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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Acharei Mot

Parshat Acharei Mot

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Acharei Mot 29th of Nissan, 5776 | May 7, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Daniel Staum T



"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter     Print Version

Parashat Acharei Mot
29th of Nissan, 5776 | May 7, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Daniel Staum
The Shabbaton

ואשר ימלא את ידו לכהן

And who will fill his place to serve… (Vayikra 16:32)

One winter Friday afternoon as I walked into my garage an hour before Shabbat, I was met by an unpleasant surprise: my garage was flooded. A pipe had burst. Thankfully, the water did not reach near the house. However, I was not in the best of situations especially considering that Shabbat was to begin in just a short while.

Immediately calling the plumber, I eagerly tried to have someone come over to my house at the soonest opportunity before Shabbat. But right then, I was interrupted. “There’s someone on the phone for you!” my wife called out to me. Not wishing to get caught up in something else at the moment, I felt like asking her to tell the person to call back later. “Can you pick it up?” came my wife’s voice again. And so, compliantly, I picked it up.

“Hi Rabbi, do you remember me? It’s Eli from camp.” “Sure I do; how are you doing?” “Great,” he said. “Can you do me a favor? I am on my way right now with a few friends to Waterbury, Connecticut to serve as counselors for a Kiruv Shabbaton with Rabbi Josh Kohl. We left Brooklyn at noon and had to stop off in Queens. But then we got a flat tire. All things considered, the GPS says that we are an hour away from our destination. The problem is that sunset is in fifty-five minutes, after which we will no longer be able to drive. I am afraid we will not make it in time for Shabbat, especially because we are driving with a spare tire. Do you think we can stay at your house for Shabbat?” Listening to the difficult predicament these boys were in, I said that they would be more than welcome to stay at my home, although I didn’t think they would make it to my house in time.

Right then, there was a knock at my door. It was my neighbor. Still on the phone with Eli and remembering in the back of my mind that I was trying to get in touch with a plumber to repair the flood, there stood my neighbor. “Hi,” he said, “I noticed that some water was leaking out of your garage. Can I help you?” To my relief, he helped me shut off the main water valve and put to rest the water issue for the meantime. I was graciously appreciative of his help. I then got back on the phone with Eli.

Rushing to my computer, I quickly began looking for the closest place he could stay over Shabbat. After a few minutes, I was able to figure out that he was just about twenty minutes from Mount Kisco. There were two communities there: one of Chassidim and another Shul headed by Rabbi Eli Kohl. Thanking me profusely, Eli hoped to make it to Mount Kisco. That was the last time we spoke before Shabbat.

Sunday night I received a phone call. It was Eli. “Eli, what happened? Where did you spend Shabbat?” “Rabbi, let me tell you what happened. We arrived in Mount Kisco fifteen minutes before Shabbat. Driving over to the house of Rabbi Kohl, we knocked on the door. Rabbi Kohl opened up and warmly welcomed us in. After explaining our situation, he told us something we could not believe.” “I am actually hosting a Shabbaton at my house this Shabbat for a bunch of kids. We have tons of food and programs planned for them. The only problem is that we are short counselors. Would you be able to help us out?”

“We couldn’t believe what had happened,” Eli said. “Not only did we experience a beautiful and inspiring Shabbat, but they even asked us to come back again.” As I listened to Eli’s words, I told him, “You thought you were going to do kiruv with Rabbi Kohl in Waterbury; but instead you were going to do kiruv with a different Rabbi Kohl in Mount Kisco.”

Everyone experiences ups and downs throughout their lives. Whether it be a flat tire, a plumbing problem, a time constraint or all of the above combined, life is fraught with tests and challenges. But the main point to keep in mind is that there is a Divine plan to all that occurs. Nothing is haphazard and without reason. What if these boys would have smoothly made it to Waterbury? The other Shabbaton in Mount Kisco would have been understaffed. We may never know for sure why things happen, but we can rest assured that Hashem is Divinely guiding us to the exact destination we need to be in.

Ms. Chani Lieberman
A Surprising Gift

והתודה עליו את כל עונת בני ישראל

And he will confess upon it all the iniquities of the Children of Israel (Vayikra 16:21)

As a young man planned to get married, he looked to purchase a gift for his future mother-in-law. Searching around for what he believed she would appreciate, he finally decided on buying her a beautiful crystal stone. Spending a large sum of money on the crystal, he carefully brought it home and stored it safely away. It was not until a few days before he planned on giving it to her that he wished to take another look at it and admire its previous value. But that would not turn out to be the wisest decision.

Opening the box it was wrapped in, he accidentally slipped. And of course, the crystal fell to the floor and shattered into several pieces. Looking on in devastation, he was absolutely beside himself.

Speaking to one of his friends, he received a piece of advice. “Being that you already spent a lot of money and to buy another crystal would be overly expensive, you should simply bring the broken fragments back to the store and ask them to nicely wrap it all together. Then go to your mother-in-law’s house and when she opens the door, pretend to slip. When she later opens the box and sees that it is broken, she will nevertheless appreciate your thoughtfulness and thank you.” Deciding to go through with his friend’s suggestion, the boy returned to the store with the broken pieces and handed them to the lady at the front desk to be wrapped up together.

He then waited for the lady to return. And then he waited some more. Five minutes, ten minutes… but no sight of her. Finally, after much anxious anticipation, out came the woman holding a beautifully wrapped box. Happy that he was able to salvage the gift, his next step was to bring it to his mother-in-law.

Heading over to the house, his mother-in-law opened the door. And as rehearsed, he slipped on the floor and let go of the box. Falling to the ground, his mother-in-law apologized for him falling and allayed his worries of what happened to the gift. “Don’t worry about it,” she said, “it’s the thought that counts.” Happy that everything went as expected, he was soon in for a big surprise.

As his mother-in-law opened the box, she found not one crystal stone, but several. The lady in the store had individually wrapped each broken fragment in bubble wrap.

We must always be open to recognizing the truth and admitting our mistakes and flaws. Never can we innocently assume that hiding the truth will keep it covered forever. Indeed, there will come a time when we will realize that people will respect and appreciate us even with our faults. Had this boy handed his mother-in-law the broken gift, perhaps she would have appreciated the thought and doubly appreciated his forthright honesty. The paradigm quality of a trustworthy individual is integrity, and we all possess the inner conviction to live up to such pristine standards if we only are willing to accept our mistakes and imperfections as our perfections.

Mr. Yaakov Yosef Jungreis
Safe Passageway

While I was a young boy living with my family in Szeged, one of the largest cities in Hungary and near the Yugoslavian border, my father served as the presiding rabbi. In the neighboring town of Xanten, Germany, there lived one particularly prominent Jewish family. Unfortunately, however, the father of the family was taken away, leaving his wife and their unborn child all alone. As this occurred, the entire city of Xanten was moved into Szeged, which had been turned into a Jewish ghetto.

One night, as I was davening Maariv in my father’s Shul, in came four broad-shouldered men carrying a large bed. The woman who was expecting the child was about to give birth. But being that there was no other available place for her to do so, the men positioned the bed right in front of the wide open area before the Aron Kodesh. Some time later, my mother helped deliver the baby boy this woman was carrying.

Eight days later, the brit mila was held in the dark basement of our Shul by candlelight. With my father bringing the baby into the basement and the Rav of Xanten serving as the sandek, it was an emotionally stirring occasion. Although giving the baby a brit mila meant that he would now clearly be identified as a Jew and be in danger if ever caught by German soldiers, tears of great happiness streamed down the cheeks of all those who were present.

After the brit was completed, my mother asked me to do something that for years later she and my father wondered why they ever allowed. “Take off your yarmulke and yellow star, jump the fence of the ghetto and run to the city to buy some diapers for the baby.” Although the risk existed that I may never return, I nevertheless followed these instructions, and returned safely with the diapers in hand.

In April of 1944, this baby with its mother made their way from Xanten to the concentration camp in Strasshof, Austria. Populated with 18,000 Jews, my grandfather, Rav Tzvi Hirsch Cohen, served as the sole Rav for the entire city of Strasshof. Times were difficult and conditions were uneasy. But then there was Rudolf Israel Kastner. He was one of the leaders of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee and was known to have assisted Jewish refugees escape Hungary in 1944 when the Nazis invaded. Kastner would every month or so come to Strasshof and offer the Gestapo a sum of money to avoid killing Jews wantonly. On one such occasion, Kastner approached my grandfather and said that he had rented two trucks with twelve seats each. He wished to save twenty-four Chassidish Rebbes, one of them being my grandfather. With every seat accounted for, this was a unique opportunity at escaping the clutches of potential death especially considering that what the future could bring may be for the worst.

But my grandfather was not so quick to comply with his kind offer. “Listen,” said my zaidy to Kastner, “there is a widow here with her young child from Xanten. Give her my seat.” And so it was. When the trucks came to take the twenty-four Rebbes, the young lady and her baby went along.

But that is not the end of the story.

Being granted such an opportunity, the young woman had something special in mind. She decided that for the rest of her life, she would support and serve the needs of Torah scholars. And so, as she took a seat on the truck next to the Stropkover Rebbe, not before long, she went on to marry him. Despite the large age gap, she was committed to rebuilding a future with the Rebbe.

Years later, the Stropkover Rebbe passed away. But even so, the woman was still intent on remarrying and continuing to build another family. And indeed, with the Tzelemer Rebbe losing his own wife, this woman went on to marry him.

With the Tzelemer Rebbe passing away on the 27th of Nissan, 1980, the woman’s young son who had survived the war assumed the role of the next Rebbe. He is known today as the Tzelemer Rav shlita, head mashgiach (food supervisor) of Kedem Wine and Products.

At a moment when survival was a most viable option, Rabbi Jungreis chose a different option: to grant safe passageway to a single widow and her child. Thinking of not himself, but a fellow Jew, he insured the existence of a future rabbinic dynasty and brought life to those who perhaps would never have seen tomorrow. Such is the care and sensitivity that hallmarks a Jew.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Jonathan Rietti

When I first went to study at the Gateshead Yeshiva in England, Rav Moshe Schwab was the Mashgiach who oversaw the boys studying. I remember him saying one line which indelibly shaped me then and continues to remain with me to this very day. “The definition of a masmid (one who learns diligently) is not how many hours he learns a day, but how many minutes he learns an hour.”

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