Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Terumah

Parshat Terumah

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Terumah                                                                                      Print Version
4th of Adar, 5779 | February 9, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko 
Changing the World

Years ago, I began collecting stories about individuals who were inspired to grow closer to Yiddishkeit and embrace a Torah lifestyle. On one occasion, a man told me of the time he was sitting on a bus in Israel, minding his own business, when my brother, Rav Gavriel Klatzko z”l, walked over and sat in the empty seat right next to him. Within moments, my brother extended his hand and heartily said, “Shalom Aleichem!” Taken aback by the exuberant greeting, the man replied in kind.

After Rav Gavriel, as he was called, spoke to the man for some time, he said, “I have a question for you. What are you doing for the Jewish people?” Not expected in the least to be asked this, the man continued sitting there quietly. “You are well-spoken,” continued Rav Gavriel, “good looking, knowledgeable and charismatic. We need people like you to teach and inspire Klal Yisrael.” But the man didn’t even know how to begin answering the question.

A few minutes later, the bus came to a halt and Rav Gavriel hopped off while wishing the man all the best. For the rest of the day, the man walked around with this question in his head: “What are you doing for the Jewish people?”

Sure enough, the next day, this man signed up and joined an Arachim Seminar, aimed at inspiring Jews back to Yiddishkeit. And today, he is a lecturer who travels from city to city and teaches Torah. It all began with that five-minute encounter with Rav Gavriel who could not restrain himself from asking, “What are you doing for the Jewish people?” That is the question all of us must ask ourselves.

Yet, lest we believe that the impact we can have is negligible, let me share with you another story.

My brother who used to live in South Africa, loved hosting visiting rabbis from around the world at his home. One time, Rabbi Mordechai Becher came to South Africa to speak. Scheduled to deliver a talk later that night, Rabbi Becher had some free time during the afternoon. My brother, always wishing for visiting rabbis to enjoy their stay, asked Rabbi Becher if he would like to visit Kruger National Park for the day. Known to be a beautiful safari with animals of all kinds, Rav Gavriel and Rabbi Becher both expected it to be a relaxing and enjoyable outing.

Walking around the park together, Rav Gavriel and Rabbi Becher no sooner than later came across two Afrikaners sitting on a big rock. Considering the intimidating Afrikaner look, Rabbi Becher motioned to Rav Gavriel that they should keep their distance and quickly walk away. But Rav Gavriel wasn’t so keen on avoiding them. “Why don’t we go over to them?” he said. “You never know, maybe one of them is Jewish?” While Rabbi Becher firmly reiterated that he really preferred moving along and not initiating any conversation with the Afrikaners, Rav Gavriel kept on moving closer to them. With little choice remaining to change Rav Gavriel’s mind, Rabbi Becher followed behind.

“Hi!” Rav Gavriel said with a warm smile. “Do either of you happen to be Jewish?” Immediately, both Afrikaners turned to Rav Gavriel and Rabbi Becher with a look of consternation. Yet, one of them then spoke up. “Technically, I am Jewish,” he said. “My mother’s mother was Jewish. So technically, that makes me Jewish.”

By now, Rav Gavriel was quite excited, smiling from ear to ear. “But,” added the Afrikaner, “I do nothing Jewish. No Sabbath, no Yom Kippur, no Chanukah and no Passover.” “Nothing?” piped up Rav Gavriel. “Well, to be honest,” added the Afrikaner, “come to think of it, there is one thing I do. When the Intifada began, I stared becoming curious about Israel and Judaism. Eventually, I came across an “Ask the Rabbi” website and started communicating with some rabbi and asking him all sorts of questions. Now it has been a year and a half and I have actually learned quite a bit.”

Rabbi Becher then crawled out from behind Rav Gavriel. “Would you happen to be Jonathan?” “Are you Mordechai Becher?” From across the globe, Rabbi Becher had been teaching this Afrikaner and helping him identify with his beautiful Torah heritage.

We must never underestimate the impact we have when we reach out to others. We have no less than the ability to change the world from one end of the globe to the other. It all begins with the question, “What are you doing for the Jewish people?” And from there, the rest is history.

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti 
The Heart of Chinuch

If we would have to select one verse from the Torah which encapsulates the mission statement of Jewish education, what would it be? Accurately so, we might turn to Shlomo Hamelech’s instructive words, “Chanoch l’naar al pi darko – Teach a child according to his ways” (Mishlei 22:6). Each child must be dealt with according to his or her own level of intelligence and personality and communicated the ideas and values of the Torah in a relevant and personal way.

Alternatively, we may point to the verse describing Avraham Avinu’s men who accompanied him upon attempting to save Lot from the clutches of captivity. There the Pasuk states, “Vayarek es chanichav – And he armed his disciples” (Bereishit 14:14). The definition of chinuch in this regard would be initiating a child into Torah study and enabling him or her to maturely develop and one day stand up on their own two feet (see Rashi, ibid.). But what in essence does “Chinuch,” colloquially translated as “education,” mean? What are the underpinnings of a Jewish education?

The two-letter root of chinuch is chein, a word usually rendered as grace or charm. I once heard from Dr. Yaakov Greenwald in the name of the Steipler Gaon that chein refers to a “Kesher she’einah nir’eh,” an invisible connection between two parties. In the context of education, this then means that a teacher does much more than simply give over material.

Chinuch speaks to how one feels internally about their children and students. How do I view them? Do I judge them based on appearance, academic performance and analytical skills? Or is my connection to them much deeper than statistics and capabilities? The true mechanech is the one who understands the inner world of a child and student and peers into the depth of their heart. They are thereby able to draw out the potential from within the child and lead them along the road to success.

When focusing on our children’s education, we must realize that there is much more to teaching than mere information. It is about providing a framework in which they can actualize their potential and develop into the greatest person they can become. Through building an eternal bond with our children and students and conveying timeless lessons through our own deeds and speech, we will most certainly be laying down the foundation for their ascent to greatness and shaping them into proud and honorable children of Hashem.

Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser 
Loving Closeness

Following the Second World War, at a moment of a humanitarian crisis, orphanage homes filled up with children of all ages. Procuring beds and blankets from wherever possible, children were hospitalized and given medical treatment to help ensure their survival. At a time when the lives of these children were at risk, a beacon of optimism nevertheless shined in the hope that with proper intervention, this was not the end of life, but just the beginning.

Yet while many of the children’s health steadily improved, the medical personnel took note of numerous children who were getting sick and not surviving.

With no explanation for why this was occurring, as sanitary conditions were decent and the cleanliness of the children maintained, the mystery continued for some time. It was not until later that staff members came across a startling observation.

The babies and children who were not surviving were those who kept quiet. It was only the children who made noise and cried that stayed alive. Investigating the matter further, the source of the discrepancy between those babies who were crying and were not was identified. The babies who were crying were being held, while the babies who kept silent were not.

And then they realized. It was the loving closeness of human contact which was ensuring survival or hindering it. At this point, people began flocking in just to hold the babies and provide human warmth and contact. And remarkably so, the babies stopped dying.

When word got out in Russia about what had occurred, experiments were done in an attempt to duplicate the results. Creating an identical scenario as was found in the orphanages, babies were attached to intravenous machines which fed them, worked their muscles and kept them warm. The only variable which was withheld was human contact. And guess what happened? Within a month, these babies who were sealed in perfectly sanitary environments yet were not being held were getting sick.

After seeing with their very own eyes these fallouts, one of the most important and literally life-saving conclusions was reached. More important than food, water, clothing or shelter is the loving closeness of one person to another.

When a child is born and starts growing up as a separate entity independent of its mother and father, its deepest desire is to reconnect to its parents and be held and cared for. To this end, Hashem perfectly surrounds a child with a mother and father, brothers and sisters and grandmother and grandfather. While this beautiful setup provides the optimal framework for a child to develop and grow, all of its components must remain healthy and strongly interconnected for the child to flourish.

A child is like a beautiful monarch butterfly which has come out of its cocoon and opens its wings. Yet the most important part of the butterfly are its two antennae. They are its source of guidance, and without them, little chance exists for the butterfly to find its way around. Being so very important, everything must go right for those antennae to remain healthy and functional. If they are singed and not properly cared for, the butterfly is at risk of getting lost and floundering.

What though is the secret of maintaining healthy antennae? What will ensure that our children thrive and lead lives in the right direction? The loving closeness of a parent, a teacher and a friend. Human contact suffused with love is all it takes to grant life and warm the heart of our beloved son and daughter and brother and sister.

However, there is one important realization that must be crystallized before we can love anyone else. And that is recognizing our own value and significance. If you have ever thought about the phrase, “I love you,” it presupposes that something is in place. And that is that there is an “I.” Yet where does that “I” come from? What builds that individual who can say “I love you”?

During one “The Possible You” seminar I ran for married men, which taught them to envision and structure the best and most productive lives for themselves, I asked them when they had last told their wife, “I love you.” They all looked at me surprised. Finally, one of them raised their hand and said, “Ten years ago.” As it turned out, he was the most recent of them all.

But then came the punchline. “Rabbi,” he said, “do you know what I actually said to her? ‘You are loved.’” He hadn’t even said “I love you.” I then knew that we had something to work on. Before we can give of our self and our love to anyone else, we must have a healthy sense of self-worth.

Years ago, I had the privilege of running a mini seminar for a number of prominent rabbis. While the audience was comprised of Yiddish speakers, my English was far better than Yiddish. As such, I did not intend to deliver an entire speech in Yiddish. Thankfully, Mechi Spiro agreed to serve as my translator. I spoke in English and he translated into Yiddish line by line.

After an hour, I realized that we weren’t getting anywhere. Nevertheless, we hoped that continuing with the program would bear some positive results and reactions, so we kept on talking. Yet, even after another hour, we were not making the powerful impression we intended. Calling Mechi over, I said, “I think the issue is that there is no ‘I’. We need to personally involve the audience.”

I then turned to the group sitting in front of me and said, “Is there anyone here who has ever undergone something challenging?” I hoped that this would cause some hands to go up. And it did.

“Yes,” one of the men said. “When I was twelve years old, I lost my father.” Hearing of the traumatic experience this man had gone through as a young boy, I said, “So what did you say?” While I meant to ask what he had said internally and how he dealt with the loss, the man innocently looked up at me and said, “I said Kaddish.” “That is true,” I replied, “but what did you say inside to yourself? Who are you?”

Now even more confused, the man bent down and picked up a triangular sandwich pack, looked at me once again and held up the sandwich. “This is who I am,” he said.

Perturbed, I quietly said to Mechi, “Look at that; he’s a sandwich!” Mechi whispered back to me, “His name is on the sandwich. He is the rav hamachshir who grants the hashgacha (kosher certificate) to the sandwich.” It then hit me. This man who had experienced this hardship during youth went on to become someone who understood his own value and achieve something.

No matter who you are, you can blossom into a beautiful butterfly, spread your wings and become great. It all begins with recognizing who you are and who you can become. Once that is in place, you can start sharing yourself and your love with others and begin changing the lives of your family, friends, community and the world.

Mrs. Shira Smiles 
Navigating Your Way

With the advent of modern technology, many important life lessons can be gleaned from their mode of function. Let’s take, for example, the GPS. In particular, four insightful guidelines can be learned:

As you comfortably get seated in your car, before driving off, you input your destination. As we wake up each morning, we must consider our destination point. Where are we going and what would we like to accomplish?

The address of your destination must be specific, or else you may end up far off from where you anticipate. Our goals must be concrete and realistic; not too off the mark. Otherwise, there is little chance we will ever make it there.

What happens if you make a mistake and miss a turn or exit? The GPS will reroute you. No human being is perfect. We all make mistakes, and that is part of life. Yet, we must never become deterred from picking ourselves up and optimistically moving forward towards a brighter future.

The GPS informs you of the fastest and best route to take in order to reach your destination. If we wish to attain our goals, it only behooves us to map out how we would like to achieve them. What is the most reasonable route to take? If we have a plan, we’re one step ahead of the game.

A Short Message From 
Rebbetzin Chana Silver

I remember hearing about a couple who both have demanding jobs in the frum world and are quite busy. Additionally, they have a large family consisting of older teenagers down to little kids. However, every week, they go on a little “outing.” Sitting together in their car in the garage, they spend quality time with one another and inform the children that mommy and daddy will be unavailable for an hour or two unless there is an emergency. It is important to realize that spending time with our spouse even for a little while is very meaningful and need not entail traveling far. Even if your schedule is hectic, you can still “go out” while staying at home.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.