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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Matot-Maasei

Parshat Matot-Maasei

Compiled and Edited by Meir Sommers


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter   Print Version

Parashat Matot-Maasei
28th of Tammuz, 5777 | July 22, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Paysach Krohn 
Perpetuating Kindness

When I was twenty-one years old learning at the yeshiva of Torah V’Daas in 1966, my father unfortunately passed away, leaving me as the oldest child of the family. Yet, before my father’s time came, he called me over one day and said, “You should know that when I am no longer around, you will need to support the family. I have been teaching you how to perform bris milahs now for some time, but I feel that we need to intensity your learning process because I do not know how much longer I myself can be a mohel.” And in fact, by June of that year, my father could no longer perform brisim, and months later, on Shemini Atzeres, he passed away.

There I was, a young twenty-one-year-old with relatively few people who wanted to hire me as a mohel. Understandably so, I had less experience than other seasoned mohelim, and it was difficult to support my mother and younger brothers and sisters.

One day, as I stood in shul, a man named Chaim Israel approached me. “Here,” he said, handing me an envelope, “this is for you.” I proceeded to open it up and count the money folded inside. It came out to $1500. In 1967, such money was considered a fortune. “Mr. Israel,” I said, “my family is not poor and we are not begging. Thank you very much, but we don’t need the money.” “No, no,” he reiterated, “this is a loan for you and your mother.” “What do you mean by a loan?” I curiously asked. “I will never ask you to pay me back,” he said. “Whenever you would like to do so, that is perfectly fine. I know, however, that you and your mother most probably could use this.”

I was very pleased to be the beneficiary of such largess, but I hesitated to take the envelope. “Mr. Israel, it is very kind of you to offer this to my family, but I cannot accept it without asking my mother.” I then continued on home, relating to my mother what had occurred. “We are not poor,” my mother exclaimed, “and we are managing.” “Ma,” I said, “that is what I told Mr. Israel, but he said it is a loan. He clearly told me that he will never ask us for the money, and we can repay him whenever we want.” After hearing the entire story and facts, my mother acquiesced. “Under those conditions, we will accept it.”

Two years later, after I had gained more experience and built a small reputation, I was able to put together $1500. And so, one day, I called Mr. Israel in his office. “Mr. Israel,” I said, “I would like to come and speak to you.” When I later arrived, I took out an envelope with the $1500 and laid it down on his desk. “I’m not taking this,” Mr. Israel said. I stood there confused. “What do you mean? You said it was a loan! We would not have taken this as charity.” But Mr. Israel would not budge. “Please sit down,” he said, “I want to tell you a story.

“Do you remember how a couple of years ago I was very wealthy and I suddenly lost a tremendous amount of money?” “Yes, I do,” I said. “Well, there was another man in the neighborhood named Mr. Lewenstein who one day came over to me and handed me an envelope full of money. ‘Mr. Lewenstein,’ I said, ‘I am not poor.’ ‘This is not a donation,’ he said, ‘it is a loan. You can repay me whenever you want.’

“Two years later, I returned to Mr. Lewenstein with the money. ‘I’m not taking it,’ he said. ‘What do you mean? You told me it was a loan!’ ‘It in fact was a loan,’ replied Mr. Lewenstein, ‘but I don’t want you to give it to me. Give it to another family. Someday you will find a family who is struggling financially, and you will help them by giving them this money. That is how you will pay me back. And when that family returns to repay you the loan, you tell them the same thing. ‘I will not accept the money, but give it to another family who needs it.’ That is how this act of chesed will continue.’”

This great kindness which Mr. Israel learned from Mr. Lewenstein and in turn showed me is something which remains with me to this very day. And in fact, two years later, my mother and I found a family who needed the money and we gave it to them as a loan. When they later returned to repay us, we declined as Mr. Israel and Mr. Lewenstein had done, telling them the same thing we had been told. Find another family in need and pass the money on to them.

This is what true chesed is all about. It is done altruistically and without expectation of receiving something in return. It is about perpetuating more and more kindness in the world, and doing whatever possible to ensure that the entire Jewish people are taken care of. And when this becomes our attitude and perspective on chesed, there is no limit to the quality and quantity of love and care we can provide. How beautiful.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski 
Partners with Hashem

Throughout Torah literature, it is interesting to note the various ways in which Hashem relates to us as a Jewish nation. We are depicted as a father and child, king and servant, husband and wife, and friends. Yet there is one relationship which is often overlooked. And that is the relationship of partners. Chazal teach that if one observes Shabbos properly, it is as if he becomes a partner with Hashem in the creation of the world. Likewise, if a judge adjudicates with integrity, he also becomes a partner with Hashem. What, though, is the nature of this “partnership”? What depth does it provide to our relationship with Hashem?

One of my great ancestors, the Apter Rav, once heard of a man living in a distant town who was known to give successful and fruitful blessings time after time. Wondering that was so special about this particular individual, the Rebbe decided he would go visit him and perhaps gain some insight into his hidden greatness.

Upon arriving in the town, the Apter Rav was quite surprised. The man appeared to be a simple Jew who ran a store all day long. Yet, the man did do one small thing which caught the Rebbe’s attention. After every sale, he would take some of the money and store it away in the cash register, while the remaining money would be placed in a tzedakah box. A short while later, the Apter Rav approached the man, ready with his question.

“If you don’t mind me asking, I heard that you are especially known to grant effective blessings. Would you be able to tell me what it is that makes them so successful?” The man looked back at the Apter Rav. “Rebbe,” he began, “it’s very simple. Some time ago, I was having a very hard time making any profits in my store. After things spiraled downward, my wife suggested that I look for a partner with whom I could expand the store and look to increase my revenue. I heeded her advice, and began looking for someone I could trust. But I didn’t find anyone. I continued searching and searching, but nothing came from it all.

“Then one day, I finally told myself that there is someone I can trust: Hashem. He can become my partner and 50 percent of the income will go to Him, and 50 percent will go to me. Ever since I thought of this idea, Hashem and I have been partners.

“Now, I’ve heard that in a partnership, if one of the partners makes a commitment, the other partner must live up to it. If one partner promises something, the other partner must fulfill it. And so, now you understand. I am a partner with Hashem, and so, the blessings I give to others He fulfills.”

Such is the potency of becoming a true partner with Hashem. In all our endeavors in life, if we commit to incorporating Hashem and bringing Him into the picture, we are on our way to seeing much blessing and success blossom for ourselves, our families and our communities.

Rabbi Reuven Epstein 
Shidduchim Q&A

Q: “Here I am still unmarried and getting older. What can I do to deal with this unsettling reality? How can I walk around positive and optimistic instead of sulking and thinking that I will never find the right one”?

A: Let me begin with a story.

I work as a CPA and have several clients. One of them is extremely lucrative and brings in millions of dollars. Recently, my client contracted an attorney to deal with a court case of his, yet the attorney was not giving him the time of day. He was neither answering phone calls nor text messages. My client therefore decided to travel to the attorney’s firm and set things straight. As he walked into the huge headquarters with hundreds of employees, he located the attorney’s boss and without hesitating said, “I would like you to fire this employee of yours.” What bolstered his argument was a text which the attorney previously sent impressing upon my client that he was just another person and was worth much less than many other people the attorney works with. Essentially, he was a nobody. My client was rightfully offset by this message and wished to show the attorney’s boss how he was being treated.

Suffice it to say, the attorney was asked to leave the firm.

In life, everyone wishes to be happy and make money. In truth, however, attaining happiness and money are not goals, but byproducts. Chasing happiness unto itself is pursuing an illusion, as is money. If making money is your sole goal in business, you are likely to feel unsatisfied. After all, once you make a certain amount, you want more and more. It then becomes an unreachable goal. What is attainable, though, when it comes to business is service, product, competency, skill and professionalism. If you work hard, build up your skills, provide your clients and customers with product and service, you will make money. Money though is the byproduct, not the direct goal.

This attorney failed to realize this message. He was focused on flaunting his prestige and simply making more and more revenue, yet he forgot what he was meant to do. His goal was to provide service and product, yet he was overlooking that by getting caught up in his status and money-making results. He was forgetting about the product and jumping to the byproduct.

Marriage is the same. Everyone wishes to get married and be happy, and understandably so. However, the actual act of marriage is quite easy. You walk into a chapel unmarried and several minutes later you walk out married. That is the easy part. The challenge, though, is to find that person with whom you will walk out. Chazal coin a phrase, “Matzah min es mino – one kind finds its corresponding kind.” As put in other words, “awesome” finds “awesome.” Proportionate to who you are, you will find someone alike. If you work on growing into a bigger and better person, you are in the position to also find someone who is a bigger and better person. Yet, if your time is spent sulking, you will be detracting from who you can become and develop as that awesome person.

By fine-tuning your personality, attitude, temperament, and everything else that goes into who you uniquely are, you will be molding yourself into an incredible person who will be open and ready to meet and mesh with someone on that same wavelength.

This does not minimize the difficulty experienced when one is eagerly waiting to find the right person. It can be unbelievably frustrating. However, remember, you will have your time. Hashem, so to speak, knows your name and number, davens for you and knows where you live. Until that right time arrives, you can focus on developing yourself into that best version of who you can become. Ask a friend, a rav, a brother or sister: what do you think I can do to become a bigger and better person? What part of myself can I refine to become a more wholesome and “awesome” person?

In short, become awesome and you will find someone else who is awesome.

Q: What can I do to prepare for a date beyond the first few?

A: This is a very important question with an even more important answer.

When beginning to learn about a person, aside from discussing ancillary issues, it is key to focus on beneath-the-surface questions. When appropriate and comfortable, ask questions that most people would take a moment to think about and not immediately know the answer to. Formulate twenty such questions and write them down on a piece of paper. That is step #1.

Now take that piece of paper and answer each one of those questions yourself. All too often, we date the whole world but forget to date ourselves. Yet, if you do not date yourself and understand who you are, it will be difficult to allow someone else into your life.

Here are a few examples.

What is your biggest insecurity? What is the most difficult thing for you to do? What makes you angry? These are tough questions. We do not like asking these questions, and we certainly do not like answering them. When these questions are asked of ourselves first, we begin to realize what makes us tick. “I didn’t realize that,” we say to ourselves. “Let me try to perfect this as best as I can.” Before you can ask these questions of someone else, be ready to ask them of yourself. It is one of the most effective ways of achieving self-development and self-awareness and becoming that bigger and better person you are striving for.

Q: If there is something I am bothered by, how much should I bend and be flexible about it?

A: A Rav once shared the following story with me.

I asked one boy who I knew was in shidduchim what he was looking for. Before I got any further, though, he said to me, “I’ll tell you what I am not looking for. I am not looking for a red-headed girl.” I listened to this one consideration which the boy seemed to be adamant about, and said that I understood.

Some time later, he planned on going out and arranged to pick up the girl from my house. The minute the girl walked through the front door, I knew it was a done deal. She had flaming red hair. My wife, who had also heard about this boy’s unwavering criteria, surmised that they would not even make it to their planned destination before the boy called it off. My wife and I, though, decided to remain quiet and see how things would go.

A few hours later, in came the boy with a huge smile. “So, how was it?” I asked. “Rabbi, she is terrific! She is so nice and caring. She’s an amazing girl!” The boy proceeded to go out a second time, then a third time and a fourth time. By then, I figured it would be appropriate to ask the question which had been bothering me.

“Can I ask you a funny question?” I said to the boy. “Remind me, what color hair does the girl have?” Within a heartbeat, he replied, “Rabbi, it’s a little auburn, and a little blondish with a streak of black.”

While you may be laughing, this boy was convinced. Many of the criteria which we tell ourselves we will never budge from and cannot live with may actually sit well with us. What we are looking for in terms of personality, style or even hair color may seem to be set in stone and non-negotiable. But then we realize that we in fact can and should be flexible, and we will only be happier because of it.

This is not to say that you should fool yourself and enter a relationship where it will be difficult for you to love the other person. But, if after taking the entire picture into perspective and considering the person in totality, you find positive qualities and virtues you are looking for, many other considerations can be tweaked partially or even totally. Many beautiful marriages are built on flexibility and it will only be in your best interest to honestly discern where and how much to bend.

A Short Message From 
Dr. David Pelcovitz

In one intriguing study, psychologists divided a group of people into two, some of whom stood at the bottom of a hill alone, while the others stood alongside another person. Asking the participants what their perception of the hill was, those who stood alone consistently answered that it looked significantly steep and difficult to walk up. On the other hand, those who stood together with another person responded that the hill didn’t look too steep and they imagined it wouldn’t be too tiring to walk up. The results of this research are quite telling as it applies to life in general. If we have someone else standing and supporting us at our side, we are more likely to view life’s challenges as surmountable and bearable and come out on top as only stronger and more successful people.

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