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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayakhel-Pekudei

Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter      Print Version

Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei
23rd of Adar, 5778 | March 10, 2018

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer
A Very Important Person

It was a known fact in the school. One particular boy was notorious for being a difficult student who wouldn’t follow school rules and classroom directions. Teachers were not too thrilled to have him as their student each year, considering that they could just imagine the challenges they were bound to confront.

But one day during his sixth-grade year, it all changed. The surprising thing was that it literally changed overnight. One day he was misbehaving, non-compliant and disruptive, and the next he was respectful, attentive and studious. His friends and even more so his teachers were at a loss to explain the cause for such a turnaround in his behavior and attitude. A few years later, after developing even more as an excellent student, he went on to become the 8th grade valedictorian and serve as the recognized pride of the entire school. It was quite phenomenal.

While he and his friends and teachers placed his past history of elementary school years behind him, one teacher was particularly interested in something. No one had ever asked the boy what was it that brought him to where he was that day of graduation? It was a puzzling mystery that no one had ever understood. What was the impetus for him completely changing and becoming such a great a student? That was the million-dollar question.

“No one has ever asked me about this,” the boy told the teacher, “but I’m glad you have.” The boy then went on to explain.

“There was a day in my life when things were pretty rough. I had gotten into trouble in class and I knew the principal wanted to have a talk with me. I was called into the office and the principal sat me down. We began talking until, all of a sudden, he received a phone call, to which he answered. But the conversation did not last that long.

“Excuse me,” the principal told the other person on the line, “would you be able to call me back later; right now I have someone very important in my office.” And with that, the principal hung up the phone and turned back to me to resume our discussion. I ended up not getting expelled from the school, although I was not in the greatest position at that time.

That night I went home a bit confused. Who was the very important person in the principal’s office that he was referring to? As far as I knew, it was only the principal and I in the room. I tossed and turned at the thought of who he could have meant, but it simply baffled me. Until, to my surprise, I figured it out. He must have been referring to me. I was the very important person. I had never before been called important, let alone by the principal or any other esteemed authority figure. But there must be something to it.

I began thinking of why I was in the principal’s office altogether, and if the very important person I was understood to be in fact belonged there. I rightfully concluded that I could expect much more from myself, and ought to in fact try to do so. I decided to do my best to improve my behavior and work harder to become a better student. Sure enough, I began to see improvements, which my teachers also noticed. By the end of the year, I was looked upon as a completely different student than I had been before. And things only progressively got better from there. I scaled up and up the academic ladder of achievement and proved to myself and everyone else that I did have the capability to be an exceptional student.

It all began at that moment in the principal’s office - “Excuse me, would you be able to call me back later; right now, I have someone very important in my office.” Those words were seared into my heart and mind and provided me with the motivation to achieve extraordinary results, the likes of which neither my teachers nor I ever anticipated.

We are all important. Our children are important, because they come from parents who are important and are surrounded by friends, family and teachers who are also important. It is precisely this attitude which creates standards which we strive to attain and sets goals which will propel us to heights that we never imagined we were even capable of. But indeed, we are.

Rabbi Yosef Palacci
An Eternal Gift For You

A man approached me a while ago and related the following: My sister married into a wealthy family, and has ever since been living very comfortably. One day, she came over to our house wearing her new Godier watch studded with diamonds. As my wife later told me, she was marveling in the beauty of her sister-in-law’s watch. It was certainly something impressive and not your everyday piece of jewelry. However, she added, although it was very nice, she knew that we were not in position financially to afford something like that and she was perfectly content. ‘I figured that if I was not meant to have such an expensive piece of jewelry like your sister, I wouldn’t have it.’

“Six months later, on one Friday afternoon, I gave my wife a letter before Shabbos. What was it about? Let me first tell you what would go on every Friday afternoon before Shabbos.
‘I know it is a little bit hectic every week before Shabbos,’ I told my wife, ‘but I just wanted to ask if it would be okay if I designate the two hours before Shabbos begins to learn.’ ‘Of course it would!’ my wife replied. ‘And so, for a couple of years, I would learn Gemara for two hours before every Shabbos. And then the letter came six months later.

“To my dear wife,

You should know that for the past couple years, during these two hours before Shabbos, I would always say that the learning which I do should be in the zechut (merit) of you. Today, I just completed Mesechet (Tractate) Pesachim, and I am giving it to you as a gift. The merit of me spending all those hours learning the Mesechta goes all to you.”

My wife was so touched when she received this letter. “I feel like a million dollars,” she told me. She still remembered the Godier watched that her sister-in-law had, but nothing compared to her Mesechet Pesachim. The merit of that learning lasts for eternity.

How beautiful. Here was a couple who may not have been the richest financially, but they were surely rich spiritually. The wife’s support and encouragement allowed her husband to grow in Torah and fear of Heaven, and most certainly brought an influx of blessing and peace into the home. The most guaranteed insurance for a home filled with Hashem’s presence and presents spiritually and materially is commitment to Torah study and its fulfillment. When such dedication is created by the husband and wife’s love for one another and desire for each other to grow together, there is nothing more beautiful than that. It is the surest way to bring blessing into one’s life in this world, and eternal reward for oneself and one’s spouse and family in the Next.

Rabbi Yoel Gold
The Master Plan

The year spent learning in Israel as a seventeen-year-old boy was phenomenal for Joel Bess. It instilled within him a love for learning and a love for Israel. As the summer rolled around, Joel said goodbye to Israel for the meantime and headed back home to Los Angeles for the next couple of months. He obtained a summer job and enjoyed the time at home.

One day, Joel received a call from a friend of his, Yechiel Saltzburg, who had been his roommate back in Israel. “Joel, I’ve always wanted to come to LA. Would it be okay if I come visit for a short while and stay at your home?” “Of course you can!” Joel enthused. And so it was.

Yechiel planned the trip out to LA along with his friend Mordy. After Yechiel and Mordy landed in LA, Yechiel rented a car in his name that only he was permitted to drive.

One night, Joel had trouble falling asleep. As he looked over to his side, he noticed that Yechiel had left his car keys on the table. It seemed like a fun, enjoyable idea to go for a spin together with Mordy in the middle of the night, and that is exactly what they did.

“We were only four blocks away when all of a sudden a car backed up and we smashed right into it. I remember panicking and telling Mordy that we better get out of there.” The car was under Yechiel’s name and Joel had no idea what that would mean for himself and insurance. Without delaying much, Joel and Mordy ran back to the house shaking.

When they finally made it back to the house, they were completely beside themselves. Just barely getting out the words, they relayed to Yechiel how they had borrowed the car without permission and had gotten into an accident. As young teenagers, they did not know what to do.

“I have an idea,” Joel said. “Why don’t you, Yechiel, go back to the scene of the accident and tell them that you drove the car, but thought that you were being carjacked, so you immediately ran away. Now that you feel safe, you are coming back and want to pay for the damage.”

The three boys agreed on the idea, and headed back out.
Joel guided Yechiel towards the accident site, while he and Mordy watched from a distance. As Yechiel approached the cops, who had by now surrounded the area, he began explaining what had happened. “I was driving and not paying full attention, and the next thing I knew, I rammed into the car next to me. I got scared because I had heard about carjacks in the past, and so I ran. I’m not from LA, and I was frantic.” “Sir,” said the officer in a firm tone of voice, “you hit someone else and you left.” “Yeah,” replied Yechiel, “but here I am now; I came back.” “Sir, that is a hit and run.”

“The next thing I knew,” said Yechiel, “they handcuffed me.” Joel and Mordy looked at each other mortified. They could not believe what had just happened. Yechiel was getting arrested for no fault of his own. They led Yechiel into a holding cell with a number of other convicted fellows. It was an absolute nightmare for Yechiel, all as a result of something he didn’t do.

Yechiel got out on bail the next day, but he could not bear to look at Joel or Mordy. He was beyond infuriated and disgusted with them. “I will never forgive you Joel,” he said. “I never want to see you again!”

Joel and Yechiel did not speak for some twenty years. They completely lost contact, aside from Joel staying aware that Yechiel spent considerable time flying back to LA to hire lawyers in a fruitless attempt to clear his record.

Twenty-five years later, Yechiel had moved on with his life. He lived with a beautiful family in Far Rockaway, New York, putting behind himself the incident which had occurred when he was a teenager. One day, though, he came across a gentleman whose last name was Bess. “Are you by any chance related to the Bess living in Los Angeles, Joel Bess?”

“Joel’s my brother,” the man replied. “That’s amazing,” said Yechiel. “I need to talk to him right now.” Within seconds, Joel was on the phone. “Joel?” his brother said, “Yechiel wants to talk to you.”

“Joel, it’s Yechiel, I need to tell you a story. When is the next time you’re going to be in New York?” “Just tell it to me,” Joel said. “No,” insisted Yechiel, “I need to tell you in person.” Joel later arrived and met Yechiel, who told him, “Joel, I’m going to tell you a story you’re not going to believe.

“Ten years after that incident with the car, I graduated from college with a finance degree. I began looking for a job, and after a while, I knew that one particular interview I was going for would pretty much set me up with a steady position. After the interview, I was directed to Human Resources, where I just needed to fill out some employee paperwork, after which I would be all ready. I readily answered all the questions, until I got to the last one. ‘Were you ever arrested?' I thought to myself, ‘Yes, I was, but it wasn’t my fault.’ Yet I checked off yes anyway. I never heard back from them. Apparently, they didn’t want to hire someone who had such a record.”

At this point, Joel felt terrible and began profusely apologizing again to Yechiel. “Yechiel,” he said, “I’m so sorry.” Yechiel grabbed Joel’s arm. “Joel, listen. It turned out that the criminal record that you gave me saved my life. You see, that job I would have gotten would have placed my office at the World Trade Center. I would have been there on that fateful day of 9/11 and I wouldn’t be here today talking to you. If I hadn’t sat in jail back then, who knows what would have happened to me?”

“When I heard what Yechiel had to say,” related Joel, “I didn’t say to myself, ‘Oh wow! I’m so happy I stole the car.' Rather, I then realized that even when we make unwise decisions that we regret, G-d still has a plan for us. Even then, everything that happens is for a reason.”

But what was even more incredible about this whole story came to light when Yechiel looked back at his court documents which he had kept from the court proceedings. Yechiel himself had never realized before that the expungement letter which wiped his record clean and was sent to him by the judge was dated 9/11.

Ultimately, there is much more to what occurs in the world than we know and can understand. G-d has His master plan and knows what each and every one of us need in life. All we can do is our best, and Hashem will take care of the rest. “I definitely learned that lesson from that day,” said Joel. “I will never forget it.”

A Short Message From
Dr. Tamar Pearlman

Have you ever wondered what life lesson can be learned from the rhythm of music? Consider for a moment what actually creates the rhythm in music. It is not the notes themselves, but the spaces and pauses between them which do. It is the silence between the loudness which enables for each distinctive note to both be heard individually and blend with the rest of the notes. The same is true in life. Imagine a minute when everyone around you is talking at the same time. Can you hear anyone? Likely not. But what would happen if each one pauses for even a second before the next one speaks? You can have a flowing, seamless conversation. In our intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships as well, it is the moments of silence which allow for personal introspection and attentive listening, and enable us to come in touch with ourselves and others. Those moment of calm quiet create the foreground to personal development and interpersonal connectiveness.

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