GOOD MORNING! Were you ever caught up in your own angst that you failed to see the bigger picture?
I would like to share with you one of my favorite true stories: A young rabbi from Israel was traveling the D train from Brooklyn to Manhattan on his way to a meeting. As the subway rattles towards its destination, he sits quietly reading the History of Submarine Warfare in the South Pacific In World War II. Enters the train two post-six foot battle-scarred young men in gang jackets - with an oversized boom box playing at full volume.
Near the rabbi stands a little old lady tipping the scales at 80 pounds and reaching her full hunched-over height of nearly five feet. The little old lady does not like the booming "grunt" music and starts yelling, "Who's going to make them turn it off?" Everyone takes a deeper interest in what they are reading - including the rabbi.
One of the young toughs smiles wryly and says to the woman, "Lady, if you want to turn it off, you can turn it off." She shuffles across the subway car with her hand held in front of her, index finger poised to flick the power switch. And she turns it off! The young tough puts down the boom box and hauls back to deck her. Up jumps the rabbi and with a parrying move with his forearm, blocks the young tough's punch.
The young tough is puzzled and looks down at the rabbi and says, "What do you want, boy?" The rabbi replies with a big smile, "Just don't hit the lady," and returns to his seat to continue reading his book. The lady shuffles back across the car. And the young tough flips the power switch back on to bathe the car in full-force, deep-based, woofer and tweeter enhanced, penetrating sound waves.
The little old lady shries (yells), "Who's gonna make him turn it off?" Everyone re-reads their previous sentence with increased concentration. The young tough smiles and invites her over. Once again, the little old lady shuffles over, index finger extended and flicks the power switch off. The young tough then hauls back to hit her and the rabbi jumps up to block. The young tough looks confused and says, "Now you're getting on my nerves." The rabbi smiles and says, "Sorry. Just don't hit the lady" and returns to his seat. The little old lady shuffles towards the rabbi's seat and stands with her back to him. And ... both of the young toughs thankfully get off at the next station!
As the rabbi is settling back into his book, he glances up at the back of the little old lady standing right next to him and thinks, "Gee, I just risked my life not once, but twice to protect her ... and she doesn't even thank me!" And after two minutes of self-righteous indignation, the rabbi stops in his mental tracks with an incredible realization - "The Almighty just performed not one miracle, but two to save my life ... and did I stop to thank Him?"
There are probably many lessons to learn from this story - don't ride the subways in New York, beware of little old ladies who can get you killed, learn to love loud music, the power of an incongruous smile ... However, I think the most powerful lesson is to remember: When you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you... and be sure to thank the Almighty!
For more on "The Big Picture" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one's first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer: "With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes (Tefillin), for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt" (Ex. 13:15).
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
In this week's portion the Almighty gives the first commandment to the Jewish people as a whole - to decree the beginning of the Jewish month. This is important for setting the date of each Jewish holiday. It is so important that when the Greeks were persecuting us at the time of the Hanukah story, they forbade the Jewish court to decree the beginning of the new month. The Torah states:
"This month shall be for you the first of the months (referring to the month of Nissan when Pesach occurs. The new year of the reign of king starts with the month of Nissan. The new year for the creation of mankind starts with the month of Tishrei.)" (Exodus 12:2)
What lesson for life can we learn from this verse?
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein commented that the month of Tishrei is the month of the creation of the world. The month of Nissan is the month of the exodus from Egypt. Both months are lessons in our awareness of the Almighty's power.
The first lesson is that the Almighty is the Creator of the universe.
The second lesson is that of hashgacha pratis, Divine Providence. The Almighty controls the events of the world and therefore He is the One Who enslaved the Children of Israel and He is the One Who freed them. The Torah is telling us in this verse that the lesson of the Almighty's guiding historical events is even more important than the lesson of the creation of the world.
One can believe that the Almighty created the world and this might not make any difference in a person's behavior and attitudes. However, once a person is aware of the supervision of the Almighty in daily events, he will improve his behavior. Moreover, his trust in the Almighty will free him from worry. The month of Nissan is the first month of the year and by remembering this we remember all that is symbolized by the Exodus. This will have a major effect on what we do and think.
CANDLE LIGHTING - January 7
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
If you're afraid to die,
you will not be able to live.
-- James Baldwin
Happy 91st Birthday!
Love, Meri & Paul Zidel
and the entire Framer Family
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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