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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Shelach

Parshat Shelach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Shelach                                                                         Print Version
26 Sivan, 5782 | June 25, 2022

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Paysach Krohn

The Special Shoes

My Aunt Faige who over ninety years old when she passed away. When I was a little kid in Williamsburg, she was my favorite babysitter. I loved her. We were very, very close. And eventually when she moved to Detroit, I always stayed there whenever I spoke there.

One day, she shared with me a story that I had only known partly, but never fully. It touched me to the core.

Most of you remember that terrible, terrible bombing in Israel in the Sbarro pizzeria on August 9, 2001. My Aunt Faige was there with her daughter that day. Now, all I remembered from the story until she told me the second part was that she lost part of her hearing from the explosion.

My aunt had just bought the pizza and she was going up the stairs to set the pizza on the table. And suddenly, there was this deafening explosion. My cousin Gitty ran upstairs and said, “Mom, we got to get out of here!” But my Aunt Faige had just fallen and she couldn’t find her shoes. Faige had been knocked against a wall, her shoes had flown off and she was hesitant to walk around, as glass was spread all over. So Gitty carried her out.

Hauling her mother across the street, Gitty walked into a huge bookshop across the street, where she was welcomed in. “You can stay here for a little while, but the police are going to come,” said the storeowner. “They're going to evacuate everybody, so we got to get out.” But my Aunt Faige still had no shoes. “I can’t get any place,” she said.

But then, out of nowhere, a short, little man came with a kippah and brought her a pair of shoes. “Where did you get these shoes?” she said. “I have a shoe store down the block,” he said. The bookstore owner just called me and said that there is a lady here who needs shoes. So take these shoes, and remember, never, ever think you have to give them back. Go wherever you're going to be safe. Keep these shoes; they’re yours as a gift.” “Aunt Faige,” I asked, “do you still have those shoes?” She did.

Sure enough, she brought them out, and you could see the Hebrew letters of the shoe store. And listen to what she told me. “Ever since I came back to Detroit with those shoes, anytime I feel that Hashem has done something to me that I want to complain, I take off my shoes, go to my bedroom, and put on the shoes that I received from that shoe owner. I look down and say, “Thank you, Hashem. Thank you.”

Imagine a woman putting on those shoes from that day looking down, and saying, “Thank you I’m alive.”

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser

Always a Chance

A person has to be very careful in the way that he pictures himself. Even one little incident can sometimes overshadow what we think about ourselves. One incident can sometimes make us feel completely different. And it doesn't have to be. Every day we wake up. Hashem gives us our soul back, which was in Heaven. We receive it back in the morning, and we have to wash our hands because our soul departed during the night. Before we went to sleep, we gave our neshama back and now it came back to us. Every person has a chance, every single day of our lives to stay, to become great.

Rabbi YY Jacobson

What Nobody Can Destroy

There's a very strange and fascinating Midrash. Our Sages teach that the Jewish people completed the building of the entire Mishkan on the 25th day of Kislev. With great anticipation, they waited for the sanctuary to be erected, to be inaugurated, and at last the divine presence would dwell in their midst. How disappointed they were when Moshe Rabbeinu gave them the message. It was postponed. For how long? For more than three months. They would have to wait until the first day of Nissim, when at last the tabernacle would be erected and inaugurated. G-d told the Jewish people, “I owe you one and I owe a debt to the 25th day of Kislev because its great potential celebration was snatched away from it, and delayed until the first day of Nissan. I will pay you back.”

When did he pay them back? In the days of the Chashmonaim, during the Second Temple era on the 25th day of Kislev, when the holiday of Hanukkah commences. Chanukah means dedication, inauguration, because that's when the Jewish people rededicated the second temple after it was violently desecrated and violated by the Syrian Greeks.

But what is the significance of this teaching? Why would G-d want to delay the inauguration of the tabernacle in the desert? And how does the celebration of Chanukah substitute for that?

Here's a moving insight by one of the great rabbis who lived in Poland before the Second World War, Rabbi Aryeh Tzvi Frumer, also known as the Kozhiglover Rav. He was murdered in Majdanek in April 1943 with his six children. when the Jewish people completed the tabernacle and yet were not allowed to erect it, what was born in them at that moment was a yearning, a thirst. They did not have the home. They did not have the Mishkan. They didn't have the sanctuary. All they had was a thirst for it. A desire for it. A thirst that continued for more than three months until they actually got it. Well, what is the difference between having something and wanting something? When I have something, I can lose it. When I want something. I can't lose it. When I have something, it can also be taken away from me. But when I have a thirst, a desire for something, a yearning for something, that could never be taken away from me.

What did God give the Jewish people on the 25th day of Kislev in the desert? He could have given them a home and a sanctuary, but that could be taken away from them and destroyed. Instead, he gave them something else. He gave them a different gift. He gave them the ability to dream, to yearn, to pine. And that is the reason why that day became immortalized as the holiday of Chanukah. When the temple was destroyed in the year 70, all of its services were interrupted. No part of the temple remained in Jewish life afterwards. Only memories. Besides one thing, and that is the kindling of the Menorah, which accompanied the Jewish people throughout their entire history in the Holy Land and in the Diaspora. Every year on Chanukah, the Jewish people, once again, wherever they were living during dark times, in great times, always lit the menorah.

Why is this the only service, the only aspect of the holy temple that was never seized and never obliterated? Because what the kindling of the menorah represents is the fact that our passion, our fire, our yearning could never, ever be taken away from us. Each year on the 25th day of Kislev, that fire, that thirst, that yearning for a better life, a truer life, a more meaningful life, a more wholesome, divine life is triggered and aroused. That is the holiday of Chanukah.

And that's why God delayed the inauguration of the sanctuary. That's why he told the Jewish people to wait for more than three months. He wanted to give them the gift of desire, of yearning, because it's only that which will remain eternally with them. And no exile and no subjugation and no expulsion could ever take that away from them.

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you don't have what you want. Sometimes you look at yourself and you feel that you're in so much darkness. You may even be in an abyss. You're facing adversity. You're in shackles. Maybe you have surrendered to addiction or you're filled with blockages of so many different types and forms. But no matter your circumstances, nobody can never rob you from your desire, from your thirst, from your yearning. As King David says, “My soul thirsts to you.” Nobody can ever take that take away from you. I may be in a difficult situation. I may be facing quite a few challenges. But I have a desire. I have a thirst. I have a fire.

Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa once remarked that if you lose your money, you lost nothing. Money comes and money goes. If you lose your health, you may have lost part of your body’s functionality, even if not your mind and soul. But if you lose your courage, your passion, your desire, your ability to dream for a better world and a better life, then you have lost everything.

Your thirst, your yearning, your dreams …. that, never dies.

Rabbi Yehoshua Nissan

Ask Yourself Now

Ask yourself this question now, before it's too late. Don’t wait until your last moments of life. You don’t want to look back at the end and say, “I regret this, I regret that, why didn't I do something more?” Think of it now. What are they going to say at your funeral? They’re not going to talk about your house. They’re not going to talk about your car. They're not going to talk about how many people followed you on social media. At the end of the day, that is not what matters.

What are they going to say at our funerals,? They want to get up and say, “Here is a person that saw a vision for their life. They chased it and became it and lived it. That's what they will say. That's what you're going to want to hear. That's the only thing anybody's going to care about.

Torah, mitzvos, helping others, saving lives, teaching others, faith in G-d, their honest, their relationships as a father, husband, mother, wife. That’s what counts. But they’re only going to have something to say if we choose to give them something to talk about … today.

Rabbi Pinchas Landis

Tears at the Chuppah

At one Jerusalem Fellowship's program, I met a girl who was very outspoken about living with her non-Jewish boyfriend and how she was going to marry him. To her, there was no problem whatsoever with that. She would mention this and speak out about this at every opportunity she had.

A few years went by, and Dr. David Lukens and Eric Coopersmith, who were two of the educators and staff of the program, get a wedding invitation in the mail. It was from this girl who was so adamant that she was going to marry a non-Jew. But when they looked at it, it was clear from the invitation this it was not a intermarriage, but that she had decided to marry a Jew. The invitation was a very traditional-looking invitation to a wedding. So sure enough, Dr. Lukens and Rabbi Coopersmith go to the wedding. The wedding was a traditional Orthodox wedding with the chuppa and the two witnesses and the reading of the Ketuba. The crowd was very mixed because there was people from all over this girl's life, spanning the different time periods that she had been through and her evolution. But both Dr. Lukens and Rabbi Coopersmith noticed an older couple who were bawling throughout the whole ceremony, crying their eyes out.

After the chuppa, Dr. Lukens went up to the man and said, “Excuse me, sir. why are you crying so much? Are you related to the you related to the bride, to the groom?” The man took a seat and began.

“I'm a survivor of Auschwitz, and I was the only one of my family who survived. When I came over to this country, I only had one relative. Now, this relative had been on the soils of America for a long time, but had assimilated into the culture of America and had given up a lot of the connection that the family once had to Judaism. Yet, she was always as nice as could be to me, and she took care of me. Even though as a young man, I told her that I wanted to get a Jewish education and go to Yeshiva, and that wasn't her value system, she supported me in my yeshiva education. But, unfortunately, today that lady has 14 grandchildren. 13 have all married out of the faith and have completely abandoned Judaism. But the girl standing under the chuppa today, she’s number 14.

When Rav Noach Weinberg heard this story, he said, “Because of that alone, the whole Jerusalem Fellowship's program was worth it.” Even though the other 13 members of her generation had not seen any value in Judaism and had broken their connection, their link in the chain, she said, “This is important.” She had left the man she loved, and went on to find a Jewish man and raise a Jewish family. And now, they have all gone on to Jewish schools and are living meaningful Jewish lives, understanding that the purpose and the point of being a Jew is all about enjoying this world and enjoying the connection that G-d shares with us.

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