindness” (Yevamos 79a). Here were two families who did not turn away from each other and care only about their own personal concerns. They identified with one another situation and looked to lift the burden off each other. And once that occurred, the beginning of a brighter future was just around the corner.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Eytan Feiner

The Rabbeinu Bachye (Vayikra 8:23) fascinatingly writes that man’s five fingers correspond to his five senses. Thus, for instance, have you ever wondered why babies specifically suck their thumbs? It is because the thumb corresponds to the mouth and sense of taste. Why as well do we clean out our nose with the etzbah, the second finger? It is because the second finger relates to the chush ha’reyach, sense of smell. The amah, third finger (Kesubos 5b), is the longest and thus used to reach far parts of the body to alleviate an itch or pain. It corresponds to the sense of touch. The fourth finger, known as the kemitzah, relates to the sense of sight, for with it one cleans out his eyes. And lastly, the pinky relates to the sense of hearing. It is the pinky, the smallest of fingers, which is used to clean out the wax from one’s ears.

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