Opportunity is Calling!

At the conclusion of Shabbos, we recite the blessing of Havdalla, which means separation. Within the blessing we mention various separations that G-d created; between holy and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations; between the seventh day and the six days of labor.

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin o.b.m. points out something attention-grabbing. In regards to the plagues G-d sent upon the Egyptians we see similarities to the Shabbos Havdalla separations.

1) The plagues did not affect the Jews. They demonstrated a separation between Israel and the nations. 2) Baal Haturim points out that the plague of locust rested and did not cause damage on the Shabbos. This plague displayed the separation between the holy day of Shabbos and the six days of labor. 3) During the plague of darkness the Torah highlights that there was light by the Jews. Thus there was a distinction between light and darkness.

Perhaps we can expand. Aside from the blessing of Havdalla we recite over a cup of wine, our sages established that we recite Havdalla in the Amida Saturday night within the blessing which we ask for understanding, wisdom and discernment. The Talmud gives the reason why this particular blessing was chosen to host Havdalla. “If there is no wisdom, how can there be differentiation?”

How is it that Pharoh could ignore all the apparent and clear messages relayed by the plagues? In particular he should have noticed that they did not affect the Jews at all. The answer may be, that his extreme stubbornness obstructed his Sechel – wisdom and discernment – and thus stymied his ability to discern the clear differentiation.

While I’m on the subject of Shabbos, I would like to share an idea concerning Erev Shabbos – Friday.

Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz o.bm. was the publisher of the well-known Artscroll books. After his passing, a great book was written about his life, accomplishments and wise counsel. As busy as he was, his family knew that he was always accessible and he made family and extended family a priority.

Since his passing, his grandson publishes a weekly page called Tidbits in memory of Rabbi Zlotowitz. Tidbits gives interesting information and reminders of what observances, recitals and readings are unique to the coming Shabbos and the coming week.

The following reminder appears every week and I presume it was his motto: “Make sure to call your parents, in laws, grandparents and Rebbe to wish them a good Shabbos. If you didn’t speak to your kids today make sure to do the same.” Rabbi Zlotowitz understood the value of a call.

A highlight of any Simcha in our family was when my father, Rabbi Boruch Saks o.b.m would speak. I recall a number of times how he expressed how much he enjoyed when children and grandchildren called to wish him a good Shabbos.

My father didn’t spend a long time on the phone, but he enjoyed being thought of. Who doesn’t?

This past week, Mr. Shaya Abittan passed away at a young age. At his funeral, his brother Dr. Chaim Abittan eulogized Shaya and recalled how he would call all his siblings each Erev Shabbos. That call created a binding and connected feeling. Dr. Chaim then implored the attendees of the funeral to do the same and reach out to their family, parents, siblings and relatives on Erev Shabbos – all it takes is a few minutes – but the connectivity and Shalom that it creates is immeasurable.

Our cousin Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger writes an article called Food for Thought in the weekly Yated Ne’eman. The other week the title read: The Weekly Phone Call.

He described how a Yeshiva school, after much reluctance and having no recourse, was forced to release one of their students.

A few years later, the principal met up with this student who appeared to have pulled his life together. In the midst of the conversation, the principal asked, “What inspired you to get back on track? The student responded, “I’ll tell you. After I left the school, my Rebbe called me. But he did not call me only once. He called me every single week during the past two years. Knowing that my Rebbe really cared about me encouraged me and helped me keep going.”

Back at the Yeshiva, the principal met the Rebbe and related the encounter he had with the student. “Is it really true that you’ve been calling the student every week for the past two years?” The Rebbe replied, “Yes it is true; I’ve called him every week since he left. But I have to tell you something: He has never answered the phone!”

So even if you don’t get through to the sibling, relative or person who needs a boost – caller ID lets them know that you tried and you care!

Erev Shabbos is a perfect opportunity or excuse to connect and reconnect!