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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Va'etchanan

Parshat Va'etchanan

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Va'etchanan                                                                      Print Version
16th of Av, 5779 | August 17, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Mr. Charlie Harary 
Thank You Hashem

As soon as I received the invitation for the wedding of one of my closest friend’s daughter, I knew I wanted to go. I was very excited about attending, especially given the fact that all my old friends growing up planned on being there as well. It would be great.

The Wednesday night before the wedding, which was to be held in Miami on Thursday, I was scheduled to speak in St. Louis. Being that there was no direct flight from St. Louis to Miami, I booked a ticket to Detroit for Thursday morning, from where I planned on taking a connecting flight to Miami to make the wedding in the later afternoon. It was going to be a busy day of travel, but well worth it.

I arrived at the airport in St. Louis with plenty of time before my 8:45 a.m. flight and everything was fine. But just minutes later, I noticed that the flight was delayed until 9 a.m. It wasn’t much of a delay, and I knew I still had enough time to make the connecting flight in Detroit. But as time neared closer to 9 o’clock and no boarding was yet underway, I grew concerned. It was 8:50 and we had not started to board. To boot, the plane was not even close to the gate.

At 9:05, my heart dropped. The flight which was supposed to leave at 9 was now pushed until 11 a.m., which would get me into Detroit at 1 p.m., an hour after my flight would leave to Miami. Calling the airline, I explained my dilemma. But it was all to no avail, as there were no later flights leaving from Detroit later in the day to Miami. Even flying through other states was not an option. Flights were filled and booked solid. I was not going to make the wedding in Miami. That was it.

What was I going to do? I was really upset, and now began waiting for my flight from St. Louis back home to New York. As I took a seat and let out a sigh, a story related by Rabbi Shlomo Arush popped into my head. A woman who had been unable to have children for many years once approached Rabbi Arush.

Seeking his guidance, Rabbi Arush said that he could give her a piece of advice, but she wouldn’t like it. “I’ll do whatever you say!” she affirmed. “You haven’t had children for ten years… take time every day and thank Hashem that you do not have children.” The woman was very surprised to hear this advice, but took it to heart. “Hashem knows what He is doing. Have faith that He knows what is best for you, and has given you what is best for you. Go home and sincerely thank Him for your challenges.” 
She did. And as Rabbi Shlomo Arush concludes the story, a year later she gave birth for the first time.

Recalling this story as I sat in the airport, I thought to myself, “You know what? I don’t run the world. Yes, I am very upset, and I wish I could snap my fingers and everything would work out. But that’s not the way things work.”

I proceeded to mumble to myself sitting in the airport, “Thank you Hashem for making me miss my flight, thank you Hashem, thank you Hashem…” I repeated this multiple times. Honestly, after saying it again and again, I began to really believe it. I was waiting for the moment when everything would come together and a marvelous story would be made out of my disappointing predicament. But no story ever became of it.

I simply boarded the plane back home and headed back to the office. The rest of my day was spent thinking about where I could have been and what I would have been doing, but each time such a thought popped into my mind, I repeated the words, “Thank you Hashem.” Eventually, it started to feel genuinely real and it helped me move along.

I returned home at the end of the day, and was met by my wife who told me that someone had stopped by earlier in the day and delivered a package for me. Heading to the dining room table, I picked up the box and opened it up. And what did I find? Paraphernalia. Stickers, magnets, pins. And what was the theme throughout all of these little items? Thank you Hashem.

Embedded on every one of these items were those words. Some company had manufactured all these things and labeled them with the phrase Thank you Hashem. The best of it all, the fancy baseball cap with the words Thank you Hashem. 
Waiting for me at night when I came home was a little pat on the back from Hashem.

Sometimes in life, we want things to work out our way, and they don’t. We then choose to believe in G-d more and double down on trusting Hashem. Yet, all the while, we are waiting for the big revelation. Something grand will come from all that we experienced and went through. It will be the story of everything working out.

Sometimes that is the case, and matters come together to form a remarkable story, but sometimes it doesn’t. When the latter is the case, Hashem wants us to recognize that He is there. Hashem cannot constantly reveal Himself, but He always wants us to know that He is there with us. “Trust me,” G-d says, “if I took something from you, it’s because I love you.” When we face challenges, if we allow ourselves to thank Hashem, trust Him and feel His presence fully, even when it doesn’t go away, then many times we will look over our shoulder and see the blessing in disguise just a little bit. It may not be a big hug, but it will be a high-five or a pat on the back. We will be able to walk the streets, and whether the day seems great or challenging, sunny or rainy, we will look up and with the most sincerest heart say, “Thank you Hashem.”

Rabbi Yitzchak Oelbaum 
A Change in Perspective

Year ago, at one wedding which Rav Pam was in attendance, the father-in-law of the bride had ordered a kesubah which was very expensive. Hand-made, it was a beautifully designed piece of art, which was a source of pride to the newlyweds and specifically the father-in-law.

Right before the proceedings of the wedding were to begin, however, a mistake was noted in the kesubah, deeming it invalid. An alternative kesubah was readily made available, yet it was not made by hand and was a far cry from the beauty of the previous kesubah. The father-in-law was unbelievably distraught, as his dream of having such gorgeous artwork hang in his children’s house would no longer be a reality.

Rav Pam, noticing what had happened, went over to the father-in-law, and whispered something into his ear. From then on, throughout the rest of the night, the man had a big smile on his face. Later, when asked what Rav Pam had said which calmed him down, the father-in-law related, “He told me that for some reason, it had been decreed in Heaven that my children would need to have two kesubos. There are two ways this could have worked out. Either she would receive a second kesubah because she would have gotten divorced or one of the spouses would pass away. Or, alternatively, as has happened now, a new kesubah would need to be written. Hashem provided you with the easier option, with one kesubah becoming unusable, so a second one would be needed. Once I heard this, I immediately settled down.”

A shift in perspective can change everything.

It is quite the common scene for crowds of people to be lined up waiting for a bus back home after Shabbos in Bnei Brak. Years ago, on one such occasion, close to one hundred people stood waiting for the 402 bus that would take them from Bnei Brak to Jerusalem. But as the anticipated bus did not show up on time, more people began waiting. But even at the next allotted time, no bus showed up.

Suddenly, a bus started driving down the road and pulled up. It was the 210 bus on its way to Ashdod. Of all the people waiting, one person who needed to go to Ashdod boarded. But he had the entire bus to himself, as everyone else needed to go to Jerusalem. Approaching the bus driver, they began begging him to take them to Jerusalem. “Please, we are stranded here!” But the driver had a job. “I can’t!” he said. “I have a job which requires me to go to Ashdod. I’m not able to just take people wherever they want. I have a strict route I need to follow.” But the crowd persisted. “There are so many people here waiting! You would be doing all of us such a favor if you could take us.” But the driver persisted. “I really can’t!” he reiterated. “I have a job, and I’m unable to go out of my way.”

But, the crowd eventually prevailed on the driver. “Okay, okay,” he acquiesced. “Don’t tell anybody. Tell the crowd to start boarding…”

Within minutes, the entire bus was full, and everyone was beyond thrilled, except the one man who actually needed to get to Ashdod. That one man knew the driver, and got up and approached it. “Let me ask you a question,” he said. “I know you; we’re good friends. You are a nice guy, but I don’t understand. There is no way that you would be willing to go out of your way from Ashdod, and risk your job to take people to Jerusalem. Why are you doing this?” The driver looked back at the fellow. “To tell you the truth, I really am the 402 bus. But I realized that if I show up and announce myself as the 402 bus, everyone would be fuming and yelling at me. Look at everyone now. They’re all sitting down nicely, appreciative, happy and relaxed. I changed the number on my bus on my way here.”

A little shift in perspective once again, and drastically different results.

Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman 
Your Sweet Accompanying Music

The son of the Chofetz Chaim writes of an incident which occurred in Radin, at which the music band for a wedding was unable to make it. With no other option, the young men in the area gathered together some pots, pans and blocks and began banging away. The music was certainly not up to par of what would have been, but the men did as best as they could.

Watching the music procession from a distance was the Chofetz Chaim, who called over his son and asked, “What’s missing? Why doesn’t everyone look happy at the wedding? It’s a beautiful simcha; what’s wrong? Because there is no music, and if there’s no music, the ambiance of joy and celebration is not felt as much. Of course, the main simcha is that of the chosson and kallah, but the music is an essential component needed to uplift everyone’s spirits.”

The Chofetz Chaim then continued, elaborating on the above idea. “In the World to Come, a person can have accomplished a lifetime’s worth of Torah study and good deeds, but it is the challenges and difficulties which he experienced that add sweet music to his portfolio. Those valleys in a person’s life sweeten the judgement and amplify Hashem’s compassion on Him.”

Were you to observe a band setting up their musical instruments and equipment before a wedding, you would notice tiring hauling back and forth and carrying all sorts of appliances. As they then start tuning up, and each instrument sounds different, it seems like chaos. But, underlying all this preparing, you realize that there will be beautiful music soon enough. A person’s difficult situation is preparation for the music that will be played in his World to Come.

Rabbi Fischel Schachter 
The Joke That Made the Wedding

In the late 1700s, there lived a Jewish farmer in a neighboring city of Posen. As the years went by, and he accrued a large sum of money, he began to consider prospective marriage partners for his two daughters.

The farmer had heard the names of a couple of men who regularly set up shidduchim, though he had not heard the small yet vastly important detail that they were classical jokesters.

Their plans in setting people up for marriage were more ploys than anything. And so, they one day approached the farmer and relayed that none other than the illustrious R’ Akiva Eiger had asked if one of the men’s daughter would like to marry his son. The farmer’s reputation and up-and-coming wealth had caught the eye of R’ Akiva Eiger and he was requesting that the farmer’s daughter acquiesce to marry his son, who was known to be a bright and budding Torah scholar.

The farmer could not have been more thrilled. Agreeing to the arranged marriage, the jokesters began negotiating with the farmer how much he would invest in the dowry and wedding gifts. “When will my daughter and family get to meet the boy?” inquired the farmer. “He learns all the time; he is to busy,” they replied. “What about a vort?” “You’ll have a vort here, and they’ll have a vort there,” they made up. Everything was a ruse, planned on part of these jokesters.

“Where will the wedding be held? It’s usually held where the daughter’s family is from.” “No, no,” replied the jokesters, “R’ Akiva Eiger is too busy. It will need to be held there, in his hometown.”

When the day of the scheduled wedding arrived, the farmer boarded the wagon along with his daughter, all dressed up, and his family, and began heading to Posen to R’ Akiva Eiger. Yet as soon as the family made it to the purported site of the wedding, nothing was set up. “What’s going on?” asked the farmer.

The family continued making their way to the home of R’ Akiva Eiger. Giving a knock on the door, the gabbai answered, to which the farmer announced, “We’re here!” The gabbai was confused. “I don’t understand; what is going on?” he inquired. “Our daughter is here to marry the son of R’ Akiva Eiger.” The gabbai immediately realized that something was the matter. Calling over

R’ Akiva Eiger, the gabbai explained the situation This farmer thinks that his daughter is marrying your son. “That can’t be!” said R’ Akiva Eiger. “All of my children are married.” Realizing what had happened, R’ Akiva Eiger returned to the farmer and gently told him that someone was playing a trick on him. 
As soon as the kallah realized the predicament, she began to cry. The farmer’s wife as well was distraught. But the farmer reassured the family, “It’s okay, we’ll deal with it. We’ll get home and have a good laugh. We’ll move ahead in life.”

R’ Akiva Eiger, without hesitating, called over his son, R’ Shlomo, and asked him to summon his own son. Now standing with his grandson, R’ Akiva Eiger said, “I am going to ask something of you…” While not yet knowing the request, the grandson understood that it must be something important if his grandfather was acting in such a way. “I want you to marry that girl outside, and I promise you a beracha that you will have ten generations of good children.”

The grandson proceeded with the marriage and his beracha was fulfilled. Tracking the history, the grandson’s tenth generation was a family in Belgium who survived the war.

What strikes me when I think about this story is how R’ Akiva Eiger was so sure he would be handing off his grandson to a good family. How did he know that it would be a good shidduch? What did he see within the farmer and his family that he felt the way he did?

When a person experiences a dire situation and is able to pick up himself up and move forward, that bespeaks greatness. “It’s okay, we’ll deal with it. We’ll get home and have a good laugh. 
We’ll move ahead in life.” That inner resolution and fortitude demonstrates great strength of character and is a key to producing great children and grandchildren. R’ Akiva Eiger admired this quality within the farmer and his family, and felt his grandson would experience a happy marriage. And that is what propelled him to guarantee such a beracha. With such familial ideals and values, the generations to come would persist and stay loyal to their true calling and character as dedicated and devoted Jews.

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