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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Ki Teitzei

Parshat Ki Teitzei

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Ki Teitzei                                                                Print Version
13th of Elul, 5781 | August 21, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Eliyahu Maksumov
The Jeweler

We must have our priorities straight and no matter what happens or where we are in life, we know that G-d comes first. There is nothing that should stop us from serving Hashem. We must put Hashem first.

There was once a great merchant by the name of R’ Shlomo, from the city of Aleppo. R’ Shlomo owned all sorts of diamonds, which he sold, bought and appraised. Yet R’ Shlomo had a very important rule: before any business he conducted, he must pray and study Torah. And he did this every day until 10:30, after which he opened up his shop.

One morning, an Arab merchant approached him. “Excuse me, are you R’ Shlomo?” he asked. “Yes, that is me.” “Are you the owner of the jewelry store?” “Yes, I am,” he replied. “I have an offer for you right now that you can’t resist.” The Arab was wearing a big turban, which he took off, unraveled and revealed within the most perfect diamond. “I have this exquisite diamond and am only going to be here today. It’s my last diamond and your last opportunity to purchase it. I will offer it to you at a discounted rate, which for this rarity is a tremendous deal. Would you like it?”

R’ Shlomo didn’t think twice. “I am on my way to go pray,” he replied, “and I cannot buy it from you right now.” The Arab asked if he should repeat himself. This was a deal of a lifetime, and R’ Shlomo was going to give it up just because he was on his way to pray! “You’re going to regret this!” But R’ Shlomo remained firm. “Before I can take care of business with people, I must take care of business with G-d,” he said.

R’ Shlomo kept on walking, and took care of his morning preparations and doings – the mikveh, davening and then learning.

Later that morning, as R’ Shlomo made his way to his store, he noticed a large gathering in front of a hotel. Wondering what the source of the commotion was, he walked over and saw a coffin resting on the ground, surrounded by the throng of people. Inquiring as to what happened, the townsfolk explained that there was a merchant who had been going around selling diamonds, and today was his last day in the hotel. He was about to leave and return to his hometown. But just as he was about to do so, he dropped to the floor and died. We don’t know what happened to him, people mentioned. However, since he never paid for his stay, the custom in the city was to auction off his belongings. That was the source of all this commotion. Right then, they were selling his clothing.

“Who wants the Arab’s belt?” they announced. The townspeople shouted prices, ranging from low to high. This went on from his shoes to his watch to his shirt, until they got to his turban. One man called out $5, another called $10. But R’ Shlomo, without hesitating, called out $20. Everyone in the crowd gave that look which signaled that they had no idea why R’ Shlomo would pay so much for an old, simple turban. And so, he won the bid, without a fight.

Grabbing the turban, R’ Shlomo raced back to his shop and unraveled the turban. And there was the diamond. The same diamond he would have spent a heavy sum of money for, he now got for just barely anything. And it was because he made G-d his priority. He kept to his commitment to put Hashem before business, and no matter what came his way, he wouldn’t compromise on his commitment. Not at all.

When you put Hashem as your priority, you never lose. You never lose out from doing the right thing, from doing Hashem’s will. As long as you are doing what you need to do, and Hashem sees that you are committing yourself to Him, He will never let you down. At the end of it all, Hashem will reward you and you will have much more to gain that you could have ever imagined.

Rabbi Shlomo Horwitz
Uzi and Rav Ovadiah

One of my highlights of my recent trips was meeting one of my old campers from when I ran day camps in Tel Aviv. His name is Uzi Mishan, and I worked with him when he was eleven years old. Forty years have gone by, and we now have rekindled our friendship. Uzi had an incredible miracle happen to him and wants to share this story with you:

_“My name is Uzi Mishan. I was an outstanding athlete and wrestled in the Israeli army. I became a professional wrestler after that. I was in amazing shape and worked out constantly in the gym. When I was twenty nine years old, I got hurt in the gym and I went to get examined. The doctor said that I had very poor electroconductivity in my hands and feet and that I had an advanced stage of muscular atrophy known as CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth), a degenerative nerve disease. I had difficulty with walking, climbing stairs, opening bottles and it was difficult for me to lift things. _

My neurologist and orthopedist told me to stop working out, so I left the gym. The doctors forbade me to work out or train, and I started falling all the time since I did not have stability.

_So I stopped working. I went to the Assaf Harofei hospital and the doctor, the head of the department, also served on the panel for Bituach Le’Umi (National Insurance), and he said, ‘From today, you are no longer allowed to work. I'm going to arrange for you to stay home and not work anymore.’ This was a process that took months of meeting different committees, and finally they gave me one hundred percent disability approval. At that time, I said to myself, you know, I'm a really active person. I'm married with two kids… and to have this disability at such a young age! I'm on 100 percent disability getting insurance. It was hard for me to function and hard for me to move. What's going to be? I had free time since I couldn't work, and so, I started going to a Kollel in Rishon L’Tzion to study Gemara in the mornings. _

_My rabbi, Rabbi Malichi, said to me after a few years of learning with the group in the mornings that he had an idea. By the way, I was the only Chiloni, the only secular Jew in this group at that time. He said to me, ‘Uzi, you're not working anyway; why don't you come with me to Rechov Hakablan, in Jerusalem, and visit the Gaon, HaRav Ovadia Yosef and daven with him? I said, ‘Are you kidding me? He is the Gadol HaDor! Of course I'll go!’ So we went. _

_On the way there, we had to stop frequently because I was driving and my muscles got so tired that I wasn't able to continue without stopping. We got to the shul of Rav Ovadiah Yosef, we davened there and saw him briefly from a distance. _

_The next day we went back again to do the same thing. Rav Malichi had been a student of the son of Rav Ovadia, and so he asked Rav Ovadia’s son if we could go meet with the Rav himself, tell him my story and receive a blessing. That day, Rabbi Ovadia wasn't available, so we came a couple of days later. The rabbi was already quite elderly and was only seeing dire cases of need. My Rav explained to the gabbai that this was indeed a dire case, and fortunately, we were able to go in and meet with the Rav. _

_I got very emotional and broke down. The Rabbi gave me an affectionate tap on my face, which was how he greeted people, and he blessed me. When he put his hands on my head for the blessing, I felt electricity pulsing through my whole body. I told him about the issues I was having, in a nutshell, and I told him I had a neurological problem with my body. He told me to continue doing good things. _

_When I walked out of his office, I was extremely emotional because I was also feeling closer to our faith, especially after all the learning I had been doing. We then walked to my car. When we drove in, I had to stop many times because of my exhaustion. When we walked from my car to the shul originally, I had to stop four or five times because I was so tired. _

_But now, walking back from the shul to the car, I was fine. I walked normally to the car and my Rav noticed. I didn't even notice because we were talking the whole way about what had just happened. Anyway, I started the car and we started heading back toward Be’er Yaakov and Rishon L’Tzion and I just kept going without the need to stop. When my Rabbi got out of the car, he said, ‘Did you notice you didn't have to stop?’ ‘Wow, you're right, ‘I said. I thought I was just all fired up because I had just seen the Rabbi. But the next day I was already walking much better. It still hurt, but a lot less. Within two or three weeks, I was already able to start working out again. When I was sick, I could not even lift a can or a bottle, and now I started working out again. _

_Slowly. I went back to my neurologist and he sent me for more tests. I still have the underlying problem, but when he sent me for motor skill testing, he said that this makes no sense. My strength came back and I had to get off disability. I had to prove that I was better so I could go back to work. If I wasn’t truly disabled, I didn't want to have the country recognize me as disabled. Anyway, I started working out again and competing in arm wrestling, powerlifting deadlift, squat lifts, and the Shfela newspaper came to interview me as the strongest man in the Shfela region. At the end of the day, I'm turning fifty next month. I'm still working out and I'm still lifting. And this is thanks to the blessing of Rav Ovadia, who did great things for me and miracles. _

_I don't have any other words to say. I tell this to everybody. I am an open miracle and there's no other way to understand me. As a result of this story, I see and I know that Hakadosh Baruch Hu exists and is with us every second. Open miracles happen all the time. The only question is if our eyes are open enough to see these miracles, to be able to say this is a miracle. It didn't just happen. I always try to do good deeds and I've devoted my life to try to help children with special needs in school. I'm in the catering business and try to only buy food that's kosher, and I don't work on Shabbat. I don't even rent out my equipment. If I have any suspicion that it's going to be used on Shabbat, I don’t rent it out. That's what I can do. Hashem is very kind to me. I have a wonderful life and I thank Hashem every day. He's a part of my life, He always surrounds me, and I know that He is always helping me. He's standing by my right side. _

Every Friday night we make Kiddush and our family talks about how good Hashem is in our lives. And on Friday night, when I make Hamotzi, I think of the Manna that fell for the Jewish people right outside their house. And that's how I feel. He is giving me Parnassa without me having to run after it. I thank Hashem every day of my life for everything He’s blessed me with.

Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi
A Soldier in Hashem’s Army

The first day of yeshiva at the yeshiva in Radin, under the auspices of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l, he would tell the students the following:

Napoleon the Great, who conquered many armies and many lands, would turn to his army before battle and declare, “Every one of you, if you don’t plan on being the next general in the army, I don’t want you fighting the next battle.” If a soldier did not possess such aspirations, Napoleon did not wanting him fighting in the upcoming war. Simply put.

The Chofetz Chaim, after stating this, would tell his students, “If you’re not aspiring to become a great scholar in Torah and master all that you can, to become the next tzaddik of the generation and lead the future of the Jewish people, you are not going to succeed as much as you can.” If we think small, we are failing our potential. Hashem wants us to utilize our drive in spirituality.

Some time ago, I had a discussion with a very wealthy man. “Thank G-d,” he said, “I come to pray for Shacharit, Mincha and Arvit, and I learn once a week and keep Kosher and observe Shabbat. That is enough for me. I don’t need to think about becoming the next tzaddik or gadol. I’m sure that for Hashem I am doing enough.”

Then our conversation started getting into other topics, including what type of car he has, the house he lives in, and where he vacationed for Pesach. It was clear that when it came to Torah and Judaism, he thought small, but when it came to his materialistic lifestyle, it was all very important to him. “Rabbi, you got to think big…”

The truth, though, is that it is meant to be the opposite. When it comes to Torah, think big. Become the greatest you can and strive to fulfill all that you can. But when it comes to materialistic matters, keep it to a moderate level and limit. If you have what you need, then that is good.

Where should you use your aspirations to grow and become great? In Torah and spirituality. If you want to compromise on something, don’t compromise on spirituality and yirat shamayim (fear of Heaven), compromise on your material life. Think of your car, house and food. Don’t scale back and compromise on your davening, learning or the kosher food that you eat. With respect to that, strive to become the biggest tzaddik you can.
And it is possible to reach this level by turning to Hashem and asking Him for assistance.

Consider the following. Why is it that Hashem commands us not to worship other g-ds (avodah zarah)? The sefer Siach Yitzchak writes that when a person decides to turn to other g-ds other than Hashem, Hashem gets upset because He gets “offended.” Imagine a son whose father is extraordinarily wealthy, and yet instead of asking his father for money, he asks the local man in shul. If the father would find out about his son’s request, knowing that his son could have come to him and he would happily given him what he needs, the father would be insulted.

When Jews turn to other avenues to ask for things other than from Hashem, Hashem gets offended, because Hashem loves you so much and He wants you to turn to Him and only Him, because He is capable of giving you whatever you want. Hashem is waiting for us to ask for things from Him and turn to Him. Why would we beg the doctor for health? Hashem gives health; not the doctor.

Moreover, when a person does not turn to Hashem, he is treating himself like someone who is not worthy of Hashem paying attention to every little detail of his life. Hashem cares for you and wants to listen to every small, seemingly unimportant aspect of your life.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot tells us, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” What does this mean? Unless a person takes matters of his own spirituality into his own hands, nothing will help him get there. If a person does not it seriously – taking care of his future as a Jew and Torah observant member of Klal Yisroel – then all the support and speeches will not serve him. It requires that a person take matters into his own hands with a firm and dedicated sense of purpose that does not wane or waver, no matter what.

That is a true soldier in Hashem’s army. He knows that he must be serious about his life. It is no small matter, and only if he is fully invested in his purpose and mission, will he succeed. If he is not motivated, no speech from the commander will motivate him. It is once he feels the fire of pushing himself to his highest potential that he will be capable of things he never thought he could do.

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