Thursday, December 27, 2012

Parsha Vayechi, stories and halacha

Thought for the week from Monica: When life gives you Limes, rearrange the letters until they say Smile!

An addition for this week only: Rabbi A.L. sent me a list of over 100 ill people beyond and above my own list. I noticed some of the people on my prayer list and a few names that truly need prays out of the ordinary: Eliezer ben Susie (early 20's, severe Crohns+cancer, further operations) Refuel Gavriel Simcha Chaim ben Shulamit (23 Yr Old with a Brain Tumor) Yirachmiel Nosson ben Leba (Car Crash; critical condition) Ahuva bat Sarah (desperately ill with cancer) Bracha Sarah Chaya bat Ronit Nava Tehilah (15 Year Old Cancer Patient) Chaya Esther bas Feiga Yenta (Staph infection after giving birth now fighting for life) Elisheva bas  Henna Rasha (blood clot near the brain) Mindle Puah bat Leah (critical condition with a rare disease) Miriam Chana bas Faiga (Going through radiation and chemo, emotionally bad state,) Miriam Sara bat Frumit (Has had painful shingles for over 4 1/2 years) Rachel Sara bas Pesa Elka (orphaned teenager with life-long medical condition) Tzuriya Cochevet bat Sarah (mother of 4 with inoperable stomach cancer)

Please continue to pray and say tehillim ( 20, 83, 121, 130, and 142) and recite the prayer Acheinu kol beis Yisroel for the immediate release of all those held in captivity unjustly and among them:

Aba Chonah ben Hava Chana (Alan Gross, being held in Cuba)
Dina bas Chaya Henna (positive outcome of her case)
Menachem Yehudah ben Leah Miriam (held on false charges in a foreign country)
Sholom Mordechai ben Rivka (Shalom Rubashkin)
Yaakov Yehuda ben Shaindel (Jacob Ostreicher held in a Bolivian Jail)
Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel (Yeshiva Student formally held in Japan now serving sentence in Israel)
Yehonason ben Malka (Jonathon Pollard)
Zeva Rochel bas Chaya (Wendy Weiner Runge serving 10-year sentence in Iowa)

Guy ben Rena
Ron ben Batya
Tzvi ben Penina
Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sara
Zecharya Shlomo ben Miriam

People that need Children:
Shaul ben Rivka and his wife
Batya Leah bat Hindi
Moshe ben Yocheved
Rachel Marmel bat Mindle Hinda Chaya (recent miscarriage, secondary infertility)
Rizel bas Elka (43 years old)

And people needing employment and the list goes on for us to ask HASHEM for help.

A miracle that happened 11.5 years ago:

Ariel was just starting to talk and walk when there was a mortar attack on Kiriat Arba. He and his mother were wounded in the attack. He was airlifted to a hospital. He was not breathing with shrapnel in his brain and his back. Had it been a large terrorist attack, the doctors would not have been able to help him. However, there was one female surgeon who had a child his age and she would not give up. They made a deep cut into his skull and removed and froze a piece and removed the shrapnel from the brain. He would get it replanted after 2.5 years. He made a recovery and had to learn to walk and talk all over again and would never have full use of his right arm. A week ago or so at the Kotel he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and his photo appeared in the Chabad weekly Hebrew magazine last week!

A double miracle for Yael

Yael and her husband were told after years of marriage that she could not have children. So they flew to India and had arranged for a surrogate mother. They then went back to Israel and after a month in a half she became pregnant the babies are due soon about six weeks  apart.

Unauthorized OU: Some packages of Badia Dried Shrimp mistakenly bear the OU symbol.  This product is not kosher.  Corrective measures have been implemented.

Parsha Vayechi

This week I was doing a lot but not for the Drasha so I am making it into an anthology. I was in contact with a few people converting to Judaism, a badly wounded soldier, a soldier who barked up the wrong tree a few times and ended up being divorce, a man who was threatened with divorce from his wife, a man who cannot talk for himself and was thrown out of the house by the wife and then she claims that he left and she wants Shalom Beit after seven years of living alone, and a half dozen other things that literally exhausted me to such an extent that I have been sleeping 8 to 9 hours a night and even today had to take a nap. I can just imagine what Avraham Avinu did with the Nesfeshos that he made and Yacov building up Am Yisrael with external threats and troubles.

I will put in a few words not about Yacov but about Yosef and his brothers in our Parsha. I bring down a letter of a son who honored his parents and took care of them until they passed on. The brothers were now working in the choice land given to them by Yosef. Yosef took care of his father royally and I am sure visited him often to learn Torah and send him Menashe and Ephraim to learn Torah with. But after 17 years in Egypt and the harsh stay in Aram and worrying about Esav, Yacov knew of his approaching death. Yosef was called as he got ill and then he notifies his brothers.

Yosef was thinking traditional of the first born receiving the blessing but we see Reuven and Esav passed over and so it is with prophecy about Ephraim that he is going to become great in Yisrael. The blessings say a lot not only about the son’s past but of the future.

B'H "Parsha Vayechi" (Gen. 47:28-50:26)

One of the last recommendations of Jacob to his son Joseph is the practicing of kindness. The father of the nation passes away, but the House of Israel will forever keep the seal of kindness and truth which will be its distinctive feature throughout the centuries.

King David in the Psalms aptly expressed Israel's innate impulse toward, "May only good and kindness pursue me all the days of my life."(Psalms 28,6). At first glance it seems surprising that David designates good and kindness as "pursuers", a pursuer is usually one who intends doing harm.

Sometimes we have the impression that the practicing of good and kind deeds makes our life difficult and turns against us, robbing us of precious time, disturbing our business, causing us damage and even troubling our daily peace. We are then tempted to give up and, and often our desire to yield to the pressure of such embarrassing difficulties conflicts with our impulse toward kindness.

Kind David's wise advice enlightens us on this point. If it seems to you that good and kindness chase and even harm you, do not forsake them. On the contrary, implore G-d, "May only good and kindness pursue me all the days of my life," for by engaging in virtuous deeds no real harm can befall you.

Our lives are beset by constant hardships and struggles, and our peace is troubled by visible or invisible persecutors. Our Sages say that the amount of sorrow, suffering and difficulties one has to undergo during the whole year is fixed in advance for every individual person on Rosh Hashanah, the day of Divine Judgment. Let us choose therefore, among these difficulties, the ones which afford us merit, in application of the dictum (Ethics of the Fathers, Chap. 5) "Reward comes in proportion to suffering," with the pains that we endure in fulfilling our duties. Let us choose the troubles inherent in the practice of kind deeds, which leave after them permanent satisfaction and happiness and replace other terrible sufferings which are a source of true sorrow and remorse.

David's prayer signifies, O, my G-d, remove from me all my other persecutors, remove from me all the other sufferings which take our times, our energy and our strength and are obstacles in serving You. Spare me of all worry, so that I can dedicate all my days to do good and kindness, true kindness, the one which is conducive to the application and practice of the Truth of Judaism and affords permanent spiritual benefit. And then "I will have the assurance to return to the House of G-d to the source of Kindness for eternal delight" (Psalms 28:6).
Sources: Genesis 27:29, Psalms 28:6, Ethics of the Fathers, Chap. 5, Chafetz Chaim, A. Hazzan.

47:28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years.

And Jacob lived: Why is this section [completely] closed? Because, as soon as our father Jacob passed away, the eyes and the heart of Israel were “closed,” (i.e., it became “dark” for them) because of the misery of the slavery, for they (the Egyptians) commenced to subjugate them. Another explanation: That he (Jacob) attempted to reveal the End [of the exile] to his sons, but it was “closed off” (concealed) from him. [This appears] in Gen. Rabbah (91:1).

I have heard from those who know that the end time is revealed to those who know and it hidden from most because of the length of years involved. Those who have seen my Drasha over the years will note about all the rumors of Moshiach but he has not come yet. I think it was the second or third Rebbe of Lubavitch stated that when the common people think that the Moshiach is going to come, he will not. I have heard that when somebody feels abandoning hope of Geula is when the Moshiach will come. My second dream that I had before the Yom Kippur war revealed tremendous darkness and hopelessness as Eliyahu led the donkey with the Moshiach on it. In Meseches Eruvin there is a statement: “Three things come suddenly: A find of something, A scorpion and Moshiach!     

29 And the time drew near that Israel must die; and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him: 'If now I have found favor in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt.

When the time drew near for Israel to die: Everyone of whom it is stated [that his days] drew near to die, did not attain the life span of his forefathers. [Isaac lived 180 years, and Jacob lived only 147 years. In connection with David, the expression of drawing near is mentioned (I Kings 2:1). His father lived 400 years, and he lived 70.]- [from Gen. Rabbah 96:4] he called his son Joseph: The one who had the ability to do it. - [from Gen. Rabbah] 96:5. Now place your hand beneath my thigh: And swear. — [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer Ch. 39] As explained in the narrative of Abraham and Eliezer (Gen. 24:2), he meant that Joseph should swear by covenant of the circumcision. Loving-kindness and truth: Loving-kindness that is done with the dead is true loving-kindness, for one does not expect any payment or reward. — [from Gen. Rabbah 96:5] do not bury me now in Egypt: [Because] its soil is destined to become lice (which will crawl under my body), and because those who die outside the [Holy] Land will not be resurrected except with the pain of rolling through underground passages. [Also] so that the Egyptians will not deify me. — [from Gen. Rabbah 96:5, Keth. 111a]

We have seen for the last close to 2000 years a deification of a Jewish Rabbi who was murdered by the Romans and became the god of the people of Rome under Constantine. Thank G-D we do not know the place of the burial of Moshe Rabbaynu for I would hate to think what would have happened if we did!

30 But when I sleep with my fathers, thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place.' And he said: 'I will do as thou hast said.' 31 And he said: 'Swear unto me.' And he swore unto him. And Israel bowed down upon the bed's head.

I will lie with my forefathers: Heb. וְשָׁכַבְתִּי, lit., and I will lie. This “vav” (of וְשָׁכַבְתִּי) is connected to the beginning of the previous verse: “Place now your hand beneath my thigh and swear to me, for I am destined to lie with my forefathers, and you shall carry me out of Egypt.” We cannot say, however, that “I will lie with my forefathers” means: Lay me to rest with my forefathers in the cave, because afterwards it is written: “and you shall carry me out of Egypt, and you shall bury me in their grave.” Moreover, we find everywhere that the expression “lying with one’s forefathers” denotes expiration, not burial, as in “And David lay with his forefathers,” and afterwards, “and he was buried in the city of David” (I Kings 2:10).

Note Chabad translates it as lie and not sleep which is a better rendering of the Hebrew. Also we say a body lies in state and not sleeps in state. According to the Zohar the afterlife is not sleeping but an alert spiritual state while the physical body goes through its process of returning to dust or being preserved.

48:1 And it came to pass after these things, that one said to Joseph: 'Behold, thy father is sick.' And he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 And one told Jacob, and said: 'Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee.' And Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. 3 And Jacob said unto Joseph: 'God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, 4 And He said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and cause you to multiply, and I will make you into a congregation of peoples, and I will give this land to your seed after you for an everlasting inheritance.'

Deborah asked me about the word: “Peoples”

And I will make you into a congregation of peoples: He announced to me that another congregation of peoples was to be descended from me. Although he said to me, “A nation and a congregation of nations [shall come into existence from you]” (Gen 35:11) [meaning three nations], by “a nation,” He promised me [the birth of] Benjamin. “A congregation of nations” means two in addition to Benjamin, but no other son was born to me. Thus I learned that one of my tribes was destined to be divided [in two]. So now, I am giving you that gift. — [from Pesikta Rabbathi ch. 3]

Reuven interfering with his father’s bed caused him to forfeit his first-born status. Yosef then was in line to receive the double portion and within Yosef, Menashe got a double portion one next to Reuven and Gad and the other next to Ephraim. (There is a whole discussion in Baba Basra regarding the daughters of Tzlafchad Bamidbar 27:4 onwards        also see there is a trick via a Beis Din to have daughters inherit and Rabbi Edward Davis Shlita and I have done this through Halacha and I have given to my civil lawyer. Sometimes honoring parents goes beyond Halacha and when my mother commanded that I split with my brother as much as possible I tried to split as close to the penny as possible (example 200.3975 shares of X cannot be transferred down to the penny). Ephraim split the northern kingdom from Yehuda which is sort of nations.

5 And now thy two sons, who were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine. 6 And thy issue, that thou beget after them, shall be yours; they shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. 7 And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died unto me in the land of Canaan in the way, when there was still some way to come unto Ephrata; and I buried her there in the way to Ephrata--the same is Beth-lehem.'

He is about to die and like the widow in the letter after the Parsha, he is thinking of his beloved Rachel and longing for her. As noted by Yacov in the Parsha he is being buried next to Leah and as we say in the Talmud “Zeh lo satra-patra” which means it is not a conflict. Rachel is his true love but as any parent knows you have so and so many children and you love them all, so I assume that if you have four wives you would love them all or have divorced.

8 And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said: 'Who are these?'

Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons: He attempted to bless them, but the Shechina withdrew from him because of Jeroboam and Ahab, who were destined to be born from Ephraim, and Jehu and his sons, [who were destined to be born] from Manasseh. — [from Tanchuma Vayechi 6] [Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the first king of the Northern Kingdom, and Ahab the son of Omri were notorious idolaters.] and he said, “Who are these?”: Where did these come from [meaning: From whom were they born], that they are unworthy of a blessing?- [from Tanchuma Vayechi 6]

I learn Pshat a bit differently. Either his sight was failing him like that of his father or he was confused with age or he had a stroke/problem with oxygen going into the brain. (See also: )

9 And Joseph said unto his father: 'They are my sons, whom God hath given me here.' And he said: 'Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.' 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.

Either he had a cataract or problems with his retina after being out in the sun for long periods with the sheep and goats.

11 And Israel said unto Joseph: 'I had not thought to see thy face; and, lo, God hath let me see thy seed also.' 12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he fell down on his face to the earth.

They were not little children sitting on his knee as they had been born during the years of plenty and Yacov came to Mitzrayim 2 years into the famine and now add on another 17 years so they were in their 20’s already and perhaps even married.

And Joseph took them out from upon his [Jacob’s] knees: After he (Jacob) had kissed them, Joseph took them off his (Jacob’s) knees to sit them down, this one to the right and this one to the left, [to make it easier for his father] to lay his hands upon them and bless them.

13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born.

He guided his hands deliberately: Heb. שִׂכֵּל. As the Targum renders: אַחְכִּמִינוּן, he put wisdom into them. Deliberately and with wisdom, he guided his hands for that purpose, and with knowledge, for he knew [full well] that Manasseh was the firstborn, but he nevertheless did not place his right hand upon him.

15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: 'The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who hath been my shepherd all my life long unto this day, 16 the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.' 17 And when Joseph saw that his father was laying his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18 And Joseph said unto his father: 'Not so, my father, for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head.' 19 And his father refused, and said: 'I know it, my son, I know it; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; howbeit his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.' The following was inspired by a question from K. R. of Australia.

This is from this week's Torah portion - Vayigash (Genesis) 48:19 - it is how the commentator Rashi explained the verse - "I know, my son, I know: that he is the firstborn. :
He too will become a people, etc.: for Gideon is destined to be descended from him. [Gideon] through whom the Holy One, blessed be He, will perform a miracle. — [from Midrash Tanchuma Vayechi 7] But his younger brother will be greater than he: for Joshua is destined to be descended from him, [and Joshua is] the one who will distribute the inheritances of the land and teach Torah to Israel. — [from Midrash Tanchuma Vayechi 7] and his children[’s fame] will fill the nations: The whole world will be filled when his fame and his name are spread when he stops the sun in Gibeon and the moon in the Valley of Ayalon. — [from Avoda Zara 25a]"

Why did Rashi specify a Miracle? The sun and the moon standing still was one but the fact outside of the battle where Achan took the spoils nobody was killed in war! Was he neglecting the passing through of a dry Yarden during the plentiful spring waters? The fall of Yericho was an extraordinary miracle with the walls tumbling down? The tribes staying focused and united during the conquest of the land? I am puzzled why Rashi only used Nes and not Nissim?

A goodly portion of the history of Eretz Yisrael was to also occur when Ephraim leads the revolt making the Northern Kingdom of Yisrael.

20 And he blessed them that day, saying: 'By thee shall Israel bless, saying: God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh.' And he set Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 And Israel said unto Joseph: 'Behold, I die; but God will be with you, and bring you back unto the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.'

Jacob, realizing he is about to die, gathers his 12 sons to receive a blessing.
But first, Jacob calls upon two of his grandchildren ― Joseph's sons Ephraim and Menashe ― to receive blessings. Why would Jacob place priority on blessing grandchildren over children?
The commentators explain (and every grandparent knows) that even more than the joy of having children is the joy of having grandchildren. Why is this so?
Most creatures in the world have parent-child relationships ― whether it is a mother lion protecting her cubs or a mother bird feeding her young. But only the human being has a concept of grandchildren, of perpetuation beyond a single generation. This is an effect of our spiritual soul which is rooted in infinity. Being a grandparent therefore connects us deeply to our uniqueness as human beings.
Sibling Peace
There is further significance to Jacob's blessings.
One of the most beautiful customs in Jewish life is for parents to bless their children at the start of the Friday night Shabbat meal. Girls receive the blessing: "May God make you like the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah." Boys, meanwhile, are blessed "to be like Ephraim and Menashe."
What happened to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?! Why were Ephraim and Menashe chosen instead as the subjects of this important tradition?
Ephraim and Menashe were the first set of Jewish brothers who did not fight. Abraham's two sons ― Isaac and Ishmael ― could not get along, and their disagreement forms the basis of the Arab-Israeli conflict until today. The next generation of Isaac's two sons ― Jacob and Esav ― were so contentious that Esav repeatedly sought to kill Jacob and instructed his descendants to do the same. And even the next generation of Jacob's sons sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt.
Ephraim and Menashe represent a break from this pattern. This explains why Jacob purposely switched his hands, blessing the younger Ephraim before the older Menashe. Jacob wished to emphasize the point that with these siblings, there is no rivalry. (see Genesis 48:13-14)
It is with this thought that parents bless their children today. For there is no greater blessing than peace among brothers. The words of King David ring true: "How good and pleasant is it for brothers to sit peacefully together." (Psalms 133:1)
This is the hope that God holds for all the Jewish people.
Diaspora Difficulties
Rabbi Shimshon Rafel Hirsch (19th century Germany) offers another explanation of why Jewish boys throughout the ages receive the blessing of Ephraim and Menashe:
The first generations of Jews ― Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ― raised their children primarily in the Land of Israel. The Holy Land is the most hospitable Jewish environment, where the Talmud reports that "even the air makes you wise." In one sense, being Jewish in Israel is easy.
But due to famine, Jacob and his family all moved to Egypt. The next generation would grow up surrounded by paganism and immorality. The challenge was whether Judaism would survive amidst all the distractions of diaspora life.
Throughout the ages, Jewish parents have prayed that their children should be able to withstand the temptations of exile, and keep a strong, proud Jewish identity.
And it is not an easy task. Faced with the reality of Xmas season, for example, the easy option is to relegate one's Jewish identity to the back burner. That's why parents must constantly fight the tide by emphasizing Jewish values. The most effective tools are high-impact experiences like Jewish day schools and trips to Israel.
In the end, how does a parent gauge success?
Far more than children, it is grandchildren who reveal the foundation and future direction of a family line. Hence the popular saying: "The issue is not whether you have Jewish children, it's whether you have Jewish grandchildren."
What was the outcome with Ephraim and Menashe? Despite great odds, they grew up in Egypt and maintained adherence to Torah ideals and practice. Which is why we bless our children to be like them.
May we all be blessed with proud Jewish children ― and grandchildren.

49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said: 'Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the end of days.

And I will tell you, etc.: He attempted to reveal the End, but the Shechina withdrew from him. So he began to say other things. — [from Pessachim 56a, Gen. Rabbah 89:5]

Perhaps he did tell them in Torah Baal Peh (Oral Torah) which became Kabbala and is written throughout the Talmud, Medrash and Zohar and mentioned in the Prophets but unless one is learned, it will be hid from him. Certain secrets like that of Divine Chariot are not for public consumption and it is good that it is kept this way.

2 Assemble yourselves, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. 3 Reuben, thou art my first-born, my might, and the first-fruits of my strength; the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power. 4 Unstable as water, have not thou the excellency; because you went up to thy father's bed; then you defiled it--he went up to my couch.
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is it that their father spoke unto them and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them. 29 And he charged them, and said unto them: 'I am to be gathered unto my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying-place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is therein, which was purchased from the children of Heth.' 33 And when Jacob made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and expired, and was gathered unto his people.

Respect for the dead by Rabbi Yehuda Appel

It has been said that one can measure how civilized a culture is by the way its dead are treated. One rabbi I know has found a novel way to give his congregants a greater appreciation of Jewish tradition: He takes them on a tour of a secular funeral home, followed by a visit to a Jewish funeral home, where the body is cared for by the "Chevra Kadisha," the Jewish burial society.
On the first stop, among many other troubling things, the congregants witness undertakers working with a cadaver as rock music blares in the background. The visit with the Chevra Kadisha is quite different. There it is explained how, according to Jewish law, the body is gently cleansed as a preparation for burial. Prayers are recited, and a "shomer" (guardian) stays with the deceased throughout the process. The difference between the two funeral homes is striking and has a marked effect on the congregants' view of Judaism.
A major theme in this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, concerns the funeral plans Jacob made for himself before his death. Jacob was the first Jew to arrange to have his body brought from the Diaspora to Israel for burial - a custom which has been repeated by thousands of his descendants.

Worried that his body will be worshipped by the Egyptians if he is buried by the Nile, and very much wanting to be laid to rest next to the graves of his wife and ancestors, Jacob implores his son Joseph to see to it that he is buried in Hebron.
Joseph agrees, and when the time comes that Jacob dies, Joseph leads a great procession accompanying his father's body from Egypt to Israel.
Jewish tradition places great importance on the "Levaya," the act of accompanying the dead body to the grave. Rashi presents an interesting rationale for this practice, declaring it beyond simply showing respect for the deceased. Rashi writes that inasmuch as one who is kind to the poor is looked upon as being a partner with the Almighty, it follows that someone who shows kindness to the dead (who are "poorer" than any living person), will certainly have gained this relationship with God.
At Jacob's funeral, the eulogy given was described as being "great and heavy." The commentaries explain that the eulogy "weighed heavy" on the hearts of the mourners. In fact, Judaism says the essential purpose of a eulogy is to move people to a greater appreciation of the deceased, and deepen their recognition for what they once had - and have now lost.
"Shiva," the seven-day period of mourning following a relative's burial, was instituted at this time by Jacob's family. Common sense (and modern psychology) supports this notion of devoting seven days to deep mourning after a great personal loss. Surprisingly, however, Jewish tradition does not see the mourners as the sole beneficiaries of the Shiva period. Instead, the Talmud explains how the soul of the deceased hovers over the body for seven days, and the specter of people mourning over the body that the soul formerly inhabited helps to ease the soul's pain.
Despite all the great changes that have occurred in the world since the time of Jacob, Jewish mourning practices have remained remarkably consistent.
May we all live and be well.

… 50:16 And they sent a message unto Joseph, saying: 'Thy father did command before he died, saying: 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph: Forgive, I pray thee now, the transgression of thy brethren, and their sin, for that they did unto thee evil. And now, we pray thee, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of thy father.' And Joseph wept when they spoke unto him. 18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said: 'Behold, we are thy bondmen.' 19 And Joseph said unto them: 'Fear not; for am I in the place of God? 20 And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

There is no indication like in the story below in the letter that his father ever knew (unless the brothers admitted their guilt and crime unto Yacov). Rather they were scared of vengeance which was not in the personality of Yosef. They had not acted to him like brothers but he tested them and they passed the test with Benyamin and he forgave them at that time true forgiveness.

21 Now therefore fear ye not; I will sustain you, and your little ones.' And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them.

And he kept his word and as long as the brothers lived there was no slavery or taxes but after they died there started a national service which they participated in until with the exception of Levy who had the priestly class they were enslaved and that will start or story next week.

22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house; and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph's knees. 24 And Joseph said unto his brethren: 'I die; but God will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.' 25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying: 'God will surely remember you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.' 26 So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old. And they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

He had holiness and was hidden from the Egyptians and the Bnei Yisrael the first for worship purposes and the second to prevent them for leaving Egypt and leaving a hole in the economy.

Chazak, Chazak v’Nitchazak

I received this in a letter this week and asked for permission to print this: Dear Rabbi:  I learned how to respect my Mother and Father from Loshon Hora, let me explain:

When I was in the 6th grade, my Father decided that a NEW Yeshiva will be good for me, and that way I can learn better.So, he took me to a different Yeshiva on Ocean Parkway. During the interview, the Rosh Yeshiva of the NEW Yeshiva, walked into the room, and went over to the Rebbe who was testing me, and asked him, how is he doing?
The Rebbe said, VERY GOOD, and he will be an excellent student for our Yeshiva. This is going on with me in the SAME room. The Rosh Yeshiva told the Rebbe, that we CAN'T take in this child, and the Rebbe asked, why not? The Rosh Yeshiva told the Rebbe, I just got a phone call from his Rosh Yeshiva now, Rabbi so and so, and he told me that this child is a trouble maker, and that he has NO friends, and gets into many fights. His parents are NOT the Jewish like, and that his Father is a painter, but not a good one, and that his jobs are poor, and that he owes monies everywhere, so your job is to ask the boy a hard question, and then he will fail the exam. Just when the Rebbe sat down, I got up, and I did at THAT time, the HARDEST thing I knew. I opened the door, and faced my Father with people watching, and I told my Father that I FAILED the exam, and it was MY fault. My Father started to hit me, and cursed me out as the WORST son to ever live. The Rosh Yeshiva and the Rebbe, their mouths opened and they said NOTHING to help me.

When I got home, I got a beating from my Father. The VERY next day, I went over to my Rosh Yeshiva, and I said to him, thank you for your vote of confidence for me. The Rosh Yeshiva told me to my face, I was only looking out for you. Then my Father tried OTHER Yeshivas, but my present Rosh Yeshiva, called THOSE yeshivas too with the same answer. I found out that my Father owed NO monies and that he paid ALL his bills on time. My Father not only was an EXCELLENT painter, but MOST of his jobs was painting Schuls. My Mother and Father were OLDER parents, but I understood the Mitzvah of respecting a parent already in the 3rd grade.

Minutes before my Father was Niftar, he called me over to ask me ONE question before he went to Gan Eden. My Father asked me, why did I fail that test in the 6th grade. Now, I had 2 choices:
Tell my Father the truth, which WAS Loshon Hora. Tell my Father a lie, and it was MY fault. I chose to LIE to my Father, and I looked directly into his eyes, and told him that I FAILED THE EXAM.

Then my Father was Niftar. The Dr. came over to me and asked, what was that all about?? I told the Dr. that I wanted my Father to know that I FAILED the test, and he should be angry with ME, and NOT tell him the truth, and that he would be angry with THAT person. The Dr. was so moved, that I would do that for a parent.

I told the Dr. that when my Mother and Father became ill, I would take care of them, as if they WERE MY OWN CHILDREN. I did things, my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbanim or classmates could NEVER do. I took them to EVERY Dr. appointment, EVERY ER visit and hospitalization. I would feed them, cook for them, walked with them, take them to the bathroom at 2 or 3 am. I would sit with my Father for hours on Ocean Parkway Shabbos afternoons. EVERY time I went to a Simcha, I ALWAYS brought something home, so they would be part of the Simcha. On Pesach, I would give my Mother and Father the Afikomen. When my Mother had a massive stroke in 1997, my Mother became a patient at the Metropolitan Jewish Geriatric Center, for 99 days, and I showed up EVERY day to feed her breakfast and lunch. I would walk in on Shabbos, and then after feeding her, walked back home. I told the nurses that I want my Mother treated like a human being, and NOT garbage, and one of the aides asked, why not.

I told the aide, G-D might be lenient, but when it comes to respecting a parent or parents, I am NOT lenient, and if she is hurt in any way, I will press FULL charges, and sue to nursing home. The Drs. came over to me, and said that I CAN'T do that, and I told the Dr. that if I see ONE mark on my Mother, I will call the New York Times, and the New York City Police Department. My Mother was treated like well, until I showed up, and saw my Mother crying, and my Mother told me that the nurse YELLED at her. I did NOT get angry, but I asked the nurse WHY did you YELL at my Mother. The nurse told me to my face, I asked your Mother for her date of birth, and she did not want to tell me, so I yelled at her, what are you doing to do??

I called the Ambulette to take her home, and the Drs. told me that CAN'T do that, I told the Dr. that I CAN, and I WILL. My boss from the hospital called me, and asked me, what are you doing?? I asked my boss, if someone YELLED at your Mother for NOT giving out her date of birth, allow it. My boss told me, BURY THEM. I took my Mother home, and the FIRST thing she did was to kiss me. I then did something BETTER. I got on my knees, and in front of my Mother and Father, PROMISED to them that I will NEVER, EVER put them into a nursing home, and as long as I am alive I will treat them with ANYTHING they wanted.

When my Father found out that he had to start Dialysis, I told him, and until the day he had Niftar, he had BLAMED me for taking Dialysis. When my Father came home from Dialysis, at times, he was not in his right mind, so at times he would take a knife, and when he tried to stab his wife, I got in the middle and he stabbed me instead. The Drs. told me that my Father had Cancer, but I did NOT tell him, and only my Rav and others knew, but how to give him Chemotherapy. I had a Dr. friend, and he told my Father that you have pain in the arm, and that you will come to my office EVERY 4 months for an injection for pain. My Father NEVER knew he had Cancer, and that ALL the bills came to me.  
My Father was taking Dialysis 3 times a week for 9 years, that meant, waking him up at 4:00 am, getting him dressed, and taking him down in a wheelchair at 5:00 am, and then waiting for the van to drop him off at him at 11:00 am. Chemotherapy was EVERY 4 months for 10 years.

I WROTE the book on HOW TO RESPECT A PARENT OR PARENTS and I were to give a Shiur on this subject, NO one would come. There are Seforim about this issue, but the difference between the Seforim and ME, is that I did it from the HEART, and I did NOT have to look into a Sefer, and when I had Halachic questions, I had a Rav. I can give you thousands of stories on HOW I took care of my Mother and Father, that would make Rabbi Pesach Krohn cry. I am only ONE person, but I had HASHEM, My Rav, my Chavrusah's and friends from my Schul behind me. I did NOT have anyone from my Yeshiva behind me. I can still remember how my Father was tormented, when he came to pick me up, and they were saying to me, I see that your grandfather came to pick you up, where is your Father.

I told those people at THAT time, this IS MY FATHER, and they did this EVERY time. My Mother was a regular member of a Schul, and that she went there on Shabbos, until one day, my Mother told me that I do NOT want to go to Schul ever again. Two weeks later, my Mother had a nervous breakdown, and I had to admit her to the Psychiatric hospital. During a visit, the Psychiatrist, told me that Allen I am giving the HARDEST job of all, and that you have to go into the room, and asked your Mother, why are you here in the hospital.

I asked the Dr. that is NOT hard, but the Dr. told me that it WILL be. I asked my Mother and she told me that in this Schul, she heard her name mentioned between all the ladies of the Schul. They were talking about her, her husband and child, and they did it in a LOUD voice, and My Mother was in the SAME room. The ladies looked at my Mother, and my Mother walked out of the Schul crying. Then my Mother told me that she feels better and wants to go home.

Now the Dr. told me that this is the HARD job, you have to tell your Mother that she CAN'T go home. I looked at my Mother and I told her that she CAN'T go home. In the next 10 minutes, my Mother scratched me, hit me, slapped me, cursed me out, and it went on and on, and the Drs. and the nurses did NOTHING. The VERY next day, the Dr. asked my Mother, do you remember anything about yesterday, and my Mother told the Dr. no, did I do something bad, and the Dr. said NO.

After my Mother came home, the Reb. of my Schul, along with a fellow member and her child, came to my home for a visit, begging my Mother to come back to Schul to pray.
My Mother told the Reb. and the other lady, NO!! The Reb. asked, why not. I told the Reb. that it will NEVER happened the damage is done. While I was sitting Shiva for my Father, my Mother asked the Rabbi a question. My Mother asked the Rabbi, that now she knows that her husband had died, and my son, and is there anyway that I can take a pill to be with my husband?? The Rav told my Mother, that this is NOT the Jewish way, but there is a sign that your son knows, and when he sees this sign, you will be holding your husband's hand for LIFE!! My Mother looked at me, and said, what sign.  I told my Mother do not worry. A week passed by, and I called the Rav, and the Rav asked me, did you see the sign, and I said YES!! When my Mother was brought into the ER, I found out that she had internal bleeding. The surgeon came over to me, and told me, Allen, I can operate on your Mother on ONE condition:

After the surgery, your Mother will open up her eyes.

I told the Surgeon, that this will NEVER happen. Just put my Mother into a comfortable bed to sleep. The day BEFORE my Mother was Niftar, I went to Shomrei Hadas Funeral Chapel and paid the ENTIRE bill. So, the next day, when my Mother was Niftar, the people at the funeral home asked, did HE know that his Mother was going to Niftar, and they said NO. So, this is HOW I took care of my Mother and Father.

I explained to Rabbi Zev Smith, Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, that you teach one way and I teach a different way, but my teaching is VERY hard, but the rewards are UNBELIEVABLE!! May we see each other at simchas!

Darkei Shalom for non-Jewish Holidays

Israel has many non-Jewish supporters and although we do not go out of our way to say Seasons Greetings etc. It is sometimes necessary like a boss or colleague who might turn enemy from friend. (We saw this when Yvette Lieberman knocked Danny Ayalon out of the Knesset that Ayalon came to the police with new testimony against Lieberman this past week.) The Goyishe Xmas poses a problem for many of us especially because the non-Jewish spelling means a Catholic Mass for whom they call anointed.  I use when I get wished Xmas, I say a Jolly Holiday to you or Seasons Greetings. For there is a Halacha regarding saving a life and medical treatment for non-Jews and even enemy combatants. If we do not treat an enemy injured in war on Shabbos, they might not treat us at all. We have to behave according to the norm and most of my friends agree although the Gemara verbatim is stricter. We have to keep our friends and avoid making enemies from friends. When they tell me happy New Year, I reply hic happy New York thanks to Johnny Walker and Auld Lang Sine and they laugh. Derek Eretz is before Torah!

Halacha 13
A person should always try to have loose movements throughout his life, tending slightly towards diarrhea. This is a cardinal principle in medicine: Whenever one suffers from constipation or has difficulty moving his bowels, serious diseases will beset him.
How can he induce loose movements if he has mild constipation? If he is a young man, each morning, he should eat well-cooked halimi which have been seasoned in olive-oil, pickled fish oil, and salt without bread daily; or drink the boiled water of [cooked] spinach or cabbage, [seasoned] with olive oil, pickled fish oil and salt.
If he is an old man, he should drink honey diluted with hot water, in the morning, wait approximately four hours and then eat his meal.
He should do this for one day, or three, or four, if necessary, until he has loose bowels.
Halacha 14
They have given another principle with regard to physical well-being: As long as one exercises, exerts himself greatly, does not eat to the point of satiation and has loose bowels, he will not suffer sickness and he will grow in strength. [This applies] even if he eats harmful foods.
Halacha 15
[Conversely,] whoever is idle and does not exercise, or does not move his bowels when he has the need, or is constipated, even if he eats the proper foods and takes care to follow the rules of medicine, will be full of pain for all his days and his strength will fade away.
Overeating is like poison to anyone's body. It is the main source of all illness. Most illnesses which afflict a man are caused by harmful foods or by his filling his belly and overeating, even of healthful foods.
This was implied by Solomon in his wisdom: "Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from distress" (Proverbs 21:23); i.e., "guards his mouth" from eating harmful food or eating his fill and "his tongue" from speaking [about things] other than his needs.
Halacha 16
The [proper] manner of bathing is that a person should go to the baths once every seven days. He should not enter [the bath soon after mealtime; nor when he is hungry, but when his food has begun to be digested.
He should bathe the entire body in hot - but not scalding water - and his head, only, in scalding water. Then, he should bathe his body in tepid water, followed by bathings in successively cooler water, until he has bathed in cold water. [However,] he should not use tepid or cold water for his head, nor should he bathe in cold water in the winter.
He should not bathe until after he is in a sweat and his whole body has been massaged. He should not linger in the bath. Rather, as soon as he is in a sweat and been massaged, he should rinse off and leave.
He should examine himself to see if he needs to move his bowels before entering the bath and after leaving it. Similarly, he should always examine himself before and after eating, before and after sexual intercourse, before and after exertion and exercise, before and after sleeping, all in all, on ten [different occasions].

The Auschwitz Boxer – A Surviving Holocaust Story  By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

A Holocaust survivor recalls “Prisoner 77,” who boxed his way into survival at the notorious Auschwitz death camp.
The memory of Prisoner Number 77 still brings hope to the heart of Auschwitz survivor Tadeusz Sobolewicz as he remembers how his friend boxed for bread in the notorious Nazi German camp.
The story of fellow inmate and boxer Tadeusz Pietrzykowski has been all but forgotten nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, AFP reported.
The very idea of sport at Auschwitz seems preposterous.
The camp was set up by the Nazis in southern Poland after their 1939 invasion to hold and kill Polish political prisoners, and was to become a hub of the Holocaust, during which the Nazis murdered six million Jews.
Polish author Marta Bogacka, in a new book "The Auschwitz Boxer", has brought the story of Pietrzykowski, little known outside Poland, back into the spotlight.
To Sobolewicz, 89, it still seems like yesterday.
"The first bout took place on a Sunday in March 1941 next to the Auschwitz kitchens, between Tadeusz Pietrzykowski and the German 'kapo' Walter Dunning," he told AFP, using the term for the common criminals deployed by the Nazis as overseers.
A rumor went around that Dunning, a former middleweight professional who had fallen foul of the law, was looking for an opponent in exchange for a loaf of bread and some margarine.
Pietrzykowski, a pre-war bantam weight at the boxing club Legia Warsaw, rose to the challenge. "Teddy, as the Polish media nicknamed him before the war, must have weighed about 45 kilos (99 pounds), and Walter around 70 (154 pounds)," Sobolewicz said.
In peacetime, the maximum fighting weight in Pietrzykowski's category was 54 kilos, and 75 kilos in Dunning's.
In June 1940 Pietrzykowski had been on the first train convoy of 700 Polish political prisoners deported to Auschwitz -- a former army barracks in the city of Oswiecim. "So he was already very thin after eight months of backbreaking work and malnutrition," Sobolewicz said.
"He was the smaller of the two, but he was agile and fast. He had an incredible punch, aimed right for the stomach, and knew how to duck his opponent's blows. He won the fight and got his bread and margarine. You have to admit that the Germans kept their promise."
More fights were to follow.
Pietrzykowski threw himself into them, knowing full well that he risked death by starvation.
For his fellow inmates, every blow he struck was a source of pride and hope. "We were elated. We said to ourselves, 'As long as there's a Pole punching a German in the face, Poland's not finished'," Sobolewicz said.
After Germany's defeat by the Soviets at the Battle of Stalingrad in early 1943, the camp guards from the Nazis' notorious SS sought ways to forget that the tide of the war was turning, Sobolewicz said. They watched the matches -- pitting prisoners between themselves as well as against the kapos - and placed bets.
After the first scratch bouts, the camp authorities let the boxers build a proper ring and allowed them to make gloves, according to Bogacka's research.
Pietrzykowski notched up some 40 fights, and around 20 more after he was transferred to the Neuengamme camp in northern Germany in 1943. He survived the war, passing away in 1991 in Bielsko-Biala in southern Poland.
His most celebrated Auschwitz match was against Schally Hottenach, a 96-kilo German. He won with a second-round knockout. That bout inspired the 1963 film "The Boxer and Death" by Slovak director Peter Solan.
Auschwitz's twin death camp of Birkenau was purpose-built nearby in 1942.
Jews from across Europe -- often told by the Nazis that they were being resettled" in the East -- were sent there directly by train to be murdered in its gas chambers. The new arrivals had a meager chance of surviving thanks to the "selection", where the SS picked out individuals deemed suitable for forced labor because of their peacetime professions.
Boxers were on the list.
Jewish middleweight Salamo Barouch, from Greece, was one who survived as a result, though he is not known to have faced Pietrzykowski in the ring.
The camp also saw football matches.
"The kapos wanted to amuse themselves. They played football amongst themselves, but taking on players of a different nationality brought an extra edge," said Kazimierz Albin, who escaped in February 1943 and joined the Polish resistance. "And for us, being on the team meant getting extra food rations and being given lighter forced labor, so it was a chance to survive," recalled Albin, 90.
Adam Cyra, a historian at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, said a football pitch was set up to the right of the Birkenau train ramp. "For people who were about to die, the vision of prisoners playing football against the kapos was meant to be reassuring," he said.
A million Jews perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war, between 1940 and its liberation by the Red Army in January 1945.
From Avraham W. my old Chavrutha: I think it is highly appropriate at this time of the year that we send THANKS to all of the countries that have reciprocated for our help with their disasters, misgivings, social turmoil, & poverty by returning the favor, and sending the United States of America monetary and physical help when Sandy ravaged our East Coast leaving dead, homelessness, and pure disaster.

Listed below are a list of the countries and worldwide organizations that are giving us gracious assistance. 
Please assist me in thanking these entities by passing on this email so people from all over America can join in and THANK our neighbors, to whom we have given BILLIONS!!!!

1. Israel



4. … Enough said!

I don’t believe that the allegations are true for a Rabbi can give Semicha out to whom he chooses:

Benyamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the right religious party hurts the Likud as it gains 2 more mandates in the poll and the Likud loses to it and Shass:

From Liab regarding Global Warming (and may I add mostly sunspot cycles) I was reading some kid's book on who knows what.  But they showed the average temperature of the Earth over thousands of years.  Every?10,000 years the temperature returns to the same level.  Between that time, the temperature gets cold and it gets hot.  It's a cycle.  It's been going on for a million years or so.  Right now we're almost as hot as we're going to get.  By the next century we're in a cooling phase.  In the 1700's the Hudson would freeze over.  In the 1800's, there would be ice flows but it would not freeze over.  In the 1900's, no more ice flows.  I don't think industrial activity had anything to do with the change.  And I'm willing to wait 100 years to find out.  My grandkid will email yours.  

After losing 3 or more Mandates to the National Union Party Netanyahu wants to lose 5 more to Shas:,7340,L-4324649,00.html

Young Soldier Drivers should be more careful:

Inyanay Diyoma

Guess who will not be around when the Moshiach comes:

If they had sprayed me, I would have started shooting blind they could have killed or kidnapped him:

Israel and NATO a precursor to Gog and Magog aka I am with you before I am against you:

Somebody drank their morning coffee and woke up:

Chemical and Biological Weapons secured China is giving THE BOMB TO SAUDI:’s-avowal-that-Syrian-chemical-arms-are-secure-“for-now

At least Hagel is off the table and a woman from inside the Defense Dept. is going to be nominated instead. I hated it at work when some jerk was parachuted to be my boss instead of internal advancement.

Israel believes that Assad has not used chemical weapons. According to certain reports, The CIA plus Seals, Israeli forces and others are operating inside the country besides the Russian forces. Therefore the films like most Pallywood films are fake:

The Yetzer is working while we sleep – Iran will not stop until Gog and Magog:

After 200 truckloads a day of destruction for months at a danger of collapsing the Temple Mount now more damage:

 Time for getting serious about Bibi and his nonsense with people:,7340,L-4324384,00.html

I heard about this stealth fabric Harry Potter becomes a reality:

It happened once and it could again! Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which permitted the military to circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense. The order set into motion the exclusion from certain areas, and the evacuation and mass incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens.

The numbers used here seem to be exaggerated unless Yerushalayim, Betar and Modiin Illit are counted and even then seem high.,7340,L-4324322,00.html

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos story it is a story he or I told before but a bit differently “The right number”

Good Shabbos Everyone.  The Torah in this week’s portion Vayigash tells us about the emotional reunion between Yosef and his brothers. During his opening remarks to his brothers, Yosef refers to the divine intervention which brought about the unusual set of circumstances of the reunion, namely, that Yakov’s sons had come to Egypt to ask for food from their long-last brother whom they had sold into slavery many years earlier.
       The verse quotes Yosef as saying, “Thus Hashem has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance.” (Bereishis 45:7) We see from here Yosef’s recognition of the concept of Hashgacha Pratis – divine intervention, which is one of the foundations of Jewish belief. As the Rambam teaches us in the first of his 13 Principles of Faith: “I believe in perfect faith that the Creator blessed is His Name, is the Creator and the Guider of all creations…”
       Believing in Hashgacha Pratis – divine intervention means believing that Hashem guides even the minutest details of the universe. From this belief stems the belief that life is not random.   We Jews do not believe that Hashem created the world like a clock and then let it run.  Rather, everything that happens in life is for a purpose.  The following inspirational stories illustrates these concepts.
       The gabbai's eyes moved rapidly across the familiar faces of the men packed into shul on this sunny Shabbos morning. Shloime Kaufman, the gabbai, had been going through this routine for the past twenty years, looking out over the congregation and glancing, face by face, at his many friends and neighbors — a world of warm-hearted people with whom he shared his life.
        Choosing a few each week for aliyos was a job that came with its difficulties, but it also gave him the weekly opportunity to count these blessings. This secure, contented world in which he found himself was all the more precious because, by any law of logic or probability, it should never have come into existence.
        The world Mr. Kaufman had known as a child and young man in Poland had been erased. It had collapsed all around him, snuffing out the lives of his loved ones. At the time, he had thought that surely the few survivors who managed to emerge from the rubble alive would be left with nothing — no yeshivos, no shuls, no gedolim to guide them.
        And yet, here he was, the grandfather of a beautiful, Torah-observant family, the gabbai of a thriving shul, surrounded by friends and family. Better to relish the miracle of the present than think too much about the searing pain of the past.
        Mr. Kaufman scanned the rows of men as the Torah was removed from the ark. His eyes rested upon an unfamiliar face, a man about his own age with a short grey beard. He hadn't seen him in shul before. He surmised that he must be a guest. But there was something very familiar about this face. Suddenly, the man's features and expression jarred loose a powerful flash of recognition in Mr. Kaufman's mind.
        It was Menachem Reiner, his closest childhood friend. It was Menachem, the boy with whom he had grown up in their small Polish shtetl, with whom he had attended yeshivah in Bialystock. It was Menachem, the young man to whom he had clung, and who had clung to him, as they began their cattle-car journey into the fearsome blackness of Auschwitz. They had promised each other to stick together, they had given each other courage and hope. Bearing the numbers the Nazis had tattooed on their arms, they had found in each other the strength to hold onto their humanity and resist becoming only numbers. They had vowed to help each other survive, both in body and soul. And they did survive, Boruch Hashem.
        But when the war ended, each went his own way, eager to begin anew. For sanity's sake, they each tucked the past away into a deep, locked box that would be opened only on rare occasions. Menachem had settled in Israel, and Shloime Kaufman had obtained a visa for America.
        Consumed with creating a future and healing the wounds of the past, they had lost touch with each other. That was forty-two years ago. Now, with unbelieving eyes and trembling hands, Mr. Kaufman beheld the unmistakable face of his friend once again.
        Shlomie decided in his mind:  Menachem Reiner would get the sixth aliyah. As the Torah reading began, the gabbai felt as if his heart could not be contained in his chest. He wanted to leap across the rows of men and fall upon his friend in a mighty embrace. "This must be how Yosef felt when he finally saw his brother Binyamin," he thought to himself. "All these years!"
        Nevertheless, he clamped a tight lid on his emotions and performed his duty, calling up each aliyah with the traditional chant of "Ya'amod" followed by the honoree's Hebrew name. By the fifth aliyah, however, beads of sweat were sparkling on his forehead and tears were welling up in his eyes. He prayed that when the time came to call up number six, his voice would be able to break free of his tight throat.
        There was no need to ask Menachem his name because he could never forget Menachem ben Yehoshua. For the first time, he began to wonder — how would Menachem react when they came face to face?
        It was time to call him up, but Mr. Kaufman could not open his mouth. There were no words fit for this moment. All the suffering locked away in that figurative box was now out in the open, laid out before his eyes, and it was too much to bear.
        The congregation began murmuring and looking toward Mr. Kaufman, fearing that the pale, trembling man was becoming ill. A deep cry rose up inside the gabbai — a cry to Hashem that contained in its broken sound all of His children's cries of anguish. Mr. Kaufman turned in the direction of his friend and at last found his voice.
        "Yaamod, 57200148!" he called. The baffled men in the shul did not understand what had happened. What was this number? What had become of Mr. Kaufman? But in the back of the room, one man understood completely. The number was Menachem's number, tattooed on his arm as a lifetime reminder of the darkest period of Jewish history, the epic tragedy of his people which he had witnessed with his own eyes.
        The entire shul sat in stony silence as Menachem moved slowly toward the bimah. Finally, as they saw him approaching his long-lost friend, they understood the scene
that was unfolding in front of them. Menachem needed no introduction. With tears coursing down his face, he cried out, "Shloimele! Shloimele! Is it really you?"
        "Yes, Menachem, it's really me!" Mr. Kaufman answered, embracing his friend. They wept into each other's shoulders, rocking gently. "Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay," Mr. Kaufman breathed. Words were powerless to carry his chaotic emotions.
        The entire shul sat spellbound, witnessing a moment that could have melted a heart made of iron. As these two men stood together, living witnesses to the Jewish people's miraculous survival, it seemed that the Heavens had opened up to declare, through them, that Hashem would never forsake His people. Am Yisrael Chai! The Jewish nation is alive, and Torah has been rebuilt in America. The Holocaust survivors who came to America planted the seeds, and it is up to us to reap the fruits of their labor and continue their legacy.
 (From, Stories for the Jewish Heart - Book 2  R. Binyomin Pruzansky)
Good Shabbos Everyone. Mazal to Reb and Mrs. Tuvia Wolfberg, of S. Monica, CA, on the birth of their granddaughter to son Mr. and Mrs. Matisyahu Wolfberg, of Monsey, New York. M. Wolfberg is sponsored by: In memory of R' Yaakov ben Naftoly, of blessed memory In Memory of Tziporah Yita bas Mordechai Mendel Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah

Good Shabbos,
Rachamim Pauli