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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Re'eh

Parshat Re'eh

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Re'eh
27th of Av, 5777 | August 19, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Mrs. Tzippy Reifer
Let Me Help

בנים אתם לד' אלקיכם

You are children to Hashem, your G-d (Devarim 14:1)

It was Wednesday afternoon, just a few days before Pesach, when my phone rang. Just a week before I had married off a Russian girl who I had become close to and I was now tirelessly preparing for Pesach. Not wishing to involve myself in more than I could handle, I wondered if this phone call would do exactly that. Little did I know that it would.

Glancing down to see who was calling, I hesitated, as I didn’t recognize the name and wondered if I should pick it up. But I decided I would. “Ma…” called out a girl on the other end of the line. I immediately realized it was my daughter. “What happened?” I asked. “Where are you?” “I’m calling from a payphone on the street. I just came down this block to kasher my pots and pans for Pesach, and I ran into a woman I never met before. She is dressed like a regular frum lady, although she doesn’t look Jewish. She asked if she could bring her non-Kosher pots and make them Kosher at this same site where everyone is kashering their household wares for Pesach. I’m not sure what to tell her. Do you know?”

As my daughter relayed this information to me, I asked her to put the woman on the line. After introducing myself, I asked if I could be of any help. “Well,” the woman said, “I just became Jewish last week and I wanted to make all my utensils which were previously used for non-Kosher food acceptable to be used in my new Kosher kitchen. At the moment, I don’t have anything else to cook or eat with.” While I listened to this woman’s story about becoming Jewish, I was very touched. Yet I wondered if it would be best if she would simply buy new dishes altogether and circumvent the need of kashering her entire kitchen. “Is money an issue?” I asked. “Well,” she hesitated, “I just left my job recently and so, yes, money is an issue.” As soon as I heard that, I knew what I wanted to do. “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you come to my house tomorrow and we’ll see what we can do. Let me look at what you need and see how I can help.”

The next day she was at my house, ready to get down to business. As I began talking to her and learning more about her past and current experiences, I felt that it would be best for her to start her new phase of Jewish life with new sets of dishes. “Let’s go shopping,” I told her. As I said this, my mind immediately began to race. “Which store should I take her to?” The most expensive houseware store in Boro Park was just down the street from my house, while the less expensive stores were a distance away. At the moment, I was exhausted from cleaning and preparing my house for Pesach, and I wondered if I had the strength to make it to any of the cheaper stores miles away.

“Hashem,” I began saying, “You are the One who comes with me to the Bergament Outlet store, Albert & Sons, and National Wholesale Liquidators; I guess You can come with me to the expensive store on 14th Avenue and make everything work out. You know exactly how much money I don’t have, how much time I don’t have and how much strength I don’t have. I need Your help now. Please.” And with that, I took my credit card, and headed off to the more expensive store.

As we arrived, the woman and I grabbed a cart and began making rounds up and down the aisles, looking for anything and everything she needed. The cart began filling up little by little, until I was approached by someone in the store during a few minutes when the woman I was helping scurried off. “Excuse me, but it seems like the two of you don’t belong together. Is money an issue? Can I help you in some way?” “Well,” I said, “this woman with me just became Jewish a week ago and I am trying to help her get settled and situated. Money, though, is an issue.”

The woman who had just approached me spared no time in getting to her point. “My mother just passed away two weeks ago and left an entire brand-new set of pots and pans. You’re welcome to take them. It would be my pleasure.”

After hearing that, we nearly put back everything we had grabbed off the shelves and walked out of the store with just a few items. Neither of us were ever expecting that, but Hashem had accompanied us while shopping.

But that’s not the entire story.

When I later arrived home, I relayed what had happened to my family. “Ma,” my daughter-in-law immediately said, “don’t you remember what happened a week ago right before the Russian girl’s wedding? I told you how my sister was driving with her husband down 49th Street when, all of a sudden, they noticed a woman crying at the bus stop. Worrying that something serious had happened, they got out of the car and asked if they could help. “I missed the bus,” the woman said between her tears, “I missed the Monsey bus.” “That’s okay,” my sister told her. “Come with us, and we’ll try to catch the bus for you.” They drove her several miles, yet the bus was nowhere in sight.

The woman remained unnerved and worrisome. “What’s your story?” my sister asked. “I have an appointment today,” the woman began explaining. “I am supposed to convert today with the Beis Din and I missed the bus. They are not going to know what happened to me.”

My sister tried calming her down, reassuring her that they would sort everything out. Calling the Beis Din, my sister informed them that the woman was running late and would be over as soon as she could. Thankfully, the Beis Din agreed to wait. My sister and brother-in-law helped her find another bus which would take her to Monsey, and with that, off she went.

“After this incident,” my daughter-in-law told me, “my sister called me and told me to give you the name of this woman who planned on converting. She figured that considering the kiruv work you do, you would be able to help her get acclimated to the Jewish way of life and be a perfect mentor and source of support. But I told her that you were planning on marrying off a Russian girl in just a few days and Pesach was just around the corner. You couldn’t handle more and I didn’t want to put you under more pressure. So I kept her phone number with me and didn’t give it to you.”

As my daughter-in-law relayed this other half of the story which I had completely forgotten about, everything fit together. It was almost as if the Red Sea was splitting before my eyes. That same woman who my daughter-in-law felt would be too much for me to handle found me herself. She was the woman I had taken shopping. But, she was right, how would I be able to take on yet another responsibility during the most hectic time of year? Where would I find the strength to do it all?

Remember my own words? “Hashem, You are the One who comes with me to the Bergament Outlet store, Albert & Sons and National Wholesale Liquidators; I guess You can come with me to the expensive store on 14th Avenue and make everything work out. I don’t have much strength. I need Your help now. Please.”

When Hashem is at your side, everything is possible. Literally. It is not coincidental that the word for will (רצון) shares the same letters as the word for pipe or conduit (צנור). If you have a strong enough will to help another person, Hashem will see to it that you become a conduit and a channel for that help to be provided. All we must do is make Hashem a part of our life.

When we are constantly living with Hashem, and He accompanies us to carpool to pick up the kids and on our shopping spree to buy new dishes, miracles can happen. And without question, those little miracles warm your heart and the heart of so many others. When you exert that last ounce of effort you just barely have, don’t be surprised to be helped by Hashem and for a beautiful, picturesque story to come together.

Rabbi Mashiach Kelaty
The Reunion

למען ייטב לך ולבניך אחריך עד עולם

In order that it be well with you and your children after you forever (Devarim 12:28)

It was during those dark and difficult war years that a young girl named Ida was deported from Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz. That train ride was the last time she saw her family, aside from her sister, who joined her in the camp. For Ida, she was assigned a job which kept her alive, yet was painfully sad to carry out. Day after day, she would sift through the clothing and belongings of those who headed to the gas chambers.

Every night, Ida and her sister would return exhausted to their tiny barracks, which just barely fit them and thirty-six other girls. Life in the dirty and deteriorating barracks was beyond uncomfortable, but there simply was no other option.

One night, the girls heard an unusual ruffling noise emanating from what seemed to be under the bed. They assumed it was a rat. Nervous and suspicious, they immediately began to panic. Yet within moments, the source of the commotion became clear. It was a tiny, little girl, who must have been two years old. Hesitantly and cautiously, she crawled out from under the bed.

After some inquiring, it was discovered that her name was Esther, and she had escaped for her dear life to the barracks. She had no idea where the rest of her family was; she was alone and helpless. With both pity and compassion, the girls welcomed her into their living quarters. Yet there was one girl who took a particular interest and liking to Esther. And that was Ida. She decided she would look after her, and ensure her safety and well-being.

Ida did just that. She gave little Esther special attention and essentially became her surrogate mother.

Ida, though, faced a daily challenge. Esther was too young to work, and as such, would not be needed by the Germans. Her chances at survival were slim. Ida, though, had a plan. The blockhova, the Jewess who overlooked the inmates and was responsible for keeping them in line, knew a Jewish boy who had falsely assumed Aryan identity. Perhaps he could allow Esther to remain in a safe and private room throughout the day while everyone else was working. The blockhova agreed, and Esther survived.

Then came January of 1945 and Ida along with thousands of others began the Death March from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen. Ida was separated from her sister, yet not from Esther. She in no way was willing to leave Esther behind. Fortunately and surprisingly, Esther was small enough for Ida to wrap in a blanket and fit in a knapsack. And so, on walked Ida carrying Esther for miles until they arrived in Bergen-Belsen.

Although life in Bergen-Belsen was even more difficult for Ida than in Auschwitz, she carried on with courage and conviction. She knew that if she maintained the hope that she would make it out alive, perhaps she would. Otherwise, the pangs of suffering would get the better of her, and that would be the beginning of the end.

Shortly after arriving in the camp, Ida surprisingly came across her sister, who at the time had become sick with typhus. Despite the wretched state her sister was in, she was alive, and that was all Ida needed to muster the strength to devotedly tend to her with love and care. At last, Ida, her sister and Esther were together again.

After the Jews in Bergen-Belsen were liberated on April 15, 1945, the two sisters headed back to their home in Czechoslovakia in search of other relatives who had perhaps survived. Esther too traveled back home to Bratislava in the hope that her parents or siblings had made it out alive. Separating ways was difficult for Ida and Esther, although they planned on reuniting two weeks later in Prague. And with that, they bid each other goodbye.

Two weeks later, Ida and her sister were in Prague, but Esther was nowhere to be found. All inquiries to local residents and refugee centers as to Esther’s whereabouts were to no avail. No one recalled seeing a young girl with the likeness of Esther, and there was nothing else which could be done. Their search would need to come to an end. Ida and her sister went on to get married and head their separate ways, with Ida moving to America and her sister to Israel.

Years later, during one summer in the early 1950s, Ida decided to visit Israel and catch up with her sister. Yet during her stay, as she walked down the streets of Tel Aviv one blazing afternoon, she fainted. Thankfully, two soldiers were at hand, who helped transfer Ida to the hospital where she was stabilized. The two soldiers continued to monitor and look after Ida, ensuring that all her needs were met and she was provided the best care possible.

When Ida was ready to be discharged, she was without words to thank the soldiers for their care and kindness. “How can I ever repay you?” “You know,” one of the soldiers said, “I am getting married in a few days and it would be an honor to have you there.” Although Ida would know no one else aside from the chassan, she happily agreed to attend.

It was a beautifully arranged outdoor wedding in Jerusalem. Ida was present, looking around to see if she could spot a familiar face anywhere. Within a few minutes, however, all heads turned in one direction. “The kallah is on her way!” someone murmured, quieting the crowd down. Ida slowly and carefully squeezed her way through the crowd, trying to gain a glimpse of the kallah. And then she saw.

The kallah looked familiar. Very familiar.

It was Esther.

Unfortunately, though, Esther didn’t appear to have any mother or father to walk her down to the chuppa. But now she would.

As Ida approached Esther and their two faces met, it was an unforgettable moment in time. A day neither Ida nor Esther ever dreamed of had arrived. Taking Esther by the hand, Ida walked her down to the chuppa with tears of joy. The very woman who had carried Esther on a death march for miles amid pain and fatigue would now walk with her on a living march to marriage amid joy and elation.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Chananya Rosenblum

One of the greatest ways of solidifying a relationship and having an easier time negotiating, whether it be in business, outreach work or marriage, is through building a strong personal rapport early on. In one study, one cohort of businessmen were instructed to tell their clients prior to engaging in negotiation, “Time is money; let’s get down to business.” Of those parties who exchanged this message before negotiating, 55% reached an agreement. The second group, however, was told, “Before you begin talking to your client, exchange some pleasantries and personal information and try to connect with them.” 90% of those who had this brief conversation before discussing the matter at hand reached an agreement. The effect of taking interest in another person’s well-being and personal life goes further than imagined. It creates a close and friendly bond and paves the way for a respectful and positive relationship to follow.

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