"On the tenth of this month they shall take for themselves a lamb..." (Ex. 12:3)
It took great courage for the Jews to bring the Korbon Pesach (Passover Offering), as Moshe (Moses) had commanded them in the name of Hashem (G-d). The lamb was worshiped by the Egyptians. One could easily be afraid of retaliation. Still the Jews had faith and knew that if they followed Moshe's dictates, Hashem would watch out for them - as the following true story illustrates:
Jack & Miriam Stein (not real name) were a young couple in New York, with a fledgling real estate business, struggling to get by and support a family. The Steins bought a new house. The owner inherited it from his recently departed mother. "Take the house as is, I don't want any part in repairing or improving it. That is the deal,” explained the seller. The house was a massive fixer upper, full of furniture and chatchkes (knick-knacks) that they didn't want, sorely in need of cleaning, painting, and redecorating; but it was nice and large, quite ample for their growing family, and they negotiated a good price for it.
The new house was not far from their old home, so Miriam had her children play in the new house, while she went back and forth between the two, bringing things over and cleaning up.
Miriam noticed her young daughter wearing a pearl necklace. She asked her where she got it. "It was in the toy box in the new house," her daughter replied, "I found it yesterday when daddy sent us to play. There was a whole bunch of neat stuff there." Now Miriam recognized that this was not just a toy necklace, or even costume jewelry, it was a very expensive genuine pearl necklace. She took her daughter over to the house and asked her to "show mommy the toy box."
Miriam could not believe her eyes. She immediately retrieved Jack and showed him the chest. It was a strongbox, which had been hidden beneath the mattress. While the kids were jumping up and down on the bed, they felt something hard underneath, and searched to see what it was. They found this buried treasure chest. It contained expensive jewelry, cash, even bearer bonds. All told, the value of the contents was over a quarter of a million dollars. This was back in the early 1970s, when you could buy several New York houses for that amount of money.
Jack wanted to do the right thing but he wasn't sure what that was. The temptation was no doubt incredible and they could sorely use that money. Many people told him that he should keep the money for his family. After all, the owner sold the house "as is." That included the house and everything in it. Still, Jack didn't feel right doing that. He sought the psak (ruling) of Reb Moshe Feinstein ztz"l.
Rabbi Feinstein poskened (ruled) that he must return the money, and that is exactly what Jack did. Surely nobody would include all that money in the "as is" sale if they knew that it were there. The owner was stunned that Jack or anyone could be so honest. He related that the family had heard hints of such a chest but never knew if it was fact or family myth.
There was a bit of irony here because a few years prior, Jack had the opportunity to ask the revered Rabbi Moshe Feinstein for a bracha (blessing). Reb Moshe asked him, “What blessing do you desire?” Jack responded that he wished to have a bracha to learn. Reb Moshe, who knew Jack from the neighborhood replied, “You don’t need a bracha for Torah because you are already a talmid chacham (Torah scholar), what you need is a bracha for parnassa (livelihood).” Now, Reb Moshe who had given him a bracha for parnassa was ordering him to give up this fortune.
Jack went back on with his life. He never spoke of this incident, but enough people knew about it that word of Jack's exemplary integrity spread like wildfire both around the neighborhood and throughout the New York business community. People wanted to do business with him and he prospered.
Soon the economy took a down turn and people were defaulting on loans right and left. The banks started to tighten the screws with denial of loans and foreclosures. When it came to Jack, the banks knew of his stellar reputation and had even heard this story. They decided that rather than foreclose, they would keep him afloat figuring that he was someone they could count on to eventually pay back.
After the economy turned around in the 1980s, Jack not only paid back the banks with plenty of interest, but he emerged as one of the wealthiest property owners in New York. Today Jack is a major Jewish philanthropist. He has always attributed his wealth to the bracha of Reb Moshe Feinstein ztz”l.
DVAR TORAH: Bo
by Rabbi Baruch Lederman
Before the exodus from Mitzrayim (Egypt) the children of Israel were commanded to perform the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach (Pascal Lamb). This was not easy for them to do because lambs were a deity to the Egyptians. There was great fear of retribution from the Egyptians. The children of Israel declared, “If we sacrifice that which is sacred to the Egyptians before their very eyes the will surely stone us.” It took great courage and conviction for the Jews to carry out this mitzvah. They trusted the Holy One Blessed be He , Who assured them, “Now you will see the wonderful things I am about to do for you. By executing this difficult mitzvah with pure faith in Hashem, the Jews earned the merit to be redeemed from Egyptian bondage. Had they not risen to the occasion, we wouldn’t be here today. The ability to perform difficult mitzvos under daunting circumstances is a hallmark of the Jewish people and the zechus (merit) is incalculable. The Jewish people possess this trait to an amazing degree as the following true story illustrates:
The following is a translation of a letter received by the Central Taharas Hamishpacha (Family Purity) Office:
In the town of Emmanuel in Eretz Yisroel (Israel), there lived an elderly couple, olim (immigrants) from Russia, who were childless. They lived there for several years, quietly and alone, without any real contact with other members of the community. There was nothing outstanding about them, they were very simple Jews. Last year, the old man passed away. Except for the small community, there weren't many who knew him and therefore at the funeral there was only a minyan (ten men) present, with the help of the Chevra Kaddisha (burial society).
At the time of burial, the wife of the departed asked that someone eulogize her husband. Everyone remained quiet because none of them really knew him. The silence was deafening. It was awkward, but no one really knew the man. He was a plain, simple, nondescript fellow who minded his own business.
Finally, the wife said: "No one is speaking, so I will speak!"
Everyone was very quiet as she said the following words: "Hirshel, when you go up in heaven and you are asked why you did not bring children onto this earth, explain to them that in Russia there was no mikvah. By the time we came to Eretz Yisroel, we were already too old!"
Everyone present was stunned. There was not a dry eye in the group. Even the Chevra Kaddisha cried.
This story I heard from Matisyahu Kubalkin, a resident of Emmanuel. I am sure that this mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) of so-called "simple" Jews must be publicized in order to strengthen others. Thank you, B. Kirshnzaft
Dedicated by Andy & Mazal Levin on the occasion of the second yahrtzeit of her mother Fara Eshaghian.