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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Bereishit

Parshat Bereishit

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Bereishit
24th of Tishrei, 5778 | October 14, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Once Mine

ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים

And He blew into his nostrils a living soul (Bereishit 2:7)

For many years, Chana, a wonderful and sweet young lady, had been looking to find the man with whom she could share the rest of her life. It was not an easy process, to say the least, despite her beautiful and dynamic personality. And that was because, ever since she was born, she was blind.

Finally, though, the perfect boy came into her life. His name was Chaim. He truly loved her, cared for her and appreciated her exactly the way she was. She was as happy as could be, and so was he.

One day, as they both sat together listening to the radio, an offer which neither of them ever expected to be possible was publicly announced. A doctor in the United States had found a way of performing an eye transplant and both donors and recipients were being looked for. “Eye transplants!” perked up Chana. “If I could get an eye transplant…!” With unabating excitement, Chana turned to her husband. “Wouldn’t it be amazing; how do we go about it?”

Doing some research into the matter, Chaim discovered that there was a waitlist of all those who wished to be recipients. A long waitlist that was, of twenty years. Very few people wished to donate their eyes, yet many people could use them. When Chana heard the news, she was devastated. Twenty years was not exactly so soon.

A month later, in walked Chaim, beaming with a smile from ear to ear. “Chana! It’s a miracle! For whatever reason, the hospital pushed you way up on the waiting list. You’re next! They found a donor for you.” Chana could not believe it. After years of being unable to see the world’s beauty, that would all change.

The day before the operation, as the two of them sat in the hospital waiting room, Chaim turned to Chana. “Chana,” he softly said, “I have something to tell you. You have never known this since we were married, but I am also blind. I never wished to tell you, because I didn’t want you to pity me. But I want you to get the eye transplant, and I too will get one someday. But, I just want you to know, that when you get your eyesight, don’t be shocked when you see that I am blind.”

Chana began to cry with tears of love and joy. “You could’ve gotten the transplant and you’re giving it to me… Whatever way you got this one for me, we will get one for you too.” Chana was so touched by her husband’s selfless love and care. And so, as planned, she went on to get the transplant, which thankfully was successful.

For five days, her eyes remained taped, blocking out any light and allowing her new eyes to adjust to a new body. And then, the moment arrived. The bandages were removed and… a beautiful world appeared. Chana was breathless. She couldn’t move or say a word. The trees, the grass, the people, the sky, everything, was so beautiful.

And then she saw her beloved husband, Chaim. And indeed, as he had told her, he was blind. “Chaim, you took care of me for so many years; now I will take care of you.” Day after day, just as Chaim had so lovingly done for his wife, Chana did for her husband. She cared for him, helped him stand up and sit down and maneuver, and walked with him wherever he needed.

But as time progressed and Chana continued to help Chaim with his basic everyday needs, life became a bit more difficult. Chana began to see matters somewhat differently. In the back of her mind, she wished her husband was self-sufficient and capable of doing things with her as other married couples would. His disability, which she never thought of twice when she was blind, was now putting a strain on the marriage. And slowly but surely, as Chana saw it, they drew apart and the marriage lost its special charm.

Until finally, Chana realized what had to be done. The marriage was simply not working. She didn’t have the heart to tell Chaim face to face, but she still needed to tell him somehow. Calling Chaim over the phone, she gently said, “Chaim, I am so sorry to say, but I don’t think our marriage is working anymore. I would like to separate.” Chaim was surprised and caught off guard, but he did not argue. “I want to be married to someone who I can see the world with, travel from place to place and enjoy a mutual relationship. I’m so sorry…” “I can’t say I fully understand,” Chaim replied, “but I deeply respect your choice. If that is what you wish, I will pack up my belongings tonight and be on my way.”

Later that night, Chana returned home, only to be met by what nearly looked like an empty home. All of Chaim’s belongings were gone. Making her way throughout the house and thinking what it would now be like to be alone, she eventually reached her bedroom. And there on her bed lay a letter.

“Dear Chana,

I really, really love you and have always really loved you. I as well respect your decision to leave me. But, if I may, I have one big favor to ask from you. Take care of your eyes…. because not long ago they were mine.”


That was the truth. There was a very good reason why Chana did not need to be put on the twenty-year waitlist to receive an eye transplant. And that was because she lived with the donor. It was her husband.

As we approach a new year and contemplate the gift of life we have been given for the past year and the gift of life we are wishing for the next, we ought to remember one thing. “And Hashem formed man from the earth, and He blew into him a living soul” (Bereishis 2:7). Every year, every month, every day and every minute, G-d gives us life. He gives us a transplant of our life and of our soul. Our eyes, our mouth, our arms and our legs are gifts we have been given. And above all us, Hashem Himself breathed into us His Divine soul. We have part of G-d within ourselves.

Yet what often happens? Like Chana, we lose focus and lose sight of the amazing gift we have. We become preoccupied and distracted by the many allures of our world and forget to appreciate who in fact has given us life to begin with and what we are meant to do with it.

“Take care of that neshama,” Hashem tells us, “because it was once Mine.” The question we must ask ourselves as we enter a new year is exactly that. Have we taken care of our “eyes,” our neshama, and will we do so for the next year?That is all our Father in Heaven asks from us. He leaves us a little note and writes:

“Dear My child,

I really, really love you and have always really loved you. If I may, I have one big favor to ask from you. Take care of your life and your soul …. because it was once with Me here in Heaven. It is My special gift to you...”

Your Father in Heaven

All that we must do is cherish this gift and take care of it. And when we do so, we can anticipate a beautiful life filled with the love and warmth of our Father in Heaven for many years to come.

Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi
Job Integrity, Job Opportunity

'ונח מצא חן בעיני ד

And Noach found favor in the eyes of Hashem (Bereishit 6:8)

Yaakov was a very sweet and gentle boy, despite his more restrictive lifestyle. He may have been handicapped and bound to a wheelchair, but he was just as capable as all his friends and could attend school and act just like the other boys his age. The one challenge, though, was transportation. Getting to and from school was both time-consuming and tiring. As time went by, it was realized that the easiest and most efficient way of getting there and back would be with a special car that could easily lift him inside and lower him out.

But to buy such a vehicle was not something his family could afford at the moment. Yet that didn’t deter Yaakov’s father from taking out loans and finding the means to procure the money. And sure enough, finally, the amount needed was collected, and Yaakov and his father headed out to a used car dealer.

Little did the father know that the dealer in whose lot he found himself was less than honest. The dealer was joined by two other partners, one of whom also had a dishonest record. Yet the father was completely unaware of this, aside from not being too knowledgeable about cars.

In the meantime, the third and honest partner struck up conversation with young Yaakov. “Is there a specific reason you came here to buy a car?” “Well,” Yaakov explained, “it is difficult for me to get to school, and my father is looking to buy a used car which would help transport me.” The dealer was touched to hear this.

It wasn’t too long before two of the dealers began heaping praise upon one certain car and explaining how it was an amazing sell. The other dealer, aware of how they were trying to take advantage of the father, was in the least pleased. They were trying to pull a fast move, and get 30,000 shekels from a novice and naïve father who was trying to find a way to send his son to school.

The partner entered the office, where the father and two other dealers were already engrossed in talking about one car, which was equipped with a failed transmission. The car had been temporarily “fixed” and made capable of driving several miles, after which it was sure to die and need thousands more dollars of repair. “Yitzchak,” yelled out the other partner, “I think you’re a bit confused. You’re talking about another car, not this one. This one has a failed transmission.”

The dishonest dealers tried to downplay any problem, but it was soon becoming too much for the partner to bear. “Don’t listen to them!” he told the father. “Take your money and go! The car will not even drive five kilometers!” The father, taken aback by the unfolding of the scene, graciously thanked the other partner for this information and abruptly left.

The other dealers were shocked. “What did you do? Why did you blow our cover? We were about to make a great deal!” But the honest partner would not stand for such fraud, and likewise, the other dealers would not stand for him. On the spot, they let him go of his job.

Matters began to go downhill from there. The partner, who by profession was a mechanic, applied to a number of other business, but to no success. No one wished to hire him. Once they looked at his resume and noticed his past working experiences, it was a done deal. Despite the truth being that he was good-hearted and a man of principle and honesty, having partnered with two other swindlers caused him untold harm and stained his reputation. For six years, he searched for job after job, but nothing came of anything.

All throughout the process, his wife continued to encourage him. Neither she nor he was religious, but they had faith that matters would turn out alright. “Don’t worry,” his wife said, “you will not lose out by being honest. I am proud of you; don’t give up. Even if it is difficult, you did the right thing.” It was with these encouraging words that he and his wife weathered through the tough financial times.

One day, he noticed a small ad in the newspaper. “Mechanic Manager Needed! Job entails overseeing numerous employees and managing all bus operations.” It was of course a great job opportunity, which would provide a large, steady income, but one which certainly would be competitive to get. Still, the mechanic decided to give it a try.

The next day he headed over to the job interview site, where he was joined by countless other applicants from all across Israel. After anxiously waiting some time, he was finally called in. Six interviewers, all religious Jews, sat around a table, their pens in hand, waiting to hear from their next interviewee. He went on to explain his previous work experience and skill, but it didn’t seem to carry too much weight. He got the vibe that they were looking for someone much more adept and experienced. “We will get back to you,” they said, as if to say that he didn’t quite make the cut.

He proceeded to thank the gentlemen for their time, and walk out of the office and down the stairs. But before he could leave the building, a man came running after him, calling his name. “Sir, you were just in the interviewers’ office, correct?” “Yes,” he replied, “that was me.” “They would like to see you once again.” Unsure what to make of this recall, he shrugged his shoulders and followed behind the fellow.

Walking back through the office’s double doors, he was approached by a man with a long, white beard. He had been one of the interviews. “Thank you for coming back,” the man said, in a polite, soft tone. “Are you the one who worked at such-and-such a place a number of years ago with two other partners?” The mechanic grew nervous. He figured that now, after divulging his history of work with dishonest partners, he would be charged with fraudulent dealings. But he did not want to hide the truth, no matter how sordid his past may have been. “Yes, I worked there. I was one of the partners.”

“The job is yours. Welcome to our company. You are our new manager.”

The mechanic was dumfounded. “I’m sorry, but I am a little confused. It sounded just a minute ago as if you were dismissing me.” “Do you remember me?” the interviewer asked. “Six years ago, I visited your dealership with my son who is handicapped. Today, I work here as one of the head partners. I remember what you did for me and my son, and that integrity, responsibility and strength of character you displayed is something we would like to have here in our company. You took care of me and now I will take care of you. We would be more than pleased to have you here working for us. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

One of the most important traits we can inculcate is that of integrity. Hashem’s seal, our Sages teach, is that of truth (Shabbat 55a), and we would be wise to follow in those footsteps and make it ours too. It marks the character of a great person and makes us beloved and favored in the eyes of Hashem and everyone else around us.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Nota Schiller

Years ago, I was invited to Golders Green, London by their JLE (Jewish Learning Exchange) to be one of the guest speakers for a Shabbos program run by Ohr Somayach. On Shabbos morning, after a large group of 150 people had gathered outside the shul, we soon realized we were stuck. The only person who held the key to the shul premises was the non-Jewish security guard, and he hadn’t shown up yet. We waited twenty minutes, thirty minutes, forty-five… Finally, he arrived. We eventually entered inside and began praying, after an hour’s delay.

When I later got to deliver the guest speech, I began by saying, “The first order of business is that I would like to apologize to all those people who intended on coming late, but found out that they in fact came on time.” After going through an entire month of Elul, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, we may feel that the time to change and improve has passed and we will wait until next year to engage in the teshuva process again. But, in truth, mending our ways is a daily process, if not a moment to moment one. We are constantly to be growing, developing and striving to better ourselves. Indeed, it is never late, and you are just on time.

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