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Here is one of the reasons why it is so hard for a Jew to be spiritual, but first, a famous joke. There was a group of researchers that were looking for someone to fly to outer space, to be their astronaut on their test launch. They asked an Arab, “How much do you need – what will it cost us to send you on a test flight to outer space?”

The Arab said, 20 dollars. The price of cigarettes, and some Turkish coffee.

They asked an American how much it would cost them to send him in their trial launch. He said, 40 dollars. The price of a cheeseburger, a hotdog, and some beer.

They asked a Jew. “It will cost you 2,000 dollars. 1,000 for me, and 1,000 for the one who will fly instead of me.”

The Jews are the greatest delegators of the world, in one way or another. This is why it is so hard for us to be spiritual! You can’t delegate spirituality! You need to pray yourself; you need to learn yourself; you need to make Shabbat yourself, clean Pesach yourself, build your own Sukkah, raise your own kids. Of course, there are plenty who try and delegate those mitzvoth, but there is only a certain amount you can delegate, without it taking its toll. Even if you “buy” a whole Shabbat, you can’t have someone else eat the Shabbat meals for you, or keep Shabbat for you.

Of course, there are Mitzvoth that you can have others do, and you can be a partner in those Mitzvoth. For example, you can support Torah, and it is considered as if you learned it yourself. All the Torah that is learned by others, that was generated by you, goes to your merit.

I learned with a philanthropist, a great man, for almost ten years, every day on Skype. A great man, Albert Chehebar, a”h. Of course, my rates for teaching are the same for the wealthy and not-so-wealthy, I always charge as cheap as I can, 30 dollars for a half hour session, as שכר בטלה. Bero would always give me double what I charged him.

My father-in-law has a yeshiva of 400 students in Telz-stone that he supports, Yeshivat Be’er Yitzhak. He asked me, when the Yeshiva grew too much for him to support alone, for help with fundraising. It was hard for me to ask Bero for a donation, as I was warned by people who I trust and respect, other personal Rabbis who fundraise, that many wealthy people don’t like being asked by the people they learn with for donations. Soliciting from your learning partner can compromise your relationship. I might risk, by asking Bero for a donation, that he would stop learning with me, and then I am not sure if he would be learning, himself, anymore.

So, I asked my Rabbi what to do, especially because, these “advisors” said, that taking such a risk, would only make sense, if you would be risking your relationship for your own organization or yeshiva. “This is not your Yeshiva.”

My Rabbi responded that my father-in-law’s yeshiva is a great yeshiva, with no percentages taken, so it is everyone’s yeshiva and responsibility to support. My father-in-law’s responsibility to fundraise, is not greater than my own. Regarding the fear that Bero would stop learning with me, my Rabbi said that the money he would give to support the students is such a great merit that it would outweigh the value of him learning himself. So if he would stop learning Torah because of this, his donation would have greater merit! I was shocked to hear that. But here is why, it makes sense:

One of the interesting laws of the Holy Ark was that it was forbidden to ever remove the poles that were used to support it. בְּטַבְּעֹת֙ הָאָרֹ֔ן יִהְי֖וּ הַבַּדִּ֑ים לֹ֥א יָסֻ֖רוּ מִמֶּֽנּוּ This is to teach the concept that those who support the Torah, are symbolized by the poles that carry the Ark. The Torah was found in the Holy Ark, and the meaning of not removing the poles, was to symbolize that the supporters of Torah learning, will never be separated from the Torah, even in the next world. Just as Yosef was taught by the Angel Gavriel 70 languages the night before meeting with Pharoah, so too, before the supporter of Torah goes to the Next World, he is taught all the Torah he supported, as the Torah he supported never leaves him.  I would be getting the merit of all the Torah that I would fundraise for.

My Rabbi told me, “Yosef, you can’t know if what you do for yourself will stay with you. But what you do for others, no one can take away from you.”

Well, Bero not only gave a generous donation, but his family continues his pledge, until today. And Bero kept learning with me until his health deteriorated, and he could not anymore. I still learn with two of his sons, and with one of his grandchildren.

We sometimes feel that our Torah learning is not so important to G-d, like the learning of those who are the Torah scholars, with many hours of intense Torah study. But it is not that way! What is most important to G-d is the desire to learn, more than the learning itself! As we see that on top of the Holy Ark there were the Cherubim, two angels with baby-faces, that looked toward each other, as the Torah is learned in pairs, with a learning partner, a Habruta. (Baal Haturim) But what is so interesting is that the representation of the Torah scholar, studying, in not an elderly Gadol Hador, or someone who is in Kollel, or a Beit Midrash student…it is specifically a child, looking upward, desiring a connection with G-d! The symbol of these Cherubim, is of the desire to want to know, what G-d wants from us to know. Yearning, trying to understand, trying to grasp. That is the dearest, and most precious to G-d. Yearning for Torah is not something you can delegate.

Bero would tell me that there are two things that money can’t buy. Health and family. Those two were the most important to him. Well, we had a discussion about being able to buy Olam Haba, which of course, to a certain extent, you can, with paper, with money. But the desire, the yearning to connect, that can’t be done through anyone else.  It can’t be delegated.

The time has come for the prophecy of Amos to be fulfilled. הִנֵּ֣ה׀ יָמִ֣ים בָּאִ֗ים נְאֻם֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְקֹוִ֔ק וְהִשְׁלַחְתִּ֥י רָעָ֖ב בָּאָ֑רֶץ לֹֽא־רָעָ֤ב לַלֶּ֙חֶם֙ וְלֹֽא־צָמָ֣א לַמַּ֔יִם כִּ֣י אִם־לִשְׁמֹ֔עַ אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֥י יְקֹוָֽק:There will be a day, in the End of Days, when there will be a tremendous thirst for Torah. We are seeing that prophecy come to fruition. Just last week, I learned with someone from Hollywood, who wanted me to give him a class on why and how being Jewish and practicing Judaism will make the world a better place. That was his first class. I told him the idea of The Art of Being a Light to The Nations, from just two weeks ago. He is hooked.

The Talmud teaches that only those who learn Torah, or support Torah will merit having the Dew of Torah, the Dew that is needed to resurrect the dead, in Techiat Hametim, in the End of Days. (Ketubot 111b) Torah learning is so important, the learning of each and every student, that the reason why the Jews needed to serve 210 years in Egypt was because when Avraham fought against the kings, he drafted 318 students to help his military efforts – 318 students that could have stayed behind and learned! (Nedarim 32a) The war did not last that long, but every moment of Torah learning, of every student, is so important, that it took its toll.

So how do we begin to learn Torah, when we have been out of it for so long? The answer is, start with the smallest amount. Take your learning goal, split it in half, and then split that, in another half. That quarter, is what you should do. Start small, as small as possible. The Ark’s measurements were all half measurements, to teach you this.

Here is a story from Rabbi Zaid this week. The law of the IDF, is that they won’t allow a single child fight in combat. There was this soldier, an only son, that so badly wanted to fight in this Gazan war. He got his parents to sign the IDF documents, that his parents would confirm him to fight this war, and enter Gaza. These non-religious parents were torn, but their son was adamant, so they signed for him, and hoped for the best.

Things did not turn out well. The mother could not sleep at night, as she could not reach her son, because they could not take their phones into Gaza. She would toss and torn in bed, and just could not sleep at night. Every car that would pass, she imagined that the IDF was coming to tell her something happened to her son. One night, with all this anxiety, and not sleeping anyway, she decided to go for a walk, past midnight. She threw off her blanket, and in the still of the night, she passed a synagogue, that the light was on. She never before entered a synagogue, but since she had no one who she could talk to, she decided to talk to G-d! There was someone inside, saying Tehillim, after Tikkun Hatzot. She asked this elderly religious man, what would G-d want from her to do, as a Segulah for the safety of her son, Leor?

The man said, I am not a Rabbi. Let us open a siddur, and see what page G-d will allow us to open up to. They opened up to Zemirot Shabbat!  כי אשמרה שבת א-ל ישמרני, Because I will keep Shabbat, Almighty G-d will protect me!

He said to her, Dear mother! Keep Shabbat, and G-d will protect you!

She turned to G-d and said, I will do anything. She went over to the Aron Hakodesh, made her prayers for Leor, and left!

She found out what it meant to keep Shabbat. No phones, no TV, no turning on/off lights and air conditioner, no elevator, no preparing food, no cigarettes, and there are problems with opening and closing the refrigerator. This was too hard for her and her husband to keep! All we are supposed to do, is talk with each other, for 24 hours?! She was only able to get her husband to keep from 5 until 8 pm, Friday night. She agreed, that she would light the candles, she would make the Kiddush, and she would make the Havdalah. Havdalah would be, at 8 pm, Friday night!

These three hours did not turn out so easy for the husband. After two hours, at 7pm, he went for the remote of the TV, and the remote of the A/C. The mother, stopped him. “This is for G-d to protect our only son! Please be respectful! Just one more hour!” He put down the remotes, and plopped down in frustration on the couch. At 8 pm, the mother made Havdallah.

That Shabbat, the first Shabbat they entered Gaza, and RPG hit their son’s tank, and each and every person in their son’s tank, 7 soldiers lost their lives. The only one who survived, without a scratch, was Leor! The sergeant wrote that this was a miracle that Leor survived!

Leor sat with his parents and told them his story. What was amazing, was that the time that the RPG hit the tank, was exactly at 7 pm, Friday night, when his father struggled with the remote! From then on, the mother keeps Shabbat, from beginning till the end, with Rabbeinu Tam!

About the author, Yosef

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