Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
At a meeting of taxi drivers, one of the participants told the following story: This week I was cruising on the streets of Tel Aviv. An elderly man got into the cab and after a few minutes he asked me if he could light a cigarette. I said to him, "No problem." When he picked up his hand, his sleeve fell down and I could see the number tattooed on his arm. It was a number of the type that were put on the arms of the victims in the Nazi death camps.
In that brief glance, the number on his arm caught my eye, and it made me very excited, so much so that I couldn't continue driving. I pulled over on the side of the road.
I looked back at the man and I asked him excitedly, "Are you a survivor of the Holocaust?" The man looked at me surprised because I had stopped the car. The number that I read on his arm shocked me, and I asked him to tell me what had happened to him during the Holocaust. He was not used to having somebody ask him about his experiences. He told me how he had been saved, and that ever since the Holocaust he had been alone in the world. At first he had looked for his brother, since there were rumors that he was also alive, but he could not find him, and eventually he abandoned the search. In any case, he could not understand why I was so excited, why I had stopped the taxi and was questioning him so intently.
And then the taxi driver continued with his own story.
* * * * * *
As I child I grew up in a kibbutz. One day I was working in the kitchen. We had a big machine for peeling potatoes. We would empty a sack of potatoes into a big tank with knife blades on the bottom, similar to a blender. The sharp blades would chop up the potatoes. One time I climbed up to empty a sack of potatoes into the machine, and I tripped and fell inside – right into the machine, while it was turned on!
I was very frightened, and I cried out in pain. But I started to panic and to feel really scared when I realized that I was on top of the potatoes and I was slowly moving down towards the bottom of the machine – right into the sharp knives!
I shouted for help, but nobody heard me. I tried to climb up the smooth and very high wall of the tank but I failed. And then I began to cry out to the Almighty. I shouted and I prayed. I think that was the first time in my life that I ever turned directly to G-d: "Help me, save me. I don't want to die!"
And then, while I screamed out of fear and panic, I suddenly saw a hand stretched out to me. It grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the machine.
The first thing I saw about that hand was the number tattooed on the arm. It was the hand of Zalman, a member of the kibbutz. Zalman had survived the Holocaust, and because of his experiences he was in shock and depressed, and he never spoke or had any contact with anybody else. I was very excited, and I started to thank him profusely. "Thank you very much! You saved my life!" But Zalman did not react at all, he just continued walking along.
From that day on, the number that I saw on Zalman's hand has been with me wherever I go. I remember it and I can repeat it any time. And it continues to come up in my life. When I was drafted into the army, three of the digits in my identity number were the first three digits in Zalman's number... I bought an apartment, and the two middle digits of the address are the two middle digits in Zalman's number... I feel that the number accompanies me all the time...
And this time the feeling was stronger than ever. The number on the arm of the old man in my taxi was almost the same as Zalman's number – except for the last digit.
And then I had an idea. I started the engine and I started to drive. I left the city, and I drove to the kibbutz. I went straight to Zalman's apartment, almost as if I had only left the kibbutz yesterday. I left my passenger in the taxi, and excitedly knocked on the door. I did not even know if Zalman was still alive.
After a minute or two, a time which seemed like an eternity, the door opened. I couldn't believe me eyes. There he was – Zalman, alive and well! And then, while I still held Zalman's hand at the door of the apartment, my passenger got out of the car. He came over to us and gazed at Zalman for a long time. And he fell on Zalman and gave him a long hug! I could not have been happier, I had guessed right!
Zalman was my passenger's brother!
I am sure that Zalman was sent by heaven to rescue me from the knives in the potato cutter, so that I would continue to live and many years later bring his lost brother back to him...
Saturday, February 25, 2012
So here is my advice: Go to somebody WHO HAS VAST EXPERIENCE in this area, such as a Rabbi or Rebbetzin who has been dealing with this for a looong time. Go to somebody whom other people go to. Someone with a reputation for understanding this area and giving wise counsel. Somebody who is objective. A person who can see many different possibilities and doesn't have a one-dimensional view of life [I find that many people can only see life one way - their own]. Others might well lead you astray.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
After learning that the letters in the word 'tzarah' can be turned into 'rotzeh', I began to think of the connection between the two. In my humble opinion It all comes down to "perception" - Tzarah which was defined has difficulty, comes straight from Hashem, and if we realize that any challenge/nisayon was His 'rotzeh' (which I would define as want/desire) then this should be enough to serve as a consolation, because we know that Hashem is in always in control and only does what's best from us.
A personal example of this goes as follows:
When I was a 17 year old boy, I was deciding which Yeshiva to attend. I only applied to one Yeshiva as most of my friends had gone there in the past, and that's where a lot of my friends were going that year. My parents however, even after countless hours of debates and arguing, decided that for various reasons they don't want me going to that institution. Obviously, to say that I was bitter and upset wouldn't do how I felt justice, as this left me with no yeshiva to go to. Luckily, I had one good friend attending Netiv Aryeh and he pushed me to go there with him. At netiv, I met someone named Yaakov who I shmoozed with every now and then, but wouldn't necessarily consider us the best of friends.
Fast forward 4 years later. I'm at my cousins l'chaim and I see Yaakov and we start to talk again. In accordance with the way the jewish world works, I received a text from him a few days later, as he wanted to set me up with the girl who B'H I'm now married to. Clearly Hashem knew what was best for me, and used my parents to ensure that I would go to Netiv, and then of course set me on the path to meet my wife.
That tzarah that my family and I went through during the months that we spent arguing about which Yeshiva I should go to, was all for nought. I could've spared both myself and my family a lot of anger and bitterness, if I would've just realized sooner that the tzarah was Hashem's rotzeh. Embedding this idea within ourselves, would enable us to take every nisayon we face in life and turn it into an opportunity for us to build upon our emunah in Ha'kadosh Boruch Hu.
May we all be blessed with lives filled with simcha, and may we recognise that our loving Father is always watching out for us.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
"Wear A Smile And Have Friends, Wear A Scowl And Have Wrinkles. What Do We Live For If Not To Make The World Less Difficult For Each Other" [G. Eliot]
That's it. It's over.
Anyone who is: dejected, depressed, despondent, disconsolate, melancholy, downcast, sad, forlorn [two lorn + two lorn], low, in the doldrums, gloomy, disheartened, discouraged, grieving, sorrowful etc. etc. etc. No more.
It doesn't cost anything, but it's worth a fortune
It enriches the receiver, while not impoverishing the giver
There is no person so strong
who can exist without it
There is no person so powerful
For whom a smile will not add
There are some tired people that in order to enable them to smile at you
SMILE AT THEM
There is no person who is in need of a smile
as much as a person who is unable to smile.