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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Special Tisha B'Av

Parshat Special Tisha B'Av

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"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Tisha B'av Edition 9th of Av, 5777 | August 1, 2017 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Benzion Klatzko Reme


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Tisha B'av Edition
9th of Av, 5777 | August 1, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko
Remembering our Beloved

Years ago, I was privileged to hear a tremendously inspiring and dynamic speech given by a man named Dr. David Applebaum in Los Angeles. Hearing how he founded an organization dedicated to providing makeshift emergency rooms, I myself along with hundreds of other well-respected people were left indelibly inspired by his incredible work on behalf of Klal Yisrael. He had recognized the need to provide ready, available service to those who needed treatment immediately and could not afford to wait, and he met the need. Naming such hospital rooms Terem, the Hebrew term for “before,” David Applebaum’s extraordinary vision was to ensure that timely emergency medical care would be provided to Israel’s residents.

Just about two weeks after he addressed us, his daughter, Naava, planned to get married in Israel. Considering how preoccupied David was, though, with running and overseeing the continued functioning of the hospitals, he was left with little opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter before the wedding date. Yet he genuinely wished he could find some special time to prepare his daughter for what it meant to be an eishes chayil and a future mother. And so, the day before the wedding, he came up with a beautiful plan. “Why don’t we go out to a café tonight and spend some time together? Just me and you, father and daughter.” With this special idea in mind, the two of them headed out to a café in Jerusalem anticipating a special heart-to-heart talk.

But although David and Naava would enter the café, they would unfortunately never exit. That very night before Naava’s wedding, the two of them were murdered in a terrorist attack. The following day, the heavens were weeping as the chassan who was supposed to rejoice with his beautiful wife stood instead by her gravesite and lowered her body into the ground. The sadness felt in the wake of this tragedy was too great to bear.

As news of this calamity sent shock waves throughout Israel, it was decided that the loss of David and Naava Applebaum epitomized the painful exile our nation has endured for thousands of years. And so, the beautifully bedecked wedding dress Naava was to wear the following day was instead brought to Kever Rachel. Opening its seams, they draped it alongside the tombstone and appended it to the already existent mechitza. That is where this dress stained with the blood and tears of the Jewish people for thousands of years belonged. And to this very day, that is where this dress remains. It cries out to G-d about the pain and suffering we have experienced time and again, and pierces the mournful heavens.

What could be done when such terror and tragedy struck the Jewish world?

Michal Belzberg had an idea.

At that time, Michal Belzberg, a young girl who lived just a few blocks away from the café, heard the explosion. Asking her father if he knew what had occurred, Mr. Belzberg continued on to the site of the tragedy. And then he returned with the heartrending news. When Michal heard what had in fact happened, she was silently beside herself.

And then Michal turned to her father. “Abba, in a few weeks it is going to be my bat mitzvah. I was supposed to be given a wonderfully lavish party. But now, instead of a bat mitzvah party, I would like to donate the expenses to the victims of the attack. I want to help those who have lost a beloved family member. I want to help provide solace and comfort to the bereft families who know of the piercing pain of losing a loved one.”

And so it was. Michal Belzberg began the organization OneFamily. Aimed at providing support and assistance to thousands of terror victims, OneFamily has warmed the broken hearts of many of our brothers and sisters and made their dismal and gloomy lives a little better and a little brighter.

Rabbi Eliezer Krohn
The Real Story

For Yossi, who lived in the city and anxiously wished he could spend one Shabbos in camp in the country, his dream finally came true. He was granted permission to join the camp and experience an exciting and refreshing weekend filled with peer comradery.

As Friday night rolled along, the boys gathered together to daven. Following davening, everyone began making their way around and wishing the rabbis positioned up front a good Shabbos. Everyone except one boy. When Yossi took note of how all the boys, including himself, were standing in line to greet the rebbeim except this one boy, he was discernably disturbed. Why was he the exception?

Yossi was only more bothered when he looked closer and noticed the boy’s posture. He was standing off to the side, leaning back on his shtender, looking all nice and comfortable. Yet not only that, but his hat was casually perched towards the back of his head, with a nicely combed lock of hair extending down his forehead. Yossi did not wish to approach the boy and offset him, though he curiously wished to find out just exactly who this boy was. Why in fact was he not following all the other boys in line?

Turning to his friend, Yossi quietly asked, “Who is that boy over there? Why is he the only one not wishing the rebbeim a good Shabbos?”

Yossi’s friend looked back. He knew exactly why the boy was staying put where he was. “Yossi, I am sorry to tell you, but this boy is sick with a terminal illness. You see, everyone is going around to the rebbeim, but this boy doesn’t have the strength to do so. In fact, he is even too weak to stand up straight without leaning back on his shtender. And you see his hat situated on his head? That is because he is losing all his hair towards the back of his head. Since he still has hair in the front, he purposely never cuts the hair there, and makes sure to place his hat in such a way that it covers the back of his head but keeps the front in view. Now, I think, you understand why he is acting the way he is.”

We sometimes look at a person and make out a certain picture, formulating our own thoughts and conclusions about them. But then we are shown the real picture, and we realize that we were far off the mark. The person is not necessarily experiencing pleasure, but is suffering in pain. We can never be too quick to judge, because in fact all we see is all we see. Instead of jumping to scrutinize, we would wise to jump and sympathize.

Mrs. Chana Krasny
Warm with Love

It was the night of Shemini Atzeres. Six children lay fast asleep, their eyes closed and heads pressed against the pillow. Their parents were just one flight of stairs away, having just put the children to sleep a mere ten minutes before. They anticipated that they would shortly finish off the meal and head back inside. But then they smelled something. Looking around, they tried to locate where the scent could be coming from. Maybe it was burning plastic, they thought.

“Let me go check on the kids,” said the husband to his wife. Making his way to the front door, the moment he opened it, he began to yell. Never before had his wife heard her husband so scared. Racing upstairs, soon there stood a husband and wife staring at their worst nightmare. A raging fire had overtaken their home and rapidly spread to every corner. But the house was not the concern. There was something much greater than that: their children. The parents now realized what they had smelled just minutes ago.

The mother of those children is me.

Taking a deep breath, I got down on my knees and began crawling beneath the smoke which filled the house. Struggling to maneuver, I worked on guiding my six children out of the house one by one and into my husband’s arms.

The first one out was Shimon, my firstborn. Next was Yitzchok Isaac, then Miriam, then Nosson Tzvi, and finally Ettel.

If you were counting, that was five. Avigdor never made it out.

Never again would life be the same for our family. We would always be missing one. But even amid the fire that burned, we knew that we were not alone. It was nothing short of Hashem’s hand which was guiding my children out the front door. And let me tell you, the miraculous hand of Hashem was warmer than the flames which burned within our house that night.

Let me just share with you a few examples which I personally feel demonstrate Hashem’s hashgacha over my family.

First and foremost, it is not coincidental that my children exited the burning apartment in the exact same order as their birth order. It almost seems as if they were born all over again and given another opportunity at life. Yet, that was just one part of the whole picture.

Shimon, the eldest, was the first one out. For Shimon, just about every night, it was expected that he would kick off his shoes as soon as he would come home. Yet, that particular night, Shimon was so tired that he fell asleep with his shoes on, something which was a rare occurrence. Yet now, we could make sense of why this had occurred. Had his shoes not been already on when the fire broke out, he wouldn’t have been able to make it to the door from where he was sleeping.

As Shimon awoke, he realized what he needed to do. “Fire-hot-fire window,” were the words which raced through his mind. Running down the hallway into our bedroom, Shimon headed to the fire-escape window. But it wouldn’t open. It had broke just the week before. Baruch Hashem. As the fire department later told us, had Shimon opened the window at that point, the entire building would have gone up in flames due to the backdraft air which would have seeped in. No one would have survived.

That was the miracle with Shimon. Now we know why he oddly fell asleep with his shoes on.

Miriam was the opposite of Shimon. She had no shoes on, forcing her to place her bare feet on the floor which felt like an oven. For twenty-five minutes, her feet remained on the floor. When we later arrived at the hospital, the doctors relayed that she had third-degree burns, putting her at risk and in potential need of skin grafting. Yet, Klal Yisrael davened, and a week later she was admitted out of the hospital with the doctors saying, “Oh, Mrs. Krasny, it must have been a mistake. Miriam does not have third-degree burns, but second-degree burns.” There is little doubt in my mind that, in truth, she had third-degree burns, yet the prayers of Klal Yisrael effected a miracle.

Nosson Tzvi came out of the house with absolutely no injuries whatsoever. No words can explain that.

Ettel, the youngest at eighteen months old, was put down to sleep in her crib just ten minutes earlier. Yet, as I reached her, she was oddly standing up at the edge of the crib. I have no idea how the heat and smoke allowed her to remain so high up, except to say that Hashem preserved her life. I pulled her up and over the crib, strapping her down to my arms. Staying low to the floor, I began crawling towards the door. Yet, when I reached around three feet before the door, I made a terrible decision which almost ended our lives. I took in a deep breath. I immediately panicked and wondered if I would have the strength to make it out. Baruch Hashem, I did, with Ettel hanging onto me.

Each child’s survival was a clear miracle of Hashem’s intervention. Yet, as I later realized, one of the biggest miracles involved myself.

For one, when I was young, I had taken voice lessons for seven years. Although I did not pursue a career to that end, if not for those practices, I would not have developed the breathing control to enter and exit the apartment four consecutive times with only one breath in between. Miraculously, I escaped from the apartment with none of my body or clothing burned.

When I look back at the various circumstances and obstacles faced that night, it becomes unquestionably clear that Hashem was with us every step of the day. And that is how we must feel throughout our lives. Hashem provides us with daily opportunities to wake up and reconnect to Him and our true selves. Yet we must be attuned to notice those small miracles and not overlook the details.

This is what this incident afforded me. I opened my eyes with emunah to see the warm hand of Hashem amidst the flames and recognize that He was not leaving us, but loving us. And that warmth continues to be felt to this very day.

Rabbi YY Jacobson
My Dear Son

One Friday afternoon, following the Vietnam War, an American boy who had served on the front lines called his father living in San Francisco, California. “Dad,” the boy said catching his breath, “I am coming home this Monday. I will see you soon.” As anyone could imagine, the boy’s father was overjoyed to hear the news. The father hadn’t seen his son since the start of the war and was aware that perhaps that would be the last time, but now that would all change. He would finally return home.

“But Dad,” added the boy, “I have just one thing to share with you. In my platoon, there is another boy who I befriended and became very close to. We accompanied each other through the thicket of battle, and stood by each other’s side throughout it all. Unfortunately, he stepped on a mine and lost both of his legs and an arm. He was left immobile and unable to continue fighting. As of now, he has no family and nobody who can take him in. I would therefore like to bring him home. I will be able to take care of him and provide him with the love and nurturing care he would otherwise have received from his own family. He needs the warmth of a home. And trust me Daddy, his personality is extraordinary. You will love him.”

After the father carefully listened to his son’s request, he thought for a moment. And then he said, “I understand what you are saying, but our home is not really made for such a boy. He served the country, and the government will take responsibility for him. They will find a home for him where all his needs will be taken care of. You of course can visit him, but our house is not a place for him to live.” The son remained silent for a moment, after which he reiterated, “Daddy, I promise that you and mom will fall in love with him.”

But the father wouldn’t hear of it. “My son, I’ll be honest with. If you bring this boy home, we will act nicely to him and treat him with respect. But deep down, he is not going to feel like our son. And even if he were our son, given his current conditions, we wouldn’t accept him into our home. We are going to resent having to deal with him and care for all his needs. He is going to be a burden and take away from our serenity. Let’s not start that relationship. I would suggest that you find another home for him.”

Upon hearing his father’s decision, the son politely said that he understood and bid him goodbye.

Sunday night. The phone rang in the house of the father and mother. It was the police. “Sir, a young soldier who just returned from Vietnam took his life the other day. His body is currently residing in the morgue. They need someone to identify him. It seems that he is family.”

Without delay, the father rushed to the morgue. As soon as he arrived, the police admitted him into the room where the body was held, and removed the sheet covering the boy. And then the father saw.

There lay his son – missing an arm and both his legs.

And then the father realized. His son’s “best friend” was not his best friend; it was his own very son. The “boy” his son wished to bring home was none other than himself.

Our Sages teach, “Do not judge a person until you arrive in his place.” Yet the Sfas Emes adds just a few more words, “And to his place you will never arrive.” We will never be able to understand the full scope of another person’s world and what they are experiencing. But what we can do is be ready to accept the person for who they are. Love is not about loving our version of our child, spouse or friend; it is about loving them exactly the way they are. And when we do so, we can begin to hope that we will all develop into wholesome and beloved individuals. We will be proud to lead lives in our own unique way and flourish as beautiful children of Hashem exactly the way He created us.

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