Thursday, December 12, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayechi
Fast of 10 Teves 5774/December 13, 2013

It just seemed so logical. If we had to have a stopover on our way to Eretz Yisroel the week before Thanksgiving, where better than Turkey? And that’s basically why we decided to fly Turkish Air (the vastly cheaper ticket prices was only incidental) with a stopover in Istanbul, Turkey, one of the top twenty places in the world I would love to not be in. [Truthfully, the Turkish were very cordial, and our brief visit was otherwise uneventful.] 
When we finally arrived in Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday evening, we wearily made our way through customs and passport control, and finally arrived at the baggage carousel. We had checked in eleven bags. Ten of them came out relatively quickly. All we needed was one more and we could find our prearranged ride to Yerushalayim. But the carousel kept circling, as the masses dwindled. We finally came to the stark realization that our last piece of luggage – the one with all of Chani’s clothes, wasn’t coming around.
We dejectedly filed a claim with the overly unenthusiastic fellow behind the claim’s counter. Hence began the lone damper on our otherwise dreamlike trip. Each afternoon included more phone calls that ended in frustration and futile checking of emails. Istanbul, Kennedy, and Ben Gurion airports, as well as Turkish Air all assured us that they were doing their utmost to blame the other for our loss, and that we would hear back from them soon. [Actually no one even answered the phone at the Turkish Air desk in Ben Gurion.]
When we departed for our return trip, we wanted to ensure that we did our utmost to locate the lost luggage. In Ben Gurion Airport, the luggage department assured us that it wasn’t there. When we arrived in Istanbul, the fellow seated behind the information desk directed us to “Hava’s Desk” on the first floor. Hava’s Desk! It sounded like we had found what we were looking for. Surely Mr. (Mrs?) Hava would know where our luggage was. But alas, Mr. Hava directed us to the Turkish Air desk down the corridor. It seems Hava only dealt with luggage that wasn’t lost.
When we arrived at the Turkish Air desk, before we even reached the counter, we were greeted by a representative who insisted that we needed to go to the Lost and Found desk. I replied that we had been informed that we could only get to that desk, which was beyond the departing flights area, with a Visa to enter Turkey, which we didn’t have. He looked at us for a moment and then nodded that I was correct. “So in other words you’re telling me there’s nothing I can do.” “It seems that way. Have a great day.”
No wonder the European Union didn’t want to allow Turkey in!
The Torah relates that before Yaakov Avinu descended to Egypt with his family, he dispatched Yehuda to create a yeshiva where Torah could be studied and taught.
Why was Yehuda chosen above all the tribes (Yissochor were the Torah scholars, and Levi was the future priests)?
In a moment of incredible darkness and confusion for their entire family, it was Yehuda who stood up and took responsibility. It was Yehuda who guaranteed Binyamin’s safe return from Egypt. Building a framework of Torah, and raising a generation that follows mitzvos and Avodas Hashem, requires individuals who take responsibility to ensure that it will be done properly. Yehuda is the king because he felt that burden of responsibility for his brother.
On President Truman’s desk was a sign that read: “The buck stops here!” That is the attitude of a true leader.
Whether we get our luggage back or not remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain: the “Hava (Nageela)” Turkeys in the airports are sure not going to be the ones who find it.

      An easy & Meaningful Fast
      Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
      R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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