Friday, November 11, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayera

14 MarCheshvan 5772/November 11, 2011

Natti was your typical American yeshiva boy. He was born in 1943 and raised in his native Chicago in the world of baseball and hotdogs. He was the starting center on his high school basketball team, Ida Crown Jewish Academy. In his eighth grade yearbook, next to his photo it said ‘Ambition: Undecided’ with the quote, “Kind hearts are more than coronets.” Natty was well liked and was a good student but he wasn’t particularly brilliant.

When he was fifteen he went to visit Eretz Yisroel for the first time. While there he stayed in the home of his cousin, an illustrious Rosh Yeshiva, and spent some time visiting the yeshiva. Natty was immediately drawn to the atmosphere of the yeshiva and he wanted to stay longer. But his mother wanted him to return to Chicago until he completed High School.

If a fortune-teller would have appeared during his graduation procession from High School to reveal his future, Natti would probably have discounted his words, and told the fortune-teller that he was out of his mind. This is what the fortune-teller might have said:

“Natti you will return to Eretz Yisroel to live in the home of your cousin, the Rosh Yeshiva. You will fall in love with the yeshiva and you will remain attached to it for the rest of your life. You will begin to apply yourself and study with unbridled enthusiasm and uncanny dedication, raising your knowledge and proficiency in Torah to incredible levels. The Rosh Yeshiva will be so enamored with you that he will arrange for you to marry his granddaughter.

“You will raise a beautiful family of thirteen children. Your wife will bring your children to the yeshiva to see you during the week so you can continue to learn uninterrupted. After a few decades your father-in-law will hand over the reigns of the yeshiva to you just prior to his passing. Despite the fact that by then you will be afflicted by Parkinson’s Disease, causing you to suffer constant pain and physical challenges, you will undertake the challenge. The yeshiva will continue to grow under your tutelage at a mind-boggling rate, until it boasts a student-body of three thousand. You will become a role model for Torah Jews the world over, a beloved personality and an inspiration to all. Your tremors, and a times violent shaking, will only seek to strengthen your myriad students’ love and admiration for you. Your shiurim will be packed with talmidim who will strain to hear the pearls that flow from your (physically) weak voice. You will become the foremost symbol of learning and loving Torah despite all challenges.

“Then suddenly, to the shock of the Torah world, on the yahrtzeit of our matriarch Rochel Imeinu, you will have a massive heart attack at the age of 69 and leave this world. Your passing will tear apart the hearts of your beloved people. The greatest Torah leaders of the day, including esteemed rabbanim thirty years your senior, will eulogize you and mourn your passing together with a hundred thousand of your orphaned students in a funeral that will paralyze the bustling city of Yerushalayim. The world will hear about the death of a humble rabbi named Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt’l, and understand that the Jewish people suffered an irreplaceable loss.”

“The day will come when an American yeshiva boy will no longer be able to blame his lack of growth on the fact that he grew up in America, because they will point to you. But for now why don’t you go enjoy your graduation ceremony with the rest of your family.”

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum