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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Lech Lecha

Parshat Lech Lecha

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Lech Lecha                                                                         Print Version
10th of Cheshvan, 5782 | October 16, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi
The Power of Your Neshama

There was a Rosh Yeshiva who had come to America to collect money in the New York area. To assist the Rosh Yeshiva in efforts, a driver was hired to bring him around to the various houses and office buildings, in which he would meet with different individuals interested in supporting his yeshiva. For years, this same driver was hired to chauffeur the rabbi around, though when the pandemic broke out, the rabbi was forced to stop his travels. It was only over a year later that he made his way back to the states.

When the Rosh Yeshiva met the driver again more than a year later, he was taken aback. The driver, who previously was not religious at all, was now wearing a yarmulke, tzitzit, and as he soon revealed, kept Shabbat too. The driver began detailing the story that brought him to this point.

A couple months back, I received a call from a non-Jew who said that he wanted me to drive him six miles out to a forest. “Drop me off,” he added, “leave, and then come back for me.” This was a strange request, but I figured that he just wanted me to do as he said, and I saw it as a good opportunity. So I complied.
The day we arranged, I picked him up and started driving six hours out. We arrived at a certain place which was no less than a forest. I began to wait nearby, until suddenly, I heard a knock on the side window. It was the man I had just dropped off. “Listen,” he said, “I need you to drive ten miles out. Don’t ask me any questions. Just drive.” I listened.

An hour later, I received a call from the fellow who asked me to pick him up. I returned to the forest, picked him up and began making my way back. Thinking about what had just transpired, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. What was this all about. So I turned around for a moment, looked at my customer and asked him. “I know it’s not really business-like to inquire into your private affairs, but if you are able to, could you tell me what this is all about? Why did you ask me to drive six miles out, then drive ten miles away?”

“Let me tell you,” the man replied. “Unfortunately, I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and the doctors have completely given up hope on me living. After I heard this, I became desperate. I needed to find some way to stay alive. I don’t want to die! So I began looking into psychics and those who are familiar with black magic. I was given this information about this fellow who lives in this forest, and is a black magic guru. He is known to be one of the best, and has proven helpful in curing people of their illnesses. It costs thousands of dollars, but it gets the job done. So I thought to myself, ‘I have nothing to lose. I’ll drive six hours out, pay someone whatever price he asks, and hope that it can help me.’ That is where you dropped me off.

But when I arrived inside, the guru was trying to work his incantations and magic calling, but something was off. Something wasn’t working. Realizing this, the guru began growing incensed. And then he turned to me and yelled, ‘How did you get here?’ ‘Someone drove me,’ I replied. ‘Who is this driver?’ asked the guru. ‘A Jew,’ I said. ‘That’s the problem! The Jew’s soul is in the way! Get that Jew ten miles out! That is the only way this magic is going to work!’ That is when I ran to you and I told you to just go. I was terrified; I had no idea what this guru was going to do. After you left, he was able to perform his magic.

“And that, rabbi,” concluded the driver, who was now religious, is how I became Torah observant. Before, at that point I drove this man into the forest, I did not wear a yarmulke or tzitzit, or keep Shabbat or Kosher, but my neshama was so powerful – just sitting in the car – that it prevented this guru was accessing all his channels of koach ha’tumah (impure spirits and black magic). When I realized this – just how holy and powerful my neshama even while being disconnected from Torah – I said to myself that I must look more into it. And here I am.”

Our neshama is so holy that it stopped this magic, and the driver had to go ten miles out. All the more, if we do perform mitzvot – we keep Shabbat, we wear tefillin, we pray Shacharit, Mincha and Arvit, we recite blessings before and after we eat – do we realize how holy we are. Do we appreciate how holy our neshama is? Because of this realization itself, this driver returned to Judaism and became a fully religious Jew.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu
Your Actions, Your Children

In last week’s Parsha, Rashi tells us that the “primary offspring of righteous people are their good deeds.” What does this mean? If a person performs good deeds and conducts himself in a proper manner, then his children will also turn out well, as they will follow in his footsteps. If a father or mother speaks in shul, and then tells his child, “We are in a shul; you can’t talk!” the child will respond, “But you talk!” The child may not necessarily say this, but he or she knows it is true.

It used to be that during the Reading of the Torah, if anyone wanted to talk, they would leave the shul. This was because, if afterwards, the parent would tell the child to act appropriately and pray, the child would be able to reflect upon their parents own behavior, and take an example from them. My father/mother prays inside shul and talks outside, but they don’t talk inside shul.

This is the meaning of “the primary offspring of righteous people are their good deeds.” The way a parent behaves in good ways is how their children will be.

Rabbi Yosef Palacci
The Candy That Saved a Jew

There was once a young boy who left the fold of Judaism and planned on marrying a non-Jewish girl. He went on to get engaged to her, after which his family went into a tailspin. They were beyond distraught at the news, and all their efforts to convince him to reconsider his decision that would affect the rest of his life were to no avail.

The wedding was soon just around the corner. It was the last Shabbat before his wedding. That Shabbat afternoon, the man’s uncle said to him, “I’m going to shul to pray Mincha. I know you don’t even keep Shabbat, but it’s the last week before you get married. Do you think maybe you can make an exception to the rule and come with me to shul? At the moment, there is a rabbi who is giving a class.” “No, I’m good,” he said. “But by the way, who is the rabbi giving the class?’ “His name is Rabbi Shteinman,” replied the uncle.” “Rabbi Leib Shteinman?” “Yes, Rabbi Leib Shteinman.” “For him, I’ll go,” the man said. Without any further questions, on went the uncle and the man who was to get married later that week.

He entered into the shul and saw the rabbi delivering his class. Afterwards, they had a moment to talk. Amidst the conversation, after hearing that the man was not religious and planned on marrying a non-Jew, Rav Shteinman asked, “It seems as if you do not keep Shabbos either. How long ago did you stop keeping Shabbos. “About two years ago,” he replied. “How did you feel when you began to stop keeping Shabbat?” “Yeah, Rabbi, I felt bad about it.” “Wow,” replied Rav Shteinman. “So you did teshuva?” “Yeah, I had thoughts of teshuva.”

The man stood there, taking in Rav Shteinman’s guiding words that he had done teshuva. The man walked away from the conversation, his mind turning about his future. Rav Shteinman had planted the seed within his mind as to whether he should go on to marry a non-Jew. After all, he had done teshuva once before, and now, it was not too late to renege on marrying her and changing the trajectory of his life.

And then his uncle asked the obvious question. “Why did you come when I told you that Rav Shteinman would be speaking? If it would have been a different rabbi, you wouldn’t have come?” “I’ll tell you why,” he replied. “It’s because Rav Shteinman came when I was a young boy in third grade to my classroom to test us in our learning. He went around the room and said, ‘I have a bag of candies. If you get the answer right, you get a candy.’ And he began asking questions and handing out candies to the boys. And then he came to me and asked the question. But I didn’t know the answer. He then asked an easier question, but I still didn’t know the answer. He asked an even easier question, and I still didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t get a candy.

When class was over and everyone was leaving, Rav Shteinman asked if he could speak with me. Everyone left, and it was just me and him. He then pulled out three candies, and said, ‘I am going to give you three candies.’ ‘Why?’ I asked, curiously. ‘Because you tried. You put in effort. When it comes to Torah, all you must do is try your best. And I can see that you are trying your best; it just was hard for you. But you tried your very best, and that is why I am giving you three candies.’

This made me feel so good. And to this day, I remember Rav Shteinman. I remember his kindness, his caring and his sensitivity, and I said to myself that I’ll go hear him speak one last time.

And look at the influence Rav Shteinman had. While he didn’t immediately change the man’s mind about marrying a non-Jew, it was the beginning of him reflecting on his Jewish identity and considering his decision. That is the power of what a small effort, a small gesture can do.

The Vilna Gaon’s wife used to go around to collect money for tzedakah, which she would disperse to those in need. On one occasion, she went with a friend to collect funds. This friend would later make a pact with the wife of the Vilna Gaon that whichever one of them would pass away first, they would come to the other in a dream and let her know what the reward is like in the World to Come. The Vilna Gaon’s wife’s friend passed away first.

Later, she appeared to the Gaon’s wife in a dream and said, “You should know that while I can’t tell you exactly what goes on in Heaven and in Gan Eden, I can tell you one thing. Do you remember that one time we were collecting tzedakah together and we saw a wealthy person and we became excited? We were thrilled that we would be able to get some money and help other people. Even the mere act of raising your finger to point towards the person who would give us tzedakah, you will receive reward in Gan Eden for! Even for that small effort, Hashem will repay you!” That was just for the effort; imagine the reward for the actual mitzvah itself.

We must do our very best in life. Sometimes, after putting in a great deal of effort, nothing appears to have happened. “What’s going to be?” we wonder to ourselves. “I’ve done so much and it doesn’t seem like there’s any payoff from it!” But that is not what we need to be worried about. Hashem has great things awaiting us in Gan Eden. We cannot imagine that even for the smallest of efforts, Hashem has the greatest of rewards awaiting us.

One woman was once expecting a child, and she called me with her mind made up that she wanted to get an abortion. I spent hours with her on the phone, trying to see if there was any way she could keep the baby. At the end of the hours’ long phone call, she agreed that the right decision would be to have the baby and not have an abortion.

Two weeks later, I found out that she had an abortion. I was shocked. I did everything I could to convince her to have the child, and she even sounded that she would keep the child when we finished our call. What’s going on? Fast forward a year later…

A different woman reached out to me and said, “A Jewish doctor told me that according to Jewish law, I’m allowed to abort my baby. Is that true?” “Absolutely not,” I said. “Wow,” she responded. “Thank you very much. I have an appointment next week with my doctor, and I was going to have an abortion, and I wanted to check with the rabbi before, because you are this family’s rabbi.” Who was this family? This woman who I spoke to a year before and who ended up having an abortion. While she went through with the abortion, she came to consider me her family’s rabbi, and it later turned out to help this other woman in the same predicament.

The efforts you put in life will carry their result. It may not be here, but it will be there. You may want to bring someone closer to Judaism, so you go all out of your way to study Torah with them, show them the beauty of Judaism and you end up spending hours, perhaps years, with them. But then, all of a sudden, you find that the person moved out of town, and it’s no longer going to be. “Why did I spend all that time?” you might think.

Every ounce of effort you will be repaid for. It’s not about the end goal, but the effort that you put towards the end goal. Yes, of course, you want the result, for the sake of the person who you are helping. And it should happen. But don’t let it bring you down if you didn’t actually complete it. Every step of the way counts. And if your effort didn’t make something happen here, Hashem will make it that your effort will have its effect there. It’s a lesson to remember for life.

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