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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Noach

Parshat Noach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Noach Newsletter
5th of Tishrei, 5780 | November 2, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Mordechai Becher
Bound Together

Our Sages teach, “All of the Jewish people are responsible (areivim) for one another” (Shavuos 39a). As it pertains to mitzvah performance and all other aspects of life, the Jewish nation is inextricably bound to each other and responsible for each other’s welfare. Allow me to share with you one example of what it means to be an areiv, guarantor, in the very literal sense for someone else you never met and will never meet again.

Shortly after I had gotten married, my wife and I managed to find an apartment in Kiryat Moshe, Israel, for $200 a month. After a little back and forth, the government was willing to give it to us for even cheaper, $180, as both of us were new immigrants. The only caveat was that we needed four guarantors to sign us off. While it was a slight hassle, we managed to pull it off and track down four individuals who were kind enough to be our guarantors.

As my wife and I arrived at the bank, we were called over by one of the tellers. After briefly looking through our paperwork, she looked up at us and said, “Where is the fifth guarantor?” I looked back at her with a confused stare. “Fifth guarantor? I was told by the agent in Australia that we only needed four, which was difficult enough to get.” “Well,” the teller said, “you are now here in Israel and I need to stamp the paper to approve it. You need five guarantors, though.”

As I began to see that I was not going to get by with anything less, I panicked. “We need to have this paperwork finalized and signed by this afternoon!” I exclaimed. “Otherwise we will lose the apartment.” But all my pleading fell on deaf ears. We needed five guarantors, and she was not going to budge from that number.

I quickly started looking around the bank in a semi-frantic daze, until my eye caught sight of a gentlemen walking nearby. He approached me and politely asked, “Is everything alright? Is there a problem?” “Well,” I said, “there is a slight problem. I need a fifth guarantor to sign this paperwork or else I will lose the opportunity to purchase the apartment my wife and I are trying to move into!”

“I will sign,” the man said. I was baffled to hear such words from a complete stranger. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I will be your guarantor. Doesn’t it say ‘Kol yisrael areivem zeh ba’zeh’? ‘All of the Jewish people are responsible for one another. What difference does it make if it is in writing? So let it be!”

Right then and there, this man, who I had never met and have never met since, signed his name. And he did it all because of one reason. All of the Jewish people are bound together and care for one another. When one Jew is in need, all Jews are in need and are ready to help. There is nothing more comforting and reassuring than that.

Ask Why
Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein

If you would ask what it takes to become a leader and change the destiny of a nation and even the world, it would come down to one word. Literally, one word. It is the word that engenders extraordinary breakthroughs and leads to incredible results. Moshe Rabbeinu, when noticing the Burning Bush not becoming consumed, turned aside in intrigue and asked, “Why will the Bush not be burned? (Shemos 3:3). His question was why.
Yosef HaTzaddik, after being thrown into prison alongside the butler and baker, noticed them downtrodden one morning and asked, “Why do you appear downcast today?” (Bereishis 40:7). His question was why.

Moshe Rabbeinu’s question led him to become the leader of the Jewish people. He turned aside to notice the pain of his Jewish brethren, represented by the consuming bush, and asked why. Yosef HaTzaddik’s rise to leadership too began when he saw his fellow inmates depressed and he turned aside to take note. He didn’t ignore what he saw. He looked straight at the problem and, despite every reason to turn away, turned towards it and asked, “Why is this happening? Why do you feel this way?” It is that one word – why – which holds the key to opening people’s hearts and paving the way for personal and national salvation. It is the “why” which will open reservoirs of willpower and motivation to help others and heal the world.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Yosef Palacci

When Rav Meir Shapiro launched his magnanimous vision of the Daf Yomi, which went on to change the face of Torah learning around the world, the big question became what merit he had to start such a world-changing movement. Everyone began wondering what kind of eternal reward they would have received had they been the one to introduce the Daf Yomi.

Rav Yosef Kahaneman, the Ponovezher Rav, had a slightly different take however. “I am not jealous of the fact that he began the movement of the Daf Yomi,” he said, “but rather what mitzvah he did beforehand that Hashem granted him the merit to facilitate the further mitzvah of such massive Torah learning. As Chazal teach, ‘Mitvzah goreret mitzvah – One mitzvah brings about another mitzvah’ (Avot 4:2). What mitzvah did he do that Hashem gave him the zechut of starting the amazing mitzvah of the Daf Yomi?”

Every mitzvah which we perform paves the way for the performance of more mitzvot and our further growth in Torah. It will ensure that we continue progressing higher and higher in our spirituality and fill our lives with Torah and mitzvot every moment.

Rabbi Mashiach Kelaty
The Reunion

It was during those dark and difficult war years that a young girl named Ida was deported from Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz. That train ride was the last time she saw her family, aside from her sister, who joined her in the camp. For Ida, she was assigned a job which kept her alive, yet was painfully sad to carry out. Day after day, she would sift through the clothing and belongings of those who headed to the gas chambers.

Every night, Ida and her sister would return exhausted to their tiny barracks, which just barely fit them and thirty-six other girls. Life in the dirty and deteriorating barracks was beyond uncomfortable, but there simply was no other option.

One night, the girls heard an unusual ruffling noise emanating from what seemed to be under the bed. They assumed it was a rat. Nervous and suspicious, they immediately began to panic. Yet within moments, the source of the commotion became clear. It was a tiny, little girl, who must have been two years old. Hesitantly and cautiously, she crawled out from under the bed.

After some inquiring, it was discovered that her name was Esther, and she had escaped for her dear life to the barracks. She had no idea where the rest of her family was; she was alone and helpless. With both pity and compassion, the girls welcomed her into their living quarters. Yet there was one girl who took a particular interest and liking to Esther. And that was Ida. She decided she would look after her, and ensure her safety and well-being.

Ida did just that. She gave little Esther special attention and essentially became her surrogate mother.

Ida, though, faced a daily challenge. Esther was too young to work, and as such, would not be needed by the Germans. Her chances at survival were slim. Ida, though, had a plan. The blockhova, the Jewess who overlooked the inmates and was responsible for keeping them in line, knew a Jewish boy who had falsely assumed Aryan identity. Perhaps he could allow Esther to remain in a safe and private room throughout the day while everyone else was working. The blockhova agreed, and Esther survived.

Then came January of 1945 and Ida along with thousands of others began the Death March from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen. Ida was separated from her sister, yet not from Esther. She in no way was willing to leave Esther behind. Fortunately and surprisingly, Esther was small enough for Ida to wrap in a blanket and fit in a knapsack. And so, on walked Ida carrying Esther for miles until they arrived in Bergen-Belsen.

Although life in Bergen-Belsen was even more difficult for Ida than in Auschwitz, she carried on with courage and conviction. She knew that if she maintained the hope that she would make it out alive, perhaps she would. Otherwise, the pangs of suffering would get the better of her, and that would be the beginning of the end.

Shortly after arriving in the camp, Ida surprisingly came across her sister, who at the time had become sick with typhus. Despite the wretched state her sister was in, she was alive, and that was all Ida needed to muster the strength to devotedly tend to her with love and care. At last, Ida, her sister and Esther were together again.

After the Jews in Bergen-Belsen were liberated on April 15, 1945, the two sisters headed back to their home in Czechoslovakia in search of other relatives who had perhaps survived. Esther too traveled back home to Bratislava in the hope that her parents or siblings had made it out alive. Separating ways was difficult for Ida and Esther, although they planned on reuniting two weeks later in Prague. And with that, they bid each other goodbye.

Two weeks later, Ida and her sister were in Prague, but Esther was nowhere to be found. All inquiries to local residents and refugee centers as to Esther’s whereabouts were to no avail. No one recalled seeing a young girl with the likeness of Esther, and there was nothing else which could be done. Their search would need to come to an end. Ida and her sister went on to get married and head their separate ways, with Ida moving to America and her sister to Israel.

Years later, during one summer in the early 1950s, Ida decided to visit Israel and catch up with her sister. Yet during her stay, as she walked down the streets of Tel Aviv one blazing afternoon, she fainted. Thankfully, two soldiers were at hand, who helped transfer Ida to the hospital where she was stabilized. The two soldiers continued to monitor and look after Ida, ensuring that all her needs were met and she was provided the best care possible.

When Ida was ready to be discharged, she was without words to thank the soldiers for their care and kindness. “How can I ever repay you?” “You know,” one of the soldiers said, “I am getting married in a few days and it would be an honor to have you there.” Although Ida would know no one else aside from the chassan, she happily agreed to attend.

It was a beautifully arranged outdoor wedding in Jerusalem. Ida was present, looking around to see if she could spot a familiar face anywhere. Within a few minutes, however, all heads turned in one direction. “The kallah is on her way!” someone murmured, quieting the crowd down. Ida slowly and carefully squeezed her way through the crowd, trying to gain a glimpse of the kallah. And then she saw.

The kallah looked familiar. Very familiar.

It was Esther.

Unfortunately, though, Esther didn’t appear to have any mother or father to walk her down to the chuppa. But now she would.
As Ida approached Esther and their two faces met, it was an unforgettable moment in time. A day neither Ida nor Esther ever dreamed of had arrived. Taking Esther by the hand, Ida walked her down to the chuppa with tears of joy. The very woman who had carried Esther on a death march for miles amid pain and fatigue would now walk with her on a living march to marriage amid joy and elation.

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
A Torah Life

For one man living in a small out-of-town area with his family, it was not surprising that his family was the only Jewish one within miles. Nevertheless, his family passionately adhered to a life of Torah and mitzvos and maintained a deep appreciation for Yiddishkeit. The three boys in the family – Avi, Yitzi and Yanky – of course had no other boys to play with aside from their non-Jewish neighbors. Yet, despite their differences, they befriended the neighborhood kids and spent hours together.

It wasn’t until the end of December that Mr. Murphy, father of one of the neighborhood families, pulled up in his car with a large tree in his trunk. Avi, Yitzi and Yanky were of course outside playing at the time, and as soon as their eye caught notice of Mr. Murphy and the exciting new “tree” he had purchased, the boys offered their help. Mr. Murphy quickly took them up on their offer, whereupon the tree was carefully carried from the car into the house.

Placing the tree in the middle of the house, the boys stared on in wonderment. This was something they had never before seen, and were considerably intrigued by. “Mr. Murphy,” Avi hesitantly and shyly said, “can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” gladly welcomed Mr. Murphy, “go ahead, what is it?” “How tall does the tree have to be?” “Avi,” somewhat confusingly replied Mr. Murphy, “it doesn’t have to be any specific height. It can be as tall or as short as you want.” “Okay, next question. How close to the window does it have to be?” “It doesn’t really matter; you can leave it right in the middle of the room.” “Really…” Avi wondered aloud. “And what if some of the leaves start turning brown...?”

Unbeknownst to Mr. Murphy, Avi as a young Torah Jew was equating the laws of a Lulav to the “laws” of a X-Mas tree. All that our children see inside our homes is one mitzvah after another. It may not appear as if our lives are infused with mitzvos all day long, but we would be wise to think again.

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