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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Mikeitz

Parshat Mikeitz

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Mikeitz 5781                                                           Print Version
4th of Tevet, 5781 | December 19, 2020

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Shlomo Farhi
Those Words

A principal once walked into his classroom and asked the students if any of them knew how high the menorah is to be off of the floor. Nobody knew. They knew it needed to be less than 20 amot in total height, but they didn’t know how high off the floor it needed to be.

Then, one girl raised her hand. She was known to be the troublemaker of the class. “Three tefachim,” she said. That was the correct answer, commented the principal. The Shulchan Aruch states that it should be higher than 3 tefachim. After the rest of the students left the classroom, the principal pulled the student aside and asked how she knew the answer.

Timidly, she replied that it had been a couple years ago when she was suspended from school during one Chanukah. As I went to my classroom to gather my bags, the teacher pulled me aside, and said, “Sarah, the halacha is that we are meant to light the menorah at least three tefachim off from the ground. Remember that there can be light even when you are low. There can be fire even when you don’t feel like you are good enough.”

“I never forgot those words,” she said to the principal.

Indeed, she never did.

Rabbi Daniel Staum
Connection through Commitment

Rabbi Motti Miller, in one speech to several students, relayed the following story.

Years ago, I received a phone call from a man in England, whose son had gone off the derech. The parents didn’t know what to do. The father asked if his son could live me with. I agreed, and the boy moved in with me for one month. I did not push him at all to daven or put on tefillin.

A month later, it was time return home for the boy. I asked him one favor: to put on tefillin on Mondays and Thursdays. “I don’t do that, Rabbi!” But I made only that one request. The boy agreed.

I didn’t hear from him for some time. On July 7th, 2005, the boy called me. He was crying uncontrollably to the point that he couldn’t get the words out. “Every morning, my father picks me up and brings me to the train station so I can get to work. One morning, as he was taking me, I realized that I forgot my tefillin. I couldn’t believe it, but I had made you a promise. My father turned around and took me home. I quickly put on my tefillin, after which we zoomed off and I boarded the next train.

“Suddenly, the power went out in the train station.” It was the morning of the coordinated mass British subway attacks, the likes of the September 11th terror experienced in America. At 8:50 a.m. on July 7, 2005, three suicide bombings occurred within 50 minutes of each other on three different trains. 52 people were killed, and 700 people injured. “Had I been on time,” said the boy, “I would have been on one of those trains.”

Rabbi Miller concluded this story by asking the students, “Do you think today this boy puts on tefillin every day? Do you think he keeps Shabbos? I know for a fact he doesn’t put on Tefillin.
“And why? Two reasons. Number one, he was inspired but he didn’t capitalize on the moment. Inspiration dissipates. Secondly, he wasn’t putting tefillin on for Hashem, but for me. It was a commitment, but not to Hashem.

And then Rabbi Miller concluded, “And what about us? Are we living as Jews because that is the way our parents raised us and what our community expects of us? There needs to be more. There needs to be a genuine feeling of love, connection and devotion.”

This is what Chanukah celebrates. It is about putting the plug in the wall. It is about lighting the fire and allowing it to create change within us. The candle within us needs to burn so ever brightly.

Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi
Always There

Rabbi Biderman notes that the letters on the dreidal have the words Nun, Gimmel, Hei and Shin. When we spin the dreidel, we do not see the exact letters, given the speed at which it is moving. Only when it lands, can we make out the letters and put together the acronym – Neis Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened there.

The takeaway is that Hashem gives us so much. Yet, we are always busy with our normal routine, as if we are a moving dreidel, and we do not see how much Hashem is coordinating the unseen miracles of our lives. Yet, when Shabbat arrives, and we settle down, then we can recognize Hashem’s hand. We can see how He was with us the entire week.

Similar to the dreidel, we must realize that Hashem is indeed orchestrating the big and small miracles in our lives, every moment, even as we move quickly from day to day. They are always there.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg
Not Aha!

In the early 20th century, the Rebbe Rashab was close to one of the contemporary gedolim of that time. They worked hand in hand on many projects together. In addition, one close chassid of the Rebbe Rashab was Reb Mendel Chein, who was known in his own right to be a great Torah scholar, and who eventually perished in one of the pogroms.'
At one gathering of Rabbanim, all three personalities – the Rebbe Rashab, accompanied by Reb Mendel Chein and this other Torah sage – sat together. Reb Mendel Chein and the gadol began engaging in conversation, which led to discussing a particular passage articulated by the Rambam (Maimonides). The gadol recited the words of the Rambam, to which Reb Mendel Chein replied that the gadol was slightly off in capturing his exact words. The gadol, however, insisted that he was correct. Together, they brought out a sefer of the Rambam, and discovered that it in fact aligned with how Reb Mendel Chein had said.

The gadol, after realizing his mistake, lifted his head up to Reb Mendel Chein. However, he was gone. He was nowhere to be seen, as he had left the room. The gadol then turned to the Rebbe Rashab and remarked, “That someone should correct my mistake as I recall from the Rambam is one thing. I also have students, like yours, who can catch me not remembering something exactly. But that your student should not stick around to say ‘Aha!’, such a student like that, I do not have.”

Reb Mendel Chein was not someone who wished to look good at somebody else’s expense. He could have felt satisfaction over catching this great gadol making an error and rubbed it in, but he was bigger than that. He wasn’t out to impress him; he was rather simply focused on finding and expressing the truth. And about that, the gadol carried great respect for.

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
Supposed to Be

My father a”h always used to say, “If you want something done, ask a busy man.” When we have little to do, merely getting out of bed can pose an existential challenge. Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes in the Mesillas Yesharim (Path of the Just) that we are here in this world to do 3 things: to serve Hashem; to perform the mitzvot; and to stand up to challenges. One of the great paths to happiness in life is to realize that every experience that we meet is a challenge. Some challenges are just easier than others.

For example, it is fairly obvious that when you are the father of a family subsisting on food stamps, it is a big challenge to keep your hands out of a big bag of several hundred-dollar bills smiling at you. Other challenges, however, are more subtle. Success, in example. It is all too easy to fall prey to the myth of the self-made man. Just as no man in history has been able to create himself out of dust, so too no man has been able to conjure up his own millions. Everything comes from heaven.
I know some very brilliant people who are washing dishes, and some dim ones who are driving Ferraris. Intelligence and success are but distant relations.

There was once a businessman who made a vast fortune, and somebody asked him how he did it. He said, “90% luck and 10% intelligence. And if I had less intelligence, I would have made more money.”

Yaakov is called the choicest of the fathers of the Jewish people, and yet he had by far the hardest life. He grew up with a brother, Eisav, who wanted to kill him, and because of this, he fled to his uncle, Lavan, who cheated him on a daily basis. On his way back home, his daughter, Dinah, was kidnapped and violated. And when he finally arrived home, he was told that his favorite son, Yosef, was torn limb by limb by a wild animal.

After such a life of stress, to seek some repose and shelter from the storm would not have seemed unreasonable. And yet, the Torah finds fault with Yaakov for his desire to dwell in tranquility.
Rest and respite from pressure are given to us for one reason only: to be able to meet life’s challenges. Pressure is life’s default position. That is the way things are supposed to be.
Rav Shlomo Wolbe used to say that his most creative moments in Torah thoughts were when the phone was ringing off the hook, students needed his attention, and he had one foot out the door to the airport. When we make that extra effort to function under pressure, G-d gives us that little extra help that lifts our lives from prose to poetry.

Rabbi Aharon Walkin zt”l

Shlomo Hamelech in Koheles tells us that the words of the wise person are heard calmly. The tyrant, however, rules with yelling, which is foolish. It is noteworthy, explains the Sforno, that the Pasuk states that the words of the wise are heard as they are spoken calmly. The verse highlights that they are heard, because when words are spoken with the right tone of voice, they are in fact accepted and taken in by the listener. The tyrant who forces his way can yell and scream, but his words are not “heard;” they are not accepted.

Speak calmly and your words will make their way into another’s heart.

Rabbi Joey Haber
Feel, Then Act

If you act nicely to a person, but there is an underlying motive, such as pity, the person will be able to subtly pick up on that cue. If you are annoyed at another, yet attempt to act neutral, it will be felt. We give off subtle signs and let others know how we feel through our tone of voice, body language. If we don’t feel true respect for another, we will not be able to truly show respect for another. Feel it, and then you will be able to act that way. Vibes matter.

Rabbi Yoel Gold
In A Heartbeat

It was 3:30 a.m. and Rabbi Mordechai Solten awoke with chest pains. He wasn’t sure if he was experiencing some indigestion problems or something more serious. Just to be on the safe side, though, he woke up his wife who called Hatzolah. Within seconds, the Hatzolah volunteers were at the door.

“We pulled up to the house within thirty seconds of being called,” the Hatzolah members reported, “and met the gentlemen at the front door. We could see that he was in distress and uncomfortable.” Hatzolah had brought along with them a special high-tech machine called a Lifepak 12, a defibrillator, pacing device which runs tests on the heart. The Hatzolah members figured that they would hook him up to the cardiac monitor as they were right there and it wouldn’t hurt to double check if anything was going on.

Rabbi Solten immediately said that he was not feeling well. Within seconds, his eyes rolled back and he began to have a seizure.

The Hatzolah members looked at the cardiac monitor and noticed that he was in cardiac arrest. He had just died in front of them.

“We shocked him to jumpstart his heart and bring him back to life,” the Hatzolah members said. Within thirty seconds, he was speaking with us again, knew where he was, knew his name and wanted to know what had happened. “I feel tremendous gratitude to Hatzolah,” Rabbi Solten said. “My wife’s gratitude, my children’s gratitude and my entire family’s gratitude doesn’t end.”

Hatzolah vehicles are generally equipped with defibrillators, but never with a Lifepak 12. Why then did the Hatzolah volunteers have this machine? And why were there paramedics there? Moreover, why was Hatzolah seconds away from the house at 3:30 in the morning?

Here is the amazing story.

“I received a phone call on Tisha B’av from a relative of mine up in the Catskills mountains,” one Hatzolah member said, “and they told me that their son hadn’t been feeling well for a few days. They called Hatzolah, as the boy felt very weak. As was discovered, his heart rate was very slow and the Hatzolah team felt that it would be best to bring him to the local hospital. His parents were insistent on calling their son’s pediatrician, who felt that it would be best if the boy were brought to the children’s hospital in Philadelphia. We gathered a Lakewood Hatzolah crew together and began heading out to Philadelphia. Due to the nature of the boy’s symptoms, we decided to bring along some advanced life support equipment including a Lifepak 12. We met up with paramedics on our way and continued on to Philadelphia.”

By the time we reached Philadelphia and were done with the entire trip, it was four hours later during the wee hours of the morning. The crewmember who was driving was extremely exhausted and missed the first exit. The driver also missed the second exit, which would have gotten us to Lakewood a few minutes later, except that it was also missed. We ended up taking the next exit, in Freehold, New Jersey, which put us an extra fifteen minutes out of the way.

“As we pulled into Lakewood, we all looked at each other and noticed how we could barely keep our eyes open. It was then, as we drove down Countyline Road, that we received the call. It was a wife calling regarding her husband who was complaining about chest pains and was very nervous. We figured that instead of having other Hatzolah members get out of bed, we were just a couple of blocks away, and we might as well head over there and see what is going on.”

And so, as it turned out, a Lakewood Hatzolah vehicle and a team of paramedics with the exact equipment needed were on their way to Rabbi Solten’s doorstep at 3:30 in the morning even before he woke up. Every second counted to get them exactly where they needed to be at the right second. “The world stopped for me,” Rabbi Solten later recounted. “Everybody was there for me when I needed them to be.”

Many times in life we feel as if we are up against a brick wall. Whether it be difficulties finding a job or a shidduch, or the struggle of raising children, we must remind ourselves that long before we even know there is a problem, Hashem has already prepared the solution. All that Hashem wishes is for us to turn to Him, trust in Him and ultimately come closer to Him. Every day is another gift and every day is another reason to say thank you.

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