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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Terumah

Parshat Terumah

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Terumah 5781                                                         Print Version
9th of Adar, 5781 | February 20, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Fischel Schachter
Remember Me?

It was just days after the great Rav Yaakov Galinsky had gotten married that he was called upon by the Chazon Ish. “I need you to take care of something very important,” the Chazon Ish urged. Hundreds of children from Teheran had been forcibly locked into Israeli kibbutzim and anticipated to be acculturated and secularized in line with an irreligious lifestyle. Only after due arbitration was it agreed that already Orthodox, religious children would be allowed to be released into stable religious homes and avoid steeping themselves in a future that stood antithetical to their values. But there was one hindrance.

Agency officials in charge of overseeing the Teheran children refused to allow any religious children to be released except for those who had been documented as ‘religious.’ A detailed, authoritative list had been compiled in Europe and would serve as proof for which children would be allowed to leave. But it wasn’t in the hands of the religious leaders, unfortunately, but rather with those who had placed the children into kibbutzim. It was thus far from simple to obtain the list and begin any process as hoped for.

But the Chazon Ish’s instructions to Rav Galinsky were clear. “Go and ask for the list,” he said. It was a far-fetched request, though Rav Galinsky went along with it.

Stealthily making his way to the army base, he was met by a number of soldiers who abruptly and accusingly stopped him. “Do you belong here?” they asked. It appeared as if Rav Galinsky was trying to secretly obtain something, which he in fact was. But Rav Galinsky only shrugged when asked what he was up to. Presuming that he was looking for someone who spoke Yiddish, the officials summoned one of their executive officers who could interrogate Rav Galinsky in Yiddish.

As soon as Rav Galinsky caught sight of the officer, he sprung into an outburst. “Chulit!” he exclaimed, a clear reference to the officer’s name. The officer was offset, his eyebrows burrowing in confusion and seriousness. “How do you know who I am?” inquired the officer. “Allow me to remind you,” began Rav Galinsky.

“Years ago, I was arrested while living in Russia. Every day, they used to feed me only a morsel of food and beat me. It was a terrible and terrifying situation. With me was a list of all the Jewish children who were later brought to Teheran. I was forced to relinquish that list with all the names.

“A few days later, I was told that I would be sent to Siberia, though my frail condition was concerning to the officers. It didn’t appear as if I could even make it there alive. They decided to thus give me a bowl of plain noodles, which I could have devoured within minutes.

“But then, I heard a heartbreaking outcry coming from nearby. It was you, Chulit. You had just been brought to those terrible living quarters and knew it would soon be your turn to be sent to Siberia. You cried about your ominous future and begged for just a morsel of food. Hearing you cry broke my heart, and I decided that I would share half of my noodles with you, which you so graciously accepted.”

Chulit, now a reputable soldier, looked at Rav Galinsky. It all came back to him, and he indeed remembered. “Remember…?” whispered Rav Galinsky. “I gave you the noodles… I saved your life… Please give me the list of those Jewish names back.”
And sure enough, Rav Galinsky was given the list.

There will be times in life where matters not only look dismal but are dismal. Life is challenging and crushing. Yet all the while, that very situation may be paving an unknown road that will later turn out to be our ticket to where we want and need to get. In hindsight, it is no less than our source of blessing and life. It is a most depressing and dejected moment, yet all the while, it is in the process of becoming our most promising and positive moment.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
Creating a Superhighway

One of the great challenges faced by countless individuals and families in the world today is that of addiction. It comes in various shapes and fashions and has different meaning to different people, but ultimately, it never leaves one in a good position. It can take a wholesome life and shatter it into a myriad pieces. It is in response to this reality that the question must be asked as to what we can do.

In truth, by appropriately understanding how addiction works, we can better understand how to counteract it. Although countless professional books and articles have been written about the subject, each with its own level of insight and instruction, consider the following.

Every encounter and interaction we have in life creates what we can call a “road” in our psyche. Our life experiences do no less than embed themselves in our mind and, for better or worse, remain there. A happy occasion creates a heartwarming memory in our mind, and in the reverse, an unfortunate experience leaves us with a bad memory.

It is often thought that a one-time experience will do no harm and is nothing to be alarmed by. In fact, though, while that one occasion unto itself may not leave any noticeable deleterious effect, it creates this “road” in one’s psyche with its associated feeling.

In example, you are a teenager and decide to have a little alcohol to drink. It tastes good and you enjoy the time spent drinking. Nothing more happens, and you go about your everyday life for quite a while. Some time down the line, you are stressed and pressured and need an outlet. You begin thinking what you can do to relax and release some anxiety. You then remember the time long ago that you had that one drink, and how it made you feel good and relaxed. You don’t think twice, and have another drink. It feels good again.

A few months later, you are up against another highly stressful and pressurized situation. You remember now the two times you drank and how it calmed you down. You felt good then and you want to feel good now. You have another drink. It feels good again…

This is how addiction begins. From that one “innocuous” time drinking, a “road” was created in this individual’s psyche which associates drinking with a good feeling. Now, whenever faced with a stressful predicament, they go back down that road and reexperience whatever result that road provides. This is why even a one-time experience is extremely, extremely powerful.
Now, after this addiction paves a road in one’s psyche and the individual realizes that they must get rid of it, something else happens. They know what the road is, but they close it. They place orange cones at its entrance and avoid going there. The road of every life experience cannot be eradicated, but it can be closed and blocked off. Here is where the attempt to rid oneself of the addiction comes into play.

But, as is so often seen, relapse occurs. What is relapse? It is when you have closed the road, yet because of something happening in your life, you go back to that road and remove the orange cones. The road is not done away with, but merely sectioned off. But since it exists, with some willpower, it is reopened.

For those individuals who have never created such a road to begin with, they do not personally know what it is like and don’t go looking for it in a time of discomfort or stress. They will though resort, as every human being does, to something which provides them comfort. Everyone has a “road” in which they travel down when needed. For many of those who survived the difficult war years, turning to Hashem and reciting Tehillim is what they turn to. It is what provided consolation and relief in their painful past, and remains to this day as their source of coping. That is their road.

For those, though, who have created an unhealthy road even one time, or worse, are faced with the road of addiction, what can they do? If the road which they resort to is unsafe, are they stuck?

The answer is a resounding no. There is a way to heal and get better. The Rambam (Hil. Teshuva 6:3) writes, “It is possible that a person will commit such a grave sin or such a large quantity of sins… that the punishment will be that repentance will be impossible and he will be unable to amend his perverse ways…” What exactly does the Rambam mean by this?

Simply understood, the Rambam is referring to the condition of someone being so steeped and entrenched in sin, to the extent that they cannot extricate themselves from it in any which way. For such an individual, teshuva is unlikely and the natural course will only be more and more sinful conduct. The road this person created for himself is so large, in either quality or quality, that he invariably goes there consistently. He cannot stop, and the cycle continues.

But there is hope. And that is to do the exact opposite in the positive. Perform one special mitzvos or multiple mitzvos to such an extent that you create a superhighway. If your highway of addictive and recurring harmful behavior is so big, then create an even bigger superhighway that will want to travel on so much more than your simple and regular highway. When you are therefore looking for that meaning or thrill in life, you will not travel down that old highway of yours, because blocking it is an even bigger, more meaningful and more thrilling superhighway.
In essence, patterning the Rambam’s formulaic progression of recurring negative conduct is the inverse of positive conduct. To put it in practical terms, let’s take the following example.

After drinking once and finding it very satisfying and sedating, alcohol became a source of comfort and relief for one individual whenever times were tough. It became his outlet, or his “road.” Time and again, a sincere attempt was made to enter rehabilitation treatment and turn life around, but it never lasted too long. He simply relapsed and reverted back to his old drinking habits.

Were you to assist such an individual, what would be the course of action? Help him find a superhighway. Find something which provides a bigger so-called “adrenaline rush,” a greater source of meaning and more of a pull than drinking. It may mean throwing oneself into Torah study, or using one’s musical or artistic talents to cheer up others. The more one becomes immersed and attached to the other passionate activities, the more traveled and bigger that new superhighway becomes. It then doesn’t pay to engage in the addictive activity, for the superhighway is so much greater.

In short then, the rehabilitation process entails removing oneself from the detrimental environment and framework and placing oneself in a position to thrive. Secondly, in order to break away from returning to the old road, more must occur than simply closing it off. A new superhighway, in the form of a greater, positive, supercharged passion must take its place. When such intervention is set into motion, the chances of success are much more optimistic.

And lastly, yet most importantly, as the Rambam says (ibid. 6:4), “In this way… the righteous pray to Hashem to assist and guide them to the truth… asking Him, ‘Do not prevent my sins from enabling me to perform teshuva…’” While addiction may take away the keys to many areas of life and hamper an individual from fully embracing and actualizing their potential, what can open the doors to a new life and new potential is a master key. Even if all other keys are lost or damaged, if contact can be made with the manager who holds the master key, then hope is just around the corner. And that contact is made through tefilllah. If we pour our hearts out to Hashem, He may very well open the doors for us to reenter and reestablish a new life

Rabbi Eliezer Krohn
The Real Story

For Yossi, who lived in the city and anxiously wished he could spend one Shabbos in camp in the country, his dream finally came true. He was granted permission to join the camp and experience an exciting and refreshing weekend filled with peer comradery.

As Friday night rolled along, the boys gathered together to daven. Following davening, everyone began making their way around and wishing the rabbis positioned up front a good Shabbos. Everyone except one boy. When Yossi took note of how all the boys, including himself, were standing in line to greet the rebbeim except this one boy, he was discernably disturbed. Why was he the exception?

Yossi was only more bothered when he looked closer and noticed the boy’s posture. He was standing off to the side, leaning back on his shtender, looking all nice and comfortable. Yet not only that, but his hat was casually perched towards the back of his head, with a nicely combed lock of hair extending down his forehead. Yossi did not wish to approach the boy and offset him, though he curiously wished to find out just exactly who this boy was. Why in fact was he not following all the other boys in line?

Turning to his friend, Yossi quietly asked, “Who is that boy over there? Why is he the only one not wishing the rebbeim a good Shabbos?”

Yossi’s friend looked back. He knew exactly why the boy was staying put where he was. “Yossi, I am sorry to tell you, but this boy is sick with a terminal illness. You see, everyone is going around to the rebbeim, but this boy doesn’t have the strength to do so. In fact, he is even too weak to stand up straight without leaning back on his shtender. And you see his hat situated on his head? That is because he is losing all his hair towards the back of his head. Since he still has hair in the front, he purposely never cuts the hair there, and makes sure to place his hat in such a way that it covers the back of his head but keeps the front in view. Now, I think, you understand why he is acting the way he is.”

We sometimes look at a person and make out a certain picture, formulating our own thoughts and conclusions about them. But then we are shown the real picture, and we realize that we were far off the mark. The person is not necessarily experiencing pleasure, but is suffering in pain. We can never be too quick to judge, because in fact all we see is all we see. Instead of jumping to scrutinize, we would wise to jump and empathize.

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