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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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A Simple Teaching, Difficult To Understand


Rebbetzin Jungreis, left, with Rebbetzin Kanievsky.

Rebbetzin Jungreis, left, with Rebbetzin Kanievsky.

I am interrupting my series on “Yom Tov Mayhem,” focusing on adult children who come home for the holidays with their families and expect their mothers to be cook, housekeeper and baby-sitter all rolled into one. How to deal with this problem without damaging relationships will, please G-d, be the topic of my next column.

These days, events occur with such speed that before we absorb one, another is upon us. Additionally, our attention span has become nil. We no longer know how to listen; even while someone is talking to us, we are busy texting someone else or scrolling through our e-mail messages.

We have recently lost many great Torah sages, but I wonder if we truly feel the terrible void that has been left. And now, the beloved  Rebbetzin Bathsheva Kanievsky  has been called on high. Her sudden demise represents a tragic loss, especially to the many thousands of women who found solace and comfort through her loving guidance, wisdom and sage advice. May her holy neshamah have an aliyah and may she continue to daven for all of us.

This past week also saw much jubilation and thanksgiving. For five years, all of us have been davening for the safe homecoming of Gilad Shalit, and now, Baruch Hashem, we have seen our prayers answered. I realize there has been some controversy over the exchange that made his freedom possible – a thousand savage terrorists for one frail, painfully thin Jewish soldier. To many it is incongruous to even imagine that such a disproportionate, seemingly suicidal deal could be struck. Surely this was a grossly dangerous exchange.

I am not going to argue the pros and cons, but I do know our sages teach that all those who save one life,  it is accounted to them as though they saved an entire world. Of course you may protest, “At what price? These savage killers could, G-d forbid, take many more lives and encourage more kidnappings.”

I am not a halachic expert and I am not here to make a judgment call on that. We are Am Yisrael, and we march to the tune of a different drummer. We are not unaware of the terrifying dangers this deal represents, but just the same, to us every Yiddish neshamah is precious, so even as we offer prayers of thanksgiving for Gilad’s homecoming, we also pray that Hashem will protect us from these barbaric monsters and that they will perish before they can inflict more harm.

Throughout the years I have taught that one can always find some sort of “remez” – allusion – in the parshah (weekly Torah portion) to events that are unfolding before our eyes. This time, it is not only the parshah but the Book of Psalms as well that stunningly confirms this teaching.

The Book of  Tehillim designates a psalm for each day of the week. Gilad Shalit was released on the third day –  Tuesday – for which the psalm is number 60. There are two words in that psalm that jump out and demand our attention – sukkot and gilad. Indeed, the release occurred on the holiday of Sukkot, followed by the words, “li gilad – “Gilad is mine.”

As for the parshah we just read on Simchat Torah, it is written, “And Hashem showed him the entire land – the gilad” (Deut. 34:1).

Farfetched? Coincidence? Remez? Take it as you will, but the fact is that these are the passages we were reading from the Torah and the Book of Psalms at the time Gilad Shalit was returned to his land. So put aside your Blackberry and your cell phone for a few moments and think. Think some more and absorb.

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