Baruch Hashem

Shabbos Stories for Parshas B'Haloscho
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A Miracle from 9-11

 

David Miller* [*not his real name], a pious observant Jew was at Logan Airport getting ready to board United Flight 175. He was going to Los Angeles on an important business trip and had to make this flight. A lot depended on it. He boarded the plane, watched the doors close, and sat down.

 

Suddenly he remembered that he left his tefillin (ritual boxes with straps worn by Jewish men in prayer) in the terminal boarding area. He politely asked the stewardess if he could go back and retrieve his tefillin, which were sitting just a few feet from the gate.

 

 

She told him that once the doors of the plane closed, no one was allowed off the plane. Not about to take this sitting down, he asked if he could speak to the pilot to obtain special permission. Surely the pilot would understand. The pilot did not comply. He simply restated

the policy.

 

David was not about to lose this precious mitzvah, or let the holy tefillin get lost like that, so, not knowing what else to do, he started screaming at the top of his lungs, "I am going to lose my tefillin." The crew asked him to be quiet, but he refused to stop making a fuss - a rather loud fuss.

 

Finally, he was making such a ruckus and a tumult that the flight crew told him that they would let him off the plane, simply because he was a nuisance. In fact, even though it would only take about 90 seconds to run out, grab his tefillin, and run back - they were not going to wait for him.

 

No matter. David was not about to lose his tefillin, even if it caused him great inconvenience or cost his business a loss. He left the plane, never to reboard.

 

This flight was United #175. The second plane to reach the WTC. David's devotion to a mitzvah saved his life.

 

The consequences of David's actions do not end there. Originally the terrorists wanted both towers struck simultaneously to maximize the explosive carnage. Later it was learned that due to this whole tumult, the takeoff was delayed, causing a space of 18 minutes between the striking of the two towers. This delay made it possible for thousands more people to escape alive from both buildings.

 

Literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lives were spared because one Jew would not forsake his beloved tefillin. [The foregoing true stories are documented in "Even in the Darkest Moments" by Zeev Breier.]

 

             Please Save My Daughter

 

Rabbi Drizen, the Chabad representative in Berkley University, California, was getting ready for Shabbat when the phone rang in his office. It was still early Friday the morning but he had plenty to do; get the Chabad House ready for the tens of Shabbat guests, help his wife at home and more.

He answered and a man's voice on the other end said nervously.

"Hello! Hello? Is this Chabad? Is this the Rabbi?"

When Rabbi Drizen answered yes the man almost began crying.

"Ahh, Thank G‑d. Listen Rabbi you have to...that is...please...Please excuse me but my name is George Freidman. I'm not a religious Jew but well, please. Ehhh...I have a problem. It's my daughter..." he stopped for a few seconds caught his breath and resumed. 

"She got involved with missionaries. Oy! Rabbi! I never would dream this would happen. Missionaries! Oy a nightmare! My daughter!" he whimperedand continued.  "She ran away with one of them, a boyfriend, she calls him. Left home…. Now she's in a place called Imgrenten Gap. It's not far from Berkley where you are Rabbi. But she said she's flying on Saturday night to Hawaii to get baptized!  Rabbi, you can make it there, it's not so far away. You have to do something. What can we do? Please!"

Rabbi Drizen looked at his watch.  He asked a few questions until he was sure the man was serious. It would mean a two hour drive. He could feasibly make it there, talk to the girl for an hour and make it back before Shabbat began.  It was crazy, but if he was normal he would have never begun a Chabad House in the first place with endless self-sacrifice trying to wake Jews up to Judaism.

He got some more details about the girl; her name was Adina she was almost totally ignorant of Judaism, she had a degree in something, she'd been involved with them for over a year. He called his wife to tell her where he was going and that he might not make it home for Shabbat, made a few more calls to arrange the Chabad House for Shabbat, jumped in his car and took off.

Four hours later he reached his destination; Four hours!! Twice the time he thought it would take!  There was no way he would make it home for Shabbat even if he turned around and raced back immediately.

He stopped at a store, bought the only kosher products there; a couple of tins of sardines, some fruit and a bottle of soda, and set off on his search.

It took him some time to find the house where she was staying and when he finally found it and knocked on the door it was just minutes before Shabbat.

The man that answered looked as though he could be one of the leaders of the group. Needless to say he was surprised to see a bearded Rabbi and, perhaps because he thought it would be a chance to catch a really big fish or maybe the Rabbi's optimism was contagious, he shook his hand.

The Rabbi explained that in another few moments it would be Shabbat, he would be stuck here for the next 24 hours and he explained, "I'm looking for a girl called Adina. Her father asked me to make sure she wasn't kidnapped and that she knows what she's doing changing her religion."

The man, completely certain of himself, invited the Rabbi in and called the girl.  In just seconds she appeared with her boyfriend and when she saw what was going on did not look pleased. The Rabbi introduced himself, shook hands with her boyfriend, explained why he was here and asked if there was a corner of the house he could pray in. 

Both men actually looked glad to see the Rabbi but Adina was blazing furious! How could this 'alien' have the audacity to butt in to her private affairs!

After he prayed the Shabbat evening prayers and ate his Shabbat 'meal' he began to get to the point. Adina just ignored him but the men responded.

They began to argue, bringing every 'proof' they had that their interpretation of the Bible was true while the Rabbi very calmly kept asking them why they rejected the explanations of the sages and why they feel compelled to attack Judaism although they didn't really understand it at all.

The conversation carried on to the wee hours of the night. And although it often got heated the Rabbi made sure it remained friendly, academic and even pleasant.  But Adina was boiling mad and would have just left the room but she wanted to show the Rabbi how sure she was of herself, and not brainwashed. So she stayed, but she didn't say a word and barely even looked at the Rabbi's face.

They talked till 2 am. The the Rabbi fell asleep in a sofa and when he woke the next morning, prayed and finished his food, he resumed the discussion with a different approach. He argued that because Adina knew almost nothing about Judaism she wasn't really making a fully conscious choice. In fact it could be that one day she would even be angry at them for withholding all the facts.

He said that they owed it to her to allow her a half a year to learn Judaism so she could make an intelligent decision. Then no one and no thing would ever change her mind.

It took some convincing until finally her boyfriend agreed.  But Adina was another story. She angrily insisted that there was nothing to talk about. She was an adult, not a child. She had made up her mind, found the truth, knew what she was doing, didn't care to know more about Judaism or any other religion, etc. etc. and she was even disappointed at her boyfriend for backing down.

Finally night fell. The Shabbat ended and poor Rabbi Drizen knew he had lost the battle. He saw it in her eyes and heard it in her speech; she had been hypnotized, there was no chance she would leave. He began to feel foolish that he ever thought he could convince her. After all, he had no experience in such things. And now he wasted so much time and energy.

He shook hands with the two men who were smiling and shrugging their shoulders as to say, 'we knew it all along', and turned to the door.

"All right." She said resignedly, "A half a year. Where do you want me to learn?"

Rabbi Drizen thought he was dreaming but one look back told him he wasn't. He immediately called the Chabad School for girls in Minnesota, explained the situation and arranged for her to begin learning there the next day.

Early the next morning as Rabbi Drizen drove her to the airport she turned to him and said,

"You know what made me change my mind?"

After a few minutes of silence he shook his head no, a bit afraid that she might change her mind again.

"Well, nothing personal Rabbi, but it wasn't anything you said.  In fact, what you said had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. Why, I barely listened! But as you turned to leave I suddenly remembered something that happened to me fifteen years ago when I was seven years old.

"We lived in Brooklyn, my parents and I, and weren't religious. But one day, I think it was a Sunday, my father told me that we were going to visit some Rabbi in Brooklyn called the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

"It was night when we all entered his room. I didn't understand much of what was said but I kept looking at his face; it was so kind and friendly. And then, near the end, the Rabbi looked at me, gave me a blessing to be a 'good Jewish woman' and said a strange thing to my father. He said, 'The day will come when you will need help. When that happens just call us and we will help you… no matter what'.

"Well, just now I remembered all that and realized what was happening. Suddenly I understood why you came from nowhere to waste an entire day for me; a total stranger. You were fulfilling the Rebbe's prophesy!  I couldn't say no to that!"

Adina attended Bais Chana in Minnesota and today is an observant Jew with a family of her own.

 

How Many Children Will They Have?

The Baal Shem Tov (Besht for short) was the grand master of Judaism. Besides knowing all commentaries and deepest secrets of the Torah, he also knew the secret purpose of each and every creation.

One of the Besht's Chassidim was a very simply fellow called Moshe Shlomo. This Moshe Shlomo, as much as he tried, could barely read Hebrew and certainly had no ability to learn Torah. But, on the other hand, what he lacked in understanding he made up in earnestness and simple faith in G‑d.

He believed that just as G‑d sent Elijah the Prophet and Moses to do miracles to help Jews, so He sent the Baal Shem Tov to help the Jewish people.

But as often as he begged the Besht to bless him with children the latter would only respond with blessings for riches, health, and long life. But no children.

So, although he became a very wealthy man Moshe Shlomo was miserable. "What is life or all this money worth if I have no children?" he and his wife complained.

One day, the Besht mysteriously announced that he wanted Moshe Shlomo, his wife and ten of the Chassidim to accompany him on a trip.

Moshe Shlomo took upon himself all the expenses.

He rented three wagons, one for the Besht, one for the Chassidim and one for him and his wife. Six days later, after spending Shabbat in a village on the way, they reached a small town near the large city of Brody where the Besht announced that they had reached their destination and should get out of the wagons.

The Besht began walking down the street followed by his entourage and stopped the first Jewish child he saw.

"What is your name?" the Besht asked.

"Boruch Moshe". The child answered.

He thanked the child and then turned to three other young Jewish boys that happened to be passing by and asked their names.

"Boruch Moshe" said the first "I'm also Boruch Moshe" said the second "And so am I; Boruch Moshe" the third replied.

Again he thanked them and continued walking.

Every Jewish child they passed the Besht stopped and asked the same question… and each time the answer was the same. "Each child was called Boruch Moshe."

The Chassidim were really amazed. They had never seen anything like it; what would cause all the parents to give all their children the same exact name? But they were more amazed when the Besht asked a group of Jewish girls and each and every one answered they were called "Bracha Leah"

They reasoned that this Boruch Moshe and Bracha Leah must have been very holy Tzadikim and the parents of these children wanted some of it to cling to their offspring.

Then the Besht stopped before a house where the sweet sound of children learning Torah emanated from the windows.

He motioned that the Chassidim should wait outside and only Moshe Shlomo and his wife should follow him in.

In the house were three classrooms. The Besht entered one of them where some twenty children were seated and when the teacher noticed his entrance he immediately stood up, as did the children, and welcomed their holy visitor.

Again the Besht asked each of the children their names ten replied Boruch Moshe and the rest had either Boruch or Moshe as their first names.

He thanked them all, left the school and took his Chassidim to pray Mincha (the afternoon prayer) in a nearby Synagogue. Then after the prayer he stopped someone on the street and asked him if he could explain why all the children had the same names.

"Sure" he answered aloud so all the Chassidim could hear. "They are named after an old fellow and his wife that passed away some fifteen years ago. His name was Boruch Moshe and she was Bracha Leah.

"They were pretty simple folk, in fact they say that Boruch Moshe could barely read. But.....well, I'll tell you the whole story how I heard it.

"This Boruch Moshe was born an only child some hundred years ago to a great scholar who was also the town butcher. They were old when he was born, so they were overjoyed to have a child but they were a bit disappointed when they realized that little Boruch Moshe had no 'head' for learning Torah.

"The boy wasn't stupid, in fact his father taught him the butcher business and he was running the whole thing before he was fourteen years old, but try as he may, he just couldn't learn Torah.

"Anyway, he really succeeded financially and had no trouble finding a wife. But to add to his troubles, after over fifteen years of marriage they still had no children and, coupled to the fact that he couldn't learn Torah, it made his life almost unbearable.

"Then the story goes that one day he heard a Rabbi quote the Talmud that 'anyone that teaches a young child Torah, it's as though he gave birth to him' and Boruch Moshe started crying. When the Rabbi asked him why he kept crying and answered, 'Not only don't I have any children of my own, I can't even teach other people's children Torah! Why...I can't even READ Mishnaiot for my father's Yor Tzite!!'

"So the Rabbi told him that it doesn't mean that you, personally, have to do the teaching. You can even hire someone else to do the teaching! The main thing is to cause children to learn.

"When Boruch Moshe told his wife what the Rabbi said it transformed them into different people. On the spot they began hiring teachers and setting up 'Cheders' to teach Torah to children.

Each year Boruch Moshe succeeded even more in business until he was a very wealthy man but all the money went into those schools. In fact he and his wife lived in the same small hut they had when they got married and gave everything to Torah until in the course of time they had established over twelve schools that taught hundreds of children.

"In fact, I and my brothers, in fact almost everyone in these parts, owe all we know to Boruch Moshe and his wife.

"But the story goes that once Bracha Leah, Boruch's wife, complained to him saying that after all they still really were childless and no one would remember them after they died. And when Boruch heard this he got angry for the first time in his life and said 'If the holy Talmud says teaching children is like giving birth to them then we must believe with complete faith that we have EXACTLY the same connection to these children as parents!'

So when both Boruch and his wife died about fifteen years ago we all decided that we would all call our children after them, because, after all, they are their spiritual grandparents. And every year on the dates of their passing all of us go visit their graves as children do to their parents.

The Besht then turned to Moshe Shlomo and his wife and said "It says in Isaiah (56:5) 'I will give to them in my house and within my walls a good name better than male and female children'. 'My house' is the Torah which is the home of G‑d. and 'within my walls' are the Jewish people'. If you teach children Torah the blessing of this sentence will fall on you.

And Moshe and his wife became benefactors to hundreds of Jewish children whose children were also called by their name.

He Grew Up to be King David
 
Once there lived in the Land of Israel a very wealthy Jew. Upon his death, he passed on to his wife all of his great wealth. The widow decided to leave her city in search of a place with less memories. Her main concern before going on her journey, was to find a place where she could safely leave her vast inheritance. She came upon the idea of hiding her gold coins in earthen containers, which she filled with honey. She then asked one of her late husband's close friends if he would watch over her jars of honey while she was away. The friend was happy to oblige.

Months passed. One day, the friend was preparing a festive meal for his son's forthcoming marriage and they had run out of honey. The friend remembered the honey which had been left in his safekeeping by the widow. "Certainly there can be no harm in my borrowing some of the honey," the friend conjectured. "I will replace it tomorrow," he assured himself.

Imagine the friend's surprise when he dipped a large spoon deep into the honey and it came out with two gold coins stuck to it. Again and again the friend dipped the spoon into the honey, and each time it came up with a small fortune. "No one but the widow and myself know that there is money in these earthen jars," thought the friend. And with that, he emptied the jars of all the gold. The next day he quickly refilled the jars to the very top with the sweet, golden syrup.

A few weeks passed and the widow returned to her home town. She had found a suitable home in a different village where she was certain she  would be able to start a new life for herself. When she asked her husband's friend for the honey jars back he was only too happy to return them to her. She thanked him for having "guarded" them for her all this time.
 
The widow hurried home with the jars and, once inside, set out to retrieve the gold coins she had placed there months before. At first,  she did not become alarmed when the spoon came up empty. But as the minutes passed, and she did not come up with one gold coin, she became hysterical. She took each jar to the back of the house and poured out the honey. She searched inside the jars but found nothing.
Beside herself with grief, the widow ran to the "friend's" house, only to find that he denied any knowledge of the gold coins. "You left jars of honey in my care and I have returned the exact jars of honey that you gave me."

The widow had no choice but to take him to court. The judge, however, noting that there had been no witnesses to the widow's claims that she had put gold in the jars, could not come to a verdict. He sent the case to a higher court, which eventually referred it to King Saul, himself. King Saul, however, also had no clue as to how to decide the case.

While on a walk in the countryside, the widow began to sob bitterly. A young shepherd noticed her bent and broken figure, and approached to offer his assistance. The widow smiled at this innocent lad, and told him her sad story.

"I have an idea that might help prove that the jars were filled with gold," said young David. "Go to King Saul, and tell him that David, son of Jesse, would like to come to his court and to help settle this matter."

The widow was touched at the young boy's sincerity. "My dear child," she said, "I have been sent to the King by the highest court in Israel, for they could not reach a decision. How, then, do you think that you will  be able to help me?"

"Certainly G‑d will help you. Just maybe, that help is meant to come  through a young, simple shepherd such as I," David replied. The woman went to King Saul with David's request.

King Saul was intrigued with the young boy's offer and invited him to  come to the court. The `friend' was also summoned to the court. Over and over, the thief swore on all that was holy that he had returned the exact same jars that he had been given.

"What do you say about this, my son?" asked King Saul to the young shepherd.

David asked that one of the jars be brought to him and in this way he would be able to prove the truth in the widow's words. David lifted the  jar above his head and smashed it against the floor. He then carefully inspected the shards of pottery that were at his feet. Triumphantly, he help up one piece of the jar and waved it in the air. Stuck to the pottery was a gold coin that had been overlooked by the thief, and the  widow. Next to the gold coin were circle marks which proved other coins were once there.

The thief's evil deed had now been proven. All of Israel heard of the wisdom of the young shepherd, David, who later became one of the greatest kings of the Jewish people.
 
The Lamplighter
 
In 1907, Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch was staying in Wirtzburg, Germany, and group of Chassidim came to spend a Shabbat with the Rebbe. Among them were Reb Yosef Yuzik Horowitz, his son-in-law Reb Feivel Zalmanov, and Reb Elimelech Stoptzer.

The Rebbe prayed for many hours that Shabbat morning, as was his manner. In the meanwhile, the Chassidim made kiddush and consumed a quantity of lechayim's. Later, when the Rebbe had finished and they sat with him to the Shabbat meal, Reb Yosef Yuzik asked:

"Rebbe, what is a Chassid?"

Replied the Rebbe: "A Chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a  lamp to lamp to set them alight."

Asked Reb Yosef Yuzik: "What if the lamp is in a desert?"

"Then one must go and light it," said the Rebbe. "And when one lights a lamp in a desert, the desolation of the desert becomes visible. The barren wilderness will then be ashamed before the burning lamp."

Continued the Chassid: "What if the lamp is at sea?"

"Then one must undress, dive into the sea, and go light the lamp."

"And this is a Chassid?" Reb Yosef Yuzik asked.

For a long while the Rebbe thought. Then he said: "Yes, this is a Chassid."

"But Rebbe, I do not see the lamps!"

Answered the Rebbe: "That is because you are not a lamplighter."

"How does one become a lamplighter?"

"First, you must reject the evil within yourself. Start with yourself: cleanse yourself, refine yourself, and you will see the lamp within your fellow. When a person is himself coarse, G‑d forbid, he sees coarseness; when a person is himself refined, he sees the refinement in others."

               MOSHIACH MATTERS
Three times each day, in the "Amida" prayer, we pray: "Speedily cause the offspring of Your servant David to flourish and enhance his power through Your salvation, because we hope for Your salvation all the day..." Indeed, is hoping that G‑d redeem us sufficient reason to be redeemed? The Chida explains that if, for whatever reason, we lack merits, we pray that G‑d send Moshiach  "because we hope for Your salvation," i.e., because we have hope, we deserve to be redeemed.

                                                    (Tzemach David)