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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Noach

Parshat Noach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Noach
1st of Cheshvan, 5778 | October 21, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Dr. Jack Cohen
The Lost Ring

It was the Shabbat immediately following Ephraim and Chani’s wedding. Gathering together at the house of Chani’s family in Netanya, Israel, for the Shabbat meals were both sides of the newlyweds’ family. It was, of course, a happy get-together of many people, which especially included Ephraim’s grandmother. It was the grandmother’s custom to present each new granddaughter-in-law with a gift, and this time was no exception.
Approaching Chani, she handed her a nicely wrapped box as she looked into her eyes with a smile.

Chani went on to open the box, only to gasp in surprise and disbelief. It was a diamond ring, and surely worth thousands of dollars. As Chani slipped it on to her finger and admired its beauty, she hugged her new grandmother-in-law and expressed her deep appreciation.

After some time, however, Chani began to realize that the ring was in fact a bit loose and bigger than her own finger size. She didn’t mention anything about it, as she wished to avoid sounding ungrateful, but its outsized fit slightly bothered her. She continued wearing it, nonetheless, until the time came when it was realized that something had happened.

As the family enjoyed each other’s company and the festivities ensued, Ephraim’s mother looked over at her new daughter-in-law. Something didn’t look quite right. Chani was wearing her wedding band, but not her diamond ring. “Chani!” she exclaimed, “where is your ring?” Chani, looking down at her finger, was startled herself. The diamond ring was not on her finger. Before long, the entire household was thrown into pandemonium.

Everyone began to look all over for the ring, but as was unhopefully suspected, it was nowhere to be seen. Chani had no idea what could have happened to it. Ephraim, of course, searched all over for it as well, but to no avail. To make matters worse, this incident led Ephraim’s family to frequently make snide remarks about Chani, forever highlighting her carelessness.

Months later, it was the summer, and Ephraim and Chani were invited to Ephraim’s parents’ home. After spending some quality time together, the parents presented the two of them with a beautiful new vase for their home. “But,” added the mother-in-law, “I think Ephraim should carry it home this time,” once again implying Chani’s incompetence and negligence. At that point, it became too much for Chani to bear. She could no longer take the constant barraging and insults. For the remaining summer, Chani felt that she needed to discontinue all communication with her in-laws.

As Rosh Hashanah rolled along and Ephraim began preparing his special Yom Tov suit, which he had only worn once before around the time of his wedding, he felt something strange in one of his pockets. Reaching down deep below, he felt some sort of jagged protrusion. And then finally, he grabbed hold of it and pulled out… a diamond ring. With Chani standing right beside him, she was shocked. All along, Ephraim was the one to have misplaced the ring, not her.

Chani felt nothing more than vindication. She could now proudly feel assured that she was in fact not careless. It had never been her fault all the while, but that of her husband. Touting this newly-found information before her in-laws, the tables seemed to have turned. From then on, it was no longer Chani who received the brunt of any insult, but Ephraim. She would as well always remind her husband about who the careless one was in the family.

Ten years later… Ephraim’s grandmother passed away. Shortly thereafter, Chani, having gotten a bit complacent with her current jewelry, decided that she wanted to purchase something new. Taking the diamond ring she had received from Ephraim’s grandmother to the same jeweler who sold it, she asked what she could get in exchange. The jeweler looked at the ring and shook his head. “It’s a beautiful diamond, but I’m sorry, I didn’t sell this piece of jewelry. I know all of the different necklaces, rings and diamonds I sell, and this is not one of them.” Chani was confused. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Let me see your receipt,” said the jeweler.

Chani went through her belongings and eventually came up with the receipt. But then something caught her attention. Oddly so, the receipt was dated September 9th of that year. She had gotten married in June, though, and received the diamond then.
Later that evening, as Chani sat down with Ephraim, she relayed what had gone on earlier. “I went today to the jeweler to see if I could exchange that diamond ring which Grandma gave me years ago.” “And what happened?” Ephraim asked, a bit anxiously. “Well, the jeweler didn’t recognize it, and said that he never sold it.” Silence. Ephraim seemed confused, as did Chani earlier that day.

“But,” added Chani before Ephraim could get in a word, “I know what happened. It was you! After I lost the ring, you went elsewhere and bought me a new one! Throughout all these years, I thought I was getting back at you, while the truth was just the opposite. That is why you have been working long and extra hours for many years. You didn’t want me to feel bad, and so you took out a loan, purchased the ring, and ever since have been working extra hard to pay back the loan.”

Ephraim was speechless. Chani had figured out the entire story by herself. Exactly as she had said was exactly what had been done. All Chani could now do was apologize for all those years of thinking she was vindicated, which had not been the case, and express her deepest appreciation and love to Ephraim who had shown what a real, caring husband would do for his wife.

Rebbetzin Aviva Feiner
Many Colors, One Light

את קשתי נתתי בענן

I have set My rainbow in the cloud (Bereishit 9:13)

The Gemara (Chagigah 16a) tells us, “He who does not pity the honor of Hashem will stare at a rainbow.” As implied by this statement of our Sages, the rainbow represents the glory of Hashem to such a degree that one who fails to appreciate such honor will look at the rainbow. Yet why, in fact, is the rainbow singled out? In what way does it, over any other magnificent part of nature, bespeak the greatness of Hashem? Why not choose any other grandeur of creation to highlight? Niagra Falls and the Swiss Alps are as well breathtaking sights. What is so unique about the rainbow as it relates to G-d’s honor in the world?

In truth though, explains Rav Gedalyah Schorr, true G-dliness manifests itself in none other than the beauty and colors of the rainbow. But not merely because of its spectacular array of colors, but what underlying science goes into their formation. In the creation of a rainbow, sunlight refracts in water droplets, resulting in a spectrum of beautifully arranged colors.

But herein lies the very point. The creation of the multi-colored rainbow results from one light, namely the sun. It is ultimately one light source which produces many different colors. And that is what we are meant to learn about the greatness and grandeur of Hashem. Many times in life it appears as if we are seeing many different colors, yet at the very root of it all, it is one color. One day may go great, another may be very bitter, another so-so and on and on. Our perception of our relationship with G-d and our life may seem to be multi-colored, but in truth, everything stems from one G-d. Sometimes we may need to see different colors in our life, but it all comes from one light, from one sun, from one G-d, the Rock of Klal Yisrael.

Hashem is well aware of what He is doing. He placed us into this world and gives us our very lives. All that we must do is inculcate the message of the rainbow and remind ourselves, “I know that Hashem is in charge, and if He is showing me blue today, then I need to react to blue. And if He is showing me purple, or red, or green, then I need to react to that specific color.”

The beauty of the rainbow is what lies behind it: the true source of light, our beloved Father in Heaven.

Dr. Meir Wikler
Raising Independent Children

When we talk about independence, there is one particular Pasuk in the Torah which comes to mind. As we just read last week in Parshas Bereishis, after Adam HaRishon was created and Hashem fashioned Chava from his side, Adam remarked, “This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh… this shall be called woman… therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife…” (Bereishis 2:23-24).

It is interesting, notes Rav Moshe Meir Weiss, that the Torah frames Adam’s marriage to Chava with the preparatory stage of first leaving and abandoning his parents. The Torah appears to quite strongly emphasize that a child must leave the precincts of his parents’ home and only then embark on married life. Why in fact does the Torah so pointedly stress this, and in what way is it a prerequisite for marriage?

After Chava was created from Adam’s very own body, explains Rav Weiss, a profound shift occurred. Adam was the only person from whom his spouse would actually be fashioned from his very own flesh. In this way, Adam felt a tremendous sense of closeness to Chava, as she was no less than a part of him. Yet what would now happen for the rest of human history? No other human being would undergo this same process as Adam HaRishon. From where then would a man and woman draw this closeness to one another? How would they ever achieve such a degree of love and oneness and enjoy true marital harmony?

In response to this, Adam realized that something would need to take place prior to marriage to ensure absolute unity between husband and wife. A certain degree of detachment from one’s parental home, wherein one would wholeheartedly open themselves up to building their own, new home, would need to ensue to allow for a successful marriage to blossom.

In this case, in preparing ourselves for marriage, it is crucial that we develop a healthy sense of independence. And in fact, a large degree of this preparation devolves upon parents.

The Gemara (Kiddushin 29a) tells us that a father is assigned certain responsibilities with respect to raising his son. In particular, he is obligated to see to it that he receives a bris milah, is redeemed in the process of pidyon haben at thirty days old, teaches him Torah, marries him off, teaches him a trade and some say, teaches him how to swim.

Notably, the last three responsibilities listed in this group share one thread in common: they are all necessary steps to becoming independent. As underscored in this Gemara, it is the parents’ obligation to help their children achieve a proper degree of such independence. And in truth, the earlier this is done, the better off one’s children will be.

Allow me to share an example with you from my clinical work as a psychotherapist.

A mother and father once came to me concerned about their eleven-year-old son. He was not misbehaving or anything of the like, and was in fact doing well in school and paying attention. However, as his teacher had noted, he did not appear to be playing with the other boys during recess. While that itself would not necessarily be cause for concern, the boy gave off the impression that he wanted to participate and be assertive, but was being held back by something.

After I heard what the concern was, I began asking the parents about some background information. But after inquiring if he had been bullied by his friends, or a sudden change at home or at school or some other traumatic event had occurred, I hadn’t gotten anywhere.

As I continued groping for a better understanding of the boy’s situation, I finally asked, “Well, let’s say, there is a thunder storm in the middle of the night. Does he wake up crying and run to your room for support?” As I finished my question, silence filled the room. I swallowed hard, getting the sense that I had touched upon some nugget of valuable information. “Well,” the mother spoke up, “he doesn’t run to our room because he is already in our room. He sleeps there.” I gently looked back at the mother and father, waiting for some more information to come forth. “But,” indignantly added the mother, “although I know children should have their own room, he always cries and he needs to remain with us. I don’t want to discuss this anymore. I just want you to evaluate him!”

While I certainly understood the mother’s protection and attachment to her son, I tried explaining that I didn’t think we needed to proceed much further. “Here is the very problem,” I said. “It can be very difficult for an eleven-year-old boy to feel confident and independent while associating with his friends if he still needs to remain that attached to both of you as his parents.” “I’m sorry, but this is not negotiable!” the mother cried out. “I am not willing to put up with his crying!”

As I saw that I could not force the mother to continue on this subject, we continued discussing other related topics. The session thus came to a close without any conclusive decision or agreement being reached.

A couple weeks later, I received a call from the father. “I just wanted to ask you Dr., my wife is spending a week visiting her mother in Florida. Although she wasn’t willing to place our son in his own room, I was thinking if there was something I could do while she is away. Do you think having my son sleep in his own room for a week would make any considerable difference?” “I think it would,” I remarked.

A few weeks later, I received another phone call from the father. He and his wife wished to see me in person. As they entered my office and took a seat, I could tell that they were both anxious and excited to tell me something. “Dr.,” the father began, “during the week that my wife was in Florida, my son moved into his own room and has been doing great ever since. We recently spoke to his teacher, who told us that he must have gotten the wrong impression when thinking that our son was acting withdrawn from his friends. While we thanked him, we both knew deep down that it was your advice which helped, and we both just wanted to personally thank you.” I was pleased to hear this positive feedback, and thanked the parents for sharing it with me.

Enabling our children to gain their own independence and develop a healthy sense of self is invaluable to their growth. It allows them to develop into their own unique person who is responsible, assertive and confident about themselves. It may at times require us as parents to let go and allow the child we remember cradling to spread their wings and find their own trail, but without question, that little step away from home and into their own world will pave the way for the leading of their own happy, healthy and independent lives.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Gavriel Friedman

I remember once hearing a very profound line, “Whether you say ‘I can’ or ‘I cannot,’ it doesn’t matter; you are right.” After thinking about this for a while, I realized the truism behind this statement. Ultimately, when faced with a decision in life, our own personal choice to go one way or another is deep down what we want, and therefore for ourselves, the right decision. All that we must do is come into contact with our deepest thoughts and feelings and gain that self-awareness. And once we have that, we have our answer.

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