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There is a Jewish story everywhere

Hashem’s timing can be exquisite

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By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO–Yaakov left his father’s tent at the precise same moment that Esav entered the tent, just like two people going through a revolving door, so they did not see each other. Had the timing been off by even one second, the angry Esav would have killed Yaakov on the spot.

Hashem watches over us with amazing exactitude, as the following true story, submitted by Rabbi Refoel Levitt, Denver, Colorado, illustrates:

Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky ztz”l, was one of the gedolei hador of the 20th century.  As a young man, he learned in the famous Slobodka Yeshiva. There he excelled in his Talmudic
learning.  The depth and breadth of his knowledge was dazzling.  His insight and analytic precision was knife-like.  Even back then, people knew that he was destined to be one of
the greatest Rabbis of our time.

Torah is infinite. Even a genius of his magnitude, a giant who plunged the depths of the wellsprings of Torah is not going to know and understand ALL of Torah. Indeed there was
one particular Gemorah topic which Reb Yaakov did not know pshat (understanding), despite much effort. He tried, he toiled but he just could not fully comprehend this Gemorah. He revisited this Gemorah many times but never got pshat.

Years later, when he was a Rosh Yeshiva in America, he was told that his shiur would be observed on a certain day by the “administration.”  Sure enough the day those people
were going to observe fell on the day that that Gemorah would be covered.
As the day approached, he prayed to Hashem for help.  He reviewed the Gemorah from every angle, dissecting it every way possible.  He continued this day after day, but he still did not know the Pshat. The morning of the observation he seemed as far away as ever from understanding the Gemorah.  Walking into the shiur room, he still did not have pshat.
He said to himself that this was it.  Time was up.  He would tell the talmidim that he did not know Pshat and he was sure that he would be fired.
As he was saying over the Gemorah to his talmidim, the pshat suddenly came to him.  He expounded it triumphantly, with energy, enthusiasm, and clarity.

When he recounted the story later he explained that he did not have the zchus to understand the Sugiah on his own merits as a Talmid or a Rebbi.  But in the zchus of his parnasa
(livelihood), Hashem gave him the Pshat so he could keep his job.

When I told this story to my daughter, Sarah Baila Lederman, she told me that as she was listening she expected the end of the story to be that he got the pshat in the merit of telling
the truth, or in this case, deciding to tell the truth.

Although I do not know for sure, I believe a possible reason Reb Yaakov did not attribute the gift of pshat to the merit of his telling the truth, is because Reb Yaakov was so steadfastly and uncompromisingly committed to truth, that it would never occur to him to lie.  Hence he wouldn’t consider it anything extraordinary that he was going to tell the truth despite
the consequences.

Dedicated by Dr. & Mrs. Frank Felber in honor of the 7 Kislev Yahrtzeit of Sarah bas Shmuel.


Rabbi Baruch Lederman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego

Written by sandiegojewishworld

November 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm

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