Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Ha'azinu

Parshat Ha'azinu

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Rosh Hashanah/ Parashat Ha'azinu
1st of Tishrei, 5778 | September 21, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Dr. Jack Cohen
Building Worlds with Words

Allow me to share with you the words of an elderly woman who related how her younger brother went on to become an extremely well-liked and well-respected entrepreneur in Israel:

This is the story of a very special person, my younger brother. My parents moved to Israel in 1952 with five children, and were blessed to have another four over the next number of years. We lived in a rural area and were very poor as my father never fully adjusted to life in Israel and struggled to make a living. I was the second child in the family, after which there was another girl and boy, followed by another boy, named Tuvia. The following story is about Tuvia.

He was born as a premature baby in the 1950s. Diagnosing a person with a mental health illness was not commonly done in those days, although Tuvia was visibly developmentally delayed. In school, he was slower than the other kids and less focused, and would sit in the classroom and struggle to grasp the material. But, although he wasn’t the brightest student, he was very warm and kind. He would help get the ball during recess if it got tossed aside and return it to the other kids.

Thankfully, he wasn’t taken advantage of by his friends. They were considerate and sensitive to him. When he finished eighth-grade and his friends began deciding which high school to move on to, Tuvia was left alone. He was not accepted into any yeshiva and instead remained at home.

But Tuvia did become disheartened. He would help my mother around the house and go shopping when needed. He as well played with his younger siblings and made them feel loved.
On one occasion, when Tuvia was sixteen, I accompanied him to the supermarket to purchase some food for the family. After we finished getting everything we needed, we quickly headed out, hoping to catch the last bus back which would take us home. But we missed it. With no other bus on schedule later that night, we were stuck. We were both carrying a few heavy bags and walking three miles to our home did not seem like an option. Neither did we have a phone to call home.

“What if we would take a taxi?” said Tuvia. In those days, only those who were relatively wealthy would take a taxi. “A taxi?” I said to Tuvia. “Yeah!” he enthusiastically said. “I know it costs a fair amount, but I think Abba would be okay with it.” And so, I complied and we called for a taxi.

As we entered inside, we were met by a frustrated and angry driver. Something was clearly bothering him. But Tuvia had something to tell him. “You know,” Tuvia said, “you’re a really good driver!” “Is that a joke?” the cabbie asked. “No, I am very serious,” Tuvia replied. “I noticed that you know how to maneuver smoothly and quickly from street to street. You are an all-star driver!” As Tuvia said this, I looked over at the driver to catch his facial reaction. He was beaming with a huge smile. “I don’t think I was ever given a compliment like that in ten years!” he said. “Well,” added Tuvia, “I guess a lot of folks don’t know what it really means to be a good driver, because you certainly are.”

By the time we reached close to our house, I asked the driver how much we owed him. “Nothing,” he said with a smile. “It’s been my pleasure. For this sweet boy and you, the ride is free.” Tuvia became all excited as he heard this. “I never met such a professional driver with such a good heart!” Tuvia exclaimed. The driver just kept on smiling. He even offered to carry our bags up to our house. That was one incident with Tuvia.

A week later, one of my other brothers was out and about with Tuvia. As they walked down the street, they noticed a tall and plush building under construction. Four men stood working away, prompting Tuvia to stop and begin to stare. My brother tried encouraging Tuvia to continue walking, but Tuvia was mesmerized by the construction workers. “Have a good day!” Tuvia yelled out, as he waved his hand in the direction of the workers. “You are doing an amazing job!” The workers, taking note of the young boy’s sincere compliments, were flattered. They, in fact, momentarily stepped down from where they were working and began talking to Tuvia. For a few minutes, they told him all about how they organized the building materials together and what skills were necessary to construct such a building. As my other brother later related, the workers seemed to feel extremely good about the attention Tuvia gave them.

This was how Tuvia behaved whenever he encountered other people, which was quite often. He was very sociable and friendly, and always made a point of complimenting others and making them feel appreciated and important. His words were soothing and uplifting. And especially at home, he always offered us heartening and encouraging words, making us feel good about ourselves.

Over the next several years, all the kids in the family got married, except Tuvia. He of course wished to get married too, but it wasn’t the easiest to find someone suitable for him. Finally, though, he met a girl who saw something special in him despite his developmental delays. He happily got married.

While Tuvia did not have a steady job and source of income, he never lost that special dynamic and magnetic personality which everyone loved. It was not uncommon to find him complimenting and praising friends and even strangers he would meet on the street, making them self-reflect on their strengths and positive qualities. It was something special to see.

As time progressed, Tuvia became friends with many people. He knew just about everyone you could imagine. And it was all due to his congenial and warm personality which constantly sought out the good in others and offered laudable praise. Considering that he knew so many people and made so many friends, he became akin to a broker, essentially serving as a middle man between people and businesses. If you needed to receive a certain service or supply, you would come to Tuvia and he would help arrange it. As it turned out, people would graciously give him a portion of the profit, in lieu of making the connection and putting in the necessary time and energy.

Tuvia soon became the liaison between employers and employees, suppliers, offices, newspapers, advertising agencies and more. And it all began because he would recognize others and genuinely compliment them.

Quite quickly, Tuvia began seeing a surge in business dealings and brought in quite a nice income. His wife, who was also skillfully adept in marketing and management, began investing in real estate. As Tuvia’s earnings increased, his wife would put each penny to good use. Property would be bought for cheap, and then renovated and turned over to sell for profit. Tuvia as well, with his many connections, helped find jobs for his siblings and nieces and nephews.

Tuvia became, what is called in Yiddish, a macher. His entrepreneurial skills skyrocketed and earned him considerable recognition and respect across the board.

And that is Tuvia’s story.

Think about it for a moment. Here was a boy who ostensibly looked different and was disadvantaged. He was the child who was turned away from school because he was challenged and slow. But he was also someone who made a tremendously successful life for himself and climbed out of poverty and a potentially bleak future. And why was that so? Because he complimented others and made them feel good about themselves. It was that simple.

Tuvia truly lived up to his name, meaning “G-d is good.” He understood that although life may present us with numerous challenges and seem dark and gloomy, we can turn it around and make it better than we imagined. Tuvia became an immeasurable source of goodness to others, and in turn, paved a life of goodness for himself.

Never tell yourself that life is over and all hope and potential is lost. No matter your circumstance in life, you can achieve one of the greatest things possible: helping others and making them feel valued and appreciated. And, just as Tuvia had done, it all starts with your mouth. Share with another person a kind, encouraging word and wish them a good day.

We can all start living with this attitude and approach right now. Turn to your grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, brother, sister, friend or neighbor and wish them… “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

Rabbi Yoel Gold
The Quarter

It was some time ago that I headed out shopping for Shabbos at La Brea Kosher Market, one of the local supermarkets in Los Angeles. After I checked out and grabbed my bags, I began walking out the door, though suddenly, I heard my name being called. “Rabbi Gold! Rabbi Gold!” I turned around and there stood a middle-aged woman. “Rabbi Gold, I have a story to tell you!” As soon as I heard that, I was all ears. I have often remarked that what a good piece of real estate is to an investor, a good story is to me. If someone has a moving story to tell me, I will literally drop my bags and eagerly listen in. So, true to my calling, I placed my shopping bags down and asked her to go ahead.

“My fifteen-year-old daughter was recently walking down the street, when all of a sudden, she noticed that a police officer was issuing a ticket to a car parked next to an expired meter. My daughter looked at the car, looked at the officer and then looked at the shul which was just a few feet away. It was around five o’clock in the afternoon and my daughter figured that the man owning the car was inside davening Mincha and would not be able to come outside at the moment and refill the meter.

“My daughter proceeded to head over to the police officer and ask, ‘Officer, I think this car belongs to one of the Jews inside. Do you mind if I put a quarter in for him?’ The officer looked at my daughter and smiled. ‘I am very impressed that you would do such a thing. Guess what? It’s your lucky day. I haven’t yet printed the ticket, so go ahead and stick in a quarter.’ My daughter went ahead and put in a quarter, thanking the officer.”

As I stood there listening to the woman relate this story of her daughter perform a wonderful act of kindness, I began to reach down for my bags. “That’s a beautiful story,” I said. “It reflects the amazing education and values you provided your daughter with and it’s beautiful to hear about.” As I said this, I began wondering in the back of my mind if such a story would be good material to make into an inspirational video, the kinds of which I have made in the past. I told myself that I didn’t think so. Although it displayed true thoughtfulness for another Jew, I wasn’t sure how sensational or emotional it was. “I think we’ll let it be,” I told myself.

I continued to pick up my bags and thank the woman for sharing the story with me, until she blurted out, “Rabbi Gold, where are you going? The story is not over yet…” “It’s not?” I said. “No… listen to the rest of it.” With no other option than to listen to the remainder of the story, I put my bags back down yet again.

“After my daughter put the coin in the meter, she thought to herself, ‘Wait a second. Maybe this car really doesn’t belong to a Jew in the shul! Maybe it belongs to someone else who is walking down this large boulevard.’ My daughter, now curious as to whose car it was, decided that she would wait a few minutes until the men filed out of the shul.

“Sure enough, ten minutes later, out came everyone. And guess whose car it was?” At this point, I really wondered why I was still standing in the supermarket listening to this story. What did it have to do with me, and moreover, it didn’t seem like it would turn out to be overly inspirational. By now, I had spent a few minutes with the woman, and I needed to get going.
“Rabbi Gold,” she said, “it was your car.”

Within half a second, the story became sensational. At least to me. “Really?” I exclaimed. “It was my car! I had no idea that your daughter spared me a ticket. That’s so thoughtful of her.”
I went on to purchase the girl a gift card to Coffee Bean in appreciation of her considerateness.

As I dropped off my small token of gratitude, I came to a profound realization. How many people stand behind the scenes and do things for us that we are completely unaware of? How many people, so to speak, drop quarters into our meter when we ourselves forget to add enough change?

As these thoughts raced through my mind, I came to appreciate that there are many things that we do not know about, yet we take for granted. Parents spend inordinate amounts of time and effort thinking and caring for their children as do spouses for one another. And above all else, how much does Hashem do for us that we are unaware of and take for granted? Every minute, He orchestrates events and happenings behind the scenes for our benefit. We may never learn of the countless acts of kindness which are silently done on our behalf every day and every moment, but we would be wise to at least pause and take a step back, appreciating that they do occur.

So as we look forward towards another year of life and much bountiful kindness up ahead from our Creator, let us as well take a look back and remind ourselves of all that we received. For the past year, many quarters have been dropped into our hands, and there are certainly too many to count. All that we can do is appreciate all that we have and tell ourselves that we will use our precious gift of life to better ourselves, our families, our community and our world.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Aron Lankry

Have you ever wondered what actually happens when we blow the shofar? What in fact occurs in Heaven when it is sounded on Rosh Hashanah? Imagine the following scenario. As a young boy, Joe had been childishly mischievous and a bit obnoxious. He knew that his father was the CEO of one of the largest corporations in the country, and that only gave him more reason to act out and excuse his intolerable behavior. But now, many years later, he has sincerely regretted his past misconduct and has grown into a fine young man with sterling mannerisms.

Looking to follow in his father’s footsteps and enter the same business, he applies to his father’s firm. Although he has high hopes that he will be accepted, he is still very worried. And that is for a very good reason. Many of the administrators who make up his father’s board of directors knew Joe when he was a young boy. “They certainly remember my past and will not want me as an employee,” Joe thinks to himself. “What can I do?”

Calling over his friend, Joe suggests the following plan. “At 12:05, five minutes into my job interview, I want you to pull the fire alarm. As everyone begins heading out of the building, the meeting will adjourn, but I will tell my father that I pre-planned to set off the alarm and there is nothing to be concerned about. I will then be left alone with just my father and he will be able to make an executive decision based upon the board that was originally there but is no longer present. My father will then give me the job and accept me into the firm.”

The same occurs with the blowing of the Shofar. When it is sounded, the yetzer hara and prosecuting angels leave the scene alarmed. We are then left alone with our Father in Heaven, who is able to make an executive decision and overlook any past mistakes we committed. Such is the power of the Shofar. It, so to speak, sounds a fire alarm in Heaven and allows for an executive decision to be made in our favor.

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.