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15 Kislev 5764 - December 10, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
The Prime Bomb Sapper at the Northern Border Wondered Why the Tanach Did Not Remain Intact as it Always Did

Excerpts from Oleinu Leshabeiach, Volume Two, Shemos, based on the shiurim of HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein as compiled by Rav Michoel Zoran

He was considered one of the biggest experts in his field. And you should know that in this day and age, the title `bomb sapper' is one of the most sought-after in the entire army and even the whole country, for that matter. The wars being fought between various countries all over the world have catapulted those with the know-how of neutralizing bombs to the top echelon of this military field.

His first name was Yaakov and, for reasons which will become obvious, we cannot give his full name. Up north there is hardly a soul who doesn't know him. He is the first to appear anywhere where there is a reported suspicious object and at every public event attended by top brass who need protection. He is present in order to ascertain whether the area is safe and sterile, so to speak, or if there are any possible mines, bombs, explosives or danger of any kind.

Many hundreds of such events have been patrolled by him to date. He is as familiar with the police robot detonator, which is dispatched to neutralize explosives, as with the palm of his hand. Suspicious objects include valises, handbags, and assorted parcels abandoned on the road.

Yaakov's figure is familiar to the northern settlers and when he arrives with his big police car emblazoned with the words "Police Sapper," people know that the main highway arteries will soon be shut off to traffic and Yaakov will forge ahead with his robot.

This man was not religious -- until a certain event, that is, immediately after which he began to put on tefillin, arousing the attention of the security people with whom he has been working for years. Since our friend is one of the key men in the field, all of his colleagues understood that his new embrace of mitzvah- practice was not without heavy significance, without prior thought, and many exhibited considerable interest in his personal story.

This is his true story.

During his extended years of service as police and army sapper, Yaakov had the opportunity to test-by-exploding hundreds of suspicious looking parcels in the center of cities and the outskirts of settlements up North. "I repeatedly encountered a very, very strange phenomenon," he reports. "Each time I was summoned to detonate a suspicious handbag or satchel and the robot executed its orders, it invariably turned out that if the bag contained a pair of tefillin or holy books, these were not demolished by the explosion. They remained intact and whole. Always."

It was impossible to explain this anomaly away. Always, but always, Yaakov related, these religious articles would emerge from the debris of the explosion completely intact, as if they had not been involved in a suspicious package detonation.

All this, however, did not yet bring him to the inevitable conclusion that there was a Guiding Hand in this world. Today, he cannot quite understand this, and is surprised at himself and how those events did not prompt him to draw nearer to the Creator. But that is how it was.

An event involving security in one of the northern settlements near the Lebanon border tipped the scale.

Yaakov was summoned to neutralize an unclaimed satchel that was particularly suspicious looking. He came with his car and prepared the equipment needed to fire at it. After clearing the area of all spectators, he shot at the parcel. It turned out that this was, after all, an innocent bag belonging to some unfortunate traveler which did not contain any explosive material whatsoever.

Yaakov breathed easy and, after examining the contents of the bag, he prepared to return to headquarters. At the last moment, however, he identified a Bible among the contents. This time, however, contrary to all previous times, it was burnt from cover to cover to the point that it was altogether illegible. He had a difficult time identifying it altogether.

He remained riveted to the spot. This was most irregular. He had never come across anything like this before! Why had this particular Tanach been burned? Yaakov took it in his hands and turned it all around. No clues. The famous sapper prepared to continue on his way, dismissing this as a freak occurrence, but at the last moment, he noticed a small inscription on the back cover.

It was so tiny that he hardly noticed it. By squinting up close, he was able to make out that this was a . . . New Testament!

His heart skipped two beats. Now he understood everything. Now he knew for sure that there was a Creator. Shortly afterwards, the police sapper arrived at the home of the district chief rabbi and asked him to obtain a pair of tefillin for him. On the following morning, Yaakov already wore them on his head and arm for the shacharis prayers.

The Idea That Struck the Gavad

A dayan who judges true and straight merits tremendous Heavenly assistance in all of his deeds. Heaven enables him to reach the truth and not to stumble in error.

People on the sidelines sometimes stand amazed at the ideas that crop up in a beis din, brilliant insights that even the most veteran investigators and interrogators could never have hit upon. We will illustrate this through a story which we heard from a most reliable source involving a din Torah that took place by HaRav Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss zt'l, author of Minchas Yitzchok, the Gavad of Jerusalem.

A Jew whom we shall call Reuven once brought a man, say Shimon, to the beis din, suing him for a certain amount of money. He claimed that the man had borrowed money and had not yet returned it. The defendant denied the claim outright, insisting that he had never borrowed any money from him in his life. The dayonim asked the litigant if he had a document proving the loan and Reuven produced a paper with Shimon's signature and the terms of the loan.

The defendant admitted that it was his original signature but continued to maintain that he had not borrowed any money from the litigant. The document was forged but he did not have the slightest idea how his valid signature could have been made on it.

According to the halochoh, his denial was not valid since he admitted that the signature was bona fide and thus, the document should be recognized as legal. But the Gavad intuitively felt that the defendant was telling the truth and asked for some time to think that matter through.

On the following day, R' Yitzchok Yaakov summoned Shimon and asked him to bring several volumes from his personal library. Not understanding the reason behind this request, he nevertheless complied. The Gavad opened up one book and noticed at once that Shimon was in the habit of signing his name in the middle of the page to show ownership rather than at the top, as most people do.

"Did you ever lend any of your seforim to Reuven?" asked HaRav Weiss. Shimon racked his brain and then remembered that some time ago, he had lent him a book. "Go home and bring it here," ordered the Gavad. When he returned with the sefer, Rav Weiss opened it and to Shimon's amazement, the first page with his signature was, indeed, missing. It was now crystal clear. Reuven had ripped out the blank page that had Shimon's signature on it and had created a promissory note in the space above!

How did such a brilliant idea ever strike the Av Beis Din? Only through the Divine promise which was given to Jewish judges that they would be assisted from Heaven to reach a good and true judgment and not stumble in error.

This story should provide strong support and reinforcement to everyone, showing that even in these times, our dayonim are granted special Divine intuition and assistance in seeing and understanding things that are hidden from other folk. This is the power of the Torah, and this, too, is the power of Klal Yisroel.

Maran HaRav Eliashiv Noticed the Forgery Immediately

There is another story that can also illustrate the supernatural powers that are granted by Heaven to honest dayonim to enable them to judge accurately and truly. I recall a story that happened to my master and father-in- law, HaRav Eliashiv shlita when a forged document once came into his hands. He was immediately able to say that it was not genuine.

I was present at the time and asked my father-in-law how he was able to see that the document was forged. He said to me, "But don't you see it clearly for yourself?" And he added, "It was originally written with a red pen."

I looked at the document again and wondered at his words, for the ink seemed altogether black. R' Eliashiv told me to look again more closely and then I actually did see different shades on the document, red and black, which proved that someone had tried to overwrite red with black.

It was found out later that it was just as he said, and most precisely so. It was amazing how quickly he had been able to notice the forgery, but on second thought, that is the clarity that is awarded to those who judge, for "Hashem stands in the Divine assembly."


The members of a household were also astonished to see HaRav Chaim Kanievsky come once two hours before Shabbos to suggest a shidduch for their orphan.

When people approach someone with an important request and they do not turn it down, but keep on postponing the actual doing of that request to some `tomorrow,' we can only call this trait middas Amolek! A Jew does not put off a good deed for the morrow but grabs it immediately. Not only does he do it the same day -- but at that very moment!

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