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Shoftim"When you go out to the battle against your enemy, and you see horse and chariot -- a people more numerous than you -- you shall not fear them, for Hashem, your G-d, is with you, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt:" (Devarim 20:1).
Commentators explain this verse as an illusion to one's battle with his Yetzer Hara - the Evil Inclination. One should not be afraid of the battle, though it is a treacherous one, because Hashem is at his side, helping him to be victorious.
This is especially pertinent today as we begin the month of Elul and begin going down the path of teshuvah (repentance) as the terrifying High Holy Days approach quickly. However, we must also realize that although Hashem is with us, always ready to help us, we must connect to Him in order to merit His salvation. And the more we are attached to materialism, the less we are connected to the Almighty.
What can we do to separate ourselves from the constant quest for more and more materialism? One of the best solutions to this query is to "count our blessings." If only we would appreciate what we have, we would not waste our entire lives trying to achieve more and more. We would be happy - even exultant - with our lot and we would be free to strive for the most important thing in life: spirituality. Then we would be truly happy in this world and the World-to-Come.
Recently, a Hebrew edition of the splendid book Rigshei Lev: Women and Tefillah (Prayer), by Rabbi Menachem Nissel, has been published. It was dedicated in memory of Yaeer Netzer Nissanian z"l who passed away before the age of 20 on the 13th of Tishrei, 5763. His dear, bereaved mother, may she live and be well and never know any more pain, wrote an extremely poignant letter which I copied from that book for the sake of all of us who may achieve worlds of benefit from her very moving words; all of which will be to the merit of Yaeer's holy soul.
"The day of death is greater than the day of birth" (Koheles 7:1). Why is this so?
On the day of man's birth, it is unknown what this newborn will ultimately achieve during its time in this world, but on the day of death, his accomplishments and achievements are known to all. In the book, Searching for Comfort, Rav Levi says: "This can be compared to two ships that were sailing on a great sea. One ship was embarking from the harbor, while the other was entering it. Every one rejoiced for the ship that was setting sail out of the port. The ship that was entering the port, however, did not get any feelings of elation. There was a wise man at the port who saw things in a different light. He said, 'I see exactly the opposite here! The ship that is leaving the port should not be the cause of joy, after all we do not know what lies ahead on its voyage, nor do we know what sorts of seas and winds it is to face. It is for the ship that is entering the harbor that everyone should rejoice, for they know that it set sail and returned in peace.'"
From the time a man is born, the day of death draws nearer and nearer. Yet, when a man dies, we look toward his life - the day of his ultimate rebirth in the world to come. And hence, the day of death is greater than the day of birth. When Miriam was born, no one was aware of her greatness, but upon her death, the b'eir (the well which supplied the Jewish People with water in the wilderness) was taken from Israel's midst. Thus, upon her passing, the nation was made aware that they benefited from the well all those years - only in her merit. The same applies to Aharon HaKohein, in whose merit the Jews were protected by the clouds of glory, as well as Moshe Rabbeinu, in whose merit they received the mann.
Yaeer, Jan, you are in my thoughts 24 hours a day; every hour, every minute, every second, I think of you.
I miss you so much.
I miss cooking for you.
I miss you calling me "Ema, Ema, Ema," a hundred times a day.
I miss your constant bear hugs and kisses
I miss your smile.
I miss your wrestling with Moreeyah and Moshe.
I miss your saying, "give me the car."
I miss your loud music.
I miss waiting up for you.
I miss our talks.
I miss our walks.
I miss you driving me crazy.
I miss our fights.
Now you are gone and I realize how great you are. You are my b'eir, you are my cloud of glory and you are my mann.
I lost you. I don't know what happened; our lives changed forever in one second. I wish we could go back in time and have everything the way it was. Why was I complaining? Why didn't I appreciate what I had? Why wasn't I grateful? Here is a lesson to learn from me: don't complain, be grateful for what you have - for you never know what tomorrow will bring. Pray never to be tested like we were. A whole year has gone by; I didn't hear your voice, I didn't see your smile, I didn't hug and
I try so much not to cry and to live a normal life because you can see me and I don't want you to suffer. I try to make the best out of my life because I know you need us to elevate your pure neshama. I hide my tears; you see me? I'm sorry that you have to see my pain, my sorrow, my anguish, my suffering, my sadness. I lost a limb. My walk through life will never be the same without you. Yaeer, I ask that you forgive me for not being a good mother and that I was not able to protect you. I tried so hard and I failed. You died and I lived. I buried you, my son - a mother's worst nightmare. I didn't make a wedding for you; I made a funeral for you. I'll never see your children. I'll never walk you down the chuppah. I'll never have you and your family over for shabbat and chagim. How much I wanted you to settle down and have a family. How much you loved kids, you were the only 6' 4" guy I saw always playing with kids, and in fact, your last picture was with Tehila - a kid - how much she loved you! You gave so much of your time for others, and were always there to help. You were so honest. Remember when you found the $200 in the pizza shop you did not rest until you found the person it belonged to?
I'll never say good bye to you. A wise woman told me, you are in a better place, with a better job and a much better boss. You are with us all the time; just not physically. We talk about you always - your pictures are all over. We use your room - it's a family room now. We use your stereo system and we ride your bike. My love, you are with us always and always will be. Did I say enough how much I love you? Did I say enough how proud of you I am? - Probably not enough. Please forgive me. I do love you and will love you always. I was and I am so proud of you.
You made an impact with your death. People changed for the better. A Yeshiva opened in your memory, Yeshivat Ohr Yaeer, where young men and women, who otherwise would not learn, attend its continuous shiurim and classes. People attend shiurim given in your memory. Abba's weekly shiur tapes are put out in your zechut. Mitzvot of all kinds are taken upon by many people. Tehillim are being read, tefillin are being used. The laws of Shemirat HaLashon, which you held so dearly in your heart, are being learned and practiced.
I look at my life now and ask myself what is there to live for? Any mother who has lost a child can understand the desire to wish death upon herself; to be connected to that which she has lost. Yaeer, I felt that way, but I know I have to live on for Moreeyah and Moshe who need me so much. Yaeer, they miss you so much, they decided to shine like stars in your honor; they are living through you. Abba misses you, his bechor. Remember how you two used to arm wrestle and he would always let you win? Well, towards the end he was not pretending... you always won.
I cry and I mourn but I've learned not to ask why, because we don't understand Hashem's ways. We can't question, but I know soon we'll all know - when redemption's light will shine, all will become clear. We are waiting.
We are in a period of transition, waiting for our redemption. Just as a soldier in combat does not understand the importance of a particular role in battle, so too, we do not understand the process we are in. The Chafetz Chaim describes what we can expect when Moshiach arrives. When Yosef's brothers arrived in Egypt they encountered many strange events. First the ruler accused them of being spies, and then some of them were imprisoned. In fact, there were so many out of the ordinary occurrences that they finally wondered out loud, "What has Hashem done to us?" Two words, "Ani Yosef - I am Yosef," spoken by Yosef to his brothers, resolved all their doubts and answered all their questions. Confusion vanished, suddenly everything made sense.
We too will experience the same happiness and relief when in the future the words "I am Hashem" will reverberate throughout the world; all doubts will be resolved, and all the riddles over the Divine Providence will disappear. Then we will understand and believe with perfect faith that the Creator created and directs all creatures and that He alone made, makes, and will make everything. Reaching this level of faith now is not a simple task which can be accomplished overnight. It takes a lot of effort to reach the point where we can identify with this belief in a clear, definite and practical manner. Hashem, help us serve You with all our heart. May we do Your will wholeheartedly and may we be among those who truthfully trust in You.
I want to thank Sarit - so young and yet so wise - for coming up with the idea of dedicating Rigshei Lev Hebrew edition in my son's memory. Thank you Sarit.
I want to thank the Yud Gimmel PLUS youth minyan of the Mashadi community who supported the publication in honor of my husband - Avraham - who was their teacher and Rabbi. Thank you Yud Gimmel Plus.
Rabbi Menachem Nissel - the author of this wonderful book of Tefilah - thank you.
Zev and Yehuda, thank you for opening Yeshivat Ohr Yaeer and continuing to establish it as a better place for Torah and learning.
To my husband Avraham, it's not been easy. We have a very hard road ahead of us. Our life is being tested, but hopefully Hashem will help us to bypass this test too. Thank you for being the strong one for our shining stars Moreeyah and Moshe.
To all who read my letter I have a message. We live in a world full of materialism. Hashem is testing us to see if we will repent or not for using this gashmiut not for worshiping Him. We have to distance ourselves from the materialism and return to spirituality. I was listening to Rabbi Yissochar Frand on a cassette from Yad Yechiel foundation, called "Golden Galut - Are we really waiting for Moshiach?"
"We all want Moshiach to come - but he hasn't come yet. How come? Maybe we are not waiting for him anxiously enough," says Rabbi Frand.
My family and I have a very selfish reason for waiting and yearning for Moshiach. I want, we want soooooooo much to be with Yaeer Netzer, our son and brother to our children. There are children who lost parents, and there are parents who lost a child. Yes we are missing; yes we are selfish; we are incomplete. We should not be the only one to wish and yearn for redemption. Please, all of us - Klal Yisrael - should wish, cry, pray, yearn and wait for Moshiach. Since our son's death I never go to sleep or wake up in the morning without wishing and praying for Moshiach. Please help us. Please help Klal Yisrael. May you, and every one of Klal Yisrael, never be tested.
Yaeer, I know this separation is temporary, I hope we'll all be together soon. I'm trying and doing the best I can.
Love you, Peace
Shema Yisrael Torah Network