This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Naso (5772)
This week’s Torah reading contains 18 commandments and one of them is that the priests (Cohanim) should bless the people with the following blessing. “May G-d bless you and protect you. May He shine His face on you and grace you. May he raise his face to you and give you peace.”
There are a lot of details here that require explanation but the first sentence, May G-d bless and protect you”, is, at first glance, not so well understood. Why does it have to include protection? If G-d blesses us and doesn’t protect us then the blessing isn’t worth much. Obviously He must protect as well! Why is it necessary to say it?
To understand this, here is a miraculous story I just heard from the man it happened to.
Mr. Smith. although he is a lawyer and well above the maximum age of our pupils; because learning Torah makes one younger and smarter, is one of the pupils in our Yeshiva.
He relates that in the year 2,000 he experienced a big miracle. Three of his children, two boys and one girl were engaged to be married and not only did he have no money for the weddings, he didn’t even have sufficient funds to fly to the weddings!
Things looked really bad and he was worried. His restaurant was having a bad year; he already owed money and had mortgaged his home so getting a loan was almost out of the question. Where would the money come from? “What am I going to do? How can I pay for those weddings?” He asked himself out loud.
But his wife wasn’t worried. “Hershel”, she kept telling him. “Don’t just stand there and complain and do nothing… pray!”
So he prayed, and prayed and even said psalms at every free moment but the deadline approached and his debts, and worries just increased.
Finally, in desperation, his wife suggested that instead of wandering around the house worrying in his free time that he should DO something positive… like… clean up his home office.
This was no simple job. The room had not been really put into order for many years and had absolutely nothing to do with solving his debts. He wanted to concentrate on his problem! But to make his wife happy he did it. It was tedious work; there was a lot of dust and tons of useless papers that had to be trashed and after working for a few hours with no apparent progress he was just about to give up when he noticed a neat bundle of official looking papers.
He took a closer look and realized they were one hundred shares of Northern Natural Gas stocks at seven dollars per share that he had purchased 24 years earlier in 1976!
He tried to remember when and why he bought them but couldn’t. The main thing was…. Were they worth anything? He sat before his computer, typed in the name and found that they were worth….. nothing! There was no such company! He tried all sorts of combinations of names and spellings but… after all, 24 years is a long time!
But he didn’t throw them away. He had nothing to lose so he took them the next day to his restaurant and, at lunch break, brought them to a stock brokerage down the street and asked them if it was possible to check if they were worth anything.
“Just one minute” the broker said, “I’ll have a look here” and he began searching the web as only a stock broker can. But he too came up with nothing.
So Mr. Smith left the stocks at the brokerage at the request of the broker who promised he would make a more thorough search when he had free time.
Two days later, after Smith had already forgotten the entire affair and was back to worrying full time about the upcoming weddings, he got a telephone call. It was the broker.
“Mr. Smith? I have some news for you. Twenty years ago Northern Natural Gas was bought out by another company who, two years after that, merged with yet another company. Then that third company merged with someone else and a few years later it was bought out by a company called with Enron gas which is a multi billion dollar concern. So, to get to the point, today you own 600 shares of Enron at 80 dollars a share.”
Mr. Smith managed to say four words …… “It’s a miracle. Sell!”
The next day he had $48,000 more dollars in his bank account: certainly enough to fly his family to, and even pay a large portion of, all three weddings.
His wife, although very happy and grateful to the Almighty, was not really surprised at all. “I told you to just pray and clean up your room! See, the same G-d who made us the weddings gave us the money to pay for them!”
But the story isn’t over.
A month later Mr. Smith casually opened to the financial page of his daily morning paper and read the headlines: “Enron management indicted for FRAUD! Stocks fall to ……. THREE CENTS A SHARE!!!”
He read and re-read the article to see if it was really the same company and if the stocks really dropped so drastically ….. it was and they did. No doubt about it…. It was a double miracle; G-d blessed AND protected him!
But it REALLY hit home when, three months later he got a call from the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission! It seems that it is a crime to have inside information on the stock exchange and to use that information to manipulate the market. And that is exactly what it seemed clear to them that Mr. Smith had done!
If he didn’t have some sort of inside ‘tip’ how could he possibly have known to sell those shares at their highest price, just days before they pummeled to almost nothing?!
They informed him that if he didn’t give a satisfactory explanation they would have to subpoena him to court.
So he explained the entire thing; about the upcoming weddings and the stocks he found. He sent them copies of the transaction and of the original stocks along with invitations to the three weddings and hoped for the best.
A week later the investigator called Mr. Smith said he received all the evidence and admitted that if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes he would never believe it. “The Good L-rd really kept an eye out for you didn’t He?” were his concluding words.
This answers our questions. One of the biggest sins in Judaism is Idolatry. It means worshiping anything other than the Creator.
The reason that the other religions believe in ‘other gods’ is that they think that G-d is too ‘high’ to get involved in the details of our lives so He put our fate in the hands of spirits or people or powers.
But the priestly blessing of the Cohanim declares that this is not so: Rather ….. G-d PERSONALLY blesses and even protects us. In other words G-d is not only involved with us he CARES for us, provides, blesses and even protects us and each of His creations.
That is why we should pray and believe in Him alone; not to his creations or representatives.
But, on the other hand, these blessings DO come through the Cohanim! And that is only because they bring us closer to observe the commandments of the Torah.
And so will the Moshiach. As the Rambam writes in the end of his all encompassing masterpiece “Yad HaChazaka” that Moshiach will cause the Creator to personally bless and protect ALL mankind filling the world with blessing, peace and meaning.
This all depends on us. As Mr. Smith’s wife told him: we must pray but we also must clean up our ‘office’. Certainly each of us has treasures of good and meaning just waiting to be revealed but we must work on ourselves to find it. That is the purpose of learning the Chassidic teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (see your local Chabad House for details).
Then, just one more good deed, word or even thought can bring …..
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