Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Tzav

Mar 30, 2024Parshat Tzav

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

header image

Rabbi YY Jacobson

Where They Left Off

Living today in Netanya is Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau. His father is the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau. Years ago, Rabbi Moshe Chaim once received a call from a young woman. She was getting married soon, and she wanted him to officiate at the wedding. To that, Rabbi Lau had one immediate question. “When is your wedding?” “The night before Passover,” she replied.

The night before Pesach is arguably the busiest night for a rabbi. Last-minute questions about selling chametz and the laws Pesach arise, bedikas chametz must be performed, the house needs final preparations, and the food needs to be cooked and readied. “I would love to,” replied Rabbi Lau, “but it’s an extremely busy night and I don’t think it will be possible.” Besides this, it was a far drive to the wedding venue, making it even more prohibitive for Rabbi Lau to make the trip. But the woman was determined. “I want you, rabbi!” “I’m very sorry,” Rabbi Lau repeated, a genuinely apologetic tone to his words.

But this was one of those instances when no didn’t mean no; it meant more phone calls. Calling back Rabbi Lau again and again, the woman kept on nudging him over and over. But each time, Rabbi Lau remained calm and poised, reiterating the same point he had made before. “I wish I could, but it’s a very busy night, and it’s just not feasible. Again, I’m truly sorry I cannot be a part of your simcha.” But the woman kept at it. “I know you officiate at weddings, and I heard you do a wonderful job, and I want you at my wedding.”

Finally, Rabbi Lau came up with a solution. “If you can call the chuppa for 5:00 p.m., I can come, and I’ll leave right afterwards so I can be available to my community that evening.” It was a workable proposal, and the woman agreed.

The day of the wedding, Rabbi Lau arrived at five o’clock. And along with many guests, the kallah’s grandfather, an elderly man, was there from Argentina. Seeing the rabbi who had come to officiate, the grandfather warmly approached him, and in perfect Yiddish asked, “Shalom Aleichem! Where are you from?” “I’m from Netanya,” replied Rabbi Lau. “And where are you from?” Rabbi Lau asked in turn. “From Piotrków… Have you ever heard of Piotrków?” Rabbi Lau knew of Piotrków, the city in central Poland, very well. In fact, he knew of it so well that the very name sent chills down his back. His father, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, was born in Piotrków and raised in Piotrków until age five when the Germans sent him to Buchenwald. Of course he had heard of Piotrków.

The man continued, oblivious to what the city meant to the rabbi standing before him. “Do you know who the last couple was to be married in Piotrków before all its Jews were murdered?” To that, Rabbi Lau had no idea. “Me and my wife,” replied the man. “It was 1942. And you know who married us off? The rabbi of Piotrków, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau. He married us off the night before the Germans sent him to the concentration camps and he was gassed. My wife and I ran to the Partisans. The town, though, was entirely murdered. That wedding was the last for all the Jews in Piotrków.” By this point, Rabbi Lau was frozen still. The man then continued.

“Have you ever heard of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, the rav of Piotrków?” With tears in his eyes, Rabbi Lau spoke up. “He was my zeide, my father’s father, and I am named after him. My name is Moshe Chaim Lau. And now, where my grandfather left off, I take over. My zeide married you off, and I will marry your granddaughter off. When your granddaughter phoned me and pleaded, ‘Rabbi Lau, you have to come to the wedding!’ she didn’t know why she was driving me crazy. She called because she had heard good things about me. But I couldn’t understand why she so desperately needed me of all people. There are many other rabbis. But now I know. When the Germans murdered my grandfather, along with so many others in my family, they thought it was finished. But now, seventy-four later, his grandson, his namesake, is here to marry off your granddaughter.”

The elderly man and the young Rabbi Lau met at the chuppa of a granddaughter more than seven decades after the destruction of European Jewry. Imagine.

When I heard this story, it captured the lifeline, the essence of Jewish history: “Where are grandparents left off, we take over.”

And then we pass it on.

Rabbi Meyer Bodner

Sinking Treasure

I heard the following incredible story from Rabbi Eli Mansour.

Ralph Tawil had just agreed to a huge order with Walmart. And as any vendor knows, selling merchandise to a gigantic corporation can skyrocket profits, but it doesn’t come without its fair share of headaches. All sorts of demands and constraints are part of the deal, but at the end of it all, it’s worth it.

For Ralph, after all the negotiations had settled and the contract was about to be signed, a date was inserted into the contract before which the merchandise needed to reach Walmart. Of course, Ralph left himself enough leeway so that the shipment could arrive in time.

But, as weeks passed, it became more obvious that the shipment would be delayed. And needing to be transported by boat, there wasn’t much to do other than attempt to expedite the process. But it wasn’t promising. When Walmart finally informed Ralph that if the shipment did not arrive by the agreed-upon date that they would no longer be interested in the product, Ralph began to worry. The shipment by itself just about filled an entire boat load and contained branded merchandise specifically for Walmart. There wouldn’t be a way to sell it elsewhere, which would mean a huge financial loss.

But after failed attempts at negotiating an extension with Walmart, and the merchandise still hadn’t arrived, the order was cancelled. Ralph was devastated. Beside himself, he put his head in his hands and broke down. Taking a moment to daven to Hashem, he said, “That’s it, I’m finished. I invested tons of money into this, and if this falls through, it will tank my business.” It had been the largest shipment Ralph ever brokered, and now it was over. “Hashem, it’s only You. Only You can help me. Whatever it is, it’s up to You.”

You’d expect the story to finish with Walmart calling back and saying that they in fact don’t want to back out and they still want the merchandise.

That never happened. They never wanted it again.

But something unusual did happen.

One day, Ralph received a call from the shipping company. “We’re extremely sorry and we have no idea yet how it happened, but all your merchandise sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The ship sank, and with it, all your merchandise. Thankfully, you have insurance, and you’ll be able to recoup the full retail value for all of it.” If Ralph couldn’t believe what had happened before, he couldn’t believe this. Even if he had sold it to Walmart, his return on each item would have been discounted from the original price. And on top of that, it would take a while for the entire supply to be used and for the full profit to be gained. But now, he’d be getting the full value of all the merchandise and all in one check from the insurance.

It came out to millions of dollars. It was the biggest boost to his career.

And it all came down to one, pivotal point: emunah. Ralph never let go of Hashem, and Hashem never let go of him.

Rabbi Joey Haber

A Walk to the Rescue

The first year I began teaching, I was asked to substitute a class. The class was bright, but difficult to discipline. So one morning, as soon as the boys settled in, I said the following.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to learn Gemara every day this week. If we learn well, we’ll head to the rooftop of the school and play a football game with an eraser.”

We did just that. And in the snow. I can’t tell you how much fun we had. Most of those boys went on to become b’nei Torah, and in fact, one of them became a real talmid chacham and married my eldest daughter.

One day, my son-in-law reminded me of that moment. “I still remember that football game we had with the eraser… What a blast we all had! What a memory!”

Hearing this many years later reminded me of what it really means to shape someone’s life, in small and quiet ways.

During the 1970s, a vote was held in the Knesset as to whether yeshiva students should be drafted into the army. The vote came down to one Knesset member. He wasn’t religious and yet he voted in favor of the yeshiva students. Subsequently, a few months later, the Knesset member traveled abroad to America, and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l called together a meal in his honor. He had helped spare the yeshiva bachurim from needing to enter the draft, and he is due recognition, said Rav Moshe.

At the party, he was asked, “What possessed you to favor the yeshiva students? You’re not religious; why would you support them?” “I’ll tell you why,” he said. “When I was a kid, I read a poem called ‘Ha’masmid.’ It wistfully described a yeshiva student learning with beautiful diligence. The words of that poem were so moving, so stirring, that as we were voting, I told myself that if vote against the yeshiva students, I’ll be extinguishing that glorious image which so eloquently sprang from the words of ‘Ha’masmid.’ And I couldn’t do that.”  

Now let’s freeze that moment, and travel back in time…

Rav Chaim Brisker, the rosh yeshiva of Volozhin, had a student who was veering from a life of Torah. The rebbeim of the yeshiva eventually approached Rav Chaim and informed him that it would be best if the boy leaves the yeshiva. Rav Chaim conceded, though with one condition: “I walk him to the train station.”

So it was. The boy was asked to leave, and Rav Chaim accompanied him in the horse and wagon to the train station. Later, the rebbeim asked Rav Chaim why he had gone to such lengths to escort the boy on his way out. “This boy is very talented, and he has a great knack for writing. I know that one day he will be writing about the life and experience of yeshiva students, and when he does so, I want him to write positively about it. That’s why I accompanied him to the train station.”

That boy was Hayim Nahman Bialik, and many years later, he penned the poem ‘Ha’masmid.’ The poem that was read by the Knesset member who helped save yeshiva students.

Rav Chaim took the time to show a student that he cared for him even as he was sending him away, and with that, the future life for scores of yeshiva students in Israel was being written.  

Whenever a student enters your room, whether they are the star of the class or not, easy or difficult, brilliant or unable to focus and free as a bird, make every single one of them feel understood. And when the year is done, they’ll be yearning to understand every word you said.

It is not necessarily the big moments that yield the biggest memories. It is the small, yet caring, heartfelt, dedicated moments that leave the biggest imprint and impact. Most of the time, students won’t remember what they learned from their teachers, but they will remember who their teacher was. And with that memory, the future is open and hopeful to anything.

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko

Our Heroes

Who are our heroes? In the Jewish sense of the word, what defines heroism? We might think that it requires risking our life. And to those who do, we honor and extend our deepest salutation and gratitude. But everyone can be a hero.

Our heroes are Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. That’s a true hero. But he’s not necessarily a hero because he learned Shas countless times. He’s a hero because of how he treated his wife and his students.

Many times, I have told my children the story of Rav Moshe that I believe personifies real heroism. On one occasion, he was picked up by one of his students, something which was considered to be a great honor. This particular boy was new to the yeshiva and overjoyed that he’d have the opportunity to spend some private time with the gadol hador.

After Rav Moshe settled in, in an eruption of excitement, the boy slammed the door on Rav Moshe’s fingers. You can imagine the pain. Rav Moshe knew that if he’d let out a groan, however slight, the boy would grow mortified. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself. So Rav Moshe kept it in, not uttering a sound. The boy simply got in the front seat and began driving, peppering Rav Moshe with questions as if nothing at all had happened.

This incident in fact only came to light in its aftermath. Only after Rav Moshe got out of the car, headed to his office and closed the door did he give way to a shout of pain, and someone heard it.

That’s who our heroes are. They are people who act with dignity, honor, grace and kindness. It’s the same Rav Moshe who would find out the chef’s phone number of a banquet he attended, and call the next day, thanking him for the delicious meal. How many presidents and high-ranking official have done this?

The raison d'etre of our leaders is their character. They are thoughtful, benevolent and appreciative. We had the Chofetz Chaim who would cry for weeks and daven so that someone would have a baby or a refuah sheleimah. One tzaddik after the next, one gadol after another, they have exemplified the truest dignity of man.

And in doing so, they’ve shone a light, a path, for us to follow and emulate.

That’s greatness.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser

My Last Dollar

A man once came to me after having lost his job. Unfortunately, he had run out of savings too, needing to cover his family’s expenses, and any considerable option to turn matters around looked bleak.

“I just spent my last dollar,” he told me, exasperated. “What should I do? I’ve tried to get a job, sending out my resume to many places and making calls, but nothing has come through. What’s my responsibility of hishtadlus (personal effort) at this point?” Thinking of what the man was telling me, I realized that there was only one thing to say. “You’re hishtadlus at this point,” I said, “is to generate a greater level of emunah and bitachon in Hashem. So long as you had money in your wallet and bank account, you had savings to spend and you weren’t entirely and solely entrusting yourself to Hashem. Now, though, that you have nothing left, the level of emunah and bitachon you can reach will be the very reason Hashem will help you with your parnassah.”

Hearing me, the man replied, “Rebbe, if that’s what I have to do, I will strengthen my emunah and bitachon, and when I daven Shemonah Esrei and pray the blessing of Barech Aleinu, I will trust that Hashem will bless me and my family.” Listening to him, and seeing the small tear forming at the corner of his eye, I was moved. I stood up, walked over to him, and kissed him on his head. “I am sure that with your emunah and bitachon, your parnassah is going to come to you with Hashem’s abundant blessing.”

As he left, I felt sad. But gathering hope, I took out a sefer Tehillim and recited a chapter for him.

A week later, I received a call. “You will not believe what happened,” the man began. “I just received the most gracious offer I’ve ever had. When I wasn’t working, I went to learn in the Kollel, feeling that I should at least spend part of the day learning. There, as I lingered for a few days, studying and talking to some of the avreichim (Kollel members), I happened to tell one of them why I was there. I had lost my job, and now with more available time, I wanted to devote some hours to learning. I then told him what I did for a living, and we ended the conversation.

He happened to mention it to his father-in-law, who said that he could use someone with my qualifications in his business right now. “It sounds as if this man,” he told his son-in-law, “would be a great fit for this position.” Before I knew it, we met and he offered me the job. And it’s the most lucrative position I’ve ever been offered. I will be making more money now than I ever had.”

This is what happens to a person who holds on steadfast to emunah and bitachon. It doesn’t come easy, but it does come with Hashem’s blessing.


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.