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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Bechukotai

Parshat Bechukotai

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Bechukotai 27th of Iyar, 5776 | June 4, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Mrs. Esther Pearlman T


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Bechukotai
27th of Iyar, 5776 | June 4, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Mrs. Esther Pearlman
The Secret of Ay-Ay-Ay

אלה החקים והמשפטים והתורת... בינו ובין בני ישראל

These are the decrees, laws and teachings… between Hashem and the Children of Israel (Vayikra 26:46)

As a man made his way over from Europe to America following the Second World War, he looked to build a family of his own and forge a new bright future. And indeed, he did. Over the years, he comfortably settled down, got married and had a number of children.

But there was something unique about this man. He would always, without fail, utter the phrase, “Ay-ay-ay.” While such a line is typically accompanied by a sigh, that was not the case here. Whether something unpleasant or even pleasant occurred, these words were constantly at the tip of his tongue. His family often wondered what the underlying reason for such behavior was, yet the father never divulged any information.

Finally, when the time arrived for his son’s wedding, so did the day to uncover the real reason for his bizarre comment. At one point, when the chattan noticed his father utter his favorite refrain, “Ay-ay-ay,” he stopped him. “Abba,” he said, “ever since I lived at home, I have heard you say this over and over. No one has ever approached you about it though. But now, please tell me, why do you say it?” And without further ado, the father revealed his story:

During the war, the only source of motivation and hope which kept me and my friends going was that we knew there was a purpose to our lives. We understood that Torah was our very life source and our most precious gift. Without Torah, nothing else would have breathed life into us. Throughout our stay in the barracks, we maximized every opportunity to audibly recite all sorts of Pesukim, chapters in Tehillim and Talmudic passages amongst ourselves. We hoped that doing so would enable us to continue our connection to Torah learning. And in fact, it fueled us and kept us going. But no sooner than later, the German soldiers caught on to our antics and grew suspicious. We could tell that they were unhappy with us learning Torah secretly.

When this occurred, one of my friends devised a catch phrase: “אי-אי-אי” – “Ay-ay-ay.” It does not mean what it sounds like. It is an acrostic which formulates a secret code that only we Jews in the barracks understood. It refers to the “Six Constant Mitzvot,” for which a person fulfills a positive commandment every moment he ponders them. Each Hebrew letter refers to a different Pasuk or concept which discusses a particular mitzvah. The Aleph stands for, “Anochi Hashem Elokecha” –“I am Hashem your G-d;” the Yud represents, “[Lo] Yihiye Lecha Elokim Acheirim” –“You shall have no other g-ds.” That was the first word. Anytime anyone of us would say it, we were prompted to remember these two fundamental mitzvot.

The next two mitzvot, represented by the next two letters of Aleph and Yud are, “Ahavat Hashem,” love of G-d, and “Yirat Hashem,” fear of G-d. The last two letters stand for, “[V’lo Taturu] Acharei Le’vavchem V’acharei Eineichem” –“You shall not stray after your heart and after your eyes;” and finally, “Yichud Shemo,” the oneness of G-d’s name.

This is what carried us through the war, and has stayed with me ever since. From then on, day after day, I have repeated “Ay-ay-ay” and reminded myself of these mitzvot. They indelibly impacted me and my fellow Jews many years ago, and still do to this very day.

Such was the secret of “Ay-ay-ay.” It wasn’t the mere outcry of complaining; it was the cry of a neshama yearning to connect to its Creator amid the most miserable of conditions. The same should hold true for us today. That which is often perceived as “Ay-ay-ay” can equally be viewed as the greatest of opportunities. Instead of moaning and groaning, we can look to make the most of every situation and keep on smiling and singing, “Ay-ay-ay.”

Mr. Charlie Harary
Lightning Flashes

We all know the story. The Jews were in Egypt for two-hundred and ten years and life could not get any worse. But then, all of a sudden, Moshe appeared on the scene with a message from Hashem that it was time to leave. Egypt then experienced a complete upheaval. With miracles occurring everywhere they turned, the Jews eventually left charged, energetic and wealthy. Arriving at the Red Sea seven days later, the Bnei Yisrael crossed and witnessed the most marvelous of miracles. They reached superb levels of prophecy and came into contact with G-d. It was overwhelming and amazing.

Why in fact did G-d take us out of Egypt? One reason: to make us His nation. The whole goal was for us to receive the Torah on Har Sinai. We would then forever become His nation and serve as a light unto the world.

But think about it for a moment. After the Jews came out of Egypt and reached the highest levels of spirituality, what should have happened? If you were G-d’s program director, what would you have done next?

On my first day of working for RXR Realty, a real estate company based in New York, the chairman of the organization came over to me and said, “Charlie, I am going to teach you how to be successful at business. Remember three letters. If you always keep them in mind, you will be successful: A,B,C – Always Be Closing. You are always closing a deal. If you are offered a deal, close it today. If a client calls you, call him back today. Do not wait for tomorrow, because he is not going to be there tomorrow. If you want to be successful in business, do it right now.”

You know what should have happened next after the Jews left Egypt and jubilantly passed through the Red Sea? Moshe should have said, “It’s 11 pm right now. This is the plan. The band will be playing until midnight, food will be available all night, and at 6 am, there will be shuttles to Mount Sinai. Tomorrow morning we will seal the deal with G-d. We will receive the Torah in the morning and by tomorrow afternoon, we will be done. We will be the Chosen Nation.”

But what really happens? G-d waits a day, a week, two weeks, seven weeks? Fifty days later they receive the Torah. What took so long? I am sure G-d did not have to raise money for the lightning. Why did Hashem delay from when the Jewish people said, “We want to marry You!” until actually giving them the ring under the chuppah at Har Sinai?

A few years ago, I went to visit a friend of mine in New Jersey. Finally crossing the George Washington Bridge after a long while, I arrived in his neighborhood and noticed that all the cars around were parked. Strangely wondering if something had happened, I soon realized that there was a blackout. Although I had been to his home for Shabbat once or twice before, I did not know my way around too well. I figured that I would pull my car over to the side of the road and see if I could find my way to his house by looking at the street signs.

And so, I began walking a few blocks. Not being too successful in finding his house, all of a sudden, I heard a rumble. And then I heard another rumble. And then I heard a boom! The sky opened up and rain started pouring down. Lighting, thunder, rain. It was a spectacular show. But I was drenched and wet. Running to find some shelter, I took cover underneath a tiny overhang. Although I was now in a better position than before, I still did not know where to go and what to do.

And then the sky lit up again with lightning. Still pitying myself, I soon saw another flash of lightning. And then I realized what I could do. If I would pay attention to when the lightning flashed, I could find my way around. After all, for about a second or so, the entire sky was filled with light. I therefore decided to stand around waiting for my signal.

Waiting, waiting, waiting… lightning! “That looks familiar,” I said to myself. Although it was cold, dark and raining, I was consoled by the fact that I was not in the same place I had been before the lightning hit the first time. Walking down the block, I saw another flash of light, and was able to make out where I was. After around five or six such times of seeing the lighting and using the flash of light to walk around the block, I found my friend’s house and walked up to the door. I finally made it.

Welcoming me inside, the minute I stepped foot into his house, the lights turned back on.

We all want to grow in life and become the greatest people we can become. And every one of us experiences sometime in our life something called inspiration. We all have moments when we hear something, see something or go somewhere and say to ourselves, “That could be me; I could become like that. I could daven and learn that much better. I could become more patient and friendly and improve my marriage and parenting.”

We all have instances in our lives when the sky opens up and it is clear as day as to whom we could become. We all have these bursts of inspiration. When this happens, we typically put the inspiration into practice right away. For a few days, things are going great. We are flying high. And then, all of a sudden, the inspiration dissipates and we go right back to where we were before.

But then we see another flash of inspiration. Yet, that again, only lasts for so long. It is almost like a circle where we feel inspired, uninspired, inspired, uninspired. And round and around we go.

The biggest mistake we make is assuming that the inspiration is the moment when we grow. That is not true. Inspiration is the time in which we see clearly. They are moments in life when we see what we can become and what we are capable of. And then we say to ourselves, “I know I can do this.” But true growth takes place in the darkness, in the rain, on a Tuesday afternoon when no one is looking. Growth takes place when you walk by and see a cup on the floor. And then you bend down to pick it up and nobody says thank you.

This is how life works. Moments of inspirations followed by periods of growth. The truth is that we are walking in a line, not in a circle.

When the Jews came out of Egypt, they were inspired. Who wouldn’t be inspired? G-d performed spectacular miracles before their eyes in Egypt and at the Sea. But the last thing G-d wanted them to do is say, “I am in! I am in!” and then receive the Torah right away. If that would have happened, two weeks later, the inspiration would have disappeared and they would have realized what they had just committed themselves to. “What do you mean I cannot eat that? I didn’t see that law in the fine print!” Hashem understood human nature and didn’t want that to happen.

What did He do instead? He said to us, “If you want to receive the Torah and enter into an eternal relationship with Me, you have to prove your worth. You have been inspired; but now let’s see if you have what it means to become My nation. Let’s wait some time. I will return to You soon, but for now, I am going to put you in the desert and let you experience a period of growth, a period where the inspiration will dissipate. And if in fact you can grow, then I will know that when you walk up to Har Sinai, our relationship will last forever.”

The period of Sefirat Ha’Omer is a period of growth, of darkness, of rain. It is when we decide who we are supposed to be based upon our experiences over Pesach. We work on pushing forward despite the lack of exhilaration of seeing Hashem turn Egypt upside down and split the Sea. This is the time when we make ourselves worthy of Mattan Torah and seeing G-d reveal Himself on Har Sinai. This is when we become the Jews we are meant to become. And then, after having worked for forty-nine days and ascended our own personal mountain of growth, we will have proven ourselves ready to stand at Mount Sinai and embrace a relationship with Hashem forever.

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
You Need This

As a poor couple living in the Old City of Yerushalayim stood together one Thursday night, the wife turned to her husband and despondently mentioned that there was no food for Shabbat. After confirming that they had depleted all their money and were nearly broke, the two of them sat down lamenting their fate. Sulking together, all of a sudden, they heard a window shatter. Running to the back room, to their dismay, a burglar had broken into their home. He proceeded to pull out a gun, whereupon the husband and wife immediately dropped to the floor.

“Listen,” said the husband, “you’re wasting your time. We have nothing left in our house. You’ve come to the wrong address.” “Quiet!” the burglar said, “I’ll decide that.” Making his way around the house, within minutes he returned. “You’re right,” he said, “there’s nothing here. You need this more than I do.” And with that, he pulled out a wad of cash, handed it to the husband and ran out the door.

Sometimes we think that matters could get no better than they are. What good can result from a burglar breaking into a house? But then sometimes, to our own amazement, that very bitter moment will turn on the dime to becoming a very sweet moment. Instead of becoming victims, we become beneficiaries.

A Short Message From
Mrs. Chaya Reich

When my son was four years old, I once asked him to help me bring in a large back of carrots I had purchased at the store. Happily doing so, I said to him, “You’re a ‘hit’?” “What’s a ‘hit’?” he asked. “You’re a husband-in-training.” Giving our children the opportunity to help at home and molding them to become future husbands and wives with good character should begin from the youngest of ages. In this way, when they reach marriageable age, they will have been preparing themselves for the building of their own family for quite some years.

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