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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dov Shurin’

The Holiest Week Of The Omer

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

This is it. The week of hod, which means the inner beauty of the majesty of Hashem. This year it began on Sunday, which was Pesach Sheni, recognized as the yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes, and on Thursday this week we celebrate the amazing day of Lag B’Omer, the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the day the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva finally stopped dying.

Lag B’Omer is hod she’behod – splendor of splendor – a hint that every Jew, every member of our charming nation, has the power to enter deep into the innermost chambers of Hashem’s majestic kingdom, where a humble prayer can turn death into life.

The year was 1995, and I was celebrating Pesach Sheni at my kiosk, located about 200 feet from view of the Western Wall. We had wine and matzahs and we talked about this holiday of getting a second chance – our ancestors who weren’t able to bring the Paschal sacrifice at the appointed time because they were defiled were told by Hashem that one month later, on the 14th of Iyar, they would get a second chance.

Suddenly someone rushed over to me and said, “Dov, you’ve got to get to Shaare Zedek Hospital; your father had two heart attacks and is now on the operating table fighting for his life.”

I jump up and told myself, “Dov, get to the Kotel fast with your check book. Do chesed on this first day of the week of hod, which is called chesed she’behod. This is better than just waiting to hear the outcome next to the operating room. So I run to the Kotel and each person asking for a few coins got an 18-Shekel check while inside myself I was shouting, “Please, Hashem, save my father’s life!”

My father had gone to the hospital to get a simple procedure to clear the arteries. The procedure failed and the doctor made a terrible mistake in what he did next. The botched effort caused my dad to have not one but two heart attacks. The chief surgeon scolded the doctor for his mistake and tried to save my dad’s life.

My father was in his twelfth year as rabbi of Kehilat Mogen Avraham in Efrat. His congregants needed him; he was only 77 years old.

When I came to the waiting room, everyone was crying – my mother, my brothers, and the doctor who’d blundered. I had my twelve-year-old son with me and my mother said, “Dov, take your son to the bus stop so he’s not here when we get the ‘news.’ ”

I took my son down to the bus and then, in the parking lot of Shaare Zedek, I called out to Hashem: “Please, God, give me the prayer I should pray to You to save my father’s life.”

And like a lightning bolt the thought shot into my head: “Today is Pesach Sheni, the yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes (master of miracles).”

“Yes,” I shouted, and then I chanted the traditional words one says when giving to the many Rav Meir Baal HaNes charities for the poor in Israel.

“God of Meir, answer me! In the merit of the radio shows that I did totally free of charge every Thursday night for two years on behalf of Kollel America, the Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes charity for poor Americans living in Israel, save my father’s life!”

I went back up to the waiting room with a heavy heart. From a distance I saw everybody jumping for joy. The same people who’d been crying only 15 minutes before were now dancing!

Why all the joy? My brother said, “Dov, you missed it. The surgeon just came out and said the operation had ended and there is hope.”

I thought to myself, “I missed it? I made it!”

Three days later I stood by my father’s side in the intensive care unit. I felt I should go to the tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes in Tiberius and thank him and then shoot over to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron on Lag B’Omer and somehow get Rabbi Shimon’s assurance that my dad would have a refuah sheleimah, a complete recovery.

Before I left I said to my father, “Daddy, say some Tehillim, please!”

My father, still on oxygen and rigged up to machines, began reciting the words of Psalm 130, “From the depths I call out…if God watches our sins who would survive, for You are He that forgives!” Here my father suddenly stopped his recitation, and I left for Tiberius and Meron.

When I got to the grave of Rabbi Shimon there were thousands of Jews from all over the world there. I pushed my way to the great bonfire atop the grave. In my hand I had the book of stories of Rabbi Shimon that I bring with me each year. I spoke to Rabbi Shimon and begged him, “When I open this book to any page…please give me a sign that my father will survive and have a complete recovery.”

Where Is The Tzaddik? Look In The Mirror!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Let me begin by thanking The Jewish Press for inviting me to write a regular column for the Jewish world’s leading weekly, which reports the news and sets the pace on issues so important to us all.

My column is called “Charming Nation” as my goal is to make my brothers and sisters aware of how charming we are in the eyes of the Holy One Above.

I’d like to offer the following question: At the Pesach Seder we read about the four sons – the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who does not know how to ask – but where is the righteous son, the tzaddik?

Every time we mention the rasha, the wicked son, we can’t help but think of his antithesis. But the righteous son, the tzaddik, is absent in the Haggadah.

When we get to the portion concerning the four sons, doesn’t every father and mother start looking around the table at his or her children and thinking about what category each child is in?

But do parents realize that they, too, are children? Who am I? And who is my wife (because when we talk about “son” we mean daughter, too)?

And is each son or daughter absolutely wise, wicked simple or dumb? Or are they a little of this or that?

Personally, I think there’s a little of each one inside me, and my inner struggle is to know how to control and deal with all sides of myself.

Now, in this Pirkei Avos season, let’s go to chapter four of the Ethics of our Fathers where Ben Zoma asks, Who is wise? Who is strong? Who is rich? Who is honored? Again we see the absence of the tzaddik, the righteous. Why?

The answer is found in the phrase from Isaiah we read each time we are about to study the Ethics of the Fathers: “v’amech kulam tzaddikim” – your nation is phenomenal in that each individual is a righteous person.

Let’s apply this to the Haggadah and the four sons (daughters): “One is a wise righteous son, one is a wicked righteous son.” Wait, how could this be? A wicked righteous son?

I found such a beautiful insight in the Gutnick Chumash, which quotes the Lubavitcher Rebbe as asking how we could name a Torah portion after Korach, a man who challenged Aaron and insisted on becoming high priest, dragging along so many people with him, aggravating Moshe Rabbeinu and causing the earth to swallow people alive.

And the Rebbe said, don’t look at his deeds but rather his intentions – he longed for holiness, something every Jew should do. As Ben Zoma says, “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.” Even Korach showed the “tzaddik” in himself, because Hashem’s nation is a kehilla of righteous individuals.

All of the above is actually an introduction to this newest chapter in my life.

Many of you may know that I’m on the radio in New York nightly, reporting the news from Israel on Zev Brenner’s Talkline from my home in Israel, where I’ve had the privilege to live for the past 28 years.

As was reported last week on JewishPress.com, ax-wielding intruders attempted to break into a building, directly behind Kever Rachel in Bethlehem, and I, acting in my capacity as building manager, managed to stop them.

The loud whacks were actually heard on both the Zev Brenner and Country Yossi radio programs as this time I was quite literally delivering the news live from Israel.

I had come to the rescue of a tzaddekes named Evelyn Hayes, who purchased the building over ten years ago and has now been locked out. The intruders see Evelyn as the real intruder and they think some loophole in the original sale might win them the building.

Like Korach, they see themselves as righteous even in their wickedness. They saw me as a wicked man who wouldn’t allow them into a building they believe they are entitled to.

This is one big balagan that includes the four sons of the Haggadah – the wise, the wicked, the simple, and even those who don’t know how to ask.

I am looked at by Evelyn as righteous, by the other side as wicked, all this while “A voice is heard on High, Rachel weeps for her children…. and the children will return to their borders.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/dov-shurin-columns/where-is-the-tzaddik-look-in-the-mirror/2012/04/25/

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