Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Vayeira, Breishis 21:14 Vateileich vateisa bemidbar.

Parshas Vayeira. 21:14. Vateileich vateisa bemidbar Be'er Shova.

Vateileich vateisa bemidbar Be'er Shova, (and Hogor went and got lost in the desert of Be'er Sheva). Rashi— Chozroh ligilulei beis oviho (She reverted to the abominable paganism of her father’s house).

Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin of Telz Yeshiva in Chicago, on Motzo’ei Shabbos a week before Rosh Hashanna of Samach daled, spoke about things he heard from his father. One of them was this story about R’ Mottel Pagremanski.

Not long after World War II, R’ Mottel was on a train with a friend on Friday, and they missed their stop because they were talking in learning. They got off the train at the next stop, and the friend lamented their being lost erev Shabbos far from any Jewish yishuv. R’ Mottel said that a Jew is never lost. Wherever he is, he is supposed to be. He brought a proof from this story of Haggar. How does Rashi know that she went back to avodah zarrah? Maybe she was just lost. The answer is that a Jew is never lost. If she was called lost, it shows that she was no longer a ba’alas bitochon in Hashem.
The friend said, the vort is excellent, but lemayseh, R’ Mottel, we are fahrblonghet (hopelessly lost). R’ Mottel said, we’ll see.
They inquired, and found that one jew lived in the town. They went to his house, the man came to the door, saw two Yidden, and his eyes widened, and he said in wonder, “Who are you? Are you Eliahu Hanovi?” R’ Mottel answered, no, I’m Mottel Pagremanski, but why did you say that? When he could talk again, he explained that he had a baby a week before, and he couldn’t find any mohel that could come to spend Shabbos far from any Jewish community to do the bris, and he had given up already, and here he opens the door erev Shabbos, and there are two jews standing there, when there had not been that many jews in the town for years. R’ Mottel said, I am not Eliahu Hanovi, but my friend is a mohel, and he happens to have his keilim with him. So they made the bris on Shabbos and R’ Mottel was the sandek.
When I said this story in shul the following year, a man spoke up and said that now he understands how he got Reb Mottel Pargemansky to be the sandek at his bris millah. As it turns out, that man had been the baby whose bris the story was told about, and his father had told him little pieces of the story of how he miraculously had a millah bizmanah in the backwoods of France.
The lesson of this story is clear. Wherever you find yourself, and particularly if you find yourself in a place that you had not intended to go, there is a reason you are there. Ask Hashem for siyato dishmayo, keep your eyes open, think about the people you see, and be very careful how you act, because you were placed there to do something important.


  1. I agree with what you wrote,and would add that sometimes, your job is simply to be seen, in your posture as an Orthodox Jew, by someone, who you will never meet or know how you influenced.

  2. Your story reminds me of the story of Shlomo Hamelech's servants who were sent to the city of Luz.