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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Korach

Parshat Korach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Korach                                                                                 Print Version
3rd of Tammuz, 5778 | June 16, 2018

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein 
Meet William Ahdout

William Ahdout was not your usual businessman. Having co-founded FXCM Inc., a retail foreign exchange broker, and served as its Chief Dealer and Managing Director since 1999, William was doing quite well in life. The corporation was making hundreds of millions of dollars and exceeding all expectations.

How I ever became familiar with FXCM began with a man named Eduard Yusupov, or Eddie as I called him. In looking to raise some money for my high school, I came across Eddie, who was an irreligious Russian Jew living in Queens. At that point, he had been in the trading business for some time, but it was not always that way. Eddie had in fact befriended William Ahdout years before as a taxi driver.

Eddie had escaped Russia with his mother and arrived in America with just about nothing. As a young twenty-year-old, he took up driving as a taxi driver, which brought in a reasonable source of income. As it turned out, he would drive William Ahdout to and from his work every day. After picking up William from his mansion in Saddle River, New Jersey, he would drive him to work, and then spend the rest of his day taking care of whatever was needed until he would pick up William again and drive him home.

Eddie at the time barely spoke English, but he enjoyed driving William. This was because, aside from the revenue it brought in, he enjoyed hearing William talking on the phone about his work in the foreign exchange market. Eddie found it fascinating. This went on for a year and a half, with Eddie chauffeuring William around and enjoying his company and conversations. Eventually, after spending hours together, Eddie and William became close friends.

As matters developed, FXCM was founded. The astonishing part was that out of the six founders, five were Jewish: Drew Niv and Ken Grossman (American Jews); David Sakhai and William Ahdout (Iranian Jews); Eduard Yusupov (Russian Jew); Michael Romersa (Italian). Despite the Jews being only 2% of the American population, they dominated 83% of the largest retail forex dealer in the world. The Jews in this firm generously donated large funds to numerous tzedakah organizations.

On February 6, 2017, however, that all changed. The NFA (National Futures Association) barred three of FXCM’s top principals from membership, including Drew Niv and William Ahdout, and the majority owner of the firm changed its name to Global Brokerage Inc. The firm also agreed to pay a $7 million penalty to settle a suit from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) due to fraudulent misrepresentation by FXCM to its customers and to regulators. FXCM withdrew its CFTC registration and agreed not to re-register in the future, which summarily prohibited them from trading in the United States.

Some time after this incident, I was introduced to William Ahdout. I could immediately tell that he was a very connected and passionate Jew even considering the great loss he experienced with his multi-million-dollar corporation. But that was exactly it. What made me most curious was how he had coped with the loss. “How did you handle it?” I asked him. “What gave you the strength and perseverance to continue forward in life after what happened?” “Rabbi Wallerstein,” he said to me, “let me tell you…

“Many years ago, when I first learned about trading funds, I began working in a small, close-knit company of thirty traders. I remember the man who used to sit to my right, next to my desk.

He one day received a call from a large and prestigious company on Wall Street. ‘We heard that you trade funds,’ the Wall Street corporate manager began, ‘and so do we. Why don’t we get together and merge our teams and become the biggest corporation in the country?’ Now this man who received the call from Wall Street was someone I had known for five years and had become very close to. I figured that he would certainly hire me onto this dream team he was going to form and my salary would triple or even quadruple.

“As our company later sat down to a meeting together, the man mentioned the proposition of merging our companies together, which would skyrocket everyone’s success. He then began listing the various people who would fill in the needed positions. One by one, he went down the list enumerating those who would form this group. He began mentioning everyone except me, though I figured that he would eventually call upon me last. But then he reached fifteen people and said that was it. The team was complete.

Except that I was not on it.

“I was dumbfounded,” William said. “That was my chance. I was making a modest salary at the time and was sure this opportunity would promote and propel me so much further than I ever imagined. Even more significantly, I was almost certain that my good friend wanted me a part of the new company to be. 
“But I was left out. I felt alone, betrayed and sensed my future was bleak.

“For the next six months, I found it hard to pray. I had been becoming more and more religious, was giving tzedakah and connecting to Judaism, but now this hit me. ‘Hashem, how could this happen to me?’ I wondered over and over. I felt deeply lost and disheartened and didn’t know how I would bounce back. I could not connect the dots. It was not until a year and a half later that I finally did.

“Occupying the 101st to 105th floors of the World Trade Center in New York city was the financial services firm named Cantor Fitzgerald. Included among its 1,600 employees were those fifteen men who were selected from the previous thirty-person company I was a part of. Today, none of them are here. 
“Rabbi Wallerstein,” William concluded, as his eyes turned glossy, “had my friend chosen me to be a part of that company, I would not be here today. I would have no family and no children. There would have been nothing left of me.

“So now, as you ask, how did I deal with Hashem when I woke up in the morning and FXCM was done away with? It’s not as difficult as you think for me. Every day of my life since September 11th, it is a day I shouldn’t be here. And so, if I have FXCM or I don’t, I don’t have any questions for G-d. I know He has a much bigger plan in mind for me than I could ever imagine.”

Everything that happens in our life, from the biggest and most debilitating challenge to the slightest nuisance, is not without an overarching purpose and plan in mind. Indeed, we all ought to view our world through the prism of a “9/11.” Every night we lay down to sleep and wake up the next morning, it is a pure blessing and gift. Life itself is the greatest privilege and opportunity, and so long as we have that, we know we can make it through our challenge. Because the One who gave it to us knows there is a purpose and plan to it all… Sometimes we just have to wait and see.

Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron 
The Kidney Transplant

Sam and Max had been close friends ever since they could remember. Having gone to nursery, elementary, middle and high school together, their friendship was as good as could be. As they soon became of marriageable age, Sam went on to get married, as did Max three months later. Within months, Sam had a baby boy, with Max following shortly thereafter with the same.

As Sam and Max’s children grew up, they befriended each other as their parents had done and wound up attending the same school, which was a drive away from their respective homes. In order to ease the trip of taking the kids to school, Sam and Max decided to carpool their kids together. They would alternate days in which to take them.

Everything was working great until Black Monday occurred, as Sam’s wife referred to it as. As was the case, Sam always carefully ensured that the one of the back doors which faced oncoming traffic was locked, while the other remained open for the kids to get out onto the curb. It was a wise safety precaution, which successfully kept the boys in check. Max, however, was not as particular in locking one door and keeping the other unlocked.

One day, as Max parked the car and prompted the boys to get out of the car for school, the unexpected occurred. Sam’s son stepped out onto the road as a car sped down in his direction. It was just seconds later that Sam’s son was hit. Tragically, did not make it.

The shock and sadness which filled Sam’s family was unparalleled and unbearable. Max as well felt absolutely terrible and terrified by what he had done. He could barely bring himself to pay a shivacall to Sam and his family, until a few days later.

Max eventually made his way over, though everyone knew that it was the last time he would ever see Sam. Their friendship which had been so close would be over. It could not weather the pain such a calamity brought in its wakening.

Max took it extremely hard as well. As could be understood, he struggled to live with the reality that he had taken a young boy’s life. He begged Sam to forgive him and sooth the indescribable anguish this evoked for all involved, but Sam in no way responded to his pleas. Max persistently sought Sam, urging him to forgive his egregious mistake. But Sam would not hear of it nor forgive and forget Max’s doing. He wanted nothing to do with Max at all ever again.

Within a month, Sam and his wife moved out to a new neighborhood, intending to start life anew as best as they could. A year later, they were blessed with twins and shortly thereafter, with another child. It in no way replaced the loss of their previous son, but was taken as a gift of Heaven which in some small way eased their pain.

Life went on, as the kids grew up and attended school. One day, though, Sam’s wife received a frantic phone call from the hospital. “If you could please come to the hospital immediately, your husband is here.” She wasted no time, and showed up in the hospital in a panic. “Your husband fainted at work,” she was told, “and when he was brought to the hospital, we realized that he had suffered kidney failure and needed to go on dialysis.” She looked over at her husband, a courageous, tough man who had now been brought to a less than compromised state. It wasn’t long before he was forced to quit his job and devote himself to doing everything in the interest of saving his life.

A few months later, Sam and his wife received a message from the doctor overseeing Sam’s recovery process. “I need to meet with you both as soon as possible,” he urgently conveyed. “I was reviewing your charts and paperwork, Sam, and it is clearly evident that you are at the end stage of renal failure. It doesn’t look good. You have about three more months to live until your condition becomes terminal and all your internal systems shut down. The only option at this point is to call for a kidney transplant. Yet, I must be honest, your blood type is very rare and you will need to find someone else who likewise has this very unusual blood type.” “So what does this all mean?” Sam and his wife unnervingly asked. “We will put you on the waiting list and G-d willing, pray and do whatever you can. Hopefully, we will be able to match you with a donor.”

As Sam and his wife took in this difficult news, they were beside themselves. Not too long before they had lost their beloved son and now Sam’s own health was severely at risk. All that Sam’s wife could think of doing was opening a Sefer Tehillim and begin reciting chapter after chapter. Tears flowed from her eyes and streamed down her cheeks day after day as her heart poured out in prayer.

Sooner than later, Sam’s wife felt it necessary to seek the advice of the rabbi of the community. After relaying to him the details and sequence of events, the rabbi replied, “Just continue praying and I will do my best to help your family in their plight.” The rabbi’s words somewhat comforted Sam’s wife and allayed her worries, and with that, she returned home.

That very day she spoke to the rabbi, she finished Tehillim three times. Her daily routine was to do no less than recite Tehillim for hours on end. After around three months, Sam and his wife received a call from the hospital. “Please come in immediately; we’ve found a donor.”

Fortunately, the surgery was successful. Sam began his recovery process and was able to regain his strength. Six months following the surgery, he began working again and reverting to his old, previous routine he had been used to.

One day, he showed up at his wife’s office and called her down. “Please, I need to speak to you,” he urged. This unexpected visit came as a surprise to Sam’s wife and, understandably so, got her nervous. “Is everything alright?” she anxiously asked. “Yes, I just have something I need to tell you.” Sam’s wife settled herself in a seat, feeling quite impatient. “When I was ill with kidney failure, I began thinking about my life and contemplating everything that had occurred to me. One thing that really bothered me was how I treated my friend Max. I don’t feel it was right how I reacted. He didn’t do it on purpose and meant no harm. It was an honest, albeit terrible, mistake. My mind kept on returning to that incident, but I continued to mentally push it off. But then, just the other day, I decided that I would call a mutual friend of ours and see how Max is doing.

“I started talking to our friend and caught up with him a bit. But then I changed the flow of topic and started discussing Max. ‘How is Max doing?’ I asked. ‘Oh, Max is recuperating,’ he replied. ‘Recuperating? What happened?’ ‘He donated his kidney to somebody,’ my friend replied. As soon as I heard this, I nearly dropped the phone.

“I don’t know what to say,” Sam reiterated to his wife. “I don’t know how this happened. I do have a strong feeling though that it was Max who in fact donated his kidney to me.” Sam’s wife was just as shocked to hear of this as her husband was, though she began putting two and two together. “I think I know who may be able to help us. Let’s go to the rabbi.”

Rushing over to the rabbi’s house, they enter inside looking haggard and overwhelmed like never before. It didn’t take long for the rabbi to realize that something was amiss. “I think something happened here with my husband’s kidney and you were involved,” Sam’s wife said. “Yes,” the rabbi began, a serious yet soothing tone underlying his voice.

“When you both moved into this neighborhood, your friend Max came to see me and told me everything that had happened and how he felt immeasurably terrible. He truly wished to make it up, though he didn’t know what he could do. At the time, I didn’t feel he was ready or in position to make any major move at rectifying the past. But then, months later, you came in here and mentioned that your husband was in need of a kidney and was looking for a compatible donor or else he likely wouldn’t make it past three months. I then realized that it was now or never.

Without delay, I picked up the phone and called Max. After relaying to him all the details of your situation, he paused for a moment and said, “I am a match.” I found it hard to believe. “Really?” I said, “it is an extremely rare blood type.” “Rabbi,” he repeated, “I know I am a match. When Sam and I were younger, we took a CPR course together where both of us needed to give blood, and it was there that I discovered we have the same odd type of blood.” The rabbi was surprised to learn of this information. “To be honest, if I tell him that you are the donor, I don’t know if he will want to accept it. Instead then, let us go through a different organization and keep your name anonymous, thereby avoiding this.’ Max went on to contact a particular organization and donate his kidney to you anonymously. But now that you have come here and figured out on your own that he is the donor, I feel fine with filling you in with all the details of the story.”

The husband and wife were completely beside themselves. “Do you think you can arrange a meeting between us?” Sam and his wife asked the rabbi. Sure enough, a meeting was arranged, and Max and Sam and their wives planned on meeting each other the next day at one of the local hotel lobbies.

As soon as the husbands made eye contact and their faces locked in with each other, they could no longer hold themselves back. Their embrace engendered streams of tears, as their wives followed suit in hugging one another and reconnecting.

Both Max and Sam continued apologizing to each other for the hurt and pain they had caused one another, and before long, a long-lost friendship was regained and rekindled.

A short while later, as the two of them spoke one day, Sam turned to Max and said, “You know, I would have donated my kidney to you anyway, regardless of anything that happened in the past. You are like a brother to me.”

At times in life, we feel justified in bearing a grudge against another and maintaining frustration and dissatisfaction at how we were treated. The attitude of, “If I do not see the good between us now, and I never want anything to do with you,” overtakes us. Days, months or perhaps years can go by in the persistence of this feeling. But we would be much wiser and happier to realize that in the process of doing so, we often are pushing away the people we love the most and perhaps need the most. Because, just maybe, they will come around one day to help us in ways that are nothing short of saving our life…

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