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"The angel of Hashem went further and stood in a narrow place, where there was no room to turn right or left" (Bemidbar 22:26).

Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein shlita comments, in allegorical terms, that there comes a time, in everyone's life, that he finds himself "in a narrow place, where there is no room to turn right or left." At that moment, he needs some kind of special formula to help him out of his difficult situation.

One of the ways of interpreting the Torah is by the rule of contrast. If something is written in the Torah in a positive or negative form, we may surmise that the opposite is also true. For example, if the Torah teaches that the reward for honoring one's parents is a lengthy life; we understand, without the Torah specifically telling us, that if one violates that commandment his days will be shortened in punishment.

With this in mind, let us see what the Torah commands us concerning the treatment of a widow and orphan. "You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. If you [dare to] cause him pain ... ! -- for if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry" (Shemos 22:21-22).

The Torah warns us that Hashem is quick to hear the cry of the widow and the orphan and if we cause them pain he will defend them from us. Consequently, we are right in assuming that if we help them and grant their blessing and good tidings, Hashem will certainly be quick to hear their prayers on our behalf and He will reward us properly.

The following story, told by Rabbi Reuvain Fein zt"l and recorded in Aleynu Lishabeach by Rabbi Zilberstein, is an example we would be wise to remember.

In Europe, one of the greatest fears a Jew had was that his son might be drafted into the Polish or Russian armies. The spiritual and physical dangers were to be avoided at all cost. And, indeed, for the right amount of money, placed in the hands of the right person at the right time, things "could be arranged." But woe to the person who tried to bribe the wrong official. His money would be confiscated and he would be severely punished for attempted bribery.

A rich man once came to Rabbi Yitzchak Elchonon Spektor zt"l, Grand Rabbi of Kovno, with this dilemma. He had prepared a large amount of money, certainly enough to "buy" his son an exemption from the army, but he was afraid to attempt to deliver it into anyone's hands. It was simply too risky.

The Rabbi told him not to worry. "I have a big 'macher' (Yiddish colloquialism for one who has lots of good connections and uses them to accomplish things) who is very successful and can deliver the money to the right address. You can give it to me and you may rest assured that I will see to it that everything is arranged properly."

The rich man was thrilled. He ran home and brought the Rabbi the envelope filled with a large amount of money. A few days later, the man received a special notice that his son was exempt from the army. Overjoyed, the man returned to Reb Elchonon to share with him the good news. He also added, "If the Rov has such a capable 'macher,' why doesn't he let the word out quietly among our community so that others may benefit from his services too?"

Reb Elchonon smiled and said, "Now I wish to reveal to you who my big 'macher' really is.

"At the very moment that you came to discuss your problem with me, an orphan girl was waiting for me in the other room. She was crying that no one wants to even consider her as a potential shidduch, since she has no dowry to offer. When you called me out to discuss your situation, I realized that Hashem had brought the two of you to my house at the same time so that I should help both of you simultaneously. I took your money and gave it all to her and asked her to pray for you and your son. She was overjoyed and couldn't stop blessing you and praying to 'The Big Macher' in Heaven to intercede on your behalf.

"And that's how your son got that exemption so quickly!"

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel