GOOD MORNING! One of my favorite pastimes is reading Rabbi Paysach Krohn's "Maggid Series" -- stories of Divine Providence. Rabbi Krohn thoroughly investigates each story to validate the details. He often changes names and details due to sensitivities (like in the story below). Given the recent terror attacks in Israel, the following story had particular impact -- and focused me on the complex and amazing way the Almighty orchestrates the world. We may not always understand the "why" of what happens, but knowing that there is a God and that He has a plan brings us closer to Him.

People often ask "why me?". It's the right question, just more than often asked with the wrong tonal qualities!

The following story is from The Spirit of the Maggid published by Artscroll Mesorah:

Gadi Ramat, a member of the Israeli Defense Force was driving an army jeep near the Arab town of Ramallah. A sniper's shot rang out and Gadi fell out of the jeep onto the road bleeding profusely.

Shortly after the shooting, a young Israeli, Shlomo Rimon, came upon Gadi lying on the ground. He did what he could to stop the bleeding, put the limp soldier in his car and rushed to the nearest Israeli hospital. He called ahead to have the Emergency Team ready.

Four doctors met him at the door and rushed Gadi into surgery where they were ultimately able to save his life. His parents were called and told to rush to the hospital immediately. Meanwhile, Shlomo slipped away and drove home as he had no more information to provide and was not looking for thanks or recognition. He felt anyone would have done the same.

After two weeks, Gadi left the hospital to return to his home in Ashdod for convalescence. His mother, Tamar Ramat, put up a sign in her grocery store asking for any information about the identity of the young man who saved her son's life. They felt compelled to find the rescuer so that they could thank him properly.

The sign was up for months, but no one had information. Mrs. Ramat kept the sign hanging as a daily reminder of her gratitude to the Almighty. More than a year later Shlomo Rimon's mother, Anat, came to shop in the grocery store while visiting friends in Ashdod where she used to live. She saw the sign requesting information about the man who saved Gadi's life. Then she read it a second time wondering if it was referring to her son Shlomo. He had told her ab out a wounded soldier who he had brought to a hospital after seeing him lying next to his jeep, but he had made nothing of it.

Mrs. Rimon asked to speak with Mrs. Ramat in private. They exchanged information and it soon became apparent that indeed it was indeed Shlomo Rimon who had saved Gadi Ramat! Then Mrs. Rimon asked what seemed to Mrs. Ramat a strange question, "How old is Gadi?" When Mrs. Ramat replied "21," Mrs. Rimon broke into tears and asked, "You don't remember me?" Mrs. Ramat was puzzled and ask, "Am I supposed to?"

"Close to 22 years ago," said Mrs. Rimon, "we were both expecting. I was living in Ashdod and already had two children and did not want to have another one. You overheard me telling my friend, called me and worked hard to finally convinced me not to terminate the pregnancy. The dear child that I gave birth to was Shlomo!"

Mrs. Rimon paused as she caught her breath and uttered the words that Mrs. Ramat will never forget. "You saved my son and now that son saved yours."


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Torah Portion of the week

Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1 - 17:27

The Almighty commands Avram (later renamed Avraham) to leave Haran and go to the "place that I will show you" (which turned out to be the land of Canaan -- later renamed the Land of Israel). The Almighty then gives Avram an eternal message to the Jewish people and to the nations of the world, "I will bless those who bless you and he who curses you I will curse." Finding a famine, Avram travels to Egypt (once renamed to be part of the United Arab Republic) asking Sarai (later renamed Sarah), to say she is his sister so they won't kill him to marry her (the Egyptians were particular not to commit adultery ... so they would kill the husband instead).

Pharaoh evicts Avram from Egypt after attempting to take Sarai for a wife. They settle in Hebron (also known as Kiryat Arba) and his nephew Lot settles in Sodom. Avram rescues Lot -- who was taken captive -- in the Battle of the Four Kings against the Five Kings.

Entering into a covenant with the Almighty (all covenants with the Almighty are eternal, never to be abrogated or replaced by new covenants), Avram is told that his descendants will be enslaved for 400 years and that his descendants (via Isaac, "... through Isaac will offspring be considered yours." Gen. 21:8) will be given the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."

Sarai, childless, gives her handmaid Hagar to Avram for a wife so that he will have children. Ishmael (the alter zedeh -- the grandfather -- of our Arab cousins) is born. The covenant of brit mila, religious circumcision, is made (read 17:3-8), God changes their names to Avraham and Sarah and tells them that Sarah will give birth to Yitzhak (Isaac). Avraham circumcises all the males of his household.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states, "And he (Avraham) trusted in God, and God reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Gen. 15:6). Why was Avraham's trust in God considered to be righteousness? If God spoke to any of us, would we not have an unshakable faith? We do not have faith that there is a moon or that two plus two equals four. That which we see or understand does not require an act of faith.

The answer was given by Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz, who cited the Talmud that on a person's Judgment Day he will be asked, "Did you transact in faith?" (Talmud Bavli, Shabbos 31a). This is usually understood as asking whether one transacted business honestly.

Rabbi Mordechai said that is has an additional meaning. When a person transacts in business, he negotiates and tries in every way to maximize his profit. He does not settle for a meager gain. This is what one will be asked on Judgment Day: "Did you transact in faith? i.e., did you do everything possible to maximize your faith, or did you just accept whatever you were given?

Abraham transacted in faith. He, of course, knew there was a God. He did not have to have faith in His existence. However, he tried to strengthen his faith by coming to an ever greater knowledge of God, and believing even that which they could not see about God.

Some people take their faith in God for granted. Of course they believe that there is a God. However, they may not have gone beyond that to try to know more and more about God. We have great works available to us to increase our knowledge and therefore our faith and understanding of God. If we fail to do so, we will have no answer on Judgment Day when we are asked, "Did you seek to improve the quality of your faith? Did you transact in faith?"


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