Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Naso

Parshat Naso

Compiled and Edited by Meir Sommers


“The TorahAnyTimes” Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Naso
12th of Sivan, 5776 | June 18, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Home for Hashem’s Daughters

יאר ד’ פניו אליך ויחנך

May Hashem illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you (Bamidbar 6:25)

When I first founded Ohr Naava in 2004, it began as a small weekly study group for women. However, slowly but surely, it mushroomed into a renowned center for women of all ages to be able to connect to Torah and socialize in a healthy environment. It would provide round-the-clock Torah lectures and inspirational events and serve as a warm home for thousands of women and girls on all levels.

During the program’s incipient stages, I went to Reb Aharon Leib Shteinman shlita in Israel to receive a bracha that it be successful. As I arrived, he had just finished delivering a lecture and a large number of people had closely gathered around him. Approaching him, he asked me to explain what exactly Ohr Naava is about. I said that it is a place for women to learn, socialize and grow in their understanding of Torah and Yiddishkeit. “How old are these women that you are opening this program for?” he asked. “I am thinking from 16 until 120,” I replied. “And what will happen if a woman wishes to attend and she is 121; are going to throw her out?”

As he asked this question, laughs were heard around the room. While Rav Shteinman is known to be serious and not the type who would make humorous remarks, that day was different. “Rosh Yeshiva,” I replied, “if she is 121, I will call and ask you what to do.” “Don’t worry; it will never happen,” he told me. As he said that, I began to think that it will never happen because people live only until 120. However, that was not what Rav Shteinman meant. “You know why it will never happen?” he said. “It is because a woman never tells her real age.”

From that day on, Rav Shteinman and I became very close. Every time I would visit him, everyone recognized me as the man of “one hundred and twenty-one.”

Some time after I began Ohr Naava, I started looking to create a high school for girls. It was to be for girls who had gone through trauma and abuse throughout their lives and needed a safe place to find warm direction and guidance in life. When I first considered opening the school, I was strongly dissuaded from doing so. As I was already running Ohr Naava and a business of my own and needed to care for my family, I was told that opening another school would be too much to handle. But I continued to remind myself what my father had always told me: “If you say, ‘My plate is full, get a bigger plate.’”

Despite all the discouragement, I started the high school. The students were provided therapy and given the best teachers who selflessly gave of their time and effort to meet the needs of the girls. The problem, however, was that the kids would return home for the weekends. When they would then return on Monday, there would be countless new problems needing to be addressed. Sending the girls back to their dysfunctional homes was not a smart decision. And certainly if they had a few days off, such as during a Yom Tov, the problems we had to deal with when they returned were overwhelming. We therefore concluded that the most effective way to help the students would be to not only have a school for them, but a house for them. A frum family would live in the house and take care of the girls. There would be a teacher who would overlook them and make sure they returned by a curfew. They would as well be given meals and the opportunity to experience Shabbat together.

After looking into the matter, I finally found a house for the girls. The only setback was that it was in shambles. I needed to raise $300,000 to redo the entire house. Although we did not have that much money, I was determined not to give up. Planning to be in Israel for Yom Kippur, I figured that I would go to Rav Shteinman on Erev Yom Kippur for a bracha. I told my staff not to worry about anything as I was close to Rav Shteinman. He would give me a bracha and we would have a house.

Walking into his room, I said, “Does the Rosh Yeshiva remember Ohr Naava?” “Yes,” he said. “I now have a high school for girls at risk and without a place to call home. I am looking to buy a house for them to stay in. I need to raise $300,000. Could the Rosh Yeshiva give me a bracha that it goes easy? I really want this and so do the girls.” Looking up at me, Rav Shteinman said, “You want it? Who says Hashem wants it?” As soon as he said that, my heart dropped. “No, no Rosh Yeshiva. This is not about me. I do not want to rebuild my house for three hundred thousand dollars. It is for the girls.” Looking at me again, he repeated, “Who says Hashem wants such a house?”

Standing there dumbstruck, the gabbai began ushering me out the door as I had already asked twice and was told no.

I immediately called my brother-in-law and said, “We are in trouble. Rav Shteinman said that Hashem doesn’t want this house. I can’t understand. Why wouldn’t Hashem want this? It is for His daughters!” However, not receiving the bracha did not dissuade me from trying to raise the money anyway. I continued to set out to raise the necessary funds.

Baruch Hashem, I was eventually able to find one person who planned to donate all $300,000. Thrilled to no ends, we all looked forward to finally being able to help the girls in the best way possible. However, at the last moment, the man decided to back out. “Don’t start building,” he said. “I received a large offer for an investment in Manhattan and I decided to use the money for that.” As I was told this, I knew that my lack of success was due in part to Rav Shteinman not giving me the bracha. But I still did not give up.

The following year I went to Israel for Yom Kippur, as I always do, and thought that I would go to Rav Shteinman and try it again. Entering his home, I said to him, “It only got worse. I have more girls in my school and I have bigger problems. We need that house. You need to give me a bracha. I cannot send the girls back to the abusive homes they came from.”

As I said this, Rav Shteinman looked up at me. “It’s going to be easy; you are going to raise the money. And not only are the girls going to live in that house; the Shechinah (Divine Presence) is going to live in that house.”

As I heard this blessing, I was taken aback. Not only did he give us a wonderful bracha, but he even said that Hashem will dwell in the home. But there was one question which was bothering me. Mustering the courage to ask it, I boldly turned to Rav Shteinman and said, “Could the Rosh Yeshiva please tell me the difference between last year and this year? Why last year did Hashem not want the house, and this year He is moving in? That is a big difference. Is it me? Did I do something?”

Looking back at me, Rav Shteinman said penetrating words I will never forget. “Rabbi Wallerstein, last year when you came to me, you told me that you and the girls want a building for your high school. What you want in life, Hashem doesn’t always give you. This year, however, you said that you need a building. If a daughter of Hashem needs something, of course He will to give it to her.”

I learned an amazing lesson at that moment. As I was later speaking at an over-forty singles event, I related this idea to them. “I am not telling anyone what to do,” I said, “but let me tell you something very important. People who want to get married do not always get married. People who need to get married, however, do get married.”

I later received a letter from a woman. “Thank you Rabbi Wallerstein. I was at that singles event and I am now married. I had gone out with someone and thought to myself, “He is not exactly like me.” But then I thought again. Do I want to get married or do I need to get married? Thinking about the situation again, I realized that perhaps this man was the right one for me. Now I am happily married.”

In life, there is a very big difference between wanting and needing. It is the difference between someone who actually changes his own life and changes the world. Many people want to help others, but those who feel the need to do so will actually take the initiative. Take for example Avraham Avinu. In pain on the third day after his brit milah, he nevertheless went out of his way to invite guests into his tent. For Avraham Avinu, the disability to perform chesed pained him more than anything else. He was not someone who simply wanted to perform kindness; he needed to perform kindness. That is the true hallmark of a person: do you want or do you need?

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko
The Five Mems and Ten Faults

והביא האיש את אשתו…

And the man shall bring his wife… (Bamidbar 5:15)

When it comes to looking for a prospective marriage partner, there is something I like to call the “Five Mems.” Bearing in mind these five aspects and prioritizing them from most important to least important, one should be on their way to finding a beautiful husband or wife.

Let’s first put the cards on the table: Middot (character), Moach (intellectual acuity), Mishpacha (family), Mar’eh (looks) and Mammon (ability to provide financial support). These are the top five concerns anyone entering the shidduch world should consider. What type of person you are looking for simply depends on how you shuffle the deck. Is his/her character more important than IQ capacity? Are his/her looks more important than family upbringing? These are the questions to ask.

While there is much to say about each of these aspects, let us focus on one in particular: Mishpacha. In searching for a wife for his son Yitzchak, Avraham Avinu tells his servant Eliezer to avoid looking for a girl from the perverse families living in the Land of Canaan. He is rather to make his way to Avraham’s own family. And as the Torah tells us, he finds Rivkah. But what type of family is she from? Her father and brother are dishonest swindlers. Are they any better than the families living in Canaan?

While family is critical and will indelibly shape the development of one’s child, it takes a village to raise a child. The inhabitants of Canaan were people with undignified morals and ethics and would negatively impact the upbringing of a Jewish boy or girl. It was a village full of people who would indirectly influence Yitzchak’s child in a way diametrically opposed to the Torah’s values. Avraham therefore strongly instructed Eliezer to avoid searching for a girl from Eretz Canaan. When it came to Avraham’s immediate family, on the other hand, although the direct and personal characters involved were wicked, the overall village that raised Rivkah was not. Avraham thus encouraged Eliezer to go to his homeland for the type of girl raised there would be fitting for Yitzchak.

People who enter the shidduch scene at times feel distinctly disadvantaged due to who their parents or siblings are. The truth, however, is that the way our parents and family are is not our fault. If someone’s parents are divorced or family member is in therapy, that is not an absolute reason for them to be written off. If a boy or girl went to a good school, had good teachers and classmates, and was positively shaped and influenced by their surrounding “village,” that is a plus which cannot be overlooked.

Now let’s turn to another important principle called “The Ten Faults.”

Each and every person in this world has approximately ten major to semi-major faults. There are no angels. As you continue to get to know a person, those faults will begin to surface. While one may be reluctant to marrying someone who is a slob, unpunctual, irresponsible or humorless, one cannot expect anyone to be perfect. When one looks at another and sees potential for building a future together, yet refrains from doing so because of certain imperfections, they should realize that they are only trading in one set of ten faults for another. While you may argue that you will be better able to live with those other ten faults, maybe you won’t. And chances are that among those ten faults, some will need to be dealt with, yet others can be glossed over. You will be able to grow together despite these deficiencies and come to appreciate each other. Everyone has faults, though; they are part and parcel of the human condition.

After I had experienced a relatively quick engagement, a friend of mine came to me and said, “I know what you are going through. You are probably thinking that you rushed too quickly to get engaged, and there are five other girls you could have married.” While I agreed that such a thought had crossed my mind, he reassured me. “Let me ask you something. Is this girl a nice girl?” “Amazing,” I said. “Pretty?” “Yes.” “Good character?” “Fantastic.” “Do you think she could have found five other boys to marry?” “Without question,” was my reply. “Now listen carefully to me,” my friend said. “You could have found five other girls and she could have found five other boys; but you chose her and she chose you. What does that tell you?” As my friend told this to me, I didn’t have to hear anything more. I understood what he meant and it all made sense.

While we may sometimes question if the person we plan on marrying or in fact did marry is the right one for us, we must always remember that we have chosen each other. That is the type of mindset we must set for ourselves. There will always be someone else out there. But ultimately, marriage is about saying, “I chose you and you chose me. And together we are going to build a most beautiful family.”

A Short Message From
Rebbetzin Chana Silver

I remember hearing about a couple who both have demanding jobs in the frum world and are quite busy. Additionally, they have a large family consisting of older teenagers down to little kids. However, every week, they go on a little “outing.” Sitting together in their car in the garage, they spend quality time with one another and inform the children that mommy and daddy will be unavailable for an hour or two unless there is an emergency. It is important to realize that spending time with our spouse even for a little while is very meaningful and need not entail traveling far. Even if your schedule is hectic, you can still “go out” while staying at home.

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.