Our forefather Yaakov is considered to have been the patriarch who endured the most suffering. Although our rabbis look to the binding of Yitzchak and the trial of Avraham as the epitome of suffering in the form of self-sacrifice, Yaakov is our greatest teacher in the difficult subject of dealing with life's hardships.
Mordechai, a house painter in Jerusalem ("Mordechai's" name and profession have been changed to protect his identity), was self-employed for over 20 years. For the most part, business had been good. Lately, however, he was finding it difficult to make an adequate living.
I had to catch the 6:13 a.m. train from Petach Tikva to Modiin. Otherwise, I would be late for the bar mitzvah. I showed up at the train station at 5:45. It was locked. I asked the guard when they would be opening. He said, "Soon."
It was a chilly Shabbos morning in 1984 when my friend, a pearl importer, and I were walking up the long steep road to the hilltop synagogue in Kobe, Japan. When we finally reached the flat street on top of the hill, I was out of breath. There was a feeling of joy and accomplishment when the shul came into view. Only 50 more feet to go!
The phone rang. It was a call I'd been dreading. "Well, are you going to pick it up?" asked my wife after the third ring. Bobbie, my dad's wife, was calling as we had agreed she would in the event of a life-threatening emergency. My father was dying of stage-four colon cancer. "Well, are you going to pick it up?" asked my wife after the third ring. Bobbie, my dad's wife, was calling as we had agreed she would in the event of a life-threatening emergency. My father was dying of stage-four colon cancer.
Over the years, it has been a family tradition to visit the graves of my forebears at least once a year, usually just before the High Holy Days. My son and daughter usually accompany me, and we visit the graves of their mother and grandparents.
We sat down for the Shabbat meal at our friends' home in Yerushalayim. The table was beautifully set, but it was the centerpiece - a simple vase bursting with flowers - that caught my eye.
This story is testimony to what happened to some Jewish children during and after the Holocaust. It should be told for one purpose: to remember what the Christian convents did to our children, namely how they kidnapped them and converted them to Christianity.
Truth be told, Hadassah dreaded answering the doorbell. She knew that it was probably a charity collector, and her financial situation was precarious. She had just received a letter from Countrywide Mortgage. If the mortgage on her home in Morristown were not paid by August 12, the house would be placed in foreclosure.
My daughter was sitting at work one day when she heard the loud boom of a car accident right outside her office. She, together with many of her coworkers, ran out to see what had happened. Lo and behold, my daughter's parked car was hit from behind, causing it to hit the parked vehicle in front of her. Suddenly, she was inadvertently involved in a three-car accident. The police eventually came, took down the report, and her car was scheduled to be towed for repairs.
When I was considering making aliyah, I was aware of how challenging the move might be, especially since much of my family stayed behind in the U.S. But the deep longing to be in Israel was too strong. It was like a giant magnet pulling on my soul, until I finally let go and came home.
The man walked slowly into the beit midrash. He glanced around and found an empty seat next to my son, Rafi. So began a very special relationship.
This past Lag B'Omer, I received a precious gift. It is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The people who gave me the gift were unaware of their action, but I will be forever grateful to them.
Three years ago, I fell down a flight of stairs while holding my 16-month-old granddaughter. While she, Baruch Hashem, did not have a scratch, I unfortunately became totally paralyzed. After three weeks of physical therapy in the hospital and six months of outpatient therapy, I was able to recover about 75 percent of my mobility. I had some residual damage, but I learned to live a normal life - driving, working and doing whatever was necessary. I never complained because I was thankful that Hashem had saved my granddaughter and me.
Friday was a hectic day. The night before, I had been rushed to the emergency room after feeling unwell. I was released early in the morning, and was given a copy of my EKG. I brought the EKG results to my cardiologist first thing in the morning.
I had no way of seeing it coming - a "quick" traffic light and I was caught in the middle of a sea of cars. The second I started to run I was horrified to see the car closest to me race in my direction. I felt doomed. The few seconds it took me to run past the car were filled with the terrible thought, "This is it. That car is going to hit me."
The tickets were purchased and the car service was confirmed for the following morning. Our valises were packed and stood sentry at the front door. We tried to catch a few hours of sleep before our early morning departure.
Tzippy wandered around the Jerusalem mall, where she had planned to meet her daughter. She was not really in the mood for this excursion, but her daughter had insisted on it.
Twice a year my apparel company has an exhibition at The Sands Expo Convention Center, drawing buyers from around the world. During the week of the exhibit, we daven at the Venetian Hotel every morning at 6:30.
He sat in his prison cell sulking. I'll call him Steven. Time was playing tricks on him. It seemed like only yesterday, but at the same time like a lifetime ago, that he was married to a wonderful woman and had children who were the joy of his life. He had a high-powered job on Wall Street and luxuries that the average person couldn't imagine.
Around a year ago my wife and I were having a Shabbos meal at the home of our friends, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Gershon and Chana Rachel Schusterman of Los Angeles. The rebbetzin was telling us about how our Jewish names are Divinely inspired.
I have always felt that Hashem's Will was my will. I always accepted everything, telling myself that everything was for the best. I trusted that it was Hashem's Will. It was and still is. I always accepted everything, telling myself that everything was for the best. I trusted that it was Hashem's Will.
The time was 6:03 a.m., and I was already late for shul. My father had passed away in October of 2008, and I was saying Kaddish for him. Morning prayers began at 6 o'clock. I had to be there within four minutes or miss the rabbinic Kaddish. To worsen matters, I hadn't taken my 3 a.m. Parkinson's medications on time, and I had begun to feel a rise in what I call my "trembling index."
My daughter met Rutie on her first day of studies at Hebrew University. The classroom was full, mostly with female students, many of them religious. As the weeks went by, Shani got to know some of Rutie's personal history. Her mother was European- born, from an Orthodox Jewish family. Her father was born in Israel, and had a secular upbringing. Rutie's family did not lead a religious life, but there were elements of her mother's past in some of the things they did. Rutie and her mother lit candles every erev Shabbat and chag, and kept a kosher home.
Our oldest daughter recently came to visit us from Eretz Yisrael. We wanted to be sure to give our children a good time together in order to properly mark the special occasion. We decided that it would be fun to take everyone roller-skating after Shabbat at a rink not far from our house. Little did we know that the evening would mark the start of a dramatic change our family life.