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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayeitzei

Parshat Vayeitzei

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Vayeitzei Newsletter                                                              Print Version
9th of Kislev, 5780 | December 7, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Paysach Krohn
Packing Your Parachute

For U.S. Navy jet pilot Captain Charlie Plumb, seventy-four combat missions had been successfully executed in the war of Vietnam. Having flown jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, Captain Plumb had one more mission, his seventy-fifth, to complete, after which he would return home to America. But, unfortunately, during this last mission, he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. With his life endangered, Plumb ejected from the plane and parachuted down. Not to safety, however; but into enemy hands, where he remained a prisoner of war for the next six years.

Following these long and tortuous years, he went on to become a celebrated speaker and travel the world, sharing his story of trial and triumph with audiences far and wide.

One night, Captain Plumb related, he found himself in a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, eating alone. Looking into the distance, he noticed another man staring back at him, something which made him somewhat uncomfortable and uneasy. A few minutes later, the man came over. “You are Captain Plumb, aren’t you?” he said. “Yes, sir; how do you know that?” “You were on the Kitty Hawk and flew seventy-four missions; is that not correct?” “That is correct.” “I know that on your seventy-fifth mission, your parachute opened and saved your life.” Captain Plumb was taken aback by how accurate this man was with his information. But then the gentleman revealed his relationship to Captain Plumb.

“I was a sailor on the Kitty Hawk, and I packed your parachute.”
Captain Plumb could not believe it. “I prayed for you and your family after you had saved my life,” Captain Plumb just barely got out between breaths. Yet, shortly after leaving the restaurant, Captain Plumb felt awful. “I bet that I saw that sailor countless times on the Kitty Hawk,” he thought to himself, “but didn’t say hello because I was a fighter pilot and he was only a sailor. But he packed my parachute! I ought to have said good morning, thank him and be courteous to him.”

There are many people who pack our parachutes in life – our parents, our teachers, our family – and we ought to say thank you and express our appreciation. These individuals who have helped get us to where we are today are due our acknowledgment and gratitude.

As I have often wondered if this is a Jewish concept, I have reminded myself of something which occurred to me when I was fifteen years old. My father would regularly attend a Torah class given by Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik every Tuesday night. It was a well-attended lecture, which provided excellent material for Rabbanim and laymen alike to share with others.

One Tuesday night, I went along with my father and grandfather to the weekly class. It was the week of Parshas Vayishlach, wherein the Torah states, “And Devorah, maidservant of Rivkah, died” (Bereishis 35:8). Yaakov Avinu went on to eulogize Devorah and name the site of her burial Alon Bachus, the Plain of Crying. Following this, Hashem returned to Yaakov Avinu and visited him again. What is the import of this passage? The Torah never makes mention of Devorah before this point and never does again.

Rav Yoshe Ber homiletically explained that Devorah, as implied by her name, represents the Queen bee. A Queen bee takes nectar from a flower and brings it back to the beehive. But, in the process of finding a flower, the bee will only land on a flower that it knows it can derive nectar from. It can travel over hundreds of flowers, but it will only choose the flower from which it senses it will gain nectar.

The same was true of Devorah, maidservant of Rivkah. Rivkah grew up in a household of deceitful siblings and parents, namely Besuel and Lavan. With Devorah a part of the same environment, she chose to raise, grow and develop with specifically Rivkah. She was the one whom Devorah drew nectar from and packed her parachute. That is why, explains the Ramban, Yaakov Avinu requested of Devorah to accompany him and his family when leaving the house of Lavan. Devorah had “packed Rivkah’s parachute,” in helping shape her into the extraordinary person she was, and Yaakov was especially appreciative for that. The Torah specifically makes mention of Devorah’s passing and her being eulogized because of her unique qualities and relationship to Rivkah and in turn, to Yaakov.

There are many people who have contributed to making us who we are today. Let us never forget to thank them, call them and give them the recognition they so truly deserve. For those who have packed our parachutes, let us humbly and respectfully say to them, “Thank you.”

Rabbi Yoel Gold
Praying for Barak

On a recent trip to Israel, my Aunt Betsy and her husband Simon decided to make a special visit to Herzliya. While there, they went out to eat at the well-frequented restaurant, The Meat and Wine Co. As they entered inside, they were met by a waiter, who led them to a table downstairs. Wishing to receive seating upstairs where they could enjoy the view, my aunt and uncle were immediately relocated elsewhere on the upper story.

After sitting down to their new table, a new waiter approached them and began explaining the daily special. They went on to casually engage in some short conversation with the waiter, after which he slowly began walking away. “By the way,” he yelled out, “if you need anything else, my name is Barak.”

“I immediately felt something resonate with me,” my aunt related. “The name Barak rang a bell. I turned to my husband, Simon, and said, ‘We need to find out what his mother’s name is.’” Without delay, Simon called Barak over again and asked, “Barak, does your mother’s name happen to be Orna?” “Yes, it is!” Barak enthused. But Barak was at the time a bit surprised. “What did you just say?” he asked. At that point, my aunt interjected. “By any chance, did you fight last summer in the war with Gaza, Operation Protective Edge?”

“How did you know?” piped up Barak. “Well,” said my aunt, “I have your name on my kitchen cabinet. During the war, I received your name, Barak son of Orna, to pray for.”

What was even stranger, my aunt later relayed, was that two weeks beforehand, she walked into her kitchen in Los Angeles and saw his name hanging up and began praying for him. As she did so, she whispered to G-d, “I don’t know if he is even alive, but it would be nice to find out how he is doing.”

“We went to Israel,” my aunt mentioned, “which wasn’t planned; we went to Herzliya and it wasn’t planned. We went to The Meat and Wine Co. restaurant, which also wasn’t planned. We finally chose a table where out of all the waiters, Barak was the one to help us. It was a powerful reminder that Hashem is involved in the affairs of the world, from one end of the globe to the other.”
Three weeks after my aunt returned home, she received an email from Barak. “The next day after meeting you,” he wrote, “I started putting Tefillin on. I have not done so in years, but I see how this event was orchestrated by G-d and is something for me to take to heart.”

We may often think to ourselves, “We live in a world of seven billion people. It is hard to imagine that the Creator of the Universe would be looking after little old me.” The truth of the matter, though, is that Hashem orchestrates each event in every one of our lives. There is nothing which occurs that is coincidental or accidental. Every breath we take is His special way of telling us that we matter, and we in turn ought to reach out and ask that He help us along every step of our journey in life. Because, without question, He is waiting to hear from us.

Rav Elya Brudny
One Man, One Heart

It is understood that for children, both at school and in the home, many problems can result from bullying. Being picked on, insulted and put down in whatever which way can be the cause of numerous issues which arise. Yet, equally so, the question which must be addressed is what breeds such bullying? Aside from unrefined middos and character, which are certainly causal factors, what leads children in school to act in such a way?

Chazal tell us, “The speech of a child in the marketplace is either from his father or mother” (Sukkah 56b). The way children speak and act is very much the result of the education they receive at home. Now, you may wonder, why then would Reuven pick on Shimon if Shimon’s name was never even mentioned in Reuven’s home? Reuven never heard anything negative about Shimon; why did he then decide to pick on Shimon?

While this may be true, there is another message sent in the home that children quickly pick up on. And that is factionalism. When it becomes a matter of “we” and “us,” children begin to realize that there are differences between each other and become, what can be termed, clannish. Within families and circles of friends, it is lifestyles, standards of living and values and ideals which set people apart. Some parents may be very vigilant of their children and wish to limit their exposure to certain activities, yet others may not exercise the same degree of attentiveness. It is without question very important that parents set standards and do whatever possible to ensure that those safe and healthy guidelines are respected, but it must be done with wisdom. And this wisdom is to draw a distinction between people and actions.

Divisiveness occurs when the focus of our differences is in the context of who we are as people. When it becomes, “us” and “them,” “our way” and “their way,” children begin to realize that there are cliques. If this is mistakenly conveyed as a matter of elitism, and another child has that “other way” of life, it can lead the child to exercise superiority. If, however, children are taught that there will be differences between themselves and their friends, but these differences do not create factionalism and elitism, such negativity can be mitigated. We may have different lifestyles, customs and mannerisms, but essentially we are all one people. There are many different sects among us, but at the very core we are “K’ish echad b’lev echad,” one man with one heart. If this becomes the message we send within and without our homes, as parents and educators, we will be on our way to properly guiding our children towards healthy attitudes and actions.

Dr. David Lieberman
The Ego and Self-Esteem

Have you ever wondered why people feel hurt when someone disrespects them? Consider the following.

The human being is a complex composite of many coexisting parts. For one, we all possess to some degree or another an ego. The ego exists to compensate for feelings of guilt, inferiority and insecurity. If there would be a person with absolute perfect self-esteem, the ego would fade into the background. The foundation of self-esteem can therefore be understood to be self-acceptance and self-love.

When an individual therefore struggles to accept some part or the whole part of themselves, the ego seeks to compensate. Instead of looking at their faults and failures, they realize they can protect themselves by inflating their ego and projecting a grandiose, though false image of who they are. Yet when they are then disrespected, considering their low self-esteem and large ego, they take it very personally. The bigger the ego, the bigger the hurt and pain. Moreover, it will be assumed that the cause of such disrespect is because the other person does not like them. The reason for such thinking is simple. If I don’t like myself, why should you?

Therefore, in short, the ego compensates for the parts that we don’t like about ourselves, and commensurate to how much we don’t like ourselves, the larger our ego becomes, and the more personal and hurtful any dismissive comment we hear about ourselves is. People who do not love themselves cannot understand why others would love them.

There is more to the picture, though, as this feeling can extend to affect other areas of life as well.

A person only gives as much as they have. A person who thus cannot experience love of themselves is at a loss to give love to others. They have more difficulty accepting and receiving love. In the words of Rav Noach Weinberg zt”l, “If you don’t love yourself, don’t love me.” To love, you must be loved by yourself.

In addition, such an individual will tend to feel more pain and discomfort when they are disrespected by a smart, wealthy or well-liked person. This is because the ego, which must expand when there exists low self-esteem, ascribes value and importance to money, power and prestige. When someone who therefore possesses these attributes is the cause of the insult, the ego takes a bigger hit and the person feels the pain more acutely.

In essence then, the first step to counteract the above trickle-effect is to learn to love, learn to accept and learn to appreciate exactly who you are.

A Short Message From
Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky

We often wonder how to strike the proper balance between our own growth in Torah and Yiddishkeit and inspiring and teaching others. In truth, the Chasam Sofer addresses this very consideration. He writes that although Avraham Avinu could have sat alone and learned Torah, he instead extended himself to educate people about the existence of Hashem and bring them closer to Him. Avraham decided to make this his mission in life, despite the fact that it took him away from his own personal growth.

In reality, however, Avraham ended up growing much more by helping others than he would have had he exclusively worried about his own spiritual growth and development. His breadth and depth of Hashem, Torah and the world were enhanced and expanded in consequence of his pure dedication to spreading Hashem’s name to the world. In our own times, as well, we must recognize our need and responsibility to reach out to as many Jews as possible and bring them closer to our Father in Heaven and His Torah.

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