Marriage is a Gold Mine – Michael Broyde

As posted by Michael Broyde

Marriage provides endless opportunities to gain reward through mitzvos. Whenever you interact with another person, you have the choice of either speaking softly with a smile, or speaking with arrogance and severity. You can choose either to have patience or to be short tempered. You can be forgiving or relentless in looking for shortcomings and failures.

When we see marriage as an opportunity to acquire mitzvos, it takes on a new dimension. Just treating one’s spouse with kindness and consideration brings with it great rewards, which will be felt for generations to come. Remind yourself of this repeatedly throughout the day, so that when you meet your spouse, you will be prepared for the challenge.

Some people are kind and polite away from home, but rude and unpleasant at home. Their public actions are for the sake of display and are not motivated by true chesed. One must learn that the most appropriate place to practice chesed is at home, where you can do so much good and gain so much reward, if you only keep your eyes open to the many opportunities that arise.

In this light, marriage is a gold mine. So many times during the day we can obtain mitzvos so easily, right in the midst of ordinary, mundane activities. When we understand this principle, our outlook on marriage can only be positive. Any negative thoughts we had in the past will be replaced by newly inspired patience for all the trials of marriage, since we now understand that this is for our own benefit and that of our children and grandchildren for generations to come.

Without any temptation – Michael Broyde

As related by Michael Broyde

Fasting on Yom Kippur also fits into this category of mitzvos which have no temptation attached to them. For on Yom Kippur people are entirely engrossed in the holiness of the day and forget or are too awed to think about eating and drinking. Nevertheless, this mitzvah of fasting also receives the great reward mentioned above.

The lesson of this midrash is clear. The impact of our deeds is much greater than we realize. Adam’s one sin caused death to come into the world and affected all the generations to the end of days. We see the impact of his sin constantly, since no one can escape from death.

But if this results from a single sin, imagine how many times greater is the impact of refraining from sin, or doing a mitzva. Our Sages tell us that the influence of a good middah is five hundred times greater than that of a bad middah. If the results of such a sin were felt by every one of us for so many generations, the reward for a positive mitzvah is also felt universally. In the case of Rabbi Yisrael Hagar the impact of his mitzvah was so great that it caused a person to begin observing mitzvos because of it. Even though we may not see such a dramatic impact, it nevertheless has an effect in one way or another. If we realize this and take great care not to sin, we will reap the great reward that awaits us and those who will come after us.

Our Sages say, “G-d wanted to give Israel merit, therefore He multiplied for them the Torah and the mitzvos.”2 Since we have learned from Adam the impact of one single mitzva, we can now appreciate why G-d wanted to multiply this reward. G-d in His great kindness wanted to benefit us, so He gave us many opportunities to gain that reward.

The Impact of Your Deeds – Michael Broyde

As related by Michael Broyde.

A non-religious Jew used to travel to the baths in Karlsbad /\every year for his health. The time he would go coincided 1 with the time when the famous Rabbi Yisrael Hagar, the Vishnitzer Rebbe, would be there. Because the Jew was not religious, he had no contact with the Rebbe.

Once during his yearly visit, he received a telegram with the news that he had been accused of a serious crime, and would soon be put on trial. He found out that if he lost his case he would be put in prison for many years. To prevent this, he would need expert lawyers who would cost him a fortune, and he would have to pay them within two weeks.

He had no way of raising so much money, and so he wandered around listlessly and in despair, thinking that his life was at an end. His friends encouraged him to bring his problem to the Rebbe. At first he refused, but when he saw that he had no other choice, he decided to go to him.

During his audience with the Rabbi, he was so brokenhearted/hat he cried as he told of his plight. The Rebbe gave him the amount he needed as a loan, in spite of the fact that they had never met before, and the Rebbe also blessed him with success in his forthcoming trial. Sure enough, the trial took place and the case was decided in his favor.

A few months later he came to the Rebbe to repay his debt and also to thank the Rebbe, but the Rebbe refused to accept his thanks. Explaining why, he said, “It is G-d that has helped me and given me the means to help other Jews, so why thank me?”

The man was so impressed by the Rebbe, that he changed his entire lifestyle, and began to keep Shabbos and mitzvos as his grandfather had done, even though his father had not been religious and had not taught him anything about Judaism.

Torah is the center of life – Michael Broyde

Torah Should Be the Center of Your Child’s Life
Obviously, not every child will devote his life to learning Torah and not everyone will achieve greatness in Torah. This is expressed in the words of our Sages, when they say that for every thousand who study Torah, only one will become a posek.11 But this should not prevent us from teaching our children the importance of Torah learning, and instilling in them the ambition to make Torah the center of their lives. Your child will decide on his own what he wants to do with his life. It is our task to give him the instruments to choose the greatest quality of life, which is a life devoted to Torah.

Even if he does not choose Torah as his main occupation, the training that we give him in Torah will help enrich his life by teaching him to utilize his free time learning Torah. He will learn early in the morning and after work and will find great satisfaction and fulfillment in that learning. He will live his life according to the laws of the Torah, and thus will find true meaning in his life. A Torah education is the greatest gift you can give your child.

Guard Your Child from Danger
By sending our children to yeshivos we protect them from the evils of secular life. These include drugs, cults, sexually-transmitted diseases etc., all of which are widespread in secular educational institutions. Being in contact with people who are far from Judaism can have a very negative influence, and can jeopardize our children’s spiritual well-being.

Parents usually choose a university based upon its scholastic reputation and a person’s chances of getting a job after he graduates. If your child is determined to go to university, try to influence him to study at a university that will also give him an opportunity for Torah study. Look for one that has a high moral standard and is close to home, so that your child can avoid sleeping in a dormitory. Many university dorms have a very low moral standard. You should do everything possible to keep your child away from dormitory life, even if it will cost you much more money. The spiritual loss your child can suffer in such a place is devastating, and money should not be a consideration when such spiritual danger is involved.

Our task is to enrich our children’s lives with Torah, and the least we can do is to protect them from the harmful influences of a secular education.

Torah Is Merchandise – Michael Broyde

How can the midrash call the Torah merchandise, which seems a mundane term for such a holy item? In the parable of the silk material, each lost what he had possessed before. But in reality many make only a partial exchange and retain some of what they had before. How then is this parable appropriate? Why does one not lose his Torah when he exchanges his knowledge with others? Why did the Torah scholar, while he was on the ship, refuse to reveal that his merchandise was Torah? Why did he wait until they reached land to reveal this? Why did he say that his merchandise was hidden? Why was the scholar willing, by not revealing the truth immediately, to cause his shipmates unnecessary bother in searching for his “merchandise?” How could the Torah scholar have used his Torah wisdom for benefit when we are forbidden to use the Torah as a “hatchet to dig with?”(3) What can we learn from the fact that the other passengers asked him to help them?

Torah Is Merchandise
“For I have given you a good purchase, do not forsake My Torah.”
When they [merchants] agree and exchange materials, the one who previously had silk now has gold-embroidered material, and the one who had gold-embroidered material now has silk.
The midrash calls the Torah “merchandise,” a mundane term for such a holy item. But the way to succeed in Torah is to look at it as precious merchandise. We learn this from the above midrash and also from the verse, “If you shall seek it out as silver.”(4)The reasoning here is that a person generally tends to be concerned more with his physical than his spiritual well being. Therefore our Sages advise us to employ the evil inclination to acquire Torah. This is done by convincing ourselves that not only will we benefit spiritually, but we will also benefit materially by learning Torah. This way our evil inclination will be unable to convince us to neglect the learning of Torah.

The parable of the silk material can be understood in the following way: Although a person may retain part of what he originally bought, this usually does not satisfy him, since he has lost some of the original quantity. Therefore the parable is correct in saying that in regard to material objects, it is impossible to have everything, since you must give something up to acquire something. Whether you give up your money or your merchandise, you must forfeit something to obtain other merchandise.

Teaching Torah Is Pure Gain
…One says to his friend, “Teach me the tractate of Zera’im, and I shall teach you the tractate of Nezikim.” In the end, each one knows two tractates…
When one exchanges Torah knowledge with others, one does not lose anything. Rabbenu Yonah(5) explains this principle based on the passage which states, “For desire one seeks alone.”(6)He explains that when it comes to mundane desires, there is always a lack of unity of purpose since some other person stands in the way of my gaining what I want. Either he has what I want himself, or he wants it. But when it comes to spiritual goals, other people do not prevent me from reaching my goal, since we can both achieve our objectives without detracting from one another. If he knows a tractate of the Talmud, I can know it also, but if he has money, I cannot have that same money.

This is the meaning of the aforementioned midrash. There is no loss when you give knowledge away to others. In fact, the opposite is true, as our Sages say, “From my students I have learned more than I have learned from my rabbis and my friends.”(7) When one expounds Torah to others, it becomes much clearer. I heard this from a friend who personally heard it from the great Steipler Rav, who said, “One page of the Talmud that one teaches to students has the value of fifty pages that one learns without teaching.” By teaching we only gain.

People Don’t Grasp the Power of Torah
He [the Torah scholar] was asked where his merchandise was. He replied, “It is hidden.”
The Torah scholar did not reveal that his merchandise was Torah, since he knew very well that the others on the ship could not grasp the value of Torah and would only ridicule him as a naive person. He understood that it was fruitless to explain or argue, and therefore he avoided confrontation.

He mentioned that it was hidden, since otherwise he knew they would immediately want to see it, and this was impossible. They would not be able to grasp the meaning or value of something which was purely spiritual.

The Torah scholar, by not revealing the truth immediately, did not cause his shipmates any unnecessary bother. It was their own curiosity that bothered them. Once he told them that the merchandise was hidden, they should have respected him and should not have attempted to pry into his secrets.

Rather lose than doubt – Michael Boyde

Rabbi Herman was willing to lose a fortune if there was the smallest doubt regarding the kashrus of his chickens. His love for Torah and mitzvos was much greater than his love for money. We must teach this to our children, so that they too will choose Torah over the temptation of money.

“And G-d spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and they shall bring Me an offering.'”(1) This is what the verse says, “For I have given you a good purchase, do not forsake My Torah.”(2) Why is the Torah called “a good purchase?” It is customary that when two merchants meet, one who has bought silk material, and the other material embroidered with gold, when each discovers what his friend has bought, each asks his friend if he is willing to exchange merchandise. When they agree and exchange materials, the one who previously had silk now has gold-embroidered material, and the one who had gold-embroidered material now has silk [but he does not have what he previously had].
But when one learns Torah, it is not that way. One person learns the tractate called Zera’im, and one learns the tractate called Nezikim. They meet and one says to his friend, “Teach me the tractate of Zera’im, and I shall teach you the tractate of Nezikim.” In the end, each one knows two tractates, both the one he knew before and the one he has just been taught. Where can you find such a great deal? That is what the verse means when it says, “For I have given you a good purchase.”

Another explanation is that someone who buys merchandise and goes out on the road is afraid he might get robbed. But someone who learns Torah has nothing to fear. Can robbers steal the Torah he has within his heart? That is what the verse means when it says, “For I have given you a good purchase.”

Our Sages tell a story of a ship at sea whose cargo was merchandise owned by the passengers. Among the passengers was a Torah scholar. He was asked where his merchandise was. He replied, “It is hidden.”

They asked him, “But why will you not show it to us?”

He replied, “When we reach land, I will show you my merchandise.”

The other merchants searched the ship and could not find any clue to this man’s merchandise, and therefore they laughed at him, since they did not believe he had any merchandise at all.

When they reached land, the local tax collectors came and took all that they had. The people on the ship were left without money for either food or clothing.

The Torah scholar, however, entered the local beis midrash and gave a Torah lecture. The people there, seeing his wisdom, gave him honor and supported him financially. The others who had been with him on the ship approached him and begged, “Please, since you know us from our trip together, give us a recommendation so that we too can find something to eat.”

What was the cause of this scholar’s salvation? It was the Torah that he had in his heart. That is what the verse means when it says, “For I have given you a good purchase.”

Dedication to keeping mitzvos – Michael Boyde

In her book All for the Boss, Ruchoma Shain, the daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Herman, one of the early Torah pioneers in the United States, recounts her father’s dedication to keeping mitzvos. Many guests would eat at his table every Shabbos and Yom Tov, and Mrs. Herman was always busy preparing food for everyone.

“It was on the eve of Hoshana Rabba. Papa went to shul, where he stayed to learn the entire night. Midnight approached and Mama was still busy kashering twenty-four chickens in groups of six.

“I sat watching Mama as she was kashering the chickens.

“The warm and quiet kitchen and the continuous movement of Mama’s hands lulled me to sleep. In my sleep I felt pulled, and I heard a sound coming from afar: ‘Get up Ruchoma, get up!’

“I fought the webs of sleep in order to wake up to find Mama hunched over me. ‘What time is it?’ I asked sleepily.

“‘It’s now the middle of the night,’ Mama answered, and she continued:

“‘I just put in place all the pupiks that I finished kashering, and I noticed that one of them might have a sha’aleh.’ Mama’s words sank with a sigh: ‘They are all mixed up now, so that if this pupik is treif, all of the chickens will be considered…’ Mama didn’t end the sentence, out of fear of the fruition of the terrible thought.

“‘Run to Papa at Tiferes Yerushalayim, and ask him to go to Rav Skander to ask the sha’aleh. Don’t forget to tell Papa that I have no idea which chicken out of the twenty-four the pupik belongs to,’ warned Mama.

“Holding the pupik in a small wet bag, I hurried down the dark foggy street, as my footsteps echoed the worry in my heart. (In the year 1930, Mama wasn’t afraid to send a girl at my young age by herself in the middle of the night, because the streets of the East Side were entirely safe.)

“As I approached the lit shul, I heard many voices excitedly learning. I hurried into the hall, sticking my head through the turning door. Papa sat in the front of the shul with a sefer open in front of him. One of the people recognized me and hurried in my direction.

“‘I have to tell something to my father,’ I said quickly.

He hurried to Papa, tapped him gently on his shoulder and whispered something to him.

“Papa ran to me with a questioning look on his face. ‘Oh, Papa, Mama just finished kashering all the twenty-four chickens, and she combined all the pupiks, and she found a sha’aleh on one of them, and she doesn’t know which chicken it belongs to, and she said that you should go immediately to Rav Skander to ask a sha’aleh.’ I said all this in one breath.

“Papa grabbed his hat, and together we flew through the quiet, sleepy streets. We reached Henry Street within a few minutes. Papa lifted his eyes to the first floor on which Rav Skander lived. Light shone through from the living room. We ascended on our tiptoes, and Papa knocked gently on the door. Rav Skander opened the door himself. ‘Shalom Aleichem, R’ Yaakov Yosef.’ He shook Papa’s hand warmly.

“‘My wife kashered a chicken and found a sha’aleh on this pupik,’ Papa stated the fact. I stared at Papa in shock. I wanted to say that this pupik got mixed up with twenty-four others. Papa’s warning look made me swallow the words in my throat.

“And so, while Rav Skander studied and checked and turned over the pupik from side to side, the fate of twenty-four chickens was sitting on a scale.

“I shuddered as I stood there. What will be if it is treif? All of Mama’s hard work will be for nothing. What will our guests eat on Yom Tov? It had cost so much money. Mama’s pale, tired face floated in front of my eyes and clouded my vision.

“I glanced at Papa. He stood there erect and straight, like a soldier waiting for the verdict of the general. After what seemed like an eternity, Rav Skander lifted his glance and announced ‘Kosher, Kosher.’ The words of relief and salvation rang in my ears.

“After this Papa said: ‘Rebbe, if you would have paskened that this pupik was treif, I would have thrown out twenty-four chickens. My wife doesn’t know which chicken this pupik belongs to.’

“Rav Skander gave Papa a scolding look: ‘Ach, ach, R’ Yaakov Yosef, why didn’t you tell me? If a big loss is involved, I study the sha’aleh differently.’

“‘I never look for heteirim,’ Papa replied. This saying was on his lips and practiced in his actions.

“With the pupik packed once again in the small brown wet bag, Papa and I hurried down the steps.

“‘Run home fast, and tell Mama that the pupik is one hundred percent kosher. Make sure Mama goes to sleep. I am going back to shul.’

“Flying like a bird through the calm streets, my feet were echoing the pace of the words: kosher, kosher, kosher.

“As I broke into the doorway, I couldn’t control myself and called out loud, ‘Mama, Mama, kosher! It’s kosher!’

“Mama heard me and hurried towards me. I fell into her arms, almost making her lose her balance. ‘It’s okay Mama, it’s one hundred percent kosher!’ Mama burst into tears.”