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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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The Power of Giving

As I put on my tefillin, I knew we needed a miracle.
Dov Shurin

Dov Shurin

It was the Tuesday before last and I was driving to synagogue to lead the congregation for morning prayers. Since I am still in the year of mourning for my mother, a”h, I must lead the prayers.

Suddenly my son Avraham called to tell me that more than a hundred police officers and four Arab tractors had just arrived in his settlement to destroy homes. He lives in Bat Ayin 2, which is in the Gush Etzion region and has been considered an illegal settlement since President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon agreed on the “Road Map” years ago.

Avraham told me that some wild youths from Bat Ayin Aluf had started up with an Arab delivery man and some soldiers.

The police were informed and now had arrived to take out their wrath on houses in Bat Ayin 2, where there is a standing go-ahead to destroy, though Baruch Hashem it is generally not implemented. But now, to teach Bat Ayin a lesson, the police decided to destroy homes that were still unoccupied.

Avraham’s house was still unoccupied, as the finishing touches were just being added.

“Dad,” he moaned, “I’ve put so much time and money into my house. If they destroy it, it will destroy me too.”

“I’ll pray for you with all my might!” I answered, trembling.

As I put on my tefillin, I knew we needed a miracle.

Avraham called me again. “Oh my God, they’re bulldozing a beautiful house in the distance,” he gasped.

As I began the prayers, I was sure the congregants felt my emotions. With every word I was crying out, “Please Hashem, don’t let them destroy my son’s house; we would all be devastated.”

As I chanted the verses I suddenly saw a vision of the glow I’d succeeded in putting on everyone’s face during the Torah reading the previous Shabbat morning, and I was sure this would save my son’s new home.

We were reading about Yaakov, who while wearing the clothing of his brother Eisav managed to steal the “You Shall be Given” blessing Yitzchak had meant to give Eisav.

This appears in the sixth aliyah, and a rabbinical-looking fellow was about to be called up to the Torah.

I called out, “Sell it, I want to buy it.”

The rabbinical fellow responded, “Three shekel.”

The reader quickly said, “Three shekel, once, twice…”

I said, “Four.”

He said, “Five.”

“Six.”

“Seven,” he announced, looking uneasy.

“Eight,” I answered.

“Nine!” He seemed fed up.

“Ten,” I said.

The other fellow suddenly snapped, “Oh, just give it to him!”

To which I answered, “No, I bought this aliyah in order to give it to you! I just wanted to pay for it.”

As I motioned to the reader to call him up, the reader smiled and shook my hand. The rabbinical fellow was filled with joy and surprise. My fellow congregants were clearly moved by my gesture. I had given the desired “You Shall be Given” aliyah to my fellow Jew and this brought a glow to everyone’s face.

After that aliyah, the reader called me up for the next one. I tried to refuse but couldn’t.

I suddenly found myself listening to another “You Shall be Given” blessing during my aliyah, in Bereishis 28:4, which informs us that as Yaakov was fleeing from his brother his father said, “And the Almighty shall give you the blessing of Avraham, that you and your children will inherit this land (including Bat Ayin 2, of course).

This was Hashem’s blessing to Avraham at the beginning of the portion of Lech Lecha. But Avraham prophetically understood he couldn’t pass on the blessing to Yitzchak until after Eisav was born and out of the picture, so to speak.

So Hashem personally bestowed this blessing on Yitzchak in Bereishis 26:3, when Hashem commanded him not to leave the land during a famine but rather to settle in Gaza, where King Avimelech ruled. God tells Yitzchak, “for I have given this land to you and to your children.”

And now, during my aliyah, Yitzchak was passing on this “Avraham blessing” to Yaakov – and only to him. Clearly, this is a greater “You Shall be Given” blessing than the one Yaakov took from Eisav, but people don’t realize it.

So there I stood davening that Tuesday morning, knowing that during those very moments the police were invading my son’s settlement.

I finished Shemoneh Esrei and quietly called my son.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Sounding relieved, he responded: “Dad, You’re not going to believe this! The police just left. They destroyed six uninhabited houses. But they left mine, and actually smiled at me as they walked by.”

“I know,” I said. “Avraham, you received your miracle, and I received my next column for The Jewish Press!”

This past Shabbos I ran into that rabbinical-looking fellow. “I really want to apologize for taking that aliyah from you,” he said.

“Are you kidding?” I answered. “I told you I bought it to give to you. I gave you a ‘You Shall be Given’ aliyah, and I was given a ‘You Shall be Given’ aliyah!”

And then I explained to him what a “giving” I got as a reward. Through the power of my giving, the police spared my son’s house.

There are many charming stories about our charming nation; this is just one of them.

About the Author: Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at dovshurin@yahoo.com. His Jewish Press column appears the third issue of each month.


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