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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Emor

Parshat Emor

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Emor
15th of Iyar, 5780 | May 9, 2020

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Tamar Taback
Sensing Shabbos

It was Friday afternoon, and it was one of those weeks when I tried fitting too much into my Shabbos preparations. In addition, at the time, I was expecting my seventh child, thank G-d. As can be imagined, it was a busy and full day. Noticing the circumstances, someone in my house reminded me that there are in fact eighteen minutes after Candle Lighting until Shabbos actually commences at sunset, which would afford me a bit more time to light if needed.

While I took in these words, and knew them to be technically true, I knew that it was not supposed to be that way. The Shabbos candles should be lit at their proper time, and the eighteen minutes should not be used. Nonetheless, in the back of my mind, I had those eighteen minutes extra if needed.

That week, I really was not on top of my schedule and I ended up lighting candles into the eighteen minutes. As Shabbos then began, I didn’t feel right. True, I had lit the candles, but it had been into the eighteen minutes, and it didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t shake that feeling that things were not as they should be.

As my husband returned from shul, he was very understanding, reminding me that I was juggling so much. But I still didn’t feel right. But, as we were having guests that week, I managed to brush my feelings temporarily aside and be as pleasant and present as I could throughout our Friday night meal. Afterwards, we went to sleep, and Shabbos moved along.

The next day, we had joining us for the Shabbos meal a woman who had specifically asked to be our guest. I knew that it would be a stretch to host her, given her particular life circumstances and conditions and the additional fatigue I was experiencing due to the pregnancy, though we still made the effort to have her. With that, we all sat down together and began our meal.

Now, since Shabbos had begun in such a rush in our home, we hadn’t prepared ahead of time our water filter, which we always make a point of filling on Friday in order to avoid doing so on Shabbos and running into the halachic question of borer, separating. As such, we didn’t have any water, and we were thirsty.

My daughter, remembering that she had a bottle of water in her room, stood up to bring it to the table. Yet as she passed by the front door, she noticed a man with his hand on the gate which stood right before the door to our home. My daughter, wondering if it could perhaps be a delivery man, called my husband who came to the door. But it wasn’t a delivery person. This man, along with some others who stood nearby him, were clearly up to no good. And our door was unlocked, as we had never had any issues of security in the past, and we didn’t always lock our door.

My husband pressed the panic button and held it in front of the man, letting him clearly know that our security system had been notified and that they should leave. And they did.

With the security system being informed of the suspects, they dispatched police officers who in fact located the suspects and arrested them. My husband proceeded to provide the police report, while my family and I remained inside.

As I sat at the Shabbos table, taking in everything which was happening, a thought crossed my mind. While someone else may have internalized this experience in a different way, this is what came to me and resonated with me.

Our home was surrounded by a gate to our property, which then led to another gate which stood right before our home. As I personally saw it, the gate to our property represented the time for Candle Lighting, and the gate to our home represented the end of the eighteen minutes when Shabbos actually began. This criminal had entered into our property, into the “eighteen minute” safety measure, and had placed his hand on the gate before our home, or the very onset of Shabbos at sunset. He was, so to speak, just about touching the time when Shabbos would begin. His actions mirrored my own.

As I thought about all of this, I looked over at the poor women who sat at our table. She was someone who took a lot out of us to have at our table, but I wanted to embrace her and thank her. Who could know if the act of tzedakah which we had done to bring her into our home was the very merit which protected us? After all, charity saves one from death (Mishlei 10:2).

When my husband later returned and I expressed to him my sentiment about what this all meant to me to have happened, he remarked that perhaps it was because I was introspective and took stock of my actions that the criminals were caught. As the Gemara (Berachos 5a) tells us, if a person sees that hardship is befalling him, he should be introspective of his ways and repent. In addition, it was because my daughter had gotten up to get the water from her room that she noticed the men standing near our home, which eventually led to them being caught. Our adherence to the laws of Shabbos in this respect was perhaps another meritorious reason for which we were protected. In taking all of this in, our family felt Hashem’s presence and imminence. It was a frightening experience, but was couched with Hashem’s great love for us.

As time went on, my pregnancy progressed, and I eventually delivered my daughter on a Shabbos. Of all weeks, it was the week of the Shabbos Project. Just shortly after she was born, my husband turned to me and asked what he thought we should name her. While nothing came to mind right away, he said, “What about Basheva?” My first thought was, “That’s so common... The seventh child, a girl, ‘Bas-Sheva,’ daughter of seven…” It seemed too much of a cliché and unoriginal fit. “No,” he said, “not Basheva because she is our seventh child, but Basheva as in the ‘Daughter of the Seventh day,’ the daughter of Shabbos.”

We had been working for weeks on helping organize and coordinate the Shabbos Project, and the above experience had infused us with a new, appreciated meaning of Shabbos. And indeed it was... Basheva, the Daughter of Shabbos.

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
The Code is Shabbat

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were in Cyprus on a short winter break, and one morning we went to the local Chabad house to pray. It was winter, and the shul was more or less empty, though, as we came to learn, every Shabbos in the summer months it is packed with young, secular Jews from all over the world. For some of these Jews, this may be first time they experience a real Shabbat.

The Rebbetzin told me of a conversation she once had with one of these students. One Shabbat, one particular young girl came over to her and asked, “What’s the code for the Wi-Fi?” The Rebbetzin replied, “it’s Shabbat.” To which girl then asked, “How do you spell that?”

The four sons the Haggadah Shel Pesach speaks of are the Chacham (Wise Son), Rasha (Wicked Son), Tam (Simple Son) and She’einah Yode’a Lish’ol (Son who doesn’t know how to ask). They represent four generations of Jews. The first generation is the generation which was privileged to receive the Torah tradition from its parents which stood at Mount Sinai. But if that father does not teach the wise son properly, teaching him the minutiae of halacha and its underpinning meaning and beauty, down to the smallest law of, “One may not eat anything after the Afikoman,” then the next son, the next generation, will be the generation of the rasha, the wicked son, who sees no spirituality in Judaism. All he sees is a lot of work and sweat, which leads him to comment, “What is this work to you?”

Now, although the rasha has some connection to Judaism, albeit negative, the next generation, the son of the rasha, will be Jewishly a simpleton, a tam. All he will remember is a grandfather with a white beard and a yarmulke who sat him on his lap, tickled him under the chin and asked him questions in a foreign language. All he can say is, “What is this?”

The next generation, however, will have no direct memory of a religious grandfather. The connection of that fourth generation to Judaism will only be the sentimental second-hand Fiddler on the Roof warmth of his father’s memories. That son has no idea what to ask. He is the Einah Yode’a Lish’ol.

But notice there is no fifth son at the Seder. Cultural memories last for four generations, and that’s that. But yet, all is not lost. Something deep in the memory, something deep in the soul still calls, “These are the appointed festivals of G-d, the holy convocations, which we shall designate in their appointed times” (Vayikra 23:4). The root of the world Convocation or Mikraei (as in Holy Convocation or Mikraei Kodesh) is the same as the root for vocal, or kol. The Jewish holidays “call to us.”

However far away we are from Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays, they call us to holiness. And even if the only question on our minds is, “What’s the code for the Wi-Fi?” the code word will always be “Shabbat.”

Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis
A Lifelong Blessing

During World War II, twenty-four Torah scholars attempted to make their way to Italy, though unfortunately, they were caught by the Italians who planned on handing them over to the Gestapo. With their lives in danger, news traveled to New York City to the great Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l. Rav Aharon’s right hand man, Irving Bunim, a great activist who went to great lengths to assist Jewish communities, after conducing some research, concluded that there was only one solution. They would need to contact the mafia, because it was the mafia which had connections in Italy.

As it worked out, they connected to the head or “g-dfather” of the mafia at the time, a man by the name of Joe Bonanno, or Joe Bananas as he was called. Joe Bonanno was staying at the Mainstay Hotel in New York city during those days. Matters were arranged and Rav Aharon Kotler and Irving Bunim eventually found themselves sitting in front of Joe Bonanno and his henchmen. As Irving Bunim relayed the information concerning the twenty-four rabbis in Italy, Joe Bonanno interrupted and asked, “Who is this man you brought along with you? He hasn’t said one word.” “This is Rabbi Aharon Kotler,” introduced Irving Bunim. ““This is the g-dfather of the Jews.” Joe Bonanno, clearly sensing that he was a man of G-d, turned to Irving Bunim and remarked, “Tell the g-dfather of the Jews that I will get these twenty-four rabbis out of Italy if he will give me a blessing.”

Irving Bunim turned to Rav Aharon and passed along the information, to which Rav Aharon replied in Yiddish, “Tell the g-dfather, if he gets these rabbis out of Italy, I give him a blessing that he will die of old age in his bed.” Such was usually not the way matters ended up for the individual in charge of the mafia, and it was thus a particularly meaningful blessing to Joe Bonanno.

Fast forward to 2015, and I came across a bookstand which was selling books for just a couple of dollars. Scanning around, I noticed a book which discussed all the famous mobsters in America. I purchased the book and took a look and saw the name Joe Banannos. And what did it say? Joe Bonnano died on May 11, 2002, of heart failure at the age of 97. He is buried at Holy Hope Cemetery & Mausoleum in Tucson… Just like the blessing of Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l.

Rebbetzin Slovie Jungreis-Wolff
Lessons for Life

When I was growing up, I found myself surrounded by a home where the lives of my grandparents and parents served as a united stronghold and identity for our family. Thinking back to years ago, I am drawn to reflect upon lessons for raising children which I myself was imbued with. Allow me to share two of these lessons I learned, one from my mother a“h and one from my father z”l.

When I was teaching classes for couples and parents, I was approached and told that many people would love if I could gather together all the information I was delivering and make it into a book. I had never written a book before, but I began thinking. When I returned home, I called my mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis a”h, and said, “Ma, they want me to write a book, but I have never written a book before! I’m not a writer!” I will never forget what my mother told me in response.

“You cannot be afraid. You always have to cease the moment. Don’t be afraid of doing and trying. Zaidy always said the Torah tells us, “And Hashem your G-d will bless you in all that you do” (Devarim 15:18). The Torah says that Hashem will bless you, but you have to do. You have to take action and do something. You cannot ever just sit back. If you feel that you have a dream in life, go for it; don’t be afraid, and Hashem will help you. If it is meant to be, it will happen.”

From there, I went on to sign a book contract. This then led to even further actions. From that moment of not being afraid, I had the privilege to further accept wonderful speaking opportunities. As I learned, you cannot be afraid in life; you must find the strength and encouragement within yourself and move forward.
Just think, after one hundred and twenty years, you come to Shamayim and Hashem will say, “There was so much more for you to do; you shouldn’t have been afraid.” At least try and give it your best shot. Hashem is with you.

My father as well told me something which sounds very simple, but I use almost every day of my life. He told this to me when I was just a young girl. I was once upset about something, and my father said, “Sheifele, you don’t have to hear everything, and you don’t have to see everything. Hashem gave you two eyes. Do you know why? You open one, and you close the other. Hashem gave you two ears, because some things should go in one ear and out the other. You don’t have to hear everything.”

In life, we don’t have to hear everything or see everything. We don’t always have to be right in life. We what do need is peace in life. Without peace, we have nothing, and with peace, we have everything. That is something that I remember from years ago, and something I still carry with me to this very day.

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