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During this past Yom Tov, I spent some time with my son who lives out of town. One of the first things he asked caught me off guard, but also brought me joy. He wanted to know if I had gone to the cemetery. I immediately understood what he was asking – and I said yes. I did go and had personally invited my parents to his upcoming wedding.
I was pleased that he asked, because honoring parents does not end with their passing. Nor does their connection with you end. Since my parents’ passing in recent years, we have conversed many times, albeit in the pre-dawn hours, in dreams.
Therefore, I was not surprised when that very night, my father, Chaim ben Aharon Yosef HaCohen, came to me in a dream. Usually, I am a spectator, watching the dream as if it were a movie. This time, I saw myself on the phone and my father was on the other end. At the beginning of the dream, I watched myself dialing my parents’ number – one that they had for over 35 years. I saw my father pick up the receiver. I remember seeing myself look surprised and exclaiming, “Daddy, you’re back – why didn’t anyone tell me that you were back from Israel?”
My father just smiled. Suddenly, I realized – how could this be? He has passed away. I woke up with a start. I then understood that he wanted me to know that he had accepted the invitation to his grandson’s wedding.
Half awake, I remember being deeply touched by this scenario. In his life, my father, a Holocaust survivor who had lost 10 siblings and over 50 of their children, was quiet, passive and subdued. He preferred that my mother take care of personal business. In Olam Habah, the Real World, he has become confident and in charge, and has appeared to me that way in his other dream-visits to me.
In my family, visits from those who have passed on are taken very seriously. One of my earliest memories is being told how my mother’s father, Shimon Bredin, a”h, had saved my mother’s life in Auschwitz, even though he had already been long murdered. He and his wife had been selected for death by the Nazi monster doctor, Yosef Mengele, whom the inmates called the Angel of Death. They were gassed since they were middle-aged and deemed unfit for slave labor.
My mother, a starving teenager, was planning to go to the camp kitchen and try to find some work in an attempt to get more food for her and her sickly sisters. On the night before she planned to approach the kitchen staff, her father came to her in a dream and warned her not to go. She listened to his warning and didn’t go. In doing so, she saved her life since the Nazi commander on a whim had ordered all the kitchen help to be gassed and replaced with new inmates.
As I grew up, I would often share this story with my friends, who in turn would confide in me that their family had similar stories. I remember the story of a friend’s brother who, as an infant, was suffocating when his head was caught in his crib bars. His mother was warned by her mother in a dream to go and check on the baby.
It is easy to be skeptical about these stories – how can the dead reach out to us? Some may think it is wishful thinking to believe in encounters from beyond. But the answer may be in the prayer we say first thing as we get up – Modeh Ani, where we thank G-d for being merciful and returning our souls. The implication is that the soul had departed – that we were temporarily in another world.
I imagine that while we may be on the Other Side, our departed must travel quite a distance down to our level as they are on such a high madraiga (level) in Olam Haba that we would not be able to reach them. That is likely why we don’t dream about them every night.
They reach out to us only during special occasions. Like accepting a wedding invitation and letting their daughter know that they will be there to share in her joy and to shep nachas as she escorts her son to his future.
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Yet all are part of one neshamah, planted in rich, verdant soil, determined to grow. May our garden continue to produce a glorious assortment of flowers and trees, each attached firmly to its roots. Our diverse southern vegetation flourishes and grows into different trees, flowers, and fruits, and a rainbow of glorious shades and hues appears. Yet each shoot is rooted in the same soil, stretching its branches and blossoms heavenward in an endless pursuit of growth and connection to the One above.
This past Lag B’Omer, we were blessed to make our first upsherin, where we celebrate our son’s first hair cut. It’s a wonderful milestone that mimics the three years that we refrain from plucking a tree’s first fruits and symbolizes the entry of the child into the world of Torah learning. It’s a clear sign to everyone; this boy is no longer a baby.
Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
I would have to say that one of the most annoying things about having a newspaper advice column, aside from all these people writing to me and asking for advice, is that they frequently don’t tell me WHY they’re asking.
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, who passed away on 28 Tammuz, (July18) this year at age 102, spent all of his days and most of his nights learning Torah. He was the paramount leader of our generation, and inspired tremendous awe and reverence in everyone who knew him. Now, every woman has the stunning opportunity to do something in his memory. A Sefer Torah is being written in his memory and women around the world have the chance to dedicate a letter.
Due to her family situation, it is understandable that she will have more responsibilities than other girls her age, but she would benefit from having some free time and receiving more appreciation for her hard work.
For children, summer means outdoor sports, picnics, and of course, no school! Teachers and students work hard all year long – and everyone deserves a break from education over the summer. However, this two-month break can often have some pretty devastating consequences.
It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.
Rabbi Pinchas Gruman is the new rav of the Minyan at Aish Tamid.
One of the most respected Torah figures in Los Angeles, Rabbi Gruman has been described as “The Los Angeles link in the mesorah of the yeshiva world” by Rabbi Nachum Sauer. As a talmid in Lakewood in the 1950s, Rabbi Gruman received semicha from Rav Aaron Kotler, zt”l, and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles.
Another tree is down.
I’m driving down Lakewood Avenue, figuring that maybe, just maybe, the tree that blocked the middle of North Lake Drive has been removed, and I can go through. After all, they had a whole day. I’m sure things have been taken care of.
A popular topic of discussion in newspapers, magazines and talk shows revolves around the management of personal finances – or rather the lack of them. In most cases, dealing with overwhelming debt is the topic de jour. Seems many people are drowning in it. Spending more than they have has mired countless consumers into a financial quicksand with maxed out credit cards and collection agencies knocking on the door. Speaking of doors, many face eviction and the loss of their home.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/a-visit-from-beyond/2004/11/17/
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