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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Emor

Parshat Emor

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Emor 13th of Iyar, 5776 | May 21, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Fischel Schachter Last


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Emor
13th of Iyar, 5776 | May 21, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Fischel Schachter
Last Minute Lighting

על המנורה הטהורה יערך את הנרות

On the pure Menorah shall he arrange the lamps (Vayikra 24:4)

Living in Toronto with her husband, a woman was unfortunately diagnosed with a serious disease. Tremendously worried, the couple decided that they would visit a doctor in New York who was supposedly capable of treating the illness. The doctor was a genuinely kind-hearted man and, after examining the woman’s situation, believed he would be successful in treating her. But there was only one problem: it would cost a fortune.

“I think I can help your wife,” the doctor said to the husband. “The only issue is that your Canadian insurance will not cover the expensive cost.” While on the one hand the husband and wife were elated that there was a cure, they were simultaneously disheartened by the news that they could not afford it. Lamenting their pitiful circumstance, tears began to fall down their faces. Catching sight of the couple’s anguish, the doctor said, “I am terribly sorry. I personally would wave the bill of my treatment to you. The only problem is that you will still have to pay for the hospital bill. That itself is also quite expensive.” Sitting down silently, the husband and wife remained devastated. The doctor too was at a loss of what to say. But then he came up with the following idea:

“I have a student of mine who practices as a doctor in a small city just northwest of Toronto. If you would like, I could tell him the exact protocol to follow and give him directions step by step of what to do. If you are treated by him, your Canadian insurance will cover the cost.” Hearing of this plan, the husband and wife’s faces immediately began to brighten up.

Calling this doctor in Canada, they were unsuccessful in making an appointment with him. His schedule was simply too full to administer a surgery. Finally, though, he called them back. “I have an opening on Friday afternoon. Would that work for you?” As the husband began thinking how it would be cutting it close to Shabbat to schedule the surgery for Friday afternoon, aside from the fact that this particular Shabbat was the first night of Chanukah, he decided to call his Rav. “Do what you have to do,” replied the Rav. “Stay in a hotel over Shabbat and make sure your wife is taken care of.”

Administering his wife into the hospital, they met the doctor. And as expected, he informed them that he had spoken to the other doctor in New York and went over the details of the procedure with him. He reassured the couple that everything would go fine. As time passed, the husband remained in the hospital. Shabbat was rapidly approaching and so was the time to light the Chanukah candles. But the husband wished to wait until the doctor was available to be seen.

Five minutes before the latest time he could light the Menorah and Shabbat candles, the doctor walked into his office. Again reassuring him that everything would be alright with his wife, the husband felt a bit more at ease. “But doctor,” said the husband, “can I ask you a question? The first night of Chanukah is tonight and I need to light candles. There are only a few minutes before the last time to do so. Would I be able to light here in your office? I don’t think I will have enough time to make it back to my hotel room.” Taking out his Menorah and candles, the husband looked at the doctor in a desperate plea. “I’m sorry,” the doctor replied, “but you cannot light candles in the hospital. There are smoke alarms all over and they will definitely go off. The Fire Department will be here in no time.”

Faced with an answer he greatly wished to avoid hearing, time was running out. Looking all around, the husband noticed that the doctor had another small office in the back. Running there, he opened the door and peered inside. There was no smoke alarm in there. Racing back to the doctor, he said, “Doctor, what about in your back office? There’s no smoke alarm there.” “You’re pushing me here,” said the doctor. “Please let me light!” insisted the husband. “I hate to say it, but you never know if this may be my wife’s last Chanukah.” “If you must,” finally relented the doctor, “but please do it quickly.”

Hurriedly making his way to the back office, the husband fumbled to set up the Menorah. After finally situating the one candle in its place and preparing the shamash with which to light the candle, he opened the match box. There were two matches left. Striking one against the box, it caught fire. But then it flickered out. He was now left with one match. Wishing to himself that he had taken along a box with more matches, he attempted to light the second and last match. But it too flickered out before the shamash could catch fire. Now stuck without any matches, the husband did not know what to do.

Running back to the doctor, he frantically asked, “Doctor, do you have any matches?” Looking strangely at the husband, he guaranteed him, “No, I don’t have any matches.” “There is only a couple minutes left. Look in your drawer; maybe there are some matches there.” “I told you already,” repeated the doctor, “I have no matches!” “Just please look,” pleaded the husband.

Opening his drawer, there laid a lighter. Surprised, but knowing that the husband needed to light the candles as soon as possible, he threw the lighter to him. It was literally minutes before the last time to light that the husband did so.

Walking back over to the doctor, the husband profusely thanked him. Standing there shocked was the doctor. “Let me tell you something,” the doctor said. “For fifteen years there was no lighter here in the office! First of all, I am not a smoker. Second of all, there is no use for a lighter here because, as I told you before, there are smoke alarms all over the place. But you know why I had a lighter in my drawer? Just this morning as I was leaving my house, I saw a group of teenagers, amongst them my own daughter, smoking on the porch. I was so angry that I grabbed the cigarettes and lighter from them and threw them into my briefcase. When I got to work, I shoved them into my drawer and forgot all about them. This all happened this very morning! You know what I think? G-d loves you.”

Listening to the moving words of the doctor, the husband stared back at him and said, “No doctor, G-d loves you. I knew He was with me the whole time. He wanted to show you that He is there.”

Sometimes we wonder how we will ever be able to make it through a situation. “It’s impossible!” we tell ourselves. But then the lights turn on and Hashem reveals to us that He was with us all along. “I never left you My dear child. I love you and will never forsake you.” While we may think we are groping in utter darkness all alone, we would be wise to reconsider. Even with just minutes to go until it is too late, a shining light of love and warmth from our Father in Heaven beckons on the horizon. Or perhaps more accurately, an illuminating light of love and warmth is awaiting us right in the drawer.

Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff
The Elixir of Life

...וספרתם לכם

And you shall count for yourselves… (Vayikra 23:15)

As we find ourselves amid the days of Sefirat Ha’Omer and mourn the tragic loss of R’ Akiva’s twenty-four thousand students, it behooves us to gain insight into the underpinnings of what exactly occurred.

R’ Akiva is known to have espoused the famous maxim, “Love your fellow as yourself – this is the great principle of the Torah.” With this serving as his raison d’être, R’ Akiva exuded with love for each and every Jew. That being the case, how in fact did his students miss the message? If R’ Akiva infused his teachings and life’s mission with such an important principle, how could his students die because they “failed to accord honor to one another”? (Yevamot 62b). Where did they go wrong?

There is another essential Gemara (Bava Metzia 62a) to analyze in order to properly understand the essence of R’ Akiva.

If two people are sojourning together on the road, and one is carrying a flask of water, of which there is only enough water for one person to survive, what should be done? Ben Peturah says, “The two of them shall split it, and neither of them shall witness the demise of his friend.” R’ Akiva, however, rules, “The one holding the flask shall drink it himself, for his life precedes the life of his friend.”

This was another principle which R’ Akiva lived by. Your own survival is of paramount importance and is no less valuable than your friend.

R’ Akiva’s twenty-four thousand students learned the lesson of this latter statement quite well. They realized that Torah is the elixir of life, the lifeblood of the Jew. They lived, breathed and slept Torah. Taking this message to heart, they were unwilling to give up their “last flask of water” under all circumstances. They were unable to capitulate on their own opinions when studying Torah with a fellow student. They could not reckon with or tolerate someone else’s understanding. “After all,” they said, “how can I give up my elixir of life? My understanding of this Talmudic passage is my lifeblood; how could I acknowledge the validity of my friend’s view and forego my own precious opinion? I would be giving up my life at the expense of my friend!” R’ Akiva’s students so greatly revered their understanding of Torah that they were unable to yield to another’s opinion one iota.

But the lesson R’ Akiva’s students were soon to learn and we today must take to heart is just the opposite. The survival of Torah is precisely through giving it away to others. It is precisely through validating another’s understanding in Torah and reckoning with someone else that Torah thrives and the Jewish people flourish. The Torah only functions as the elixir of life when it is shared with others. The ultimate dissemination of Torah can only take place when it is the collective Torah of all of Klal Yisrael and everyone’s opinion is respectfully considered. Only when this holds true, will the august prestige of Torah find true expression.

Dr. David Pelcovitz
Interacting with our Children

אמר אל הכהנים... ואמרת אלהם

The redundancy of the phrase “Say to the Kohanim… and speak to them” is meant to caution the adult Kohanim regarding the children (Rashi; Yevamot 114a)

Chazal tell us that raising children is a balancing act. In the words of the Gemara (Sotah 47a), it is the balance between smol doche, the left and weaker hand pushing away, and y’min mekarevet, the right and stronger hand bringing closer.

As parents, it is important to consider one particular key ingredient, amongst many others, when focusing on our goals of raising children: the balance of love and limits.

Children thrive on a healthy dose of both love and limits. In fact, many kids today recognize themselves the need for boundaries. On one visit to Los Angeles, I was asked to speak about use of the internet to high school children attending various yeshivot. There were a couple key questions I was particularly interested in asking. One of them was: if you were the parent of an adolescent today, how would you handle the internet differently than your own parents handle the internet? When we heard the results of hundreds of kids responding to this question, my colleagues and I were taken aback. Most of them replied that if they were the head of the family and had to make rules for the internet, they would make many changes. They would set rules and insure parental supervision. They would essentially do everything possible to insure their children’s safety and well-being.

In one survey, seventy-five percent of kids who have cell-phones in America said they prefer texting to face to face contact with their friends. Such an assessment speaks to the times we live in today. But as we know from the words of Shlomo Hamelech, “כמים הפנים לפנים כן לב האדם לאדם” –“As water reflects a face back to a face, so is one’s heart reflected back to him by another” (Mishlei 27:19). Human interaction takes place through our hearts bouncing off each other in eye to eye contact. When it comes to building and maintaining relationships, especially with our children, our attention must remain undivided. Otherwise, transmitting our values to the next generation will be accompanied by much difficulty. Equally important to placing limits on our children is providing them with our valuable time and love.

I was once told by a friend how the son of Rav Elya Meir Bloch zt”l spent every morning of his childhood. Rav Bloch, the late Rosh Yeshiva of Telz in Cleveland, had an incredibly busy schedule. However, that didn’t stop him from spending time with his son. Every morning, before he went to daven, he would wake up his son and take him to the kitchen table to share a cup of tea. He would then say, “Tell me about your day yesterday? What are you expecting to do today? Let me tell you a little bit about my day.” After about a half an hour, the little boy would go back to sleep as his father would head off to davening.

Although the son of Rav Bloch may have had only a half an hour of undiluted attention from his father on a daily basis, during that time, he knew there was nothing more important to his father than him. It is precisely in this way that we build deep relationships with our children and shape them forever.

At a mental health conference, one psychologist told me the following story:

I had a session this morning with a sixteen-year old boy who, although growing up in a loving home, had become more and more rebellious. He came into my office and said, “Let me tell you what happened last night. I was walking past a pool hall where a gang, which I had been dying to get into, had gathered. All of a sudden, the head of the gang invited me in. I couldn’t believe it. What I had been dreaming about for so long was finally coming true. I took a seat with them and began thinking how maybe they would accept me into their group. After about two hours, the head of the gang took out some drug and casually threw it to me.

“Doctor,” said the boy, “the strangest thing then happened. As I was about to put it into my mouth, the look of love in my father’s eyes when he blessed me Friday night came flashing through my mind. I thought to myself, ‘My father knows I am better than this; my father expects more of me.’ Viscerally, I threw back the drug and ran out of the pool hall.

“Doctor, I promise, I will never go back there again.”

Such is the power of expectations, the power of connecting to our children face to face and the power of focusing on their uniqueness. Raising happy and healthy children may be a long and arduous journey with many ups and downs, but we can rest well assured that every ounce of effort put in is well worth it.

A Short Message From
Mrs. Esther Pearlman

One morning, when I had to get all my little children off to school, there was one problem. I had lost my voice. With no other option, I whispered to the children. It turned out to be was one of the best mornings before school I experienced. All the children whispered back to me nicely and quietly and got along just fine. More than merely being successful that morning, it brought home the reality that the way we act is the way others react. If we act gently and calmly at home, in a classroom and in a marriage, we will receive a mirrored response in return.

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