Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Shevat 5760 - February 2, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
They All Return to You
by N. Beer

[Synopsis: A Jew acknowledges his paternal heritage, morasha kehillas Yaakov, when he gets up each morning. Torah is there for the taking. This story shows the unifying power of Torah, and how it can transform lives. We have briefly met R' Feivel Kalmanovitz, the widower pensionnaire, Yaakov Shafer, the supermarket manager, and his yeshiva dropout helper, seventeen-year-old Motty, and R' Zev, who gives the daily Daf Yomi shiur. We carry on with...]

Abe Shorr, a famous and successful lawyer, had studied in a Hesder yeshiva (National Religious) in his youth and his Torah knowledge was just a few levels beyond perfunctory. With the years, and with financial success, he had sunk deep in the totally secular financial world. Only lately had he begun to feel the weight of years upon his shoulders and the realization had dawned that it was time to enrich his spiritual world, as well. His soul prompted him to look for `something extra,' an added dimension in life beyond material success. At this receptive stage, he had come upon an ad posted on an electric pole in his neighborhood inviting the public to a daily shiur. "Ah, this is exactly what I need!" he had exclaimed to himself at first. His second thought was, "Whenever will I find the time in my busy schedule?" And what would his colleagues say? He read further and noted the time of this shiur: 6:15. This would not interfere with any appointments etc. Reassured, he found himself at Rechov Beit Habechira 5 the very next Sunday morning -- and every morning since.


The bottleneck on the Tel Aviv highway was severe with cars moving at a snail's pace. The airconditioning was working full force but Yechiel Ozeri felt suffocated. He would again be late to his bakery in the heart of Tel Aviv. An optimist by nature, he realized that fretting would not make things better and decided to create an atmosphere of serenity. He slid a tape into the car recorder, expecting to hear some music but to his astonishment, he heard a deep, throaty voice talking to him, directly to him, saying things meant for his very ears. It was a fascinating talk on a Torah subject. Where had it found its way among his pile of Oriental music tapes? Ah, he remembered. The previous day, when he had stopped off to fill up on gasolene, someone had handed it to him and he had automatically put it with the rest of the tapes.

The rabbi's words were heartwarming and convincing. He spoke about man's ultimate purpose in this world, about temporary time vs. eternity. It had been years since Yechiel had heard such truthful words presented in such a riveting manner, with a good measure of humor thrown in. He felt the message sinking into his heart. Yechiel defined himself as a traditional Jew, a Jew at heart. He attended shul on Shabbos, bought himself occasional aliyos and gave to charity. But now, suddenly, he felt that it was not enough, not sufficient to earn him the label of a "good Jew."

"Dear brothers; if you truly want to strengthen yourselves, if you want added power to fight your evil inclination, there is one tried and tested method. You must study Torah. You must attend Torah classes, for the light within the Torah has the power to improve a person. New classes are being established all the time, and if you are really serious, you will find the one that is right for you..." resounded the voice of the speaker.

Yechiel had never really acquired a decent education. He recalled the kutaab and the mori in Yemen and the love that had been instilled in him and his friends for Torah. He was still able to pick up any text and read it from all four sides, for in Yemen, texts had been so scarce that the students had huddled around a single book, five or six apiece, and learned to read from every which-way. They had learned to read and understand, but above all, to love and revere study. Suddenly, the smells of the distant past rose up and he felt a single tear roll down his cheek.

Traffic continued to crawl along, leaving Yechiel at leisure to evoke the past. What hope can there be for me? he asked himself. It's been so many years since I opened up a sefer. I'd be lost... A bitter taste of lost opportunities filled his mouth and heart. The voice of the speaker intruded upon his sad thoughts. "...and one of the familiar tricks of the yetzer hora to prevent you from learning is to convince you that you are incapable of it. He knows, that wily Satan, that once you begin learning, you'll have the sharpened weapons to fight him, and that's what he's afraid of. He is capable of producing a hundred and fifty excuses why you can't and shouldn't go and learn. To one person, he'll say, `You're too old,' and to the other, `You're still young. You have plenty of time. Life is still ahead of you.' He'll convince a third one that his head is not equipped for study and a fourth, that he's too busy and would never grasp such intellectual material. And so on, to each his particular excuse. If we can identify his methods in advance, we will be able to fight Satan and win the battle!" Yechiel listened, and began to think that the speaker was talking to him personally. Perhaps he really should seek to join some shiur?

Traffic picked up speed ahead and soon Yechiel found himself in front of his bakery and before long, he was totally immersed in his everyday problems. The bustling activity was enough to make him forget his morning's resolution. That evening, however, when he returned home, weary from a full day's work, Yechiel found the local weekly advertising flyer in his mailbox. He pulled it out and took it upstairs where he absentmindedly leafed through it before throwing it away. His attention was caught by a small ad announcing a new Daf Yomi class that had just opened in the new neighborhood shul. At any other time, he wouldn't have given it a second glance, but after the morning's lecture, it seemed to say something to him... He read it again and again, studied the details, and couldn't help noticing that the time fit perfectly into his daily schedule. Finally, after some deliberation, he decided to give it a try the upcoming Sunday. And ever since, he had attended it studiously, and added his natural individual zest for life to the study group.


R' Yitzchok Moriah was a Torah scholar who lived in the neighborhood and took pride in it; he felt the importance of upgrading its quality. This is why he was very pleased to see the ad announcing the new Daf Yomi class. Every Torah class enhanced the neighborhood and raised its spiritual level, he thought to himself, and decided to join it as well. He had two reasons: first, up till then, he had not had any structure for the Daf Yomi study and he very much wanted to join the worldwide movement as part of a group. Secondly, he felt that his knowledge would add stature and depth to the class.

R' Dovid Cohen, a good friend, heard about the shiur from R' Yitzchok, and admitted that it would add much to his own general Torah knowledge, a very important aspect for a melamed of a higher grade. And so, he joined the group as well.


Yoske Weitzman, the locksmith, attended the seven o'clock minyan but always came early. At some point, he discovered the existence of the small group studying in one corner of the shul, and while his soul thirsted for knowledge, he still found reading texts very difficult. He now knew that there was a name for his particular `learning difficulty', that it was called `dyslexia', but as a child, he had been labeled `lazy' and `uncooperative.' He had suffered a lot, and many scars still remained upon his ego that would never be erased, he often thought bitterly to himself.

Yoske began sitting on the sidelines and watching the group, and soon had sidled closer to listen in as well and take pleasure from the mussar he was able to understand and apply to himself. He appreciated the remarks thrown in by the participants and soon found himself coming earlier to shul so as to hear more of the shiur. One morning, the maggid shiur mentioned the commandment of making a fence upon a roof for safety's sake. R' Zev went into detail about the prescribed halachic height of the maake, the blessing one recited upon erecting it, and other aspects of this mitzva. Yoske could not refrain from asking a pertinent question on the subject, which involved his profession. The participants listened with interest to his informed questions and the knowledgeable replies of the lecturer.

"But why are you sitting so far off?" asked Yechiel Ozeri in his friendly manner. "Pull up your chair and join us!" He even moved his chair aside to make room for Yoske. And this is how the locksmith became a permanent attendent of the shiur as well. He didn't always keep pace with the text, but his mind and heart were open to receive the knowledge imparted and he savored the sweet taste of the study along with the others.


Thus did the shiur carry on daily. The group, comprised of people of such different backgrounds and types, soon cohered to a strong unit of good friends. And when R' Feivel failed to come for a few days, they were concerned. "His son is one of my customers," said Yaakov Shafer. "I'll call him and find out what's up." On the following day, he appeared, a worried look on his face. "R' Feivel had a heart attack. But he's over the worst and is beginning to recover," he updated the group. "His son says how upset he is to be missing the Daf Yomi shiur. I think it would be nice if we could visit him in the hospital." The group then made up a schedule of visitors which even included Motty Levi, who was embarrassed at first, but let himself be convinced to be slotted on the visitors' list.

Conclusion: next week


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