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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Re'eh

Parshat Re'eh

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Re'eh                                                                                              Print Version
29th of Av, 5779 | August 31, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser 
The Letter in the Wall

It was definitely a challenge for Yaakov, as a single father living in Israel, to bring up his son, Shlomo, without his wife. She had passed on, and Shlomo had not been surrounded by a mother for many, many years. Unbeknownst to Yaakov, however, Shlomo had been hiding his ways, and had become over the past year, less and less religious. Shlomo still attended yeshiva and listened to his father, though he was slowly becoming more and more distant. When he finally turned eighteen, he realized that he needed to get out of the house. It was time for a change. Living with his father was especially difficult given that he did not see eye to eye with him about religious matters.

“I’m going to leave,” Shlomo told his father. “I’m going away to look for meaning in my life. I’m going to India.” Yaakov was taken aback to hear such news. “What do you mean you’re going to India? How can you leave Israel? Where will you daven, learn and eat Kosher food.” Shlomo finally broke the news to his father. “Abba, I’m sorry to say it, but I’m not really religious anymore.” Yaakov was shocked and reiterated his earlier point that Shlomo could not leave, for after all, where would he pray, learn and eat Kosher?” “Abba, I’m not sure if you realize what I’m telling you. I’m no longer religious, and I’m sorry, but I’m going to leave.” Yaakov was heartbroken. He couldn’t accept the fact that his one and only son was no longer religious, and would be leaving Israel.

Shlomo, who was now going by Sam, bought a ticket and scheduled a flight. On the day of his scheduled flight, Yaakov discovered the time of his departure, and raced to the airport to catch him. “Shlomo, please, you don’t want to listen to me, and I understand. You don’t realize how much love I have in my heart for you. You don’t need to be religious like me. All I want is that you be a good Jew and observe the basic mitzvos. I won’t bother you. Please just stay in Israel here, and I will not bother you.” But Sam’s mind had already been made.

“Abba,” said Sam, “my mind is set. Don’t try to change it. I’m leaving. I hope you’ll forgive me.” Yaakov couldn’t stand hearing this. After investing everything he had into his son, he couldn’t bear to see him off in such a way. “Forgive you?” exclaimed Yaakov. “You want me to forgive you! I will never forgive you!” he shouted. Those were the last words uttered from father to son. Sam turned around and headed on through the airport. 
Sam landed in India, and continued living his life. He became involved with new friends and enjoyed a new life, forgetting completely about his Jewish roots and upbringing.

One day, as he walked through the market in the middle of India, he noticed what looked like one of his friends from yeshiva, from many years before. A very fine, young man, who dressed like a respectable religious Jew. Sam ran over to his friend, and patted him on the back. “Moshe, what are you doing here?!” “Well,” said Moshe,” after giving Sam a big hug, “I was sent here by my company for some business for a few days. I have a few deals to close and then I head back. But Shlomo, I was sorry to hear. I felt terrible. I wanted to come and see you, but I didn’t know where you were.”

Shlomo wasn’t sure what Moshe was referring to. “Shlomo, you don’t know? You didn’t hear? Your father passed away…” 
Sam felt like he had just been hit by a train. “Do you know how many times your father tried to call you?” continued Moshe. “The only person he talked about to any of us who visited after he took ill was you, Shlomo. What happened that you came here? To your father, you were his only source of hope and light.” Sam now realized that he had done nothing in memory of his father. He had not sat shiva, never said kaddish, and never gave even a penny to tzedakah.

Sam’s mind was exploding. He was so overwhelmed with tears and deep pain. While he had grown distanced from his father and had his arguments with him, he still deeply loved and respected him as his father. To now hear that he had passed and that he had not even known about it was a shock to his bones.

It wasn’t a question in Shlomo’s mind. Retuning back to his apartment, he gathered his basic belongings together and informed his friends that he was leaving India to return to Israel. Without any explanation, he went straight to the airport. 
Landing in Israel was without any agenda or itinerary. Making his way to the Kotel, he walked up to the Wall and began mumbling words of prayer he had remembered from his youth. But he couldn’t take it. His words turned into tears. Streams and streams of tears.

Standing near Shlomo was an elderly gentleman, who took note of the animated and intense crying that Shlomo exhibited. Approaching him, he gently placed his hand on Shlomo’s shoulder and offered a warm sense of support. “My brother,” he said, “what’s troubling you?” But Shlomo couldn’t even get out the words. He was filled with sorrow and frustration with his whole life that nothing more could be done but cry and cry, and cry some more. “You don’t need to say anything if you can’t,” said the old man. “Write it down. Write out a little note to G-d and place it in the Wall.”

Shlomo sat down on the ground right before the Kotel, pouring out his heart and tears. Once he had finished, he gathered himself together, stood up and placed the paper into the Wall. But no sooner than he had placed it inside, it fell out. Picking up the paper from the floor, he placed it in the wall again. But, as before, it fell out.

Shlomo had already not been feeling good about himself, and this certainly didn’t help. He could only take it as a sign from Heaven. “Here I want to talk to G-d,” he thought to himself, “and He is giving me His answer, ‘I don’t want to talk to you right now.’”

Shlomo began breaking down. But the old man was right by his side. “Don’t give up! What happened?” “The paper, the paper,” Shlomo cried. “I keep on putting it in the wall, but it falls out every time.” “Put the paper higher,” said the man. “Reach higher and put it up there. Place it in a different area, but never give up on anything in life!” Shlomo picked up the paper yet another time, and placed the paper up on a high ledge, where it stayed put.

But as Shlomo’s paper found its place high up on the wall, down came a paper floating to the ground in its place. Shlomo at first believed it was his own paper that had made its way down again, though he soon noticed that it was not his own handwriting, but that of someone else. It was someone’s handwriting, however, that he was quite familiar with.

It was the handwriting of someone he had known and had been very close to. The letter went as follows:


If I would be able to, I would tell you how much I love you and forgive you for everything that you did. I said that I was angry and that I would never forgive you. That was not true. My dear son, as soon as you left, I forgave you with a full heart. I pray that Hashem should bring you back, and I pray that you should come back to the truthful way. I hope that you will one day marry a Jewish woman who is G-d fearing and you will have holy children.

Your loving father who loves you more than anything, 
Yaakov ben Sarah

Who knows? Who knows the Divine Providence that runs through our life…

Rabbi Fischel Schachter 
Your Wedding, My Wedding

As one young chosson, Netanel, boarded a bus, his eyes darted around looking for a seat. Eventually he noticed an open place, and began making his way towards it. But as he approached, the man in the adjacent seat motioned that it was unavailable. The confusion was that no person appeared to be nearby. And indeed, placed on the seat was a hat, this man’s hat to be specific. “Would you mind moving your hat?” asked Netanel. But the man simply replied no. Not wanting to make a fuss, Netanel proceeded along looking for another seat.

Walking to the back, he located a seat and settled himself in. Sitting nearby was a father along with his son, who as Netanel learned from overhearing their conversation, was also a chosson. This other chosson could be heard bemoaning the fact that he had wanted to visit a particular gadol and had not found a way. He wished that he could do so in order to receive a beracha before his wedding, but it didn’t appear that it would happen.

Overhearing this dialogue was Netanel who had just taken a seat in the back. He in fact was related to the gabbai (attendant) of the gadol and knew that he could have this chosson admitted if he would pull some strings. Wondering if he should mettle in this other chosson’s business, he eventually decided that there was a reason the hat was placed in the other seat and he had meandered to the back, so he would give it a try. “You know,” said Netanel, “I was overhearing your conversation about getting into the gadol, and if you’d like, I am related to his gabbai and can assist you.” The other chosson, who introduced himself as Yoni, was thrilled to hear this news.

Netanel and Yoni began chatting away, sharing with each other a bit about their lives. “So when are you getting married?” Yoni asked Netanel. “In two weeks, Wednesday night.” Yoni was surprised. “Really? Me too!” “Where is your wedding?” “In Petach Tivka,” answered Netanel. Yoni was even more surprised now. “I’m also getting married in Petach Tikva.” This was no coincidence… until Netanel mentioned the hall he was getting married at, and Yoni realized that he was too. “They have two halls there?” Yoni asked.

When Netanel returned home, he posed this very question to his father. “Can we double check with the hall that we are reserved for the wedding Wednesday night? I met this other chosson who told me that he is getting married in the same hall on the same night.” Netanel’s father proceeded to call the hall and inquire as to what was actually the case. “Well,” explained the manager, “the other family has actually reserved the hall. You called first but never actually reserved the hall until after them. I am sorry for the confusion, but the other family has it booked.”

Netanel’s father was certainly surprised and disappointed, as was Netanel himself and the rest of the family. They were in a jam, firstly because they would need to find a new location, and secondly, because the wedding invitations had that hall in Petach Tikva noted as the address for the wedding, and everyone would show up there. This was not a simple position to be in.

Phoning other local halls, it took some time, though a second hall not too far away had an opening, and Netanel’s family booked the wedding there. Of course, there was no time to send out new invitations, so someone stood at the wedding hall for Yoni and directed people coming to attend Netanel’s wedding in the other direction.

After all was said and done, everything worked out and Netanel realized something quite amazing. Had he not reached out to help Yoni get into see the gadol he wanted to, none of this would have worked out. Netanel would likely not have found out that he needed to find a new location for his wedding, and the people coming to attend his wedding would have found themselves amidst the other wedding for Yoni. It would have been a confusing and messy mix-up. Netanel extended himself to help Yoni, and he was certainly paid back.

Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi 
The Monkey Trap 
Have you ever wondered how to catch a monkey? Whether you have or you haven’t, there is what to learn from the way it is done in Far East counties, such as China and Malaysia.

It is been discovered that monkeys are particularly fond of rice. In line with this, a coconut filled with rice is placed in the center of a large, open area. A flat slit is cut into the coconut, from where the monkey can insert its hand and grab hold of the rice. However, once the monkey has the rice in its hand, any attempt to remove his hand will fail, because the slit is too narrow for the monkey to pull back a fistful of rice. What must occur if the monkey wishes to free its hand and its life, for that matter, is let go of the rice. But all too often, by the time the monkey realizes that it cannot have both the rice and its life, it is too late. He has wished for too long for the best of both worlds and he has little chance for escaping now.

This has become known as the “Old South Indian Monkey Trap.” But what most aptly describes this trap is not its genius physical construct, but its idea. The monkey becomes ensnared in its own trap of holding onto what it has and failing to realize that it must think outside the box, or outside the coconut, to retain its life. The challenge for the monkey lies in escaping its old idea that “when you see rice, hold onto it!” Its mind is its own prison.

What does this have to do with anything? It has to do with everything. It goes back to the very beginning of our nationhood in transitioning from slavery to freedom. While in Egypt, the Jewish people were not merely enslaved physically; they were enslaved psychologically. Even after physically leaving the prison of Egypt, they needed to extricate themselves from the psychological prison of enslavement, which took seven weeks and culminated in the Giving of the Torah.

In our very own lives, we are in many ways entrapped in our own minds. We may be physically free in every which way, but we are prisoners of our minds, which limit and detain us from fulfilling our potential. True freedom is freedom of the body and soul. It occurs when we realize that sometimes we cannot even have our rice, let alone eat it. For the monkey, wishing it had something that it couldn’t brought its downfall. This is what our Sages allude to when stating, “A person does not leave this world with even half his desires fulfilled.” Once we relinquish our desire for what is not our lot in life and accept ourselves as we are with what we have, we will begin the road to a free life.

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