Two weeks ago, I wrote about a good friend with a long-time employee who left my friend’s family business, taking all the customers with him. It was devastating, but my friend stayed amazingly calm. After Shabbos, he wrote me a post-script, listing a few corrections and wonderful insights.
“For the sake of accuracy, I’d like to correct some details in last week’s story. The ‘employee’ had worked for my family for over 40 years. Before he left, he did not convince my clients to leave me. Rather, he downloaded all their information to use with his new employer. Months later, clients who had been with my firm for decades began leaving in droves. I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. The ‘losses’ were adding up to tens of thousands of dollars.”
“Baruch Hashem, I have strong relationships with my rebbeim from yeshiva. One person I called quoted his father who said, ‘Nisyonos (challenges) of money are the cheapest form of nisyonos a person can have.’ Another rebbe of mine told me, ‘Someone can take your clients, but not your parnassa (livelihood).’ With these insights, I have been able to calm the raging storm in my head. Hashem has compensated me for any losses (I think I incurred), with new clients. So, if you ask me, ‘What is your best investment tip?’ I’d say, to invest in your relationship with a rav or rebbe. Nisyonos take many forms to rock your boat, but a rebbe is your anchor.”
This week, I was again deeply inspired. I chanced upon a video clip featuring Yossi Hecht, a 20-year-old with a spinal tumor. Yossi described how in July he underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove the tumor. After the surgery, Yossi wasn’t able to relieve himself, so needing a catheter seemed likely. He asked his rebbe, Rabbi Dovie Kielson, what he could do as a merit to avoid this unpleasant procedure. Rabbi Kielson quoted Rabbi Shimshon Pincus who said that if we would thank Hashem by properly reciting the blessing of Asher Yatzar (recited after utilizing the bathroom), there would be no sick people in klal Yisrael. He urged people to stand in one place whenever reciting this blessing. So, 200 boys accepted this practice upon themselves, and two days later, miraculously, Yossi was able to relieve himself on his own. Yossi still needs a refuah sheleima and he produced Asher Yatzar magnets to remind people to stand in one place and concentrate when saying the blessing.
This week is Parshas Parah. Rav Shimon Schwab points out that the source of our practice is from the beginning of Parshas Chukas, which discusses the laws of the parah adumah (red heifer). “This is the law of the Torah...speak to the Bnei Yisrael.” We understand from this pasuk the need to read the current section of the Sefer Torah and explain the importance of the parah adumah (red heifer).
The Midrash compares the impure person who becomes purified with the sprinkling of the ashes of the parah adumah, to Avraham, the child of Terach who worshiped idols. The Sfas Emes discusses the concept of someone impure becoming pure. Avram, the child of Terach, became Avraham our forefather. Yisro, the priest of Midian, became Yisro the father-in-law of Moshe Rabbeinu. A Jew is never stuck in a state of impurity—he can always become pure.
My friend and Yossi Hecht were both blessed with rebbeim who were able to give them the guidance they needed to take their own personal challenges—money and health—and use these to lift themselves up and become closer to Hashem.
Yossi Hecht further inspired me with a new insight on our parsha. When we eat food, our body breaks down the food and absorbs the nutrients from it. Our kidneys filter out all the toxins and the cleansed blood then perfuses our organs, while waste is expressed out. The good and the bad, the pure and impure are all sorted out inside us. Another parallel to the parah adumah.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus spreading globally, many people are scared. What can we do? Let us learn from the parah adumah and the words of Rav Pincus. At the very least, let’s stand focused while reciting Asher Yatzar, thanking Hashem for filtering out the toxins from our system and leaving the pure to nourish us. We can do this many times each day.
Yossi tells me his phone is ringing off the hook asking for the magnets. I ordered some to send out as a merit for refuah sheleima for Rafael Tzvi Lipa ben Esther Raichl, Rabbi Heshy Hirth, the beloved dean of my children’s yeshiva.
With this merit of meaningfully reciting Asher Yatzar, may we all be healthy and well.
Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Livingston and West Orange. He initiated and leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. He has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis medrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in Livingston, Fort Lee and a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected] For more info about PTI and its full offering of torah classes visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.