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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Tetzaveh

Parshat Tetzaveh

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Tetzaveh 11th of Adar I, 5776 | February 20, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Avrohom Alte


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Tetzaveh
11th of Adar I, 5776 | February 20, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Avrohom Alter
A Life-Saving Sacrifice

ולבני אהרן תעשה כתנת...לכבוד ולתפארת

And for the children of Aharon you shall make tunics... for glory and splendor (Shemot 28:40)

On March 21, 2009, the crowded Lev HaMifratz mall in Chaifa, a three-story mall with one hundred shops and twenty-three theaters was spared from collapsing. A white Subaru car had been parked next to a support pillar when someone noticed smoke exuding from the trunk. The Israeli police were immediately notified and came to the scene prepared for the worst. Cautiously opening the trunk of the car, they were aghast to find a large bomb weighing close to one hundred pounds. Diffusing it at once, they were able to avoid what would have been a major tragedy. Had that bomb blown up right next to the support pillars, the entire mall would have collapsed onto itself, taking along with it hundreds of lives. But a miracle happened and disaster was averted.

The summer following this incident, a woman from my community visited Israel and met with Rebbetzin Kanievsky a”h. To her astonishment, she was told by Rebbetzin Kanievsky the following story revealing the true reason the bombs didn’t go off:

There was a non-religious girl from a non-religious family living in Chaifa who was ill with excruciating stomach pains. Going from doctor to doctor, she finally was told of the tragic news she never wished to hear: she had a tremendous stomach tumor that had metastasized. It was inoperable; there was nothing the doctors could do for her. All she was told to do was go home and live out the next couple of weeks she had left.

She and her parents pleaded and cried with the doctors to do something, but they persisted in telling them that it was hopeless. Finally, after much effort, they agreed to attempt surgery. But, they reminded the girl and her family, nothing was going to positively result from the procedure. The doctors warned her that she might not even survive the surgery. And given her circumstances, an inexperienced surgeon would perform the operation. The doctors figured that she was a lost cause anyway, and it would be good practice for a new doctor.

Returning home, she began thinking to herself, “G-d, during the times the Temple stood, a person could bring an offering and draw closer to You. But today, there is no Temple, no Kohen, no sacrifices and no Altar. But I want to bring something to You as a sacrifice.” She then decided that she was going to bring an offering. Making a fire in her backyard, she took all of her immodest clothing and threw them into the fire. “This is my offering to You Hashem,” she said, “please accept it.” She burned every stitch of clothing she had. All that was left was her modest nightgown. And wearing that nightgown, she headed to the hospital the next day for surgery.

Bringing her into surgery, they opened her up and couldn’t believe what they saw. There was a giant tumor, but it had not metastasized. They were mistaken. It was very big, but it was operable and could be removed. Taking out the tumor, the tests showed that it was benign. After sewing her up, she was given a clean bill of health. And in a few days, she healthily returned back home.

She immediately called all of her friends and told them of the great miracle Hashem had done for her. She felt that it was in the merit of getting rid of her clothing and bringing her offering that she was given life. Upon hearing of her inspiring story, her non-religious friends came to her house and also decided to bring an offering. And in her backyard, they made another fire, and likewise threw all their immodest clothing into it. Now, they all needed to buy new clothing.

And so, the next day on March 21st, where did they go? To the Chaifa mall. There, where that car with nearly one hundred pounds of explosives was parked, these girls went on a search to find new clothing.

Now, why didn’t the mall blow up? We may never know for certain, but as Rebbetzin Kanievsky felt, it was in the merit of this girl and her friends.

These girls who sacrificed their clothing prevented thousands of other lives from going up to Heaven as sacrifices themselves. Such is the type of blessing living a life of holiness and modesty can bring to the world.

Dr. Lisa Aiken
The Eternal Message of the Menorah

ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך...להעלת נר תמיד

And they shall take for you pure olive oil... to kindle the light continually (Shemot 27:20)

In the beginning of Parashat Tetzaveh, we read about the process of the Kohanim lighting the Menorah. Utilizing pure olive oil, the Menorah was lit every evening and cleaned of its oil and wicks every morning.

Along these lines, it is apropos to reflect upon the eternal messages sent by the light of the Menorah. As is known, the twenty-fifth word in the book of Bereishis is ohr, light, alluding to the fact that sometime in the future the twenty-fifth day of Kislev would be a holiday of light. And indeed, as we know today, this holiday is that of Chanukah. Yet in the context of the Torah where the word “ohr” appears, it is amid a world of total darkness and chaos. As the Pasuk states, “And the land was total chaos and darkness… and Hashem said ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Bereishis 1:2-3). Wherever there is darkness, it is more challenging to see and connect to Hashem. But we must remember that if we in fact search hard enough to find him, we certainly will.

The word for “World” in Hebrew is “Olam,” deriving from he’elam, hidden. Hashem hides His presence in this world and it is up to us to find Him within the darkness. But even when Hashem creates such darkness, He adds sparks of light. We do not need to create light from nothing; we need only to uncover the already present light that is there.

During the month of Kislev when the Menorah stands prominently and shines for eight days of Chanukah, we are reminded that despite the absence of the Temple, we are capable of bringing symbols of the Menorah into our daily lives. The purpose of the Menorah’s light was to illuminate a dark world, and that is also our purpose as the Jewish people. By studying Torah and performing mitzvos, we shine Hashem’s illumination into the world just as the Menorah in the Temple represented shining G-d’s wisdom outward.

Considering our present state of exile, we remain bereft of a Kohen Gadol wearing his special priestly garments, as enumerated in our Parasha. Although Chazal teach us that reciting the order of the sacrifices stands in place of physically offering sacrifices (see Shir HaShirim Rabbah 4:11), we cannot live without literally, in the most concrete sense, lighting candles. There are no substitutes. It has taken on a central role for us. The Shabbos, Yom Tov, yaartzeit and of course beloved Chanukah candles shine a glistening light into the lives of the Jewish nation along with the world at large.

The question which begs, however, is why in fact does the Menorah hold such a pristine and special place in the heart of the Jew?

When Titus destroyed the Second Beis Hamikdash, he captured what he believed was the most important symbol of the Jewish people: the Menorah. Stealing the precious seven-branched Menorah of the Temple, he sought to remove the object which reminded the world that the Jews are a singular, unique nation which brings spiritual illumination to a dark world. Titus insisted that what you see in this world is what you get. Man lives in a material world run according to natural law and nothing more. But we as the Jewish nation sent a diametrically opposed message to humanity. And that was something Titus and his Roman followers could not get over. Accordingly, in his sweep of temporary victory, Titus capitalized on the moment and overrode our message with his message. Placing a depiction of the Menorah on the Arch of Titus, he attempted to show civilization that he captured and destroyed our unique ability to spiritualize the world. But history has shown whose legacy has prevailed.

No matter what people in the world have done to us and how far the Jewish people have strayed from Yiddishkeit, we have kept the Menorah not only with us, but inside us. Even in Auschwitz Jews risked their lives and collected packs of margarine and threads from their tattered clothing to be able to shine forth the light of the Menorah.

It is not coincidental that the Menorah is lit during the month of Kislev. The word Kislev contains the word “Kis,” meaning pocket. What do we put in our pockets? Money. Humanity most certainly values the material world and how much money people make. It is not uncommon to hear the refrain, “How much is he worth?” The Greeks and the Romans, the progenitors of Western Civilization, were ardent hedonists who defined the value of this world by the quantity and quality of physical pleasure they could obtain.

Yet the month of Kislev also has two other letters –Lamed and Vav. Phonetically sharing a similarity to the word “lev,” heart, we are reminded that there is more to life than aesthetic physical beauty. Our neshamos tie us to our higher selves and to Hashem and guide us in taking the physical world and elevating it. This is also the Menorah’s message.

Rav Nachman of Breslov writes how each of us is supposed to have a face that looks like a Menorah. We have our two ears, two eyes, two nostrils and a mouth in the middle. Just connect the branches. Like the Kohanim lit the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash every morning, we too are supposed to light our own personal menorah every morning. Doing our best to go through the day with a smile on our face, we will exude radiant and cheering light to all those we encounter.

Years ago I met a woman involved with Yad Eliezer, a charity organization which provides countless goods and services for needy families. Wishing to help her change the lives of Jewish families, I began assisting her in raising money. In looking to collect prizes for the auction we were planning, I asked her what type of items to get. “How about Vermont Teddy Bears?” she said. The only problem was that we didn’t have enough money to spend twenty-five dollars on each teddy bear. But I would try.

It was only the year before that I had asked Hashem to help provide everything necessary to run a successful auction and it worked. During Sukkot as I happened to be at the home of my Rabbi, a major importer of children and baby clothes, he donated his entire store room to the auction.

Now standing a year later and being told to obtain Vermont Teddy Bears, I davened one morning. Turning to Hashem in heartfelt prayer, I said, “You know Hashem, You did a great job last year; maybe You could give us more this year.”

As I continued on with my morning, I headed to my office where I saw patients the entire day. It was only later at eight o’clock at night that I locked my office door and quickly ran to the Long Island Railroad. Boarding the train, I was soon to notice that it was overly crowded and no seats were available. With no other option, I grabbed hold of a strap and remained standing. But as the train continued to maneuver along, all of a sudden, it came to a sudden halt. Being thrown off my feet, my head landed on the lap of a lady. I felt terribly embarrassed and I am sure she was even more embarrassed.

But then I picked up my head from the woman’s lap. Looking downwards, I realized that I had landed on a clip board. And to my utter disbelief, it said, “Vermont Teddy Bears.”

Apologizing to the woman, I asked her, “Does your company ever donate teddy bears to charities?” “In fact we do,” she replied, “we have a whole department for that.” Giving me the name and phone number of someone I could reach regarding donations, I was beyond myself. Ecstatic to no ends, I could have flown home. Needless to say, we received three hundred teddy bears for the auction that year.

While it is true that patience is required when seeking Hashem amid darkness, we can rest assured that He will help us along the way and enable us to reach our destination. Just remember the next time you ask Hashem to help you, nothing is ever too hard for Him.

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