Letters To The Editor

Timely vs. Untimely

Dear Editor,

We are all reeling from the horrific events that took place in Pittsburgh last Shabbos and we wonder how can such a thing happen? Here is a story I read that might put things somewhat into perspective.

A few years ago, a tragedy occurred in Eretz Yisroel, when a well-known women was killed in a car accident. When R’ Chaim Kanievsky shlit’a came to the house to be מנחם אבל, he was asked: how is this possible? This lady was a teacher on her way to teach young students Torah and mitzvos, and we know what the gemara (פסחים ח:) says: "שלוחי מצוה אינן ניזוקין" – “(One who is) on his way to perform a mitzvah will not be injured”? How could such a terrible misfortune have happened?

R’ Chaim answered by quoting the words of Rashi in the beginning of Parshas Chayei Sarah: “The death of Sarah is close to (the parsha of) Akeidas Yitzchok, because after she heard how her son was almost shechted, her soul left her and she died.” It would seem that Sarah Imeinu died as a direct result of the Akeidah! But again, how is this possible?

The answer, said R’ Chaim, is that it is not the performance of mitzvos that causes a person to pass away. Rather, when Hashem decides that a person has fulfilled his or her purpose on this world and is now ready to move on to a greater reward in the World to Come; so, if he or she lived a life of righteous piety, then Hashem will bring about that person’s death by way of a mitzvah. This adds glory to the person for it appears that he or she died with an extra measure of Mesiras Nefesh! Furthermore, Chazal tells us that a person who dies in the midst of a mitzvah is as if he has fulfilled the entire Torah!

If we apply this idea to the men and women who died in Pittsburgh, our consolation is in the fact that we should not look at their deaths as “untimely”; in fact, it was “timely” – just as Hashem evaluates a person’s actions and adjusts his “time” on this world accordingly, He looked at these wonderful people and did the same. May Hashem avenge their blood. המקום ינחם אותנו בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Respectfully,

A Devoted Reader

To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate

Dear Editor,

I understand the importance of vaccination, and the associated risks that are possible if one doesn't vaccinate. However without judging me negatively, I wish to express my feelings why I don't vaccinate.

There are numerous studies showing the possible links between vaccinations and terrible side effects. And my question is are we worse off?

Diabetes: Over the past four decades, intensive national mass vaccination campaigns have dramatically increased vaccination rates among American children who now are getting 34 doses of 10 different viral and bacterial vaccines before they enter kindergarten. Recent published data in the medical literature suggest increasing numbers of childhood vaccines may be playing a role in the big jump in the number of cases of juvenile diabetes

Autism: Although it's a big debate and you can find articles and studies either way the fact remains that there is an increase number of autism cases. The prime suspect is the MMR shot.

There are other issues that are linked to vaccinations including ADHD, food allergies, eczema and others. Do the pros really outweigh the cons over here?

Ben Vacunar

Olam Chessed Yibaneh!

There’s no panic quite like discovering that your suitcase has disappeared from underneath the bus right before a two-day-long chag in another city. That’s what happened to me and my husband, only a few hours before Rosh HaShana in Ramat Beit Shemesh. After calling everyone we could think of in the community for help, we decided to walk back through Beit Shemesh and check the bus stops, in the hope that our suitcase had just fallen out and been left behind.

There were two hours left until chag, and no one was around. Stores were closed, buses had stopped running, and all the people were already holed up in their houses doing last-minute prep. There were no stray suitcases anywhere, and time was ticking closer and closer to the holiday. Patience had fled, and full-blown panic had set in.

After about forty minutes, we had to cut our losses. Suitcase or no suitcase, at the very least we could make sure we had beds for chag. Resigned to the situation, the two of us turned back and began trekking up the long hill to Ramat Beit Shemesh. That was when a car pulled up beside us. An Israeli man leaned out the window and called to us, “Where do you need to go?” We were so grateful for the tremp (hitchhike) that we packed ourselves immediately into the backseat. It turned out that the two Israeli men lived right down the street from our hosts for chag. Very quickly our whole story came tumbling out, and the men were shocked. “All of your things are lost?! What are you going to do for the holiday?”

“We’ll manage,” Shlomo responded. “No, you can’t just ‘manage,’” said the driver. “We’re going to help you.” He jerked the car around and began driving the opposite direction, as his friend whipped out his phone and checked our bus route on Moovit. “Let’s check the bus stops again, just to be sure,” he said, and directed the driver as we drove back across the city. Alas, no suitcase.

“Doesn’t matter,” said the driver. “Don’t worry. We’re going to take care of you both.” He threw a grin back at us and began to record a voice note to his wife as we sped back to Ramat Beit Shemesh. “Mami, we have a couple here, they lost their bag and they don’t have anything for the chag. We need pants, a dress shirt, some skirts and dresses – What size dress are you? – shoes for both of them, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, socks, pajamas… Send a message out to the WhatsApp group, we’ll get everyone to give things.”

Shlomo and I stammered our thanks as we pulled into the driveway of an apartment building. The man in the passenger seat told Shlomo to come with him for clothing, while I followed the driver upstairs to his apartment. The man’s wife met me at the door with the biggest, warmest Israeli welcome, beckoning me in with a huge smile.

Dazed, I followed her in as she and her daughters threw open their closets and pressed clothing into my arms, dresses and skirts and headscarves, almost too much to carry. She packed everything we could need into a bag, and offered me perfume and makeup that I had to repeatedly refuse. The kindness was overwhelming, and it was such a dramatic shift from the panic of an hour ago that I almost cried.

At the same time, my mother had called a friend and secured me even more clothing for chag. People I had never met were double-checking my dress size and rummaging through their closets for me. I couldn’t even imagine how I deserved such a thing.

Meanwhile, the neighbor had taken Shlomo to the suit store that he owned, and he had given– given, not lent – two beautifully crisp, brand-new white shirts and fitted him with a sleek, slim-fit navy blue suit. Shlomo was showing me the Sfardi tzitzit just as the man appeared with a pair of dress shoes and a leather belt for him. “These should fit you, they’ll be perfect.”

They did fit, and they were perfect. We thanked both families no less than a thousand times, weak in the knees from the chesed and the care they had shown us. We were blown away.

When finally we arrived at our hosts’ house, laden with the new clothes, we knew that our lives had been forever changed. These people were malachim, literal angels that had saved us. And we could have lived without it. But those families made it so that we didn’t have to.

Epilogue: We did get our suitcase back in the end! Two days after Rosh Hashana, Shlomo got a call from an unknown number. A lady in Bnei Brak had accidentally taken our suitcase off the bus, and when she tried to find identification inside so she could return it, all she’d found was the name “WEBER” scrawled inside a book cover and a small box of medication with our names on it. She called our kupa (health clinic) and told them the situation, and they gave her our number! By that evening, the suitcase was back in our apartment.

We bought a luggage ID tag the next day.

Lisa Weber

 

Our Avos’ Mission

Dear Editor,

I had a thought about the weekly parsha. While Avraham was given the directive lech lecha “go into yourself and understand who you are” by G-d, Yaakov, out of free will, engages in a Vayetze, a leaving of his internal place to an external mindset. This is because Avraham and Yaakov had two different missions. Avraham had to build himself from the inside out to create an inner core that could take on a world of atheism and convert it to a state of monotheism, while Yaakov had to engage in external battles with his brother and the yetzer hara that is a constant force to try to thwart Torah learning.

Looking into ourselves and fighting the external battles are essential traits needed to succeed in our daily lives.

Sincerely,

Steven Genack

 

Important Safety Notice

In order to avoid any uncomfortable or sticky situations,please be aware that public schools are no-trespassing zone during school hours.Schools are now taking new safety measures and strangers on school property will be reported.

For example,the shortcut from Main Street To Robert Pitt passes through Elmwood Elementary School and is considered school property.If you do trespass,they can potentially take legal action.Despite the inconvenience,please advise anyone that uses school shortcuts not to use it during school hours.

Also,please keep in mind that weekdays during yom tov such as Sukkos and Shavuot are typical school days and shortcuts that pass through school property may not be used.

Wishing all of Klal Yisroel a safe and secure environment,

A concerned Monsey resident