Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayetzei

Parshat Vayetzei

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Vayetzei                                                                 Print Version
9th of Kislev, 5782 | November 13, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yehoshua Zitron
The Illiterate Millionaire

Following the Second World War, one man moved from Europe to America and attempted to gain a job to support hid family. He didn’t speak a word of English, so it was a significant challenge. However, that didn’t stop him from searching for a job within the Jewish community, where the language barrier wouldn’t be a hindrance to hiring him. But that was to no avail either. At that point, he figured to himself that he’ll be the attendee in one of the local shuls who would put all its different affairs in order and see through all that is needed to keep it clean and organized.

After approaching one of the directing members of the local shul, it looked promising that he would be able to earn the job. “Just tell me,” asked the board member before leaving, “do you speak English?” “I don’t,” the fellow responded. “Do I need to know English for this job? I’m just organizing and cleaning the shul.” But the main members of the shul did not like that answer. The man, though, couldn’t understand the concern. Why did he need to know English in order to put books away, sweep floors and organize and arrange the shul’s seating? “If people will come inside and need to ask you something, we need you to be able to respond in English.” And with this, it was crystal clear. The fellow couldn’t even obtain a job within the Jewish community, being a janitor of all things in a shul.

At this point, he borrowed a small amount of money from his friend and purchased a pushcart and some items. His plan was to go door-to-door and attempt to sell whatever houseware items the local townspeople were interested in purchasing from his collection. And thus began his small, private business. He bought some houseware, loaded in into his pushcart and went from house to house and sold it as a drop higher of a price than he purchased himself. And quite to his surprise, he was successful. He sold his items one by one, little by little.
Eventually, his clientele base grew and he was able to buy two pushcarts and higher someone else to also go door-to-door and work under him.

This eventually turned into five pushcarts, and from there, his business continued growing surprisingly until he decided to close the pushcart business and open a storefront which sold these same houseware items. He became very successful, and continued opening one store after another. Within a few years, he had several chains of stores.

One day, he was invited to partner with another large corporation and do business together with them. After reviewing all the details, he decided to go through with the joint venture. And there he sat along with the members of the other company in a luxurious skyscraper in Manhattan. After reviewing the documents, all that was left was to sign it and seal the merger.

The man began looking through all the paperwork and appending his signature where indicated. Yet, seeing this, the other partner stood up and waved him down. “Don’t just sign the paperwork. I want you to read everything and agree to it all.” The Jewish businessman let out a smile and let his future partner know that it was no problem, he was just going to sign it as he’d been doing. But the other partner was adamant. “I refuse to go into business until I know that you read it. I want everything to be straight, clear and on the table.” Finally, the Jewish businessman explained. “I would love to read this all…” “So go ahead,” said the other partner. “Take all the time you need. “But that’s not the problem,” the frum man continued. “I don’t know how to read.”

The partner was stunned. “You don’t know how to read? You are a multi-millionaire, and have tons of employees working under you. What do you mean that you don’t know how to read?” “Exactly that,” he replied. And then the other partner continued. “Do you understand that you have made so much money, and if you knew how to read, you would have made even more?”
The Jewish businessman knew what to reply. “Do you know what would have happened if I knew how to read? Or even better, if I knew how to speak English properly? If I knew, I would be a janitor. Because I couldn’t get a job years ago, even as a janitor, I am where I am today.”

In life, our biggest failure could be our biggest success, and our biggest downfall, our biggest windfall.

Rabbi Yehoshua Sova
The Tattoo

Before one man came close to Judaism, he had tattooed on his body several symbols and images, one of which sat on his upper left arm and was quite inappropriate and immodest. As the man became more and more religious, he took upon himself the practice of going to the mikveh daily. However, given the placement of the tattoo, each time he would descend into the water, he would place his hand over his arm and immerse himself. Afterwards, upon coming out of the water, he would continue covering it, so as to ensure it was not on display for those around.

One day, as he was on his way down into the mikveh, he lost his balance momentarily, and in order to stabilize himself, he instinctively raised his hand to grab a hold of the wall. As he did this, however, he removed his hand from his arm and exposed his tattoo. The men who were off to the side gasped immediately upon witnessing the image. Extremely embarrassed, the man turned around in an attempt to leave the mikveh as soon as he could and mitigate the shame he was feeling. But just as he was doing so, he felt an arm gently grab him by the side.

Looking behind, the man noticed an elderly man, his arm clenching his own. “Where are you going?” the elderly man asked. The man couldn’t even answer. He was out of sorts, lost in the moment which he wanted to end already. “You’re embarrassed of your tattoo?” he asked. “Don’t worry,” he said, pointing to his arm which bared numbers too. They were numbers from the holocaust. “See this? I also have tattoos on my arm. Come, let’s go into the mikveh.”

We all have certain figurative tattoos on us. We all have experiences we’ve gone through which disturb us and we’d rather do away with. But in truth, those experiences can be powerful catalysts for us to thrive. And sometimes, we need to remind others of this truth. Whatever you’ve gone through, live through and beyond it.

Rabbi Uri Lati
A Giant in Torah

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was once on a bus when an Israeli female soldier boarded, and looking for a seat, found her place right next to him. Faced with this, Rav Shlomo Zalman was in a quandary. If he would get up and move seats, it would be an insult to her. And yet, on the other hand, to remain there posed certain hashkafik considerations. What should he do?

He pressed the signal to indicate to the bus driver that he wanted to get off the bus. As the bus slowed down, Rav Shlomo Zalman got off and waited for the next one, which came fifty minutes later. Why did he do all of this? So as not to embarrass another person. While taking into account the sensitive viewpoints of remaining seated next to her, one might say that it’s also not respectful to the rabbi to inconvenience himself and get off the bus for this. But, once this was a value and principle

Rav Shlomo Zalman held firm too, it made no difference. He needed to do something. But what to do? Nothing at the expense of embarrassing someone else. And if it meant getting off and waiting close to an hour for another bus to take him to the very same destination the first bus was taking him to, so be it.
That is what a man with Torah care and character does. That is how a Jew remains firm in his convictions and principles and yet doesn’t in any which way show disregard for the respect and dignity another deserves.

That was Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l. His life and legacy are a guidepost for us all.

Rabbi David Ashear
Hashem Wants a Relationship

Hashem wants us to bless Him and thank Him a hundred times a day became He wants a relationship with us. The Shulchan Aruch writes that our responsibility when we say a blessing is to think about the words we express. When we mention the Ineffable Name of Hashem, we should have in mind that G-d is the master of everything and that G-d was, is and will be. When we pronounce the name Elokeinu, we think that Hashem is all-powerful and can do anything at any time.

The Kaf Hachaim writes that when we say the name of Hashem, our feeling is to be one of trembling as we are but a human being and yet we are pronouncing the name of G-d, which the angels in heaven are afraid to say the Name. We must feel this, deep in our veins, recognizing and appreciating that we are saying the name of G-d. It is not just a word.

The Mishna Berura writes that Hashem feels so-to-speak bad when we approach Him with words that are not backed by our hearts. If we can only sit a few more minutes and think about the depth of words that we say to Hashem, it will catapult our relationship with Him and His relationship with us.

Rabbi Meyer Yedid
A Wise Person

A wise person is someone who knows how to make the right decision and knows what to do in every situation. Circumstances and decisions come up every hour of every day. Whether it is seeing someone in the hallway or walking into your home. How do you greet them? What does your face look like? What is your attitude and context?

A wise person knows how to make the right decision in every situation. If you have wisdom, you have everything. This is what our Sages teach us in Pirkei Avot.

If you want wisdom, though, where do you go? “If you walk with wise people,” Shlomo Hamelech tells us, “you will become wise.” This is an unbelievable statement. Who would have thought such a thing? Imagine I tell you that if you want to become a mathematician, you should walk with mathematicians. What does that help, you’d wonder? Maybe you meant I should study with them and under them, and gain from their wisdom and insight? How does taking walks with them influence my mathematical understanding?

But Shlomo tells us this exact directive. If you walk with a wise man, you will become a wise person. This is because the human eye and its effect on the human mind is extremely powerful.
Our mouth can only eat physically what is right before us and cannot reach beyond it, even just a few feet. Our noses, on the other hand, can detect what is further out beyond us. Our ears can sense even further a distance than our noses. Thus, physically, each of these senses have more potency than the other. But above all, the sense which has the most power is the human eye. The eyes are able to see miles away with the right positioning.

Hashem gave us these physical capabilities in order to provide us with a reflective mirror and insight into the spiritual powers inherent in these senses. Yes, our mouth, nose and ears have spiritual power, but nothing is as powerful as our eyes.

Therefore, when you sit with a wise man and listen to him impart wisdom to you, you will absolutely gain a lot. But not nearly as to watch him in action. For the opportunity to watch a wise man live with his wisdom, there is nothing which can replace that. The pictures which you see with your eyes will sear wisdom into your own mind.

This is the wisdom of Shlomo Hamelech. If you want to have a healthy mind, be around healthy people. If you want to be a happy person, be around happy people. If you spend time with complainers, you will likely become a complainer. As much as humanely possible, surround yourself by healthy-minded people. People who have the right priorities, the right values in life, and people who are modest and humble and who understand and appreciate life will influence your own mind in these very same ways.

The type of people we watch with our eyes will become our minds. And what our minds become will bring life results.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.