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February 12, 2016 / 3 Adar I, 5776
Judaism
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What I Leaned From Playing Poker

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Each night since my beloved husband passed away six years ago, I read a few lines or a paragraph or two from A Letter for the Ages, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer’s commentary on the Ramban’s Letter. My husband, z”l, and I had been studying this sefer during the last six months of his illness.

One section of the small book speaks about “The Frailty of Fortune.” There Rabbi Feuer quotes from David HaMelech’s Tehillim 75: “God is the Judge; He lowers one and raises another.”

On this night of kosher poker, I saw this so clearly. The chips moved from one person to the next. We all tried to make the best choices. Should I stay in or go out, check or bid higher? One minute I was on top of the world; almost the next minute, I lost it all.

“This world may be likened to a waterwheel which irrigates a field” (Midrash Shemos Rabbah 31:14), quotes Rabbi Feuer. “It scoops water from a stream below and lifts the water to the elevated field. Then it descends again – empty. Men’s fortunes rise and fall in a similar manner.”

I felt that wheel spinning after my husband passed away. One moment I had love and all the financial security I needed, and then, suddenly, I didn’t know how I was going to survive. But with Hashem’s help, I’m doing it. I work part-time selling ads for a Jewish newspaper, I tutor children regularly, and I write articles for Jewish publications. Because of high property taxes and maintenance, I put my house up for sale. In less than a week, someone bought it. And two months later, I was in my new apartment.

All this came about through the Hand of Hashem. He deals the cards and stays close by to help me make the right choices. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But whether I’m up or down, Hashem never leaves me. In fact, He never leaves any of us. So we’re all winners.

Who would have thought that I could gain clarity from playing poker? Now that’s something to cheer about.

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