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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Shelach

Parshat Shelach

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Shelach
23rd of Sivan, 5777 | June 17, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Mrs. Shira Smiles
Living in the Moment

'וזכרתם את כל מצות ד

And you will remember all the commandments of Hashem (Bamidbar 15:39)

One beautiful concept in Yiddishkeit is for an individual to take upon themselves a particular mitzvah which deeply resonates with them and they feel a special connection to. Whatever it may be, that one mitzvah is something which a person adheres to carefully and closely and holds dear to his or her heart.

For one elderly 87-year-old grandfather, that mitzvah was tefillin. Since his bar mitzvah, a day had not gone by in which he missed the cherished opportunity to don his precious tefillin. One day, though, his tefillin were accidently swapped with the tefiliin of another man in shul, leaving each of them with the other’s tefillin. And as it so happened, the other man decided that day to have his tefillin checked, as he had not done so in many years. But of course, little did he know, that they were really not his own.

When the report came back about his tefillin’s status, he was obviously taken aback. They were invalid, and in fact had never been valid even to begin with. Yet rather quickly, it was realized that a slight mix-up had occurred. They were not his own tefillin, but rather those of the 87-year-old man.

Now, the obvious dilemma arose as how to break the news to the elderly man, whose entire life had been marked by devotion to this special mitzvah. With a group of family and friends gathered around him, they proceeded to gently relay the news, slowly but surely.

And then there was silence.

Worried that he hadn’t heard them clearly, one of the family members repeated the news about the invalid tefillin, raising his voice just a bit louder. But that wasn’t the problem. “I heard you the first time,” replied the grandfather. Unsure what to make of everything, the family remained silently still.

And then the grandfather began to dance. Now thinking that he had really lost it, just about everyone looked at each other with a blank and confused stare. But then the grandfather began to explain the motivation behind his behavior.

“For my whole life, I was under the impression that I was performing the mitzvah of tefillin to the utmost degree of refinement. Yet now I have discovered that such has not been the case. But you know what? Now I have much reason to rejoice. For the first time in my life, I will finally be able to perform the mitzvah of tefillin correctly with a kosher pair of tefillin. Shouldn’t I be happy and dance?”

Here was a person who lived in the moment. He understood his past, yet more importantly, understood his future. Part of living in the moment includes not carrying the heavy baggage of past experiences and lost opportunities. We must never forget and disregard our past, yet simultaneously, we can never let it hamper us from optimistically moving forward. Life is not all about sighing, “What if…I should have… I could have…” Where you are today is exactly where you need to be. All that you are asked to do is pick yourself up, hold your head high and look brightly and vibrantly towards the future. Because without question, many wonderful opportunities await you…

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
The First Step

כי יכול נוכל לה

“…For we can surely do it!” (Bamidbar 13:30)

For Stacy, life was not all too easy, to say the least. As a single middle aged woman, her days were spent not with a husband and children in a warm, happy home, but alone, running from doctor to doctor in an attempt to determine a prognosis for an unknown medical condition. It wasn’t until she mentioned to a friend of hers whose husband was a doctor about her situation that a glimpse of hope shined forth. “Why don’t you come over and let my husband see what he can do to help.”

Sure enough, the woman was attended to immediately and administered a number of tests, all of which the woman was grateful for. Yet, that was as far as the good news went. The outcome she was hoping for was a far cry from her furthest wish. She unfortunately had already progressed to an advanced stage of a terminal illness, leaving her with little to do.

The hospital soon became quite familiar to Stacy, although she never wished it to be. And then my mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis a”h, heard about Stacy. Although Stacy was in no way affiliated with Hineni, the outreach program founded by my mother, she was a fellow Jew, and that was all that was needed for my mother to pick herself up and look to help. “I will go visit Stacy,” my mother said. “I will spend time with her and grant her a blessing for a speedy recovery.”

After one visit to Stacy, my mother called me and said, “I just finished visiting Stacy, and she is losing her hair. She needs a wig, but she cannot afford one. I think I am going to call Georgie and ask her for one.” I understood what my mother meant by this. She planned on calling a sheitel maker and asking for a free wig. Although I wasn’t quite sure if anyone else who would make such a call would end up walking away with a sheitel free of charge, my mother was sometimes able to do things which even surprised her. And sure enough, she was right.

“I got the sheitel!” she remarked to me a short while later. “I am going to give it to Stacy.” Although I was pleased to hear that such progress was made, I had my qualms about the whole plan. “Ma, you really think she can just put a sheitel on her head? It needs to be cut, combed and styled.” But my mother remained characteristically optimistic. “Don’t worry, everything will work out.”

My mother proceeded to head to Stacy’s apartment, walking through the front entrance and into the elevator. Alongside her in the elevator was another gentleman, also heading up a number of flights. And as my mother had so many times done before thanks to her congenial and polite personality, she struck up a conversation with the other fellow.

“How are you?” she said. “Hello, how are you?” replied the man in kind. “Baruch Hashem,” said my mother. The man, clearly not Jewish, was quickly thrown off guard by use of the Hebrew words. “What does that mean? I’ve never heard that line before.” he curiously asked. “Well, that’s how Jewish people thank G-d. Thank G-d I am here, thank G-d I am alive, thank G-d for every day. It so happens that I am married to a rabbi and I am a Jewish teacher now on my way to visit someone.” The man remained still, interested by the new information he had just learned. “And what are you up to?” inquired my mother.

“Oh,” said the man, “I am a hairstylist and I’m on my way home. It’s been a long day.” As soon as my mother heard those words, her eyes lightened up. “Oh no you’re not! You can’t go home quite yet…”

Suffice it to say, the sheitel got cut and styled, just as my mother believed it would be.

Many times in life we become overwhelmed by all that we have to do. So many steps seem to stand in our way before we can reach our final goal and destination. The truth of the matter, though, is that we need not feel that our wishes and dreams are unattainable and out of reach. It all begins with the first step. That little, initial decision to extend ourselves and make a concerted effort sets everything else to follow in motion. Once we take the first step, Hashem comes to our side and helps with the rest. All we are asked to do is our best and Hashem will help with the rest.

Rabbi Shlomo Farhi
The Missing Money

For many years, my father was a principal in a Jewish day school. A devoted mechanech who looked after the well-being and success of every individual, he saw the development and growth of countless students over the years. Yet, I will never forget one story he related years ago and continues to remain with me to this very day.

On one occasion, a boy decided to bring all the money he had received for his birthday to school. Despite his mother’s advice not to do so, the young boy entered the classroom one morning with $80. Yet, quite quickly, he learned that the words of his mother were wise indeed. Within just a few hours, all the birthday money was gone, and the boy was in tears.

As soon as my father got wind of what had occurred, he knew what he needed to do. He proceeded to call each boy out from the classroom separately and inquire if they perhaps had found the money, knew where it was or accidently took it and forgot to return it. One by one, the boys filed out of the classroom and into my father’s office for a brief questionnaire.

After seeing half the boys in the class and coming up empty-handed, in walked a boy with something bulging in his back pocket. As it seemed, it was a wallet. “You probably know,” said my father to the boy, “that one of your classmates is missing money. It is his birthday money which he brought to school. Have you seen it around?” “I haven’t” replied the boy. “Okay,” swallowed my father. “Is there a chance you took it and planned on returning it, but forgot to? He really feels terrible and it would be a tremendous mitzvah to help him.”

At this point, my father could tell that he was not getting anywhere. So he tailored his questioning to be just a bit more direct. “I can see that you have a big wallet in your back pocket.” “Yeah!” enthused the boy. “Well, how much money do you have in it?” “$79.50!” proudly exclaimed the boy. “I had $80, but I bought a soda for 50 cents.” At this point, it was more or less clear to my father that he was dealing with the boy who had taken the money. “Is there a possibility that this money belongs to the other boy in the class?” The boy continued to hem and haw, denying that the money belonged to anyone else besides him. Nothing seemed to be working.

“It’s a shame that it’s not that money because the boy came to me crying about this birthday money he had been looking forward to receiving an entire year.” Silence filled the office for just a moment, until the boy spoke up, “Oh yeah! This money… I was thinking about another wallet… I wanted to give it back to him, but I got really thirsty and needed to buy a soda…” After a brief period of rationalizing, the boy finally reached into his back pocket and handed over the wallet.

My father proceeded to walk the boy into the classroom and allow him to sit back down in his seat. And then my father did what differentiates a good educator from an excellent educator.
He called the next boy in the class to his office and asked all the same questions he had asked the other boys. And so he did with the next student and the next student, until everyone in the class had been spoken to.

Why did my father do so? He realized that were he to stop his interrogation after any one particular student in the class, it would be made quite obvious who the thief was. And in the interest of discovering who the responsible boy was, my father was not ready to embarrass anyone. The boy would be privately reprimanded and told of the hurt and harm he caused a fellow classmate, but the larger picture would not be overlooked. My father was pursuing justice and that which was right, but he understood that it could not be done at the expense of embarrassing a student. Pursuing justice must also be carried out with justice.

When faced with situations in which we feel warranted and justified to guide, reprimand and educate our children and students, we can never get carried away. We must carefully weigh our words, actions and reactions and only then make a sound decision as how to proceed. Every situation must be examined individually, but all in all, preserving justice and dignity are to be our guiding lights along the way.

A Short Message From
Mrs. Charlene Aminoff

During the recovering period for my daughter, Gali, after she had drowned underwater for over 3 minutes, my husband stayed with her overnight in the hospital. At that point, she was doing much better, although the doctors still wished to monitor her. I myself needed to return home and take care of the other kids, thus leaving my husband alone with Gali. My husband and I continued talking into the night for hours, until at one point, I fell asleep out of exhaustion for a mere fifteen minutes. But then I was awoken to a worrying phone call from my husband. “Honey, something is wrong! Gali was brought crayons to color with, and I began telling her, ‘Okay Gali, take the purple crayon…’ but she took the pink! I then told her to take the blue crayon, but she took the green. Honey, something is wrong!” As soon as he said this, I knew Gali was perfectly fine. “Jonathan,” I said both crying and laughing, “give her a break! She is 2 years old. She doesn’t know her colors yet!”

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