Behar : Faith in Hashem
Thursday, May 10, 2007 / 22 Iyar 5767
“If a man will have no redeemer, but his means suffice and he acquires enough for its redemption.” (25:26)
The Chofetz Chaim writes that the Torah is teaching us a powerful lesson.
Here, the man who is described as having no one to redeem him, is instructed not to give up, but rather remember that nevertheless, “…but his means suffice…” (Ibid.) – that Hashem will take care of him and enable himself to be freed.
Hashem will not – so to speak – forsake him, rather he will care for him and free him from his bondage.
The Netziv writes further that a man who has a family and relatives will rely on them to free him and take care of him in his time of need. Thus, he doesn’t place his unequivocal belief in Hashem, but places his lot in the hands of his family. Accordingly, he will not merit to be saved.
However, the man who has no family and places his faith only in the One Above who hears his cry will merit to be saved.
The following story illustrates how by having faith in the One Above you merit salvation.
I heard this story from my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Asher Zelig Rubenstein, firsthand last week.
As a young man studying in Ponovezh (1960’s), he once took a bus up north to a small Arab village called Peki’in. In the village there was a cave with the grave of a famous Rabbi. After spending sometime there praying and looking around he realized that there wasn’t regular bus service to and from the village to say the least.
He needed to continue on to Meron (the site where 500,000 people gathered last week to celebrate/commemerate the Yartzeit of the Rashbi – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) but he was now stuck in middle of nowhere.
He cried out to Hashem, “It says ‘Haba L’taher Misayin Oso – one who comes to purify (or to a good deed) himself Hashem helps him, please Hashem help me get to Meron so I can pray there!”
And so, a fancy tourist limousine soon rolled up. Inside were an old American couple who had hired a driver for the day. He approached the driver who asked him where do you need to go.
“Meron”, R’ Rubenstein replied.
“Get in!” replied the driver that’s exactly where I’m headed. I made a wrong turn and I ended up here.
R’ Rubenstein then said to himself, “You didn’t make a ‘wrong’ turn. Hashem had you make the right turn so you could pick me up!” And so he did…
The lesson is clear. By placing our faith in the One Above will we merit blessing, success, and salvation in our time of need.
Quote of the Week: “For a man, the woman is the source of all blessing.” (Rabbi Yaakov Hillel)
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Behar : The Source and Responsibility of Material Success
Thursday, May 15, 2008 / 10 Iyar 5768
“When you make a sale to your fellow or when you buy from the hand of your fellow, do not victimize one another.” (25:14)
Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch relates the following thought, which leaves us with an important lesson.
We find that the Torah juxtaposed the Parshiyot of Ona’ah (undue advantage i.e., overcharging a buyer) and Shemittah. This, explains Rabbi Shternbuch, is because a person who fulfills these Mitzvos and rests during the sabbatical year has learned, and internalized the important lesson, that all is from the One Above. It is not he who is responsible and worthy of credit for his measure of success, but his benevolent Creator.
This can further be seen, as during the Shemittah year, when all agricultural process comes to a halt, he is satiated due to the bumper crop of the sixth year – a open miracle.
An interesting side note; This example of Shemittah is one of the many proofs that only Hashem could have written the Torah. Why, as how could a person promise a bumper crop in the sixth year that would last through the eighth year?! Only Hashem could make such an offer.
My Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Asher Rubenstein, devoted a portion of his weekly address to this subject, realizing the source of our material success. We are familiar with the concept of ‘Kochi V’otzem Yodi Asah Li Es Hachayil Hazeh – My strength and my hand created this success.’
For a person to believe that he is behind his achievements, contradicts our very belief in the One Above. Hashem, we must internalize, is who bestows us with blessing and success. Thus, every seven years, Hashem takes back our holy land giving us an opportunity to contemplate our connection to him, and realize our source and wellspring of kindness.
And so, a man who has taken all this to heart, will not cheat his friend in business because he knows where it all derives from. He has faith that he will get what is due to him. He lives not in a rat race, but a content life relishing the gifts he has received.
Furthermore, such a person will merit tremendous blessing and realize an unparalleled level of success.
We can take example from a man who lived in our very generation, who unfortunately was killed in a tragic accident several months ago leaving his family – including some nine children, all unmarried– in mourning.
Benzi Dunner, of blessed memory, was a man who epitomized these powerful and important lessons and integrated them into his daily life. A successful and affluent businessman, his home was open to all and was known by all the charity collectors as place to seek counsel.
A mainstay and financial pillar of the Chassidic courts of Skver and Bobov, he maintained a close relationship with the spiritual leaders of our generation and constantly sought their guidance. The stories that were told after his tragic demise all bore the same theme. Ever so quietly, without recognition and fanfare, he would step in when help was needed. Whether it was pouring money into a failing business, or ensuring that a bride and groom’s wedding expenses were covered liberally, he made sure the matter was taken care of.
He viewed his material success not as an achievement, but as means to attain something higher. This past Purim, just two days before he died in a car accident after going into cardiac arrest, he doled out over $4,000,000 to the ever ending flow of people who flocked to his home to raise funds for their respective causes.
His life was based upon these concepts we find in this week’s Parsha. He serves as an example to us all. May our efforts to achieve this recognition, and integrate it into our daily lives be a source of merit to his soul.
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