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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Chayei Sarah

Parshat Chayei Sarah

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Chayei Sarah Newsletter
25th of Cheshvan, 5780 | November 23, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Who Helps Whom?

For two close friends, Mike and Barry, the trip up north to Alaska brought with it what they least wished to happen. Within just a short period, the wind current shifted and caused the onset of an unbearable snow storm. The frigid temperatures placed them into extreme danger, with the possibility of frostbite if not worse. As it turned out, Mike could not bear the cold any longer, and despite every effort to keep his body up, he collapsed to the snow.

Catching sight of Mike’s condition was none other than Barry, who rushed over immediately. But Mike had apparently fallen into a sleep and gone unconscious. Barry, aside from panicking, knew quite well that now was not the time to be passive. If only he could keep maintain Mike’s blood circulation, he would perhaps come out alive and avoid freezing to death.

Barry began rubbing Mike’s hands, feet and neck, hoping that it would be enough to stave off any imminent life-threatening danger. Fortunately, it helped until a team of paramedics came across the two of them and transported them to a hospital.

Mike was rushed into the emergency room and immediately seen by a group of nurses and doctor, as Barry sat in the waiting room anticipating what he hoped would be good news.

Finally, after some while, the doctor emerged. “I have some news about your friend,” he said softly. “Fortunately, he is alive. We needed to amputate a couple of his toes, but he is now stable and doing better.”
Barry breathed in a sigh of relief. “Thank G-d,” he said, “I am so happy that I continuously rubbed him. I’m afraid to think what would have happened if I wouldn’t have done so.” But the doctor had something else to tell Barry. “I just want you to know that as much as you saved your friend’s life, your friend saved your life.” Barry was unsure what to make of the doctor’s comment. “What do you mean? He was half asleep!”

“That may be true, but by you rubbing his body and keeping his blood circulation going, you kept your own circulation going and saved your own life. Because you were working to keep your friend alive, you are perfectly healthy now.”

In life, we tend to think that when we help another person, we have helped them and them only. But, in truth, our efforts are never one-sided. All that we do to help another person helps us in turn in multiple ways. It makes us into a better person, sensitizes us to other people’s needs and feelings, and just sometimes saves our own very life.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser
The Highest-Class Shadchan

Some time ago, a man from New York approached me and handed me a check written out to an enormous sum. I didn’t know anything more aside from the fact that he wished for it to be given to tzedakah. I didn’t question his motivation either, as he seemed fully genuine and aware of what he was doing.

As he was about to leave, though, I felt compelled to say something. “I just want to thank you,” I said. “It is certainly a magnanimous check. If you don’t mind me asking, is there any special occasion for doing this?” The man paused momentarily, and then went on to say, “I will tell you. I have a daughter who is looking to get married. I have gone to many shadchanim (matchmakers) all over, though nothing has come of it. I have learned, however, that Hashem is the ultimate One to bring matches together, and I have therefore decided on something that I would like you to assist me with. I am going to pay Hashem, the shadchan, right now by giving tzedakah to whomever you choose. Now I am telling Hashem, ‘You have my money; it is Yours. I paid You in advance, and there is no way I can take it back. Hashem, please, help my daughter find her shidduch.’”

The man started welling up in tears, and left the house emotionally worked up. Without delay, I hurriedly distributed the funds to worthy causes. Fortunately, the check had the man’s address, which allowed me to retain his contact information. I phoned him and thanked him for his generosity, agreeing to stay in touch.

Forty days later, a man and his son were visiting New York for a couple of days from Europe. Finding themselves in a new community, the man soon learned of prospective girls which his son, who was of marriageable age, could possibly go out with. The host, at whose home the man and his son were staying with, approached the gentleman and began inquiring about his daughter, who he had heard was also looking for a shidduch. “A man and his son are here from Europe for only a couple of days,” the host said. “Would your daughter consider going out with him?” The man figured that there was nothing to lose, and so asked his daughter if she would like to do so. She happily complied.

They went out once, twice, three times, four times… Soon enough, they were engaged. Shortly thereafter, the father of the kallah called to inform me of the wonderful news. “But,” he said, “Rabbi, I am not sure of one thing. Did I give enough money to the shadchan?” “Of course you did!” I replied. “You gave such a handsome check to tzedakah.” “I was just thinking,” he said, “that were I dealing with a person who was the shadchan, that would be one thing. But here, we are dealing with the Borei Olam (Creator of the World), and He is the highest-class shadchan! Maybe I owe him some more money.” “I think Hashem is very happy,” I explained. “When a Jew demonstrates such emunah, that is the greatest thing he can do. Hashem is very pleased.”

The biggest segulah to finding a shidduch is faith in Hashem that He will guide a person to the right one. It may certainly be trying, but the firm belief that the true shadchan is Hashem will ensure that He will take care of you as His child and bring you together with your bashert speedily.

Rabbi Yosef Palacci
The True CEO

For one wealthy man who owned a large factory, the constant influx of people collecting for various charity organizations kept him busy for some time every day. But for those collecting and unfamiliar with the large three-story building and its layout, there was one slight problem. It was quite difficult to locate the CEO’s office. “We always try to find you,” one collector said, “but we all tend to get lost. Would it be possible to post signs directing everyone where your office is and how to get there? It would help us all considerably.”

The wealthy man listened to the proposition of the collectors and conceded. After all, if they needed to locate him and it was difficult to do so for mere logistical reasons, why not make their lives easier? And so, he placed small signs with arrows noting where his office as the CEO was. At different junctures and corners in the building, small posters were hung to indicate which direction led to his office.

For those collecting over the next weeks, it was significantly easier to find their way around. Until a new suggestion was brought up to the CEO which got him thinking and led to some slight alterations in the arrangement of the posted signs. While he was certainly the company’s CEO, as he was told by one collector, it may be a more humbling reminder that Hashem is ultimately in charge of one’s monetary status were he to title himself as the manager or something less authoritative as CEO.

The head of the company listened to the suggestion and thought about it for some time. While he was undoubtedly the CEO of the company, in the context of Hashem running the world and micromanaging one’s successes and failures, it made sense for him to relabel his position. As a growing, religious Jew, it would consistently prompt him to remember who was the true CEO of the world. And so, the next day, the head of the company relabeled all the signs and arrows to lead not to the CEO, but the manager.

Three weeks later, one of the main building pipes burst and began leaking, requiring immediate and extensive repair. This was not to mention that it would cost quite a hefty price. As the manager soon learned, however, the woman in charge of operating the cameras and monitoring the upkeep of the building had been remiss in her duties and overlooked this problem. Consequently, the company would now have to pay considerably more to fix the leakage.

The manager, unhappy with the woman’s negligent work, dismissed her from her position. He would have rather kept her employed, but such an irresponsible oversight was too gross an error to warrant that. Instead, she was sent off with no job to return to the following day.

Returning home that night, she headed to her husband in tears. She explained what had occurred and why she was now left without a job. Her husband was in the least pleased to hear the news. Infuriated, he decided he would make his way down to the factory the next morning to have it out with the manager.

The next morning, on went the husband to the factory. As he entered the building, he immediately began looking for signs indicating the CEO’s office, as his wife had told him to look out for. But as the husband soon figured out, there was no office belonging to the CEO, but rather to the manager. And so, following the signs to the manager’s office, he soon arrived quite frustrated and irritated. “Where is the CEO?” he hollered. Having just recently made changes to his official title in the company, the manager, without thinking twice, pointed up. In his mind, he was referring to Hashem. That was not what the husband made it out to be, however. Rushing out of the office, the husband began making a dart towards the stairwell and heading upstairs.

The manager just sat still. Thinking to himself for a moment, he realized what he had just seen. The husband was armed. Who knows what he planned on doing? Phoning the police immediately, within minutes, they were at the factory arresting the man. Everyone remained safe and sound, as the factory’s operations shortly thereafter resumed in full swing.

And then the manager understood. Quite likely, his life and perhaps the life of other factory workers were spared for a very simple yet crucial reason. He realized who the real CEO and boss in this world was and had pointed upstairs, which allowed time for the police to arrive and carry out the arrest.

The key to success in life is realizing that it is not we who are in charge, but the true CEO of the world. We most certainly play a pivotal role as employers and managers in the world doing our utmost to provide for our families and carry out a Torah life, but it is all against the backdrop of appreciating that Hashem is behind everything. Our finances have been deposited into our possession to lead a happy, healthy and spiritually connected life with Hashem, and in that respect, we are all trusted managers of Hashem’s cherished bank account.

Rabbi Yoel Gold
One Minute Late

I will never forget my first day on the job as a rabbi. Shacharis was called for 6:15 in the morning and I walked in one minute late. The digital atomic clock on the wall read 6:16. When I walked into shul, I was in for the shock of my life. I noticed that most of the elderly members of the congregation were already sitting wrapped up in their Tallis and Tefillin, waiting to start davening. I remember thinking to myself, “What is going on? My name is Yoel, and I grew up Chassidish where one minute late is half an hour early.” I quickly put on my Tallis and Tefillin and prayed.

After davening, a ninety-year-old man walked over to me from the back of the shul. He introduced himself as Amram Deutsch and welcomed me to the shul, congratulating me on my new position. He then turned to me and said, “I noticed that you were late this morning. Rabbi, it really hurts me to watch people come late to davening. Please, try to be on time tomorrow.”

I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I resolved right then and there to come a half-hour early the next day. I was determined not to be outdone by a ninety-year-old congregant. But little did I know what Reb Amram was the one who opened the shul every morning at 5 o’clock, and so, by the time I walked in at 5:45, he was already sitting and learning Mishnayos, saying Tehillim and sipping his coffee. I had no chance. It wasn’t until a year later that I finally understood what davening meant to Reb Amram.

It was a Shabbos afternoon and we were discussing his experiences during the Holocaust. “I was fortunate enough to leave Auschwitz,” he said, “and wound up working in a camp called Buna. I will never forget the letters ‘Arbeit Macht Frei.’ I was forced to share a wooden plank with three other inmates to survive the freezing and frigid cold winter nights. We took turns sleeping so we could warm each other with whatever body heat we had left.

One day, my friend said to me, ‘Amram, I am going to share a secret with you but nobody else. No one else will know about it. I am going to hide under the barracks where there is a pair of tefillin. I will go for two minutes, put on the tefillin and say Shema, making believe I was going to the restroom, and then you go for the next two minutes and do the same.”

Reb Amram now tuned to me. “Rabbi, for six months, until we were transferred to Bergen Belsen where we couldn’t take the tefillin along, my friend and I woke up every morning fifteen minutes before roll call, snuck out of the barrack, and crawled underneath to put the tefillin on. We said the Shema and then finished davening on the way to work.

We risked our life every morning with the least amount we could do to thank Hashem for life. It was the greatest gift I had for six months. A few minutes gave me life.”

Today, Reb Amram is ninety-four years old and he still opens the shul at 5 am every morning and still reminds me from time to time that I came a minute or two later. But as I watch him wrap his tefillin around the numbers on his arm, I cannot help but wonder who will teach our children what sacrifice means? Who will teach them how to stay proud of who they are, where they come from and what they stand for? Can a child of today appreciate what it means to be a Jew at all times?

For Reb Amram, he learned and lived that if there is a Ribono Shel Olam, then even if you experience tragedy and lose everything, if you are alive, you must continue with your mission as a Jew. We cannot rest so long as the job of keeping aflame the Jewish spirit for the next generation is in process. Every day, every hour and even every minute counts. With seconds, we can earn eternity and impart eternity unto our community, family and children.

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