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Posts Tagged ‘Eretz Yisrael’

Confessions of a Brain Surgeon

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I don’t know how many of you noticed this quite unusual story in the news. A new Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, just off the plane, went to visit a sick relative in one of Tel Aviv’s major hospitals. Not knowing Hebrew, he got lost in the big hospital and wandered into the surgery theater. Thinking he was an orderly, no one paid any attention as he walked into one of the operating rooms where a patient was undergoing brain surgery. The Ethiopian watched in horror as one of the surgeo’s raised a small electric saw and proceeded to slice open the patient’s cranium. With a scream, the new Ethiopian immigrant charged at the doctors to stop them. He thought they were killing the patient when, in fact, they were trying to save his life.

Of course, this incident didn’t really happen, but I’m using it to make a point. Some readers have accused me of “Sinat Chinam,” gratuitously hating my fellow Jews because I highlight the shortcomings of Jewish life in the Diaspora. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love all Jews: religious and not religious, Israelis and Diasporians, rightists and leftists.

People who know me can testify that I am not the cruel monster that some readers accuse me of being. On the contrary, just like the surgeon in the story, I am trying to save people’s lives. Out of my passionate love for all Jews, especially my brothers and sisters lost in the darkness of galut, where I was once lost like them, I am doing my best, with the skills that the Almighty has given me, to help them see the light.

Unfortunately, sugar-coated aspirin and a moist compress won’t help someone who has spent his life in an alien gentile land and doesn’t know that there is something better. A band-aid and sweet tasting syrup won’t help a Diaspora Jew who has been taught a truncated, distorted, watered-down version of Torah. In cases like this, immediate and massive intervention is needed. Sometimes an entire brain transplant may be called for.

I am not only speaking about the average Diaspora Jew who doesn’t know better, because he was never taught that a Jew’s real place is in Israel, and because the darkness and spiritual pollution of the exile prevents him from grasping this clear message from a simple, straightforward reading of the Torah. He isn’t to blame. No one ever told him the truth. I am also speaking about the Diaspora Jew who studied in yeshiva, considers himself Orthodox, even Haredi, yet still thinks that the goal of Judaism is to build magnificent Jewish communities in foreign gentile lands.

There are even those who are so mentally confused that they try to discourage others from coming to live in Israel. It isn’t enough to speak nicely to them, and show them pretty pictures of Israel, and to point out the endless Torah verses commanding the Jewish People to live in Eretz Yisrael. These extreme cases have so internalized their gentile surroundings, cultures, and upbringing, they think like the goyim. They may speak Yiddish, but instead of a “Yiddisha kup,” they have a “goyisha kup.” Instead of following the Torah, they follow themselves. To save them, an electric saw is needed.

The saddest thing is, because of the terrible darkness of galut, and years of yeshiva study which removed the Land of Israel from the curriculum, they don’t even recognize that they have a problem. In their minds, all of the Jews who are dedicating their lives to the rebuilding of the Jewish People in Israel are wrong, and they, in their glass glatt kosher castles are right. To their distorted way of thinking, even God was wrong in establishing the State of Israel the way He did – they would have done it differently.

So they get angry at me when I point out the error in what they’ve been taught – or when I stress things that they never learned. Just as a patient with severe schizophrenia sees his psychiatrist as an enemy, they misinterpret my attempts to help them for hate.

But just as a psychiatrist doesn’t give up when his patient lashes out at him, because the physician knows better, I won’t give up trying to help these confused but beautiful souls. I know better because I was once severely brain damaged myself, when I was in New York and Los Angeles, a stranger in a strange land, with the head of a goy, believing I was an American like everyone else. Then, with the grace of the Almighty, I underwent a successful brain transplant, so I know what it’s like to live in darkness, and that’s why I want to help.

So, while my writing may be blunt and painful to some, I don’t blame the Jews in the Diaspora for their misunderstanding of what the Torah is really all about. Like I said, by and large, they simply don’t know that they should come on aliyah. No one teaches them. Not their Rabbis, not their high-school yeshiva teachers, not their shul presidents, not the sisterhood, nor the Federation, not their parents, no one. So, they simply don’t know that the true goal of Judaism is to establish the Kingdom of God in the world via the Jewish People leading a Torah life in Israel, not in the United States of America.

Even in the books they read about Judaism, Eretz Yisrael has been deleted. Take a look at a few indexes of the most popular “frum” books in English on Jewish Philosophy. You won’t find a word about Eretz Yisrael.

True, an Internet surfer might be carried by a wave one day to the Internet edition of The Jewish Press or Arutz 7, where he may be confronted with the importance of aliyah, but not having heard about this great foundation of Judaism from his teachers and parents, he is likely not to take it to heart at all.

For this reason, the Jews of the Diaspora are like “children who were kidnapped and raised amongst the gentiles.” This category usually applies to Jews who were never taught about Judaism. Not having been exposed to the tenets of the religion, unfortunate Jews like these can’t be expected to keep the Torah’s laws, because they have never heard of them. The secular Zionists pioneers in Israel fall into this category, as do the secular Russian Jews in Israel today. Even though they have all heard of the Torah, they never had anyone sit down and teach them, so it is something foreign to them, like Chinese. This is exactly the same when it comes to Diaspora Jews and aliyah. Yes, Israelis yell at them for not coming, but they don’t hear it from their own teachers and Rabbis. So they are like children who have been kidnapped and raised amongst the gentiles.

A metaphor for this is the story of Tarzan, who was lost at sea as a child and raised in the jungle by apes. When he grew up, he thought he was a monkey, too. There was no one around to tell him that he was a man. So he identified with the apes. Just as they felt perfectly at home, living in the jungle and swinging from tree to tree, he felt perfectly at home too, aping their habits. Not having been raised in civilized surroundings, he didn’t know the difference.

But, of course, a human isn’t an ape, even if he grows up in the jungle. And a Jew isn’t a gentile, even if he grows up in a gentile land. A Jew isn’t an American, or a Frenchmen, or a South African, even if he grows up there. A Jew has a homeland of his own, with his own code of life, the Torah, which is meant to be lived in Israel.

The Jews of the Diaspora don’t know this, because no one ever taught them. They are not to blame for thinking they are at home in strange, gentile lands, no more than Tarzan was to blame for believing that he was at home in the jungle. It’s as simple as that. I don’t blame them. But, bezrat Hashem, I’ll keep trying to show them the difference – precisely because I love them so much.

Jerusalem Menorot

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The Menorat HaKnesset

The bronze, four and a half meter high Menorat HaKnesset stands in the Menorah Plaza by the main entrance to Gan HaVradim. This impressive menorah, in the shape of that which appears in the Arch of Titus, was created by Jewish sculptor Benno Elkan of England. It was given in 1956 by the English parliament as a gift to the State of Israel.

Like a “visual textbook,” it has engravings of some thirty important events, idioms, characters and terms from Jewish history. Each of the seven branches portrays a number of specific scenes, carved in relief.

The menorah interweaves themes of galus and geulah, showing the tidal waves of the rise and fall of the Jewish People throughout history. The first depiction on the right hand branch illustrates Yirmiyahu bewailing the Churban, while the last left hand branch’s upper engraving shows the Final Redemption as pictured in Yeshayahu where a lion and a lamb will live in harmony (Yeshayahu 2:4, 11:6).

The 70 years of the Babylonian Exile (lowest representation on last left hand branch) is illustrated by showing the exiles lamenting the destruction of Yerushalayim and Bayis Rishon by the rivers of Bavel. This scene is counterbalanced by a depiction of the Shivas Tzion of Ezra seen on the following branch at the top, together with an image of Nechemiah,  (lowest bottom carving on outer right hand branch) who served King Artaxerxes of Persia in a high-ranking position. He fortified those who had come back to Tzion from Bavel with Zerubavel and Yehoshua Kohen Gadol. In the face of much opposition, he was instrumental in organizing the rebuilding of the walls of Yerushalayim and helping many of Klal Yisrael resettle. In addition, during his time, Torah observance was greatly strenghtened.

The engraving on the outer left hand branch shows Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai asking the Roman authorities to establish a center in Yavneh for the study of Torah. He realized that Yerushalayim and the Beit HaMikdash were facing destruction and knew that in order to preserve the Eternal People, their eternal law needed to be preserved first. His request for Yavneh was a way of ensuring our continued survival as a nation.

The central point of the menorah, to which the eye is instinctively drawn, is a circle exactly in its middle which says “Shema Yisrael.” The central branch‘s first engraving shows Chur and Yehoshua holding up Moshe hands in the war against Amalek. When Bnei Yisrael looked up at Moshe’s upheld hands, they turned their heart towards HaKodesh Baruch Hu, and were able to overcome the enemy. It’s a reminder that wars are not won by military superiority but rather by the might of Hakadosh Baruch Hu as He fights for His children. The words from Zecharyah (4), which are carved on the bases of the two outer arms strengthen this concept “Not because of the (number of) soldiers or the (military) strength, but with My Ruach, said HaShem Zvakot.”

The scene symbolizing David’s triumph over Goliath echoes the above ideas (3rd branch from the left top) – as does the Chashmonaim victory of the few over the many, portrayed in the 2nd scene of the outer right hand branch. When we consider the numerous wars fought in Eretz Yisrael from 1948 and on, it is clear that it was only with Hashem’s kindness that we were able to prevail over our enemies. And it will only be with the help of the Almighty that we will survive our current problems.

There are many other scenes depicted, such as Shlomo’s understanding of the language of the birds and Avraham Avinu’s purchaing the Cave of the Machpelah, as well Rachel Imeinu bitterly weeping over her children in exile.

To reach the Menorat HaKnesset, travel on the Yitzchak Rabin Highway, turn in at the Supreme Court onto Rechov Rothschild, and keep on going until you see the Knesset Menorah to your right.

The Golden Menorah

As you walk up the steps that lead up to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, to your right is a golden reconstruction of the menorah of the Beit HaMikdash created by the Temple Institute. Surrounding the menorah are stone benches allowing visitors to sit and enjoy a panoramic view of the Temple Mount with the golden glass-caged menorah in the foreground. The part of the Western Wall exposed by the southern excavation at the Davidson Centre is also clearly visible. But the Mugrabie Bridge and a large tree hide the section we call the Kotel.

The Scholars Of Brodi

Friday, November 30th, 2012

A famous scholars of the beis midrash in the city of Brodi was Rav Avraham Gershon of Kitov. This modest and unassuming man possessed such wondrous qualities of goodness and knowledge that the great Nodah B’Yehudah referred to him, in part, as follows:

“The complete and all encompassing scholar, the hallowed pious one, light of Yisrael, the pillar of the right hand, mighty hand….”

Rav Avraham Gershon was, as were all scholars of Brodi, a strong opponent of the Chassidus the Baal Shem Tov advocated at that time. Ironically, however, it was his sister who became the wife of the Baal Shem Tov. At first this made no difference to Rav Avraham Gershon, but as the days passed and he came to know his brother-in-law intimately, he began to behold the great and noble qualities that made the Baal Shem Tov the leader he was. It was not long after that that Rav Avraham Gershon became one of the staunchest supporters of the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings. Indeed, it was he who was sent to Eretz Yisrael to lay the foundation for Chassidus there. The tale of how this came about follows.

Rabi Chaim Ben Atar

In those days Rabi Chaim Ben Atar went up from the Diaspora to Eretz Yisrael. This gaon, known to the wise men of his generation as “similar to an angel of the Lord,” was a man of firm views, who never flattered or bowed to any man. Nevertheless, when it came to the community of Yisrael, he maintained an attitude of respect and awe.

He would always say, “The verse says: ‘These are the words that Moshe spoke.’ All the 40 years that Moshe led Bnei Yisrael in the desert he never spoke harshly to them except for this one verse. Here you should ask the question: ‘Does it not say that Moshe declared: Listen rebels?’ The answer is that Moshe did not say this to the entire community, but rather only to a small group who rebelled against the teachings of the law.”

Patience

Despite his refusal to bow to people, Rabi Chaim was a humble and patient man and forgiving to those who insulted him. It is related that he was involved one time in a case of law. He patiently heard both sides and carefully went over the evidence. Finally, he ruled that the defendant was liable for damages.

When the defendant heard this he flew into a rage and began to insult the rav, even going so far as to impugn his honesty. Rabi Chaim sat quietly, never growing angry or answering the man. Later his students, who were shocked by the affair, asked him in amazement, “Rabi, where is the staunch spirit for which you are so famous?”

“What, in your opinion, should I have done?” he asked

“We feel that this man deserved to have been condemned and driven out of the house and a ban placed on him until he apologized,” the students answered.

Rabi Chaim laughed and replied, “And yet, consider this. The man has been found guilty and his soul is bitter because of it. Nevertheless, the general public will understand this and certainly not suspect me of anything. They fully believe that I have judged the case fairly. What would happen, however, if I placed him under the ban?

“If I did that, if I angrily punished him for insulting me in his time of bitterness, then the people would begin to question my objectivity and my judgment.”

Rav Avraham Gershon Sent To Eretz Yisrael

The great name of Rabi Chaim reached as far as Poland, and the Baal Shem Tov longed to meet him and create with him a center of Torah in Eretz Yisrael. However, certain obstacles arose that prevented the founder of Chassidus from fulfilling his greatest dream. Instead, he turned to his brother-in-law, Rav Avraham Gershon, and asked him to go in his place.

This great scholar was only too willing to comply. His love for Eretz Yisrael was enormous and he left immediately to settle in the city of Hevron. His love for the Holy Land was embodied in the following statement:

Chazal in Gemara Menachos 44a said, ‘One who rents a house in the Diaspora is free from the obligation of affixing a mezuzah for 30 days. Only after that period of time is he obligated. If one, however, rents a house in Eretz Yisrael, he must affix a mezuzah immediately.

The Merit Of Eretz Yisrael

Friday, November 30th, 2012

“And Yaakov became very frightened, and it caused him much pain, and he split the nation that was with him, as well as the sheep, the cattle and the camels, into two camps.” – Bereishis 32:7

Yaakov Avinu received word that his brother Eisav was coming to greet him. He understood fully well that this was not to be a warm family reunion. Eisav came accompanied by a band of four hundred armed men, bent on revenge. The Torah describes Yaakov as “very frightened,” so he prepared for war.

The Rishonim are bothered by why Yaakov would fear Eisav. After all, Hashem had promised to return him to his father’s house in peace. Throughout the many years, Hashem was right there protecting him, guarding him, keeping the promise. Why should he now fear a mere mortal?

The Dos Zakainim answers that Yaakov was afraid of the “zechus of Eretz Yisrael.” For the previous twenty years, Eisav had been living in Eretz Yisrael while Yaakov had not. Therefore, Yaakov was afraid that if he engaged in mortal combat with Eisav, that merit might win the day for him, and Yaakov might die in battle.

This Dos Zakainim is difficult to understand on a number of levels. First, the reason Yaakov wasn’t in Eretz Yisrael was not that he had abandoned the land, but that he fled from Eisav. He spent the first fourteen years in the yeshiva of Shem, and then he worked for Lavan.

But even more pointedly, what possible merit could Eisav have from living in Eretz Yisrael? He wasn’t practicing Torah and mitzvos. Quite the opposite, he was a rasha. His entire existence was focused against holiness. Eretz Yisrael is a land that has an enormous amount of kedushah and cannot tolerate wickedness; it is highly sensitive to tumah. Eisav’s very presence in the land should have been intolerable. So what type of merit would he have from being in that land? It would seem the opposite. His many years of defiling that holy land should work against him, not for him.

The answer to this question can best be understood with a perspective on capitalism.

If a man owns a successful small business, he might do a million dollars a year in sales. But that is the gross revenue, not the amount he takes home. As a rule in business, 15 percent of revenues is a reasonable profit margin. So if his mark-ups are strong and his expenses are in line, he might bring in a net profit of $150,000. Eighty-five percent of the money he earns goes to expenses. And this illustrates an interesting phenomenon. While his only motivation may have been to earn a living for himself, he is providing a substantial gain to those he does business with. In this scenario, $850,000 of his efforts are going to vendors, suppliers, and employees. And while it may not be his intention, he is making a substantial contribution to the economy as a whole.

In the same sense, Eisav was engaged in the building of Eretz Yisrael. While his interests may have been strictly his own, he maintained sheep, owned fields, hired workmen and built fences. His efforts directly benefited the land. It was cultivated and improved because of him. And this was Eretz Yisrael, the land that Hashem chose as the site for the Jewish people to settle, the home of the eventual Beis HaMikdash. Its very ground is holy. While he may not have been a credit to the land, and may not even have felt an attachment to it, because of him the land was built up – and that is a great merit.

Yaakov did not in any sense think that Eisav had more merit than he did as a person. He was well aware of the different lives they led. But Yaakov understood that Eisav had a tremendous zechus: he was responsible for building the land, and because of this Yaakov was afraid. In times of danger a particular merit can stand up for a person, and that can change the outcome of a confrontation.

We Don’t Belong Here

This concept is very relevant to our lives. While we patiently await imminent coming of Mashiach, one of the concepts that must be in the forefront of our minds is that we are in a foreign country. We don’t belong in chutz l’aaretz. It isn’t our home. While the United States is one of the most benevolent lands that has ever offered us residence, a Jew doesn’t belong in Brooklyn. When we build up this land, whether with palaces or impressive businesses, we are building other people’s land.

How Did Yaakov Marry Sisters?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Note to readers: This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

At the beginning of this week’s parshah Yaakov sent a message to Eisav. In the message were the words, “im Lavan garti – I lived with Lavan.” Rashi explains that Yaakov was informing Eisav that he had kept the entire Torah, as the word “garti” is the same numerical value as the amount of mitzvos in the Torah: 613. The following strong question concerning this statement has been discussed by the Rishonim and Acharonim: How could Yaakov say that he kept the entire Torah when he married two sisters, Rachel and Leah, which is biblically prohibited? Additionally, the Gemara in Yuma 28 says that Avraham Avinu kept the Torah; presumably the other avos did as well. How then did Yaakov marry two sisters?

The Ramban, in parshas Toldos (26:5), says that the avos only kept the Torah in Eretz Yisrael. He explains that it was for this reason that Rachel died before Yaakov entered Eretz Yisrael, so that when he entered Eretz Yisrael he was only married to one sister.

Although this answers the second question of how Yaakov married two sisters, it does not answer the first question. For how then could Yaakov say that he kept the entire Torah when in fact he did not keep any of it, as he was not obligated in it while he was chutz la’aretz?

Similarly, the Rama (Teshuvos 10) and the Maharal (Tiferes Yisrael 20) say that only Avraham kept the Torah. Yitzchak and Yaakov did not. This too does not explain the statement made by Yaakov informing Eisav that he kept the Torah in its entirety.

The Radvaz (Teshuvos 696), the Marshah (Yuma 28) and the Perashas Derachim write that Rachel and Leah had to undergo conversion before Yaakov married them. The halacha is that a convert is not considered related to their biological family members. Therefore, a convert may marry a biological relative. Two biological sisters who converted can marry the same man, since they are not considered sisters.

The Nefesh Hachaim suggests that the avos kept the Torah based on what they perceived as necessary for making tikkunim in the world. Once the Torah was given, one is not allowed to make such calculations. However, prior to mattan Torah the avos would violate certain commandments if they believed it was necessary for their avodah. Yaakov married two sisters because he felt that it was necessary in order for him to accomplish his spiritual goals.

The Brisker Rav and Reb Moshe Feinstein (Even Haezer 4:9) offer a different approach in answering both questions. They say that although the avos kept the entire Torah there were several discrepancies. Certain concepts did not yet exist prior to mattan Torah, and regarding those things the avos did not keep the Torah. The Torah only prohibited marrying two sisters via kiddushin. Before mattan Torah the concept of kiddushin did not exist. The Rambam writes in the beginning of Hilchos Ishus that when one wished to marry a woman before the Torah was given, they simply lived together without having any kiddushin. Under those circumstances, one may “marry” two sisters.

The Gemara, in Pesachim 119b, says that Hashem will make a meal for all the tzaddikim. They will ask Avraham Avinu to bentch and he will refuse, saying that since Yishmael came from him he should not bentch. Yitzchak Avinu will refuse because Eisav came from him. Yaakov Avinu will refuse to bentch, for he will say that he married two sisters that the Torah would eventually prohibit. But according to the previous two answers (of the Brisker Rav, Reb Moshe, the Radvaz, the Marshah, and the Perashas Derachim) the Gemara is not understandable. Based on their answers Yaakov had done nothing wrong. Why would he feel that he should not bentch based on his marriage to two sisters who converted, or for simply living together with them without kiddushin? What he had done would have been permitted – even after the Torah was given.

According to the Ramban, that the avos did not keep the Torah outside Eretz Yisrael, and according to the opinions that hold that Yaakov did not keep the Torah at all, we can understand why Yaakov said that he was unfit to lead in bentching, since what he did would become forbidden after the Torah would be given. Similarly, the answer of the Nefesh Hachaim fits well with the Gemara since what Yaakov did would not have been permitted after the Torah was given.

The Secret To Defeating Our Enemies

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Events have been unfolding so rapidly. First it was Hurricane Sandy, which attacked with merciless fury and left multitudes homeless, their cars and belongings swept away. Power failed, not for a day, or for a week, but in some cases for several weeks.

When I was told I could safely return to my house, the power was back on and the poisonous water mixed with sewage that invaded the lower level of my home had been removed. When I reached my community it was evening and before I even arrived to my destination the lights went out again. You couldn’t see anything.

I’d had experience with power failures in the past but this darkness that now enveloped us was totally different. Imagine driving on a street where the streetlights are off and you cannot even see little bright lights flickering from windows.

“Where am I?” you ask yourself. “Is there a car coming toward me? Am I backing into something? Where is my street? Where is my house?”

My regular readers know I connected Sandy, as I have several other unusual occurrences, to the ten plagues that befell Egypt. Our Sages taught us that the manner in which we departed from Egypt would be replayed in the pre-Messianic period. As I was trying to make my way home it occurred to me that this dense darkness was reminiscent of the darkness that enveloped Egypt in the ninth plague. The Torah teaches us that the darkness was so thick it was almost tangible – you could actually feel it and didn’t even know who or what was standing before you.

As I was contemplating all that was going on around me, the news from Eretz Yisrael reached us of deadly rockets and missiles raining down on our brethren. While in the United States many lost their homes, in Israel – may Hashem have mercy – not only were homes destroyed but the very lives of our people were on the line. And then we heard the so-called good news of a cease-fire.

But isn’t that really good news, you ask? I invite you to consider why a people bent on annihilating Israel would desire a “cease-fire.” And why would Prime Minister Netanyahu agree to it? Surely we Jews know that in no time at all the savage murderers will resume their attacks.

The answers are simple. Hamas needed a small break to replenish its deadly arsenal. On the other hand, Netanyahu, like so many of Israel’s past prime ministers, felt he had no choice but to succumb to the pressure exerted by other nations. Some of you are no doubt asking what else Israel could have done – one nation versus the world. Logically speaking the objection makes sense, but there is nothing logical about Jewish survival. From the very genesis of our history we have been attacked by virtually every nation, every great empire, of the world. We were and are “one little lamb” lost among seventy ferocious wolves. What chance did we have for survival?

Was it not just yesterday that Hitler proclaimed his “final solution”? He harnessed 20th century know-how to build gas chambers and crematoria. But as always, we, the Jewish people, defied the odds. Hitler is long gone but we are here and shall always be here, for that is the will of our G-d.

What is our secret weapon? I’ve written about it frequently but it bears repeating – for we simply don’t get it. It is all found in one easy word: “Torah.”

The voice of Jacob, of Israel, is the voice of Torah and the voice of prayer. Yes, the power of our people is in our voice and in our supplications. It is found in our Torah studies, in our observance of mitzvos and in our commitment to Hashem.

Sadly, we have forfeited these precious gems. We no longer know how to sing to our G-d and have allowed Yishmael to seize our weapons. Yishmael prays five times a day. How many times do we pray? The answer should be at least three – but to our shame we pray zero.

I imagine many readers are asking, “Rebbetzin, how can you say that?” Just look around and be honest. Ask yourselves, how many Jews really pray three times a day? How many Jews go to minyan? Yes, the Orthodox do, but how many are they? The Orthodox are just a very small minority. If we are to survive the seventy ferocious wolves we – all of us – must take our weapons into our hands.

After A Few False Starts, A Match Made In Heaven

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I almost never met the man I married.

No, I am not from a very strict chassidishe home where dating is taboo and a brief meeting suffices before the engagement is announced. My husband and I actually dated for a few months, by which time my parents were beginning to grow concerned and the neighbors were having a heyday gossiping about us. But if not for a significant helping of siyata dishmaya, we never would have managed to get together in the first place.

First of all, I was only redd to my husband on the rebound. My brother-in-law had been learning in Lakewood for many years and was in a prime position to scout out prospective chassanim for me. He did some research, came up with a very promising candidate, approached the boy, and suggested the shidduch. Bingo! The bachur was interested in pursuing the shidduch, except for one minor hitch: He had just started dating another girl. I was next in the queue – except that my turn never came. Baruch Hashem, he ended up getting engaged to the girl he was seeing.

So it was back to the drawing board for my brother-in-law. He mentioned the dilemma to his wonderful chavrusah of many years and the two of them brainstormed together. Actually, they just raised their eyes a row or two ahead of them in the huge beis medrash and spotted the chavrusah’s first cousin. He had serendipitously just returned to the U.S. from learning in the finest yeshivos in Eretz Yisrael, in order to start the shidduch parshah. After a brief interlude of “botteling,” the deed was done; they had decided to set up the sister-in-law with the cousin.

The bachur readily approved of the suggestion, and the ball quickly passed to my court. Ordinarily, after past dating blunders, I was generally very fussy and discriminating about the boys I dated, and usually came armed with an exhaustive list of questions and demands, one more trivial than the next. He should not be too tall or too short, too thin or too heavy, beards were definitely out, etc.

This time, however, I either forgot or skipped the interrogation, and accepted the suggestion without launching an FBI investigation. Had I followed my usual pattern, we probably would not have made it to the first step.

The next hurdle was the boy’s name. I had no problem with his unique and cool-sounding first name, but my two very yeshivish brothers were up in arms. That is, until they read that week’s sedrah and encountered that very name in black on white. They then offered a sincere apology along with their blessings.

I later found out that when my mother-in-law was in the hospital following my husband’s birth she had asked her mechanech husband to bring her something to read. He did. A Chumash! She read through several parshiyos and ended up selecting a biblical name that was far from run-of-the-mill.

Kishmo kein hu, like his unusual name, my husband had likewise always been unique in many ways. Following the orchestrations of the exalted Shadchan on High, he also became uniquely mine.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/after-a-few-false-starts-a-match-made-in-heaven/2012/11/28/

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