Thursday, November 2, 2017

Special Supplement

This Monday, 17 MarCheshvan, is the yahrtzeit of my Savta, Mrs. Minnie Staum, Shprintza bas Avrohom Yitzchok a’h. Savta was from the Gold family, who were well-known for their chesed and love for every Jew. The words below are appropriate to share in honor of her yahrtzeit. May her neshama have an Aliyah.

Rabbi Leibel Chaitovsky
 Delivered at Ashar on Yahrtzeit of Rochel Imeinu, 11 MarCheshvan 5778
One of the most challenging issues that people struggle with is feeling like no one cares about them. The most painful feeling is to feel one is alone, with no one to help them.
I heard the following story from reliable sources:
During the 1950s there was a middle aged unmarried Jew, who wandered the streets of Brooklyn. No one gave him time of day, and he was sure his life would remain pitiful and that he would never get married.
There was one Rabbi who would give him time, speak to him, and encourage him. When the man expressed his pain at being so lonely, the Rabbi gave him a beracha that things would get better. He assured the man that he would get married, and that he (the rabbi) would dance with him at his daughter’s wedding.
The man eventually straightened out his life somewhat, actually married, and had a daughter. But then, a few years later, in the early 1960s, the man heard that the Rabbi who had encouraged him and told him they would dance together at his daughter’s wedding, passed away. 
Some twenty years later, at the man’s daughter’s wedding, an uninvited, distinguished looking Rabbi came into the middle of the circle and began dancing excitedly with him. Afterwards, the man asked the rabbi who he was. The rabbi replied that his name was “Schneur Kotler” and his father was Rav Aharon Kotler, the great leader of Torah Jewry. Rav Aharon was the rabbi who had given him chizuk, and told him he would dance with him at his daughter’s wedding. 
Rav Schneur told the man, “Before my father died, he told me about the promise he had made to you. He also told me that he realized he would not be able to fulfill his promise. He asked me to keep track of your daughter, and that when she got married, I should come dance with you during the wedding, in his stead.”
It’s amazing that at the end of his life, Rav Aharon thought about the feelings of another Jew, to ensure that he not feel abandoned.
3572 years ago today - 11 MarCheshvan - there was a grave that was virtually abandoned. The woman buried there was basically left there all alone. It was that of Rochel Imeinu.
The truth is that throughout her life she was abandoned. She was the sole shepherd of her father’s flocks. Perhaps it was spiritually uplifting task, but it was also very lonely.
When Yaakov saw her the first time, he cried, because he envisioned that this incredible young woman, would one day be abandoned, and not buried alongside her loving husband.
When Rochel became engaged, she had to wait seven years to marry Yaakov. Then, on the night of her wedding, she was the only one not invited to the wedding. Her entire city was there, at what turned out to be the wedding of Yaakov and Leah. Rochel was hidden at home. We can be sure she spent the entire night crying. The only connection she had to that wedding, was that she had made sure her sister had all the signs to tell Yaakov under the chupah, so she shouldn’t be embarrassed.
When Rochel finally married Yaakov, Leah had her own tent, and Rochel had her own tent. Leah had a few children in her tent, while Rochel remained alone. Rochel prayed so hard for children, and she finally had Yosef, and announced “my shame has been removed”. But she never had the chance to enjoy her second son Binyamin, because she died in childbirth. Yaakov then hastily buried her, ‘abandoning’ her on the side of the road.
Rav Aharon Leib Steinman shlita, the 103-year-old leader of our people, (Hashem should give him a refuah shleimah), in his sefer, asks two questions about Rochel’s burial:
Avrohom paid so much money to bury Sarah, so why Yaakov didn’t pay anything to bury Rochel?
Furthermore, why didn’t Yaakov build something upon the area? Why did he leave it abandoned? Why didn’t he build a chesed house, or something significant there?
My mother, is in her 90s – she should live and be well – and lives in the home of my brother. On one occasion, my brother was going away for a few days. So, I called my mother and invited her to come live with us during that time, so she shouldn’t be alone. She replied, “I’m never alone!”
Rochel, who was buried alone, remains a symbol and a source of chizuk for all Jews who feel abandoned and alone. No matter how bleak their situation, they have a mother to whom they can cry out to.
I have a nephew who delivers a weekly shiur at Kever Rochel. I called him last night and asked him what he was speaking about this week. He said he didn’t prepare yet, because he isn’t giving the shiur this week until Thursday night. When I asked him why, he said that there are so many masses of people arriving on the yahrtzeit that it’s impossible to deliver a shiur anywhere in the building.
So many Jews fill the kever – so many people who feel alone and abandoned in any part of their lives, come there to feel chizuk and to feel encouraged. This dates back thousands of years to when our ancestors, who felt abandoned after the churban of the first Bais Hamikdash and were being marched into exile, went to Kever Rochel to daven. 
A Jew should never feel abandoned. He is truly never alone!


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