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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Mishpatim

Parshat Mishpatim

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Mishpatim
25th of Shevat, 5778 | February 10, 2018

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser
The Highest-Class Shadchan

Some time ago, a man from New York approached me and handed me a check written out to an enormous sum. I didn’t know anything more aside from the fact that he wished for it to be given to tzedakah. I didn’t question his motivation either, as he seemed fully genuine and aware of what he was doing.

As he was about to leave, though, I felt compelled to say something. “I just want to thank you,” I said. “It is certainly a magnanimous check. If you don’t mind me asking, is there any special occasion for doing this?” The man paused momentarily, and then went on to say, “I will tell you. I have a daughter who is looking to get married. I have gone to many shadchanim (matchmakers) all over, though nothing has come of it. I have learned, however, that Hashem is the ultimate One to bring matches together, and I have therefore decided on something that I would like you to assist me with. I am going to pay Hashem, the shadchan, right now by giving tzedakah to whomever you choose. Now I am telling Hashem, ‘You have my money; it is Yours. I paid You in advance, and there is no way I can take it back. Hashem, please, help my daughter find her shidduch.’”

The man started welling up in tears, and left the house emotionally worked up. Without delay, I hurriedly distributed the funds to worthy causes. Fortunately, the check had the man’s address, which allowed me to retain his contact information. I phoned him and thanked him for his generosity, agreeing to stay in touch.

Forty days later, a man and his son were visiting New York for a couple of days from Europe. Finding themselves in a new community, the man soon learned of prospective girls which his son, who was of marriageable age, could possibly go out with. The host, at whose home the man and his son were staying with, approached the gentleman and began inquiring about his daughter, who he had heard was also looking for a shidduch. “A man and his son are here from Europe for only a couple of days,” the host said. “Would your daughter consider going out with him?” The man figured that there was nothing to lose, and so asked his daughter if she would like to do so. She happily complied.

They went out once, twice, three times, four times… Soon enough, they were engaged. Shortly thereafter, the father of the kallah called to inform me of the wonderful news. “But,” he said, “Rabbi, I am not sure of one thing. Did I give enough money to the shadchan?” “Of course you did!” I replied. “You gave such a handsome check to tzedakah.” “I was just thinking,” he said, “that were I dealing with a person who was the shadchan, that would be one thing. But here, we are dealing with the Borei Olam (Creator of the World), and He is the highest-class shadchan! Maybe I owe him some more money.” “I think Hashem is very happy,” I explained. “When a Jew demonstrates such emunah, that is the greatest thing he can do. Hashem is very pleased.”

The biggest segulah to finding a shidduch is faith in Hashem that He will guide a person to the right one. It may certainly be trying, but the firm belief that the true shadchan is Hashem will ensure that He will take care of you as His child and bring you together with your bashert speedily.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Who Helps Whom?

For two close friends, Mike and Barry, the trip up north to Alaska brought with it what they least wished to happen. Within just a short period, the wind current shifted and caused the onset of an unbearable snow storm. The frigid temperatures placed them into extreme danger, with the possibility of frostbite if not worse. As it turned out, Mike could not bear the cold any longer, and despite every effort to keep his body up, he collapsed to the snow.

Catching sight of Mike’s condition was none other than Barry, who rushed over immediately. But Mike had apparently fallen into a sleep and gone unconscious. Barry, aside from panicking, knew quite well that now was not the time to be passive. If only he could keep maintain Mike’s blood circulation, he would perhaps come out alive and avoid freezing to death.

Barry began rubbing Mike’s hands, feet and neck, hoping that it would be enough to stave off any imminent life-threatening danger. Fortunately, it helped until a team of paramedics came across the two of them and transported them to a hospital.

Mike was rushed into the emergency room and immediately seen by a group of nurses and doctor, as Barry sat in the waiting room anticipating what he hoped would be good news.
Finally, after some while, the doctor emerged. “I have some news about your friend,” he said softly. “Fortunately, he is alive. We needed to amputate a couple of his toes, but he is now stable and doing better.”

Barry breathed in a sigh of relief. “Thank G-d,” he said, “I am so happy that I continuously rubbed him. I’m afraid to think what would have happened if I wouldn’t have done so.” But the doctor had something else to tell Barry. “I just want you to know that as much as you saved your friend’s life, your friend saved your life.” Barry was unsure what to make of the doctor’s comment. “What do you mean? He was half asleep!”

“That may be true, but by you rubbing his body and keeping his blood circulation going, you kept your own circulation going and saved your own life. Because you were working to keep your friend alive, you are perfectly healthy now.”

In life, we tend to think that when we help another person, we have helped them and them only. But, in truth, our efforts are never one-sided. All that we do to help another person helps us in turn in multiple ways. It makes us into a better person, sensitizes us to other people’s needs and feelings, and just sometimes saves our own very life.

Ms. Chevi Garfinkel
Seek, Recognize and Revel

One of the most fundamental character traits and attitudes to inculcate as a Jew in life is hakaras hatov, recognizing and appreciating the goodness in our life. How, though, can we do this in the face of challenges? How can we manage to embrace life when it doesn’t go the way we hoped?

The Torah relates in Parshas Bereishis that the trees and grass had not yet sprouted by the sixth day of creation for, “Hashem had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to work the soil (Bereishis 2:5). Only after creating Adam and placing him in Gan Eden did the rain fall for the first time.

The difficulty with this fact, notes Rashi, is why it was necessary. Why would Hashem withhold the trees and grass from receiving rain and growing until three days after their creation. Only after Adam was formed, on the sixth day of Creation, did it rain and the grass sprout. For what reason, though, did Hashem postpone allowing the rain to fall and trees to grow?

Rashi in addressing this question is essentially focusing upon what man’s purpose in this world is. The answer to this question is therefore not only the resolution to what Adam HaRishon’s purpose was, but what our purpose is as well. It is the reason why we woke up this morning and why, G-d willing, we are going to wake up tomorrow. People spend thousands of dollars and hike mountains in search of the answer to this question, but Rashi provides it for us in a few words for free:

“Why was Adam’s creation a necessary component in allowing it to rain? Because without Adam, no one would be around to recognize the goodness of the rain.”

That was the intent in creating Adam. He was simply to recognize the fact that it rained and that such an incident was good.

In other words, Rashi is telling us that our primary purpose in this world is to be a seeker of good, a recognizer of good and reveler in good. Very loosely translated, man’s purpose of existence is to “dance in the rain.”

This good which forms our focal point of life encompasses all aspects – physical good, emotional good and spiritual good. Obviously, physical good is only beneficial providing it does not in any way compromise our emotional or spiritual good. But the physical good which is healthy and wholesome, revel in them. This is our job: to be a seeker of good, recognizer of good and reveler in good and dance all along the way.

But at times we confront a slight problem. Sometimes we have our dancing shoes on and are ready to dance, but there is not a cloud in the sky. And it is difficult to dance in the rain when there is no rain. There will certainly be days when a torrential downpour drenches us and it is very easy to revel in the physical, emotional and spiritual goodness of life. With rain everywhere, we can easily begin dancing.

However, that is not always the case. Rain does not fall every day of our own life and everywhere we personally go. What are we meant to do then?

My friend Ahuva is an incredible, loving individual. Whenever I go hiking with her, it takes twice as long as everybody else. This is because, whenever you hike, you inevitably meet people. And Ahuva, being her wonderful self, will extend a warm greeting to everyone we meet and strike up a conversation. It is not uncommon that within minutes people will be telling her how much they love their mother’s apple pie.

As I myself stand there taking in the breathtaking scene of the mountains and smell the pine trees, Ahuva is there cordially greeting others. I can honestly say that the enjoyment I have when looking at the beautiful sights of G-d’s nature is what Ahuva experiences when she meets a person. That is a very rare skill. She gets just as much out of meeting a new person as seeing a magnificent mountain.

This is why I like hiking with Ahuva. I teach her how to enjoy the trees and she teaches me how to enjoy the people we meet in between the trees. Our job is not merely to recognize the good within ourselves, but as well recognize the good and beauty within others, and appreciate Hashem’s greatness as a result. G-d does not create junk; He creates masterpieces. And each and every one of us is a masterful work of art.

When the going gets tough, the first thing to do is take off your dancing shoes temporarily and put on your walking shoes. When you do this, you may have to walk a bit to find a rain cloud. Sometimes, after a while, you will find yourself in a monsoon; other times, however, all that may be there are some tiny drops of rain. And when the latter is the case, you must locate that drop of rain, run underneath it and stick out your tongue. And then you dance in that drop. Look for the blessings in your life and in other’s lives and count every one of them.

Year ago, dear friend of mine, unfortunately, lost one of her closest friends. Passing away at a young age, it was a tremendous loss not only for my friend, but for so many others. She was literally a walking piece of sunshine who had the amazing ability of making everyone around her a better person.

Some time after she passed away, her sister planned on getting married. My friend was now stuck in a difficult dilemma. How could she dance at the wedding of her best friend’s sister without her best friend? While it was a very joyous occasion, everywhere she looked, she saw her friend. When she saw her friend’s father, she saw her friend. And when she saw her friend’s mother, she saw her friend. Trying to keep herself together, she was having a very hard time. There was not even one cloud in the sky.

As I talked to her as she headed home from the wedding, she told me, “There were moments during the wedding when I felt I was coming apart. I was totally going to lose it. Although I didn’t want to dampen the joy of the wedding and my tears would certainly not have comforted the family, I struggled to maintain my composure.

“But let me tell you something. At every one of those moments, someone came over to me and said the perfect words. Nothing made me feel completely better, but it helped me keep myself together for at least another half-hour. That was how I made it through the wedding. The wedding was excruciatingly difficult, but I know Hashem was holding my hand.”

This is the art of appreciating life. During moments of difficulty, all we have to do is find that one droplet of rain.

Life is about living with Hashem. Even when we do not know what He is doing behind the scenes, we can rest assured that He is always holding our hand. And when He is holding our hand, even if we will have to walk far to find that single cloud, we can look forward to one day becoming soaking wet as we jubilantly dance in the rain.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Doniel Frank

At the end of our Parsha, the Torah goes back to discuss what took place at Har Sinai, as discussed in last week’s Parsha. The Torah relates that at that time the Jewish people, so to speak, saw a sapphire brick underneath Hashem’s feet. Rashi explains that this brick stood before Hashem during the time the Jews were slaves in Egypt in order to empathize with their pain. At the same time, the Torah states that the brick had the appearance of the Heavens in purity, which Rashi comments, refers to light and gladness over the fact that the Jews were now redeemed.

This imagery shows Hashem’s empathy both during the Jew’s period of slavery and the redemption. Yet, it is difficult to understand. Once we were freed, why did the brick remain there?

Our life’s experiences are cumulative. When people undergo a challenging time, and then move on to better times, they do not necessarily move passed the past. We may have found a long-awaited shidduch or helped a difficult child at home or received a cure. While we celebrate these events, we must remain aware that we might still be carrying scars from the struggles we underwent, which if not attended to, may potentially impact our future performance.

The same is true of friends. Just because they have come upon good times, we cannot simply cross them off our list and assume everything is alright with them. We must still empathize with their complete experience, both the pain of the past and the joy of the present. And if we see them getting stuck in the present, we cannot merely tell them to move on already just because things have changed for the better.

Hashem does not simply drop the brick when the slavery is over. He understands that there is still a need to deal with the impact of that slavery. He therefore holds both the joy over the salvation as well as the pain over the slavery, because this is the way of the Consummate Empathizer.

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