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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Balak

Parshat Balak

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Balak                                                                         Print Version                              
16th of Tammuz, 5781 | June 26, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi YY Jacobson 
Thank You

Years ago, Joseph Cabiliv served as a soldier in the Israeli army. One day, in the early 1970s, as he patrolled the Golan Heights, which the Israelis had taken back from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967, his jeep rolled over a land mine and exploded. Joseph was wounded badly and immediately hospitalized at the Rambam hospital in Chaifa, where he awoke a few days later.
Joseph remember nothing of the circumstances that had brought him to the hospital, and could only feel extreme pain in his legs. Yet that pain didn’t come close to the horrifying news that he soon came to realize. Lifting up his bedsheet, he saw that both of his legs had been amputated. The doctors had no alternative but to amputate his legs in interest of saving his life.

The period that followed was devastating for Joseph. He made it home, but could not move or function as an ordinary person. His parents were heartbroken, with his mother crying all day, and his father remaining painfully silent. His friends who came to visit were also without much to say and felt uncomfortable all the while. As soon as they could, they exited the house. The pain and sadness were too much to bear.

Joseph felt deep anger, not just towards his situation, but towards the country. The country for which he sacrificed himself could not help him during this time. His life soon turned into a bitter, cynical, and negative experience.

A few years later, during the summer of 1976, a group of 150 wounded IDF soldiers came to visit America. At the suggestion of one of the organizers of the trip, the group headed to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the bottom floor of the Chabad 770 Headquarters in New York. Seated in their wheelchairs, they lined up awaiting to hear from the Rebbe.

The Rebbe spoke to them in Hebrew, articulating that in Judaism, the body is very important, but it is only an extension of the neshama (soul). The body is here to help the soul fulfill its purpose. The soul, though, is not here for the body. Therefore, even if the body has limitations, the soul is as powerful as ever, and the bodily limitations in no way affect a person from carrying out their potential and purpose in this world. In fact, to the contrary, because a person is limited, it means that G-d has given the person much more in their soul to compensate for the challenges and limits experienced by the body.

The Rebbe continued to state that the name given to these group of soldiers is Nachei Zahal, which literally means, “The Invalids of the Jewish Army.” The Rebbe suggested though that their name be changed. “Your name should be ‘Metzuyanei Zahal,’ the ‘Exceptional of the Jewish Army,’ he said. “This is not to just make you feel great about yourselves, but to highlight the truth, because as I said, if you are limited in your body, that means that you were given special power and potential in your soul and spiritual essence far more than a healthy person.”

The Rebbe then asked the members of the army for permission to give each of them one dollar which they could give to tzedakah. When the Rebbe finished his talk, he walked over to each wheelchair and looked every soldier in the eye, giving him a dollar and offering words of encouragement and blessing. Initially people believed that he merely repeated the same words to each soldier, although it was later discovered that to each solider, something special and specific was conveyed.

One of the soldiers sitting there was Joseph Cabiliv, who was wheelchair bound. Sitting there angry, depressed and bitter, the Rebbe approached him. The Rebbe took Joseph’s hands and placed them in his own, holding them tightly and warmly. He looked Joseph in the eyes and said two words…

“Thank You.”

This was a thank you for what Joseph did for the Jewish people, and for the sacrifice he made for the Land of Israel and for the people of Israel.

Joseph later revealed, “That’s what I was waiting for. I was waiting for someone to look me in the eye and say, ‘Thank you for what you have given us and thank you for your sacrifice.’”

That ‘Thank You’ took Joseph back to Israel and gave him a new lease on life, where he went on to become a successful real-estate developer. And every morning, as Joseph woke up and looked at his body and thought that his life was over and he was incapable of achieving what a regular person could do, he remembered the gaze and the thank you of the Rebbe. That gave him new vitality and inspiration to move on. Those simple yet powerful two words did wonders for Joseph.

Yes, two words.

Thank You.

Rabbi Daniel Glatstein 
3 Keys to Success in Torah

In no less than the horror camps of Auschwitz, the Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l, Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam, whose yaartzeit falls on the ninth of Tammuz, related the following thought during the week of Parshas Chukas.

The Pasuk states, “This is the law of the Torah, when a man dies in a tent, anyone who enters the tent or is in the tent, becomes impure for seven days” (Bamidbar 19:14). The Gemara (Berachos 63b) expounds upon this verse by stating, “Reish Lakish states: the intent of this verse is that Torah can only be acquired when one tirelessly toils in ‘Tents of Torah’ until he figuratively dies.”

The Klausenberger Rebbe commenting on this Pasuk, which emphasizes that Torah is only sustained in one who pores over its wisdom with all his life and vitality, explained that there are three keys which enable a person to truly acquire Torah. Firstly, constantly review. As the Gemara states, “You cannot compare one who reviews his studies one hundred times to one who reviews them one hundred and one times” (Chagiga 9b). Secondly, when one learns, one should envision that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) is before him, as the Arizal explicitly teaches. Thirdly, one should learn out loud, enunciating and articulating his words.

In this vein, the Klausenberger Rebbe noted that in an earlier verse at the opening of our Parsha, “This is the law of the Torah,” which in Hebrew reads, “Zos chukas ha’Torah,” (ibid. 19:2) the word Zos is an acronym for the words Z’chor al tishkach, “Remember, and do not forget.” In other words, the Torah is outlining in the following words in that verse three ingredients that will ensure success in Torah study. “Zos chukas ha’Torah asher tziva Hashem lei’mor…” The gematria (numerical value) of the word tziva is 101, referring to the fact that in order to fully retain one’s learning, they are to review their studies 101 times.

The next word in the Pasuk is Hashem, referring to the fact that a person should imagine that the Divine Presence is in front of them as they learn. And lastly, leimor, which means ‘saying,’ refers to the fact that a person should say aloud and articulate one’s learning. If these three steps are carried out, then one can rest assured that Z’chor al tishkach, he will retain his learning and not forget.

It is nothing to overlook that the Klausenberger Rebbe related this insight, highlighting the ever-importance of Torah study, in the darkest place at the darkest time. At the death camps surrounded the angels of death, the Klausenberger Rebbe taught this because it was something he lived for and breathed by. His dedication and devotion should serve as no less than an inspiration to us all.

Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss 
Make a Kiddush Hashem

I have always believed it to be a good idea to use the same gas station or store in your community, as much as possible. This is because it affords you the opportunity to develop a relationship with the people who work there, whether it be the management or other employees. You then also have the capability of making a Kiddush Hashem and forging positive influences on people’s lives. It is always a worthwhile endeavor to think of angles in your life where you can make a Kiddish Hashem.

Some time ago, I found myself in Manhattan very late at night. Generally, I use the Lincoln tunnel to get home, though this time, it was completely closed. I put into my Waze navigation my destination, anticipating that it would reroute me. But I soon discovered that it took me straight back to the tunnel, exactly where I had been before. I finally figured out an alternative, more circuitous route that would eventually lead me to take the Brooklyn bridge and take me home.

As I neared my way to the foot of the Brooklyn bridge, there stood an elderly man asking for money. I happened to have a cup of Cappuccino coffee in my car. I rolled down my window, and asked the man if he would like something to drink. Of course, he complied and exclaimed, “What a mitzvah you’re doing!”

As he said that, I realized why I was rerouted to take the Brooklyn bridge, which I had probably not gone on for two decades. Hashem afforded me the chance to perform a Kiddush Hashem.

Opportunities for being a role model, inspiring others and making a Kiddush Hashem await us day to day; seize those moments and make the most of them for yourself and for those around you.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn 
Enjoy Your Shabbat

It was Friday, January 21, 2018 and the weather was as stormy as could be in Ramat HaSharon, a coastal town near Tel Aviv. As the clock ticked and there remained just hours until Shabbos, dozens of men, women and children circulated around the Yohananoff supermarket located at Haroshet St 18. But then, suddenly, what any supermarket manager never wishes to happen, in fact did. Thunder and lightning pierced the skies, and the lights went out. Customers stood still, wondering if this was just a temporary issue that would be resolved quickly or last some time.

Knowing that this could happen, the supermarket was equipped with generators, which kicked in, and did their job of ensuring that no food would spoil. But what the generators did not turn back on were the electronic cash registers.

Tzvi Abraham, manager of Yohananoff supermarket, had one of two ideas. He could either ask everyone to wait until the electricity would turn back on, and everyone could then pay at the cash registers. Alternatively, he could send everyone out and ask them to shop someplace else.

But it was getting late and Shabbos was just a few hours away. After consulting with his boss, Tzvi Abraham had a brilliant idea. Without any loudspeaker, he began announcing aloud, “I just spoke to my boss. It is now late Friday afternoon, and everyone should take their food home. Just write down what you took and go home, and you can return on Sunday and pay for what you took. Enjoy your Shabbat! We do not know when the electricity will turn back on and we don’t know if you will be able to make it to other stores, given the weather. Just take your food and go home and enjoy Shabbat.”

Nobody could believe it, though everyone began writing down what they had in their carts, with some people leaving their name and number near the cash registers. Tzvi Abraham insisted that everyone follow this protocol and not feel bad taking food now and only returning later to pay their dues.

That Sunday, 70% of the people returned to pay what they had taken, and by the following Friday, 100% had returned to pay. 
Care, concern and connection. That’s what it’s all about.

Rabbi Gavriel Friedman 
Check Your Calendar

Jonathan had grown up in a home that was Jewish, but only minimally connected to any form of religious observance. As Jonathan neared his thirteenth birthday, however, he approached his father and asked if he could have a bar mitzvah. His father, not knowing much about what was entailed in a bar mitzvah, assumed that his son was asking to have some friends get together and have a party. But Jonathan had other aspirations in mind. He wanted to read from the Torah in shul, put on Tefillin and become a fully engaged religious Jew.

A local rabbi was contacted, and Jonathan began to study his bar mitzvah Parsha weekly. As time went on, the rabbi began to feel a nagging question. And so, one day, after learning, he turned to Jonathan and said, “Jonathan, let me ask you something. Why in fact do you really want a bar mitzvah?”

Jonathan, an incisive, young boy, replied with the following. 
“Let me tell you a story. I have a sister, and like all good siblings, I love her, but I’ve always wanted a brother. So some time ago, I turned to G-d and said, ‘If You give me a brother, I’ll be yours. I’ll go to synagogue and follow the commandments. I’m all yours; just please give me a brother.

“But I began to wonder, how would I know it came from G-d? So I added the following stipulation with G-d. My baby brother would have to be born on my birthday. If that would happen, I would commit to a religious life.”

“What happened?” the rabbi asked, intrigued by Jonathan’s story.

One year later, my mother gave birth to a baby boy. Five days before my birthday. I said, “You know what G-d? That’s close enough. I’m in!” The rabbi could not believe it. An eleven-year-old making deals with G-d, and it didn’t even come true, and here he was still with it.

The rabbi went home, and returned to Jonathan a few days later. “I want to tell you something,” he said to Jonathan, “I checked the calendar, and your brother was born on your Hebrew birthday.”

This little boy was none other than Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, a renowned Jewish speaker of today.

What do we learn from this story?

Sometimes we pray for something, and we get it; and sometimes we pray for something, and we think that we’re not getting it. But maybe, the truth is, we’re just looking at the wrong calendar…

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