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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Ekev

Parshat Ekev

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter     Print Version

Parashat Ekev
20th of Av, 5777 | August 12, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko
Looking for a Hug

וישמע ד' אלי

And Hashem listened to me… (Devarim 10:10)

Dalia Emanuelof led a happy life, surrounded by her wonderful husband, Netanel, and her beautiful children. Living in Givat Ze’ev was peaceful and comfortable, and it was hoped that the family would only continue to share in good news and happy occasions together.

But then the unexpected occurred, and Mr. Emanuelof turned ill. It was a long illness, which eventually left him weak and frail and no longer able to go on. Heartbreakingly, he left behind his wife and four children. The children were now painfully bereft of a father figure, yet they would continue to persevere and bring nachas to their late father and family.

Dvir, the only boy in the family, went on to join the IDF and move up in the ranks. He became a source of pride to his family and country, and excelled in his Golani combat unit as a dedicated confidante and leader. Yet then the Gaza War broke out and Israeli soldiers were called into combat. In what became known as Operation Cast Lead, Israel marshaled thousands of soldiers in an attempt to stop rocket fire into the country.

Staff Sergeant Dvir Emanuelof joined the many soldiers who headed off into war. Yet on January 4, 2009, along with nineteen other soldiers, he returned his soul to heaven.

As news of this tragic casualty spread, IDF officers were dispatched to the Emanuelof home to relay the information to Dalia, mother of Dvir. When she heard the news, it was too much to bear. The loss of Dvir left Dalia and her daughters inconsolable and devastated. Dvir had taken on many of the family’s responsibilities after the passing of his father, but now the family was left without either of them. Life would move on, yet it would never be the same.

Months later, the pain felt by the Emanuelof family was still overwhelming. Yet one night, as Dalia prepared to go to sleep, she turned to G-d with a request. “Please, give me one hug from Dvir so that I will know that it was not all in vain.” And with that, Dalia went to sleep.

A few days later, one of the Emanuelof daughters asked her mother if she would accompany her to a concert. Although Dalia was far from being in the right frame of mind for a concert, she wished to be there for her daughter and lend her care and support. Pulling herself together as best as she could, she decided to go along.

When Dalia and her daughter arrived, they found their seats and waited as the band prepared themselves on stage. Yet, within minutes, a little boy came over to them. He looked around two years old, and was graced with beautiful blond curls and the face of an angel. “What is your name?” Dalia asked. “Eshel,” the little boy shyly said. “Would you like to sit next to me?” “Yes,” came the reply. It didn’t take long before Eshel’s parents, who were sitting just a few rows ahead, noticed what had happened, and motioned for Eshel to come back and leave Dalia alone. But Dalia courteously motioned back with her hand, indicating that she was perfectly fine with having the little boy near her. And with that, the conversation continued.

Eshel began excitedly telling Dalia all about his family. And then he mentioned how he had a baby brother named Dvir. As Dalia heard that, she became intrigued. Dvir was not the most common name, after all. Not knowing what to make of it, she decided that she would inquire about Dvir from Eshel’s mother, Shiri, and learn just a little bit more about him. “If you don’t mind me asking, your son Eshel told me that you have a son named Dvir. How old is he?” “Six months,” replied Shiri. Dalia was well aware that the Gaza War was a mere six months before. “Was he born before or after the war?” “After,” came the answer. At this point, Dalia was very curious.

“Please excuse me for asking, but could you tell me why you named him Dvir?” “Sure,” said Shiri. “I work in the army as an officer who informs families of their wounded or murdered children and arranges for them to receive all the help they need. When I was expecting my most recent child, the doctors told me that there had been a number of complications and they expected the child to be born with a serious defect. There didn’t appear to be any option other than to wait until I gave birth.

“On my way home, I heard on the radio how a soldier named Dvir had tragically been killed in Gaza. At that moment, I turned to G-d and said, ‘Please, if you give me a healthy baby, I will call him Dvir in memory of that soldier.’”

Dalia’s eyes were by now flooded with tears. “I am Dvir’s mother.” Shiri found it hard to believe. “I am Dvir’s mother,” Dalia repeated. “My name is Dalia Emanuelof, from Givat Ze’ev.”

Shiri and Dalia did their best to contain their emotions. Shiri then picked up Dvir and handed him over to Dalia. “Here you go, Dalia, take Dvir in your arms. He wants to give you a hug…”

Dalia’s prayers had been answered.

Mrs. Tzipi Caton
The Pretzel Vendor

The smell of freshly baked pretzels could be sensed quite a distance away, as one pretzel vendor stood still waiting for customers amid the cold winter day. One day, a man who had never before frequented the area approached the vendor. “Excuse me, how much is a pretzel?” “25 cents,” came the reply. And with that, the man took out a quarter and placed it down on the table.

Yet before the vendor could grab the steaming pretzel and hand it to the gentleman, he already began walking away. “Sir,” yelled the vendor, “you forgot your pretzel!” But the man kept on walking without missing a beat. “Sir, you forgot your pretzel!” No response. Not wishing to leave his pushcart unattended, the vendor had no choice other than to return the pretzel back to where it belonged and keep the change.

The following day, the same scene repeated itself. The gentleman came over, asked how much a pretzel cost, put down a quarter and walked away without taking anything. Day after day, the same thing happened. Eventually, the vendor stopped reminding the man how he forgot his pretzel.

A year later, the man still paid for the pretzel every day but never took it. Yet one day, as the same scene which had occurred so many times unfolded, the vendor chose to no longer remain silent. “Wait! Wait!” he yelled. But the man kept on walking. This time the vendor left his pushcart and began chasing the man block after block. Finally, he just barely grabbed a hold of the man. “What do you want?” asked the gentleman. “I don’t need your pretzel. It’s fine.” “That’s not why I’m here,” replied the vendor. “I came to tell you that the price went up. The pretzel is now 35 cents.”

This may sound humorous, but in truth, it reflects how we often live our lives. Many times, Hashem grants us the most wonderful, blessed life on a silver platter. Yet we take it for granted and move along without appreciating its gift and counting our blessings. And then the day comes when Hashem sends us a reminder and awakens us to just exactly what we have been receiving all along. He whispers to us, “Appreciate every moment of every day and use it wisely.” The last thing we want is a rude wake-up call that we have been ignoring the beautiful price of life and forgotten to thank and praise the One who grants us every breath we take. As in the analogy, we would be wise to never forget who the true vendor is and how much the pretzel costs.

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky
Living with Emunah

כי על כל מוצא פי ד' יחיה האדם

By everything that emanates from the mouth of G-d does man live (Devarim 8:3)

Years ago, I met a wonderful man named Tzvi. As a teenager, he had slowly become more and more religious until he finally decided it was time to head off to yeshiva in Israel. After mulling over different options of where to study, he settled on Ohr Somayach. It was a good choice for Tzvi, as he grew in his understanding and appreciation of Judaism and became more dedicated to a Torah life.

Years later, Tzvi had become a successful lawyer and made numerous financial investments, making him quite wealthy. Yet, he only philanthropically gave back to the Jewish community a significant part of what he earned. He was a man with a big heart who generously supported whomever he could. When I had the opportunity to meet him, he shared with me the following story:

When the 2006 economic crash hit, Tzvi’s money-making investments disintegrated. For Tzvi, what hurt even more than the actual loss of money was his inability to support all the people and organizations he had in the past. Downcast, Tzvi and his wife decided to go on a short trip to New Hampshire and spend some time in the mountains. Leaving the kids with the neighbor, off they went for a few days.

Hiking in the mountains afforded Tzvi and his wife the opportunity to engage in a philosophical discussion, something they rarely did. “You know,” sighed Tzvi, “I am very troubled. When I was in yeshiva, I learned how Chazal say that one area where you can “test” Hashem is tzedakah. It is one of those exclusive areas in life where Hashem promises blessing and prosperity if it is carried out with utmost dedication and care. If a person meticulously gives to those in need, he is blessed with a special guarantee for wealth. Yet looked what happened now? I have always been very scrupulous and generous in giving tzedakah and kept detailed records of everyone I supported and my business dissolved. How can that be?”

Tzvi’s wife looked back at her husband. “Well, there are some things in life we just don’t understand.” Yet Tzvi was almost certain that something was off here. He could not come to terms with the reality of his situation. “You know,” chimed in his wife, “maybe you are not supposed to be repaid in cash. Maybe you will be compensated in a different way.”

Tzvi could only wonder what that might be. “For the record let it be noted,” said Tzvi, borrowing the colloquialism of lawyers, “if you are telling me that instead of getting the money, I saved the life of one of my children, I am willing to take that instead.”

The local time was 11:30 am.

Scene change.

For one construction worker, the day’s labor became only that much more difficult when he dropped his hammer several flights down and could not find it. Even after searching all around for it, he still could not spot it. And so, he decided he would head over to Home Depot, a home improvement supplies store, and purchase a new hammer.

Another man had for years been neighbors with an elderly Jewish lady. They pleasantly got along and helped each other whenever possible. Yet for quite a while, the Jewish lady had asked her neighbor if he could fix the fence between their properties. It was falling apart and could use repair. And so, one day he took off some time from work and headed over to Home Depot to purchase the necessary supplies to fix the fence.
Neither of these two men had any particular reason for choosing that time on that day to make a trip to Home Depot.

Scene change.

11:30 am.

The neighbor with whom Tzvi and his wife had left the kids had a few errands to run. He dropped off a few kids at camp, after which he headed to a few places. His next stop was Home Depot.

After making his way around the store and picking up the few items he needed, he headed back to the car. Yet when he opened the door, he was met by a nightmare. The two-year-old boy who had been sitting in the back was unconscious. The neighbor had forgotten about him and left him in the car. Frantically panicking, he raced back into Home Depot and began yelling for help. An announcement was as well broadcasted over the loudspeaker asking if anyone knew CPR or was a doctor.

Within half a minute, two EMTs were at the boy’s side working to resuscitate him. Calling 911, he was rushed to the hospital, where doctors and nurses immediately attended to him. The boy had suffered a heat stroke and incurred significant brain damage. The prognosis looked bleak. “We don’t know if the boy will regain consciousness and recover,” the doctors said.
As I now stood facing Tzvi who was detailing this nightmare he had experienced, a young child all of a sudden ran into the room. “Abba, Abba!” yelled the child. Tzvi turned back towards me. “That’s my son,” he said. “He miraculously survived and he is perfectly healthy.”

Flashback. Tzvi to his wife:

“For the record let it be noted, if you are telling me that instead of getting the money, I saved the life of one of my children, I am willing to take that instead.”

At 11:30 am, as Tzvi said this to his wife, his son was rushed into Home Depot and subsequently brought to the hospital, where his life would eventually be saved.

In life, we have many questions. They are troubling questions which we search all around for an answer. Yet there are no guarantees in life except for one: Hashem is running the world. For close to six millennia, Hashem has been doing so and He knows what He is doing. “If I were G-d,” we tell ourselves, “you know what I would do?” The real answer is that you would do exactly what Hashem is doing now. If you knew all that He knew, you would not change one iota from all that occurs in the world. “Emunah begins,” once remarked the Brisker Rav, “when it doesn’t make sense.” We will never have all the answers, but one thing we know for certain: we can trust G-d. He is our Father who loves us, and even when every odd seems against us, He is there at our side.

A Short Message From
Mrs. Sarah Karmely

Looking for some real beauty tips? Here are a few:

For beautiful lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a nice physique, share your food with the hungry. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anybody.
Remember if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others.

The beauty of a person lies not in the clothes they wear, the figure they carry or the way they comb their hair. The beauty of a person is seen from within their eyes because that is the door to the heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a person is not seen in their facial mole, but rather reflected in their soul. It is seen in the care that they lovingly show and the compassion that they bestow. Indeed, the beauty of a person with passing years only grows.

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