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Parshat Masei

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"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Maasei 2nd of Av, 5776 | August 6, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Benzion Klatzko Hashe


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Maasei
2nd of Av, 5776 | August 6, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko
Hashem is With You

'למסעיהם על פי ד…

…Their travels according to the word of Hashem (Bamidbar 33:2)

On one of my recent trips to Israel in which I took along a large number of college students, my twenty-two-year-old son, Yitzi, came along to be a madrich (counselor). A very charismatic boy with a vibrant personality, he served as a wonderful role model for the other students.

It was on the very first day of our trip that we visited the Chizkiyahu water tunnels next to Ir David. Although it is quite dark and wet inside the tunnels, it is an amazing experience. As we entered the tunnels, my son headed toward the front of the group as the rest of us continued to make our way through the tunnel with flashlights. All of a sudden, though, I heard a shriek. It was not long before I realized that it was my son screaming. Seeing that Yitzi was walking in my direction shining his flashlight, he told me what had happened.

“When I turned one of the corners, someone decided to play a joke on me and jumped out to scare me. He didn’t realize, though, how close I was to him, and his head hit my front tooth and cracked it off.” Seeing that my son was beside himself, I tried calming him down. “Let’s go see if we can find it,” I told him. Walking back to the area where it fell out, I got down on my knees and began searching on the ground for a chipped tooth. But it wasn’t going too well considering that there was a stream of water washing over the pebbles and every pebble felt like a tooth. I didn’t think I would get too far.

But then I finally felt something. Picking it up, to my utter surprise, it was in fact Yitzi’s tooth. Almost the entire tooth had been knocked out, save a small portion which remained protruding from his gum. Yitzi at this point was panicking hysterically, yet I tried to allay his worries. “Look,” I said to him, “we chartered a bus to take us to Tzfat tonight for the weekend. You have two options. You can miss the Tzfat trip and stay with one of your aunts and uncles. In the meantime, we could try to arrange a dentist appointment as soon as possible. I don’t know what any dentist will be able to do for you, but we can give it a try. On the other hand, if you would like, you can come with us to Tzfat and speak with a slur for a few days.”

Hearing this ultimatum, Yitzi wasn’t too thrilled. “No, I can’t do either! I want to go to Tzfat, and I also want my tooth fixed.” “Yitzi,” I said in all seriousness, “I don’t live in Israel. It is now five in the afternoon and I don’t know of any dentist. The chances of you getting an appointment in the next hour are nearly impossible. And even if we find a dentist, and he takes you within the next hour, what is he going to do? You probably need a new tooth and a mold, which is an entire process.”

But then Yitzi came up with an idea. “Maybe, the dentist can cement the broken piece of tooth to the remaining part of the tooth in my gum. I will not use it for the next number of days, but at least there will be some semblance of a tooth there.” Such a plan didn’t look too practical though. The chances of everything working out were slim to none.

As we finished the tunnel tours and made our way outside, I began receiving suggestions that we place the tooth in a cup of milk. Although we later learned that milk is actually the worst place for a tooth to be in, at the time, we headed to a café. Yitzi, however, was still severely distraught. While I could have simply let him mourn his tooth, I figured that now would be an opportune time to offer him some fatherly advice and guidance. I said to him, “I know that what happened is terrible, but there will be a solution. Ultimately, Hashem runs the world. And if that is so, we have to believe that it happened for a reason.” Besides telling this to him, I offered him as much comfort and care as I could.

Taking a seat in the café for a moment, a man passed by us. He was wearing a New York Mets baseball cap and it seemed that he was giving a tour to two foreigners. Although I was unsure if a stranger could help us, I decided I would give it a try. “Excuse me, you don’t know me and I don’t know you; but I am taking a large group of students to Tzfat. This is my madrich and he also happens to be my son. He just had his tooth knocked out. I do not live in Israel and I do not know who to go to or where to turn. Can you give me some advice on what to do?”

“Just one moment,” he said. Taking out his phone, he began telling me that his best friend was a dentist. And so, he called him up on the spot. “I need you to do me a favor,” the man began saying to his friend, the dentist. “I need you to see someone now.” Hearing our predicament, the doctor replied, “I have scheduled appointments until eight o’clock at night. Let him come as soon as my last appointment is done.” The man proceeded to put the secretary on the phone who gave me the address. Amazingly, an appointment was arranged for the perfect time.

“It is good you came to me,” said the man I had just met. “You are very lucky. My friend is the best dentist in Jerusalem. I am amazed you came right to me. Everything is from Hashem.” As he said those final words, I began grinning knowing that I was right for telling my son the very same idea just minutes before. When my son heard the news, he breathed a sigh of relief.

As the bus arrived to take us to Tzfat, I told the students that there had been a slight change of plans. We would not leave for Tzfat in an hour, but rather at nine o’clock. They would go to the Kenyon Malcha Mall in Jerusalem for a few hours, during which my son and I would go to the dentist. I wasn’t sure what the dentist would be able to do within such a short period of time, but we would try. In the meantime, for the few hours before Yitzi's appointment, we all made our way to the food court in the mall. Yitzi nibbled on some of the food served and seemed to be doing a bit better. Taking pictures with the other students, he just barely let out a smile considering his chipped tooth.

But then, all of a sudden, he looked at me with a sorrowful look on his face. “Bad news,” he said, “the top part of the tooth just came out.” Now there would be nothing to glue anything to. At this point, I knew what that meant: surgery. Perhaps a peg or a mold would be necessary. And without question, such a procedure would entail a few trips to the dentist. But I said to Yitzi, “It is from Hashem. He has been with us until now, and He will continue to be with us.”

Taking a taxi to the dentist’s office, as we arrived, I was unsure how everything would work out. After all, the doctor did not know who we were. That could be an issue, especially because my son needed special treatment in order to have everything fixed.

As we walked inside, however, I noticed a woman sitting in the waiting room. Almost immediately, she looked up at me and said, “Are you Rabbi Klatzko?” “Yes, that is me,” I replied. “Oh, I am one of the teachers at She’arim.” In the past, I had sent a number of students from America to She’arim, a seminary for girls in Israel. “I have to introduce you to the dentist!” the woman said. Enthusiastically calling him over, she said, “This is Rabbi Klatzko! Please treat him nicely.” Once she said that, I felt a bit more comfortable. That was a great introduction.

Sitting my son down, the doctor began to examine him. By the look on his face, I could tell that something was wrong. But after he returned from the x-ray results, he was smiling. “Hashem is with you,” he said. “Your son must have experienced sometime during his childhood a trauma in that tooth. Because of the trauma, his dentist must have given him a root canal. When I initially saw the tooth completely knocked out, I figured that I would need to give him a root canal in order to completely replace the tooth. Such a procedure at this time of night, though, can take hours and require sedatives. It would be a nightmare. But he already had a root canal and I can simply put another tooth in.” As the dentist explained this to me and Yitzi, we both began to feel somewhat hopeful that everything would work out.

“I have a golden peg here,” continued the dentist, “which I can insert. This is an Israeli procedure, not normally performed in America. The golden peg externally looks exactly like a regular tooth. The only catch is that it is very temporary since gold is malleable and cannot be bitten onto. But at least you will walk around for the meantime with something in that open space.”

But then the dentist paused. “You know what though? I cannot believe how Hashem is with you! I just remembered that I actually have one permanent peg. And incidentally, it is the exact size you need. I can actually insert a permanent tooth right now. The only issue is that the color will not match the rest of your teeth. The tooth still needs to be brought to the laboratory and be mixed with other pigments to exactly match the whiteness of your teeth. But at least you will have something white to fill in the gaping hole in your mouth.”

As he began getting everything together, he looked up at me again and said, “I can’t believe it! Hashem must really be with you. I have two pigments here which are the exact colors needed to match your son’s other teeth. This is extremely unusual, but I have everything right here. We therefore have a perfect pigment, a perfect peg and a permanent tooth.”

Putting in the tooth, by nine o’clock, my son had a new permanent tooth that matched the rest of his teeth.

Although everything had gone unbelievably well, I was just waiting for the bill. I knew that in America such a procedure could cost $3,500 or so. Asking the dentist how much it would cost, he said, “$300. Would you like your insurance to cover it?” Telling him that we were so happy he could take care of everything right there and then, I said that we would give him the three hundred dollars in cash now.

As my son and I walked out of the office, I said to him, “Do you see? Even something as terrible as a cracked tooth has to be kept in perspective. Life can be so petty, yet life can be so great. And that is because Hashem is always with us wherever we go.”

Throughout the many minor and major vicissitudes of life, Hashem is always with us every step of the way. From an underground tunnel to a stranger on the street to a dentist’s office, we are never alone. In our present exile, the same is true. Hashem is always watching over us and standing by our side every moment.

Rabbi Shlomo Farhi
Ninety Seconds

On one trip I took with a number of students years ago, one of the girls retold the following personal account:

I had always noticed my grandfather pray particularly fast. Although I could not imagine him saying the words so quickly, no one ever mentioned anything about it.

One night, though, as we were all eating dinner together, my grandfather stood up next to the table and proceeded to daven Maariv. And as usual, he davened extraordinarily fast. Working up the courage to ask the question that had been bothering me for some while, I said, “Zaidy, why do you daven so quickly?” And then, after many years, he revealed the true reason:

When my father and I were in Auschwitz, we looked for an opportunity to daven Shemonah Esrei. To do so, though, we would need to stand stationary in one place for some time. But time was not something in our control. At any moment, we faced the risk of being caught and harshly beaten for our offense. Until one day when my father figured it out.

Every morning, the Germans used to summon us for roll call. Needing to line up in a single file line, my father calculated that from the time we were called until the time the guards began their daily routine was ninety seconds. If we were to run out of our barracks the second we were summoned and be the first ones in line, we would be able to have ninety seconds of unbothered peace and quiet. During that short period, we would have a few moments to daven Shemonah Esrei. And that is what we did.

It was there that I learned how to daven a ninety-second Shemonah Esrei. And forever since, I have done the same.

Such is the dedication of a Jew. Ninety seconds of life is ninety seconds of the greatest opportunity to connect with Hashem. That is how you use your time wisely.

A Short Message From
Rebbetzin Chana Silver

One of the greatest ways of infusing spirituality into our lives is through including Hashem into our daily, non-mitzvah activities. Whether it be exercising, playing an instrument or writing, anything which enables a person to function as a happier and healthier Jew with greater gusto becomes an elevated activity. For a Jewish woman, the otherwise common shopping errand can be made into a mitzvah by merely focusing on finding healthy food for her family. Think to yourself, “I am purchasing this food so that my family and I can carry on as happy and healthy servants of Hashem.” This little thought transforms a simple trip to the store into a unique opportunity to connect with Hashem and digest a dose of spirituality.

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