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YITRO 5782

01/21/2022 09:35:03 AM


Rabbi Menahem White

This parasha includes the 10 commandments, one of which is honouring parents.  Since this Shabbat, 20 Shevat, is the yahrzeit of my mother a”h, Chana bat Tsvi Hirsch ve-Chaya, I dedicate these remarks to her memory. She would sign her name in English as Anne Shapiro White, Shapiro being her maiden name. The Shapiro side of the family had a tradition that we were descended from the Spanish exiles of 1492.

Next Shabbat, we read parashat Mishpatim, which contains the obligation of returning a lost object. So, here is a great story that combines my possible Sephardi heritage with that mitzvah.

Naturally, like every good Bostonian in those days, I was raised strictly Ashkenaz. The year after high school graduation, I spent studying in Israel.  My dormitory was located at 12 Rechov Reuven, in the Baka section of Jerusalem.

During my year I became interested in the Sepharad ritual, and purchased a pocket siddur, Nusach Sepharad, called Hibbat Tsiyyon.  End of part I of my story.*****

Around 40 years later, I was visiting friends, who were living in Jerusalem. As the hour was getting late, it was time to daven Mincha.  My friend suggested that we go next door, where they had a minyan in the vestibule of the building. As we were a few minutes early, he introduced me to one of the occupants, the late Rabbi Moshe Poupko z”l [brother of Rabbi Poupko of Montreal.] When the rabbi heard my name, he asked me “did you ever live in Jerusalem?” I answered, “yes, many years ago.”

- Do you remember the address?  --Yes, I can’t forget, Rechov Reuven 12, in Bakaa.

--Wait here a moment.

The rabbi ran upstairs to his apartment, and came down with a pocket siddur. --Is this yours?  --Yes, wow!

You see, I had written my name and address in Hebrew on the first page. The Rabbi said that he had found the siddur in a Jerusalem shul, took the siddur home, and checked, in vain, every possible lead to find the owner. He explained to his children that as it is a great mitsvah to return a lost object, he kept the siddur in a safe place, and said that eventually the owner will appear.  And thus it was.  

And, indeed, for thousands of years, sovereignty over Jerusalem was lost to us, until by the grace of HaShem it finally returned in ‘48 and ’67. And we look forward to ge’ulah sheleimah.

Shabbat shalom

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782