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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Behar-Bechukotai

Parshat Behar-Bechukotai

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Behar-Bechukotai 24th of Iyar, 5777 | May 20, 2017 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Mrs. Chaya Rochel R


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Behar-Bechukotai
24th of Iyar, 5777 | May 20, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Mrs. Chaya Rochel Rokeach
Little You, Big Difference

כי ימוך אחיך

If your brother becomes impoverished (Vayikra 25:25)

Oftentimes, we wonder to ourselves, “How can little old me make a difference in the world? Who am I to have such great dreams and aspirations and believe that anything will ever materialize?” Dr. Alan Goldsmith asked that same question to himself many years ago. But, as he would soon learn, there was an answer.

Alan Goldsmith worked as a simple shoe salesman in the back of his father’s store in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Life was moving along just fine until he learned that his sister was going blind in one eye and would need to undergo treatment to save her eyesight. But it wouldn’t come without its expensive financial consequences as the family was without insurance. She at first would need to undergo an MRI along with some other tests, after which the surgery itself. Where would the family turn?

Alan had a friend who was a neurologist. Reaching out to this friend of his, he explained the situation and asked if there was anything which could be done. The neurologist proceeded to contact his own friend who worked in MRI testing. “Could you do me a favor?” he asked. “I know of a woman who needs to undergo an MRI, yet doesn’t have insurance. Could you help her?” The answer was yes.

The MRI was successfully taken care of. That which now remained was the surgery. But the same question which was asked earlier now arose once again: where would the family turn?

This time, the neurologist’s friend who had performed the MRI pro bono could help. He had a relative who was a surgeon and specialized in the particular area of eye surgery this woman needed. And yes, he was willing to provide his services free of charge. To the family’s great relief, that is exactly what happened. He successfully performed the surgery and assisted Alan’s sister in keeping her eyesight.

And then Alan asked the question that would do no less than go on to change countless lives. “How can little old me make a difference in the world? Who am I to have such great dreams and aspirations and believe that anything will ever materialize?” Alan began to realize that there must be many individuals in similar situations to his sister who could not afford the surgery they were in dire need of. And equally so, there must be many doctors who were willing to treat people pro bono and altruistically donate their time and resources. And so it began.

In 1995, Alan Goldsmith established the Jewish Renaissance Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at providing medical and dental care, professional and educational training, financial counseling, housing amenities and much more for those otherwise unable to afford it. Today, with an annual budget of $3.5 million, it is a bedrock of humanitarianism and care to many people well beyond the limits of New Jersey, even as far as Haiti.

Serving thousands of people per year, the Jewish Renaissance Foundation has medical teams traveling throughout the world and volunteering their time to help others in need. And where did it all begin? With one man who thought of how he could help his sister and decided he would reach out. Just look at the effect it has left on the world today.

Now we can all answer the question. “How can little old me make a difference in the world?” Just try and see where Hashem takes you. The world is waiting for your special touch and contribution. Yes, little old you can make the world of a difference.

Dr. Tamar Pearlman
Good Fights: 5 Key Factors

Imagine the scenario. It is the night before a big championship game for your eight-year-old son who is set to be the quarterback and lead the team. It is 11:30 at night and he is crying in bed. “My stomach hurts!” he moans. “What will happen if I drop the ball and my team loses?” Rehashing the evening’s events, you remember him eating pizza that he didn’t
particularly like. “Moshe, didn’t I tell you not to eat that pizza?”

Was this a productive conversation?

When you frustratingly questioned why Moshe ate the pizza, something very subtle yet important was overlooked. You heard the screams but missed the whispers. You heard that he has a stomach ache and shouldn’t have eaten the pizza, but you missed what ultimately was driving that moaning and groaning. He is scared and nervous that he is going to drop the ball. You may be absolutely right that he shouldn’t have eaten the pizza, but at that moment, that is quite likely not the point. If you pay close attention, you may be able to discern that such aching is a symptom of something else, but not the root cause. You must delve just a bit further and deeper and listen carefully to the soft, underlying whisper echoing behind.

The same is true of, what we will call, a good and bad fight in marriage. In every fight, your husband or wife whispers something to you. Every fight has some treasure, some hidden nugget awaiting you to stumble upon. You may not be able to pick up on the entire message, but if you can attune yourself to even a sliver of it, you will have gained from that fight. All too often, we tune everything out when we embroil ourselves in a quarrel. We wish to entirely block out that which our spouse is directly telling us, but coupled with doing so, we disregard that which our spouse deep-down is indirectly communicating to us. We look to tune out the cheese and the pizza, yet in doing so, we tune out the treasure.

Let’s take an example.

Your husband comes home and says, “The way you made that comment in front of my friend really bothered me…” If this then develops into an uncomforting and heated give-and-take, what will you walk away with when the dust settles? As you hear this, are your wisdom antennae on? What do they tell you?

Did your husband say that he is bothered by what you said or how you said it? Moreover, did you notice that he added the words, “The way you made that comment in front of my friend…”? You may likely respond, “What did I say that is so bad! You really were insulted by that?” But now listen again. Listen to the whisper and hear what he is saying closely and carefully. It is there, embedded in his words, yet easily able to miss. He is not saying that the problem is what you said, but rather the way you said it. As well, he seems to be emphasizing his friend’s presence at the time. Did you embarrass him because the way you said it was a put-down and his friend was standing just a few feet away? By simply replying that what he said was not hurtful, you are overlooking the whisper. The words you said may have been relatively innocent, yet it was the tone with which you delivered them and the trace of sarcasm or derision articulated in the company of his friend that offset him.

During a fight, even if 98 percent is nonsensical and painful, there is a 2 percent treasure. If you miss it, though, you will have stepped over a treasure trove and will likely make the same mistake some time in the future and return to that same type of fight.

Learn Something New

The number one distinguishing factor of a good fight is if you walk away having learned something new about your spouse and your relationship. The fight was, believe it or not, successful if you left with this piece of knowledge. It could be something very simple and subtle, but that factual tidbit is a treasure worth storing away and carrying with you every day for the rest of your life.

Those thematic fights – the ones which seem to repeatedly occur – are the ones which have the biggest treasures. There is something in this area of your relationship which irks and bothers your spouse and whenever it is encountered, it is a soft and tender spot which makes them upset. We may intuitively sense that we are hearing the whisper, but we instead choose to push it away again and again, the reason for which it has become a thematic fight.

Yet why do we continually push aside the whisper? For a very simple reason. It is inconvenient and difficult to change and we will need to do something different next time which may take us out of our comfort zone. We might need to tailor our words to be said quieter although we are a loud person, or later although we are impulsive. It is undoubtedly difficult and something we have trouble staring in the face. Yet again, treasures are not easily stumbled upon unless we are open and ready to finding them. If we are not facing the right direction, our eyes will never see the shimmering pearl buried beneath the sand. We will have then merely brushed the argument aside and allowed the dust to settle right over the treasure we could have picked up.

Moving as a Person

The second characteristic of a good fight is no less important than the first. Every fight should move you as a person. It should teach you something new that you can do differently next time. If after the fight ends you are a different person, you know it was successful.

Let me tell you a secret. Everything we are given in this world is for a reason. A husband or wife is no exception. As such, whatever treasures he is whispering to you are probably ones you need to hear for yourself. They are meant for you to grow into a better and more refined person. If he is whispering that you need to speak softer, then perhaps it is because you are truly speaking too harshly. Or if he is telling you that he needs his time and space, it may be that you need to improve on your patience. You and your spouse are heavenly-made for each other and meant to bring out the best in one another.

When you are therefore in a marriage, you are in an advantageous position, for you are that much closer to developing into the person you can become. Marriage serves as the impetus and context for you to move outside of yourself, which otherwise may not have been achieved alone.

The second indication of a good fight is thus whether you moved from one place within yourself to another. Are you more giving, more patient and more compassionate? It may entail making a minor adjustment in the future, but that is an improvement certainly worth every effort. If you will call your spouse if you are running late as opposed to last time when you didn’t, there was something gained from the exchange of thoughts between your spouse and you. Astronomical change is not the goal; nominal change is.

Now picture the following situation. It is the day before Pesach and you are having numerous guests for the seder. Many of them will be sleeping at your house, quite a few kids will be running all over the place, and your in-laws are coming, along with your new sister-in-law who is “perfect in every way.” There is only one problem. You just washed all your towels in the washing machine, yet as you placed them in the dryer, it broke and stopped working. Your towels are now wet and you have no extra ones. Now what will happen? Panic mode.

Without delay, you get on the phone with customer service. “I just bought a dryer last month and it broke. My mother-in-law will be here soon and I don’t want to displease her and make her upset. I am mad and scared. Can you fix that?” “Ma’am, I am sorry, but I cannot help you from being mad and scared.” Dial tone.

Quite often, this is what happens when relating to our spouse. What we really want is a fixed dryer, yet what we ask from our spouse is that we not be mad, scared or upset. Yet when we ask for that, do we end up with a fixed dryer? We end up with nothing.

Clarify Your Goal

This leads to point three of determining a good, productive fight. What exactly are we striving for? Do we know what our goal is? If is about your mother-in-law not having a critical eye or your sister-in-law not being perfect or your kids not being rowdy, your spouse cannot fix that for you. And when you ask for that, your dryer is still broken.

A good fight is when you know clearly what your spouse can do and you are able to express it in a way which can be heard. You can ask him to be understanding of you being mad or under pressure from your mother-in-law, but you cannot ask him to fix you being mad or stressed.

Minimize the Damage

The fourth element of a good fight is that we minimize the damage and do not allow ourselves to be overtaken by our desire of what we want. If, for example, your husband recommends that your family not take the vacation to Florida, you do not say, “Oh, we are not going to Florida? We never, ever go away! All I ever do is work!” When hurtful, exaggerated words are exchanged and the issue is blown out of proportion and becomes the center of you and your spouse’s world, the result is negative.

In a good fight, you convey the reason that something is important to you and say it in a way that the damage wrought is not greater than the need. Is it worth buying a new dryer at the expense of expressing yourself in a way which deflates your spouse’s self-esteem and makes them feel inadequate? Weigh the potential damage caused by using hurtful words and make sure you are not led to acting indifferently. Consider saying, “It is really important for me to have a new dryer. Would it be possible to purchase a new one?” The way you present your concern makes the world of a difference.

The Bigger Picture

The fifth and last aspect of a good fight is that we do not lose the bigger picture of connection for what we want. If connecting to your spouse is your ultimate goal, what you want will then carry different weight. In every fight, you must ask what is most important to you. Do you want to be close to your spouse or get what you want? That should ultimately sway your decision and direct your thoughts, feelings and action. And in truth, as mentioned above, very often the route of getting close to our spouse is ironically exactly what we need for ourselves to grow into better people.

Within the world of marriage, there is much to be gained from every experience and exchange. Yet, most important to remember, that which makes a fight either productive or destructive is our attitude, approach and attunement to the words we say and hear and precious whispers which so quietly dance in the background, yet so importantly await our attention.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Paysach Krohn

Rav Dovid Cohen shlita is wont to relate a beautiful insight he once heard. Have you ever wondered where the Yiddish word for grandchild – einekel – comes from? In Parshas Shemos (3:2), as Moshe Rabbeinu notices the magnificent sight of the Burning Bush, the Torah tells us, “והנה הסנה בער באש והסנה איננו אוכל – And behold, the bush was burning in the fire, but the bush was not consumed.” The words איננו אוכל – was not consumed – bears resemblance to the word איינקל, grandchild. The connection is exactly that. If you are fortunate to have a grandchild who is passionately learning and vibrantly connected to the fire of Torah, you can rest assured that such a flame will never be extinguished. It will last for generation after generation and continue to shine bigger and brighter than ever.

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