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Parshas Chayei Sorah - The Faxts Eventually Come Out      22 Cheshvan 5782

10/27/2021 03:58:03 PM


This Dvar Torah is, L’Ilui Nishma, in memory of HaRav Kalman Moshe ben Reuven Avigdor Packouz zt”l  whose Yarzeit was this past Sunday, the 18th of Cheshvan

Two years have passed since  this parsha of Chayei Sorah, distributed by  the world-wide Torah Fax publication, was not sent out by its founder. Even the previous week’s Torah Fax was sent out and read posthumously. Rabbi Shraga Simmons of Aish HaTorah eulogized his friend, Rabbi Kalman Packouz, the week after he passed. One of the major accomplishments Reb Kalman was responsible for producing was the Torah Fax. Here is a snippet of that article:

“[…Rabbi] Kalman’s second breakthrough with technology came in 1992. In this pre-Internet era, he collected fax numbers of homes and offices, then created a subscriber list for Shabbat Shalom Weekly – a newsletter featuring life lessons from the weekly Torah portion and Jewish insights into personal growth. Stamped with Kalman’s huge smile (and “thumbs-up”) the “Fax of Life” was warm and witty, with insightful stories, Torah lessons for life, and a pithy “quote of the week.”

What started as a local fax sent to 50 people, expanded globally, becoming the gold standard in Jewish adult education. Shabbat Shalom reached every corner of the globe. It was posted on office bulletin boards, Jewish community centers, and synagogues. With the mass adoption of email in the mid-1990s, Shabbat Shalom Weekly became the first Jewish e-newsletter to reach 100,000 subscribers. In 27 years, Kalman never missed sending the newsletter every week. Its impact was both vast and enormous.

Approximately five years before his passing, Kalman visited San Diego twice a year. He attended a certain institute for health-related issues but never let on (and we could never tell) that he was there trying to treat his illness. His visits typically lasted two weeks. During that time he davened in my Shul and ate with my family on Friday nights. I never really knew the depth of who he was and the incredible accomplishments which led to his world-wide fame. One of my simple connections to him was that we knew his brother-in-law and sister-in-law. In short, Rabbi Kalman Packouz was the most unassuming individual one could meet. He was humble beyond description, always offering to be of assistance in any which way possible. Our many discussions regarding the plight of the Jewish people, outreach, and Torah learning stimulated and enhanced my weekly divrei Torah, such as the one you are reading now. He, too, as a writer for many years, was always looking for meaningful stories to share with the world through his Torah Fax. One time a personal story of mine came up in discussion. Rabbi Packouz wanted to write it up and send it out. I declined his request, and he, being very persistent, asked me every time he visited for permission to use the story. Each time I said no, eventually telling him that I would probably use it in an upcoming book or other publication, and I did not want to let the story out just yet. He pleaded, in his very calm and soothing voice and tone,  trying to convince me that so many people would read it and learn from it. I always thanked him, apologized but said, “I cannot let you use it.” I had my reasons why and not everything in life needs to be revealed. Well, due to recent events the time has come to share this story……….

The Story Behind the Broken China Plate

During the first year or two following our arrival in San Diego, we invited each and every member of the Shul for a Shabbos meal. Some were older couples, others joined us with their small children. At the time, our children were also very young and were susceptible to the same scenario that occurred.

We always strive to have a beautiful Shabbos table, and at one point actually used our real china for our Shabbos meals. We also used a disposable plastic table covering to protect the tablecloth from staining from spilled items.

One Friday night our Shabbos dinner guests were a family with small children.  One of the guest’s children pulled the plastic tablecloth (I hope accidentally), causing one of the china plates to fall off the table and break into a number of pieces upon hitting the floor. My initial reaction was anger, frustration, even rage (thinking to myself how did that happen!?), but I regained my composure  quickly because it was the guest’s child who had caused the china to break.  I began to tell them in a calm and soothing voice “oh don’t worry about it, it’s only a plate”. I don’t even think the parents paid too much attention to it and again I said, “It’s fine, things like that happen,” etc.

Later that night I thought to myself, “If one of my children had broken that plate, I wouldn’t have stopped yelling and screaming for hours. I would have been so mad and angry, and would have said things like “can’t you be more careful, or how could you be so clumsy, or it’s such an expensive item to break, how can you be so careless?” Explaining to my child that an expensive plate had been broken because they had been so clumsy and careless.  

I realized the hard way that I didn’t yell at the stranger how much more so I shouldn’t yell at my own children whom I love so deeply. I was calm for the company and brushed the entire event aside and just cleaned it up. I should always do that for my own flesh and blood.

I made a statement to myself at that time (form of a neder/vow) that I will give each of my children a framed piece of that broken plate when they get married and have children of their own, so it will serve as a reminder of this incident.

Accompanying the framed broken plate, I wrote: This framed piece of china is from that  plate, broken during a Friday night dinner when you were small. Keep it as a reminder never to yell or scream at your children or spouse, especially for things you wouldn’t yell at others for. Don’t yell at the ones you love the most, your family.

Love Abba

Below the plate in Hebrew it reads: to my children (their names) and a verse from Iggeres HaRamban "תתנהג תמיד לדבר כל דבריך בנחת לכל אדם בכל עת, ובזה תנצל מן הכעס   “Accustom yourself to speak gently to all people at all times. This will protect you from anger.”

In this week’s Parshas Chayei Sorah both Sorah Immeinu and Avraham Avinu die. The Torah, in both instances, records in Bereishis 23:1 "ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים שני חיי שרה"  and then Bereishis 25:7 "ואלה ימי שני חיי אברהם אשר חי מאת שנה ושבעים שנה וחמש שנים" These are the days Sorah and Avraham lived. Every day of their each of their lives was lived as a full life. So too, Reb Kalman literally lived every day of his life. We also have a tradition that a Tzadik’s life lives on long after he  physically passes away. Kalman’s impact on the Jewish world lives on in many ways after his physical passing. As again quoted by Rabbi Simmons: “In recent years, Kalman expanded the Shabbat Shalom Weekly to three languages – English, Hebrew and Spanish. Then, at the suggestion of a colleague, he created a "Digital Eternity" project, whereby the Shabbat Shalom archives serve as a database to continue sending out a relevant weekly email in perpetuity”.

הרב קלמן משה בן ראובן אביגדור זצ״ל        יהי זכרו ברוך                                     

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Wed, December 8 2021 4 Teves 5782