GOOD MORNING! Every day we make decisions, we react, we interact, we do acts of kindness. Oftentimes we don't even remember our acts of kindness and infrequently do we realize the impact on another's life or even on our own lives. This week I share with you a powerful story I heard from Rabbi Shmuel Dishon. It's a story that leaves you tingling and energized to be more open to helping others.
The year is 1917, the communists take over Russia and begin their tyrannical campaign to wipe out religion and Judaism. In Minsk, a rabbi, Reb Shiah, vows no matter the cost, he is going to continue fulfilling the Torah and helping others fulfill the Torah. After an amazing 4 years without interference from the Communists, the rabbi is "invited" to an interview with the Chehka, the secret police. Knowing what the invitation means, he puts his affairs in order, says good-bye to his family and prepares for the worst.
At the secret police headquarters, he is ushered into a room. The interrogator greets him cordially in Yiddish, "Reb Shiah, would you like to have a seat?" This is not how these sessions were described to him by the people who had survived them! Seeing that the rabbi is frozen in indecision, the interrogator tells him to "please sit down." He then asks, "Reb Shiah, perhaps you and your family would like to go to Palestine?" Reb Shiah doesn't know what to answer. If he says "Yes", then he is a disloyal citizen. He doesn't answer.
The interrogator sees that he is getting nowhere, so he reaches into a drawer and pulls out a five inch thick file and puts it down in front of the rabbi. "Reb Shiah, this is your file. It details everything - every Mitzvah, every child you taught, every Bris that you performed." Reb Shiah looks at the file and trembles.
"Reb Shiah," says the interrogator, "for the last four years I have been assigned to your case. It is I who has protected you and watched out for you. Now I am being promoted and there is no way it will go well for you with a record like this. The best I can do for you is to help you and your family get to Palestine. I see that you don't recognize me." He then tells the rabbi his name and the rabbi is shocked - the interrogator is the son of a famous rabbi who died young.
The interrogator continues, "I want you to know why I have been protecting you. After my father died, it was very difficult for our family. One Friday, before Shabbat, my mother came running to your home with me in her arms. She cried out to you, 'Reb Shiah, what are we going to do? We have nothing in the house!' You were dressed in your long black Shabbas robe and you had a beautiful gold watch and chain. Without a moment's hesitation, you reached down, grabbed the watch, handed it to my mother and said, 'Take this!' For months we lived from the money we got for the watch and I have never forgotten it!"
Concludes Rabbi Dishon, the teller of this story, "Don't think that when you are helping someone that you are only helping him - sometimes you are also helping yourself!"
Every time you act kindly,
the world has more kindness.
Every time you are compassionate,
the world has more compassion.
Every time you smile to someone,
the world is a more cheerful place.
Every time you give money to charity,
the world is a more charitable place.
Every time you calm someone who is angry,
the world is a more pleasant place.
Every time you judge someone favorably,
you are making the world a kinder place to live in.
Every time you help transform someone's worry into serenity,
the world is a more serene place.
Every time you encourage someone to do something for others,
you create a partner to make a better world.
"Every Time... "from "Kindness -- Changing People's Lives For the Better" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242).
Torah Portion of the Week
This week we have the trials and tribulations of Jacob living with and working for his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob agreed to work as a shepherd 7 years for Rachel only to have Laban switch daughters on him at the marriage ceremony. (This is why we have the bedekin, the lifting of the veil, at traditional weddings - to ensure one is marrying the right bride.)
As Jacob tries to build his equity, Laban changes their agreement time after time. After 20 years, the Almighty tells Jacob the time has come to return to the land of Canaan. Jacob and his household secretly leave only to be pursued by Laban who has claims to put forth. The story ends with peace and blessings between Jacob and Laban.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
When Jacob saw his cousin Rachel for the first time, the Torah states: "He lifted up his voice and cried." Why did Jacob cry and what can we learn from this?
Rashi, Rav Shlomo Yitzchoki, the great Biblical commentator, cites two reasons:
- Jacob saw with divine inspiration that he would not be buried next to Rachel.
- Jacob felt pain that he came to seek a wife and he had no gifts to give her.
To many people both reasons for Jacob's crying might seem to be overly sentimental. After death, if you are not buried next to someone, is this so tragic? If you do not have any gifts to give, is that a reason for a grown man to cry?
The answer is that a person with deep sensitivity will feel pain in such situations. Empathize with the pain of another person. Do not belittle someone's emotional suffering.
Telling a person "It's nothing" or "It's just a minor matter, why get emotional about it?" will just add to his pain. If Jacob could cry over such matters, they have significance. We should always look with compassion upon another person's pain.
PIRKEI AVOT 2:10
"Do not be easily angered and repent one day before your death."
-- Rabbi Eliezer
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 15:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:11 Hong Kong 5:22 Honolulu 5:30
J'Burg 6:15 London 3:53 Los Angeles 4:30
Melbourne 6:47 Miami 5:14 Moscow 4:07
New York 4:20 Singapore 6:34
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
The truly selfish person
is the truly selfless person.
With Special Thanks to