May 29, 2024
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May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Zohara was going to change the world—at least that’s what everyone told her. She never set out to be famous or a role model; it just kind of happened. One afternoon, while out for a walk, Zohara came across an injured dog on the sidewalk and realized that a number of people had walked right past this pain-ridden pup, which upset her. While Zohara tended to the downtrodden doggie, she began a speech (to nobody in particular) about helping those in need. While Zohara petted, sang, bandaged and fed the canine in crisis, a few passersby pulled out their iPhones and began to record Zohara’s act of kindness. They made memes and hashtags out of her improvised “speech,” and posted them everywhere.

Well, you can guess what happened next … Zohara went viral. In the waiting room at the animal hospital, Zohara turned on her iPhone and was met with thousands of notifications and messages. Apparently, she was now a social media heroine, with videos of her rescue totalling 5 million views. Additionally, Zohara merch was selling faster than Coach bags on Black Friday. “Good thing it’s the weekend,” thought the newly minted celebrity, “I’ll have time to figure this all out.” Zohara then checked her messages, and almost passed out when she saw how many.

Zohara had no interest in reading through 22,567 messages. Instead, she decided to only open the messages from “important” accounts. After an hour of that, Zohara had two messages that caught her eye. These messages were from social media consultants, each one asking Zohara for a meeting. These two individuals wanted to help Zohara reach an even-wider (!) audience and to start a new worldwide kindness campaign. Zohara happily responded to both offers, and set up meetings.

First, Zohara met with Malya Morris, the popular Jewish influencer. Malya was known for spreading kindness and Jewish pride through her daily “Mayla Minute.” Malya was also a sought-after speaker, and a very popular morah at a local yeshiva. Mayla spent time with Zohara explaining what she saw in her and presenting a plan to get started. Zohara had a really good feeling from this first meeting, and left thinking, “The next one will have to REALLY impress me for me not to choose Malya.”

Well, that’s (sort of) what happened. When Zohara walked into Patty Presby’s office, she was immediately struck by how fancy it was, compared to Malya’s. While Malya admired all the beautiful artwork in the waiting room, Patty emerged from her office, said goodbye to the client she was with, and came over to greet Zohara. “Was that just Simcha Simchowitz, from the ‘Ten Second D’var Torah’ podcast?” Patty nodded. “Wow, he’s amazing!” Again, Patty nodded in agreement and led Zohara into her office.

The waiting room was cool, but Patty’s office was completely extra. Patty had selfies with all the big Jewish influencers of the day, including Moishe of ‘Moishe’s Memes’ and simcha sensation Rivka Rocks! Patty spent the next hour describing how she met each celebrity and how she made them big stars. Zohara sat there spellbound, and left the office with great excitement. She was sure Patty was the one to help her become a Kindness
Rockstar!

And if the meeting wasn’t enough, on the way out, Zohara noticed a page from an ancient-looking book framed on the wall. “What is this from?” Zohara asked the secretary. “Oh! That’s Patty’s latest purchase, a page from the original Zohar.” “What!?” thought Zohara, “that’s basically my name! This is a sign from Hashem!” With that, Zohara walked out of the room, excited to call her mother and tell her everything.

Surprisingly, Zohara’s mother wasn’t as excited as Zohara was. In fact, she seemed a bit concerned. “Sweetie, this all seems great, but are you sure Patty is the right call? I mean, does she have a track record of promoting kindness?” Zohara sighed. “Mom, Patty can clearly do ANYthing. If she hasn’t worked on kindness projects yet, I’ll just be her first. Plus, how can you not see the sign from Hashem. Zohar, Zohara? It’s destiny!”

If you are reading this story, you probably guessed that Mom was correct. Zohara returned home, poured herself a glass of water, and sat on the couch to think. Twenty minutes later, she picked up her phone to call Patty and accept her offer. But before Zohara could call, she noticed a text from her mom. The text linked to a breaking news story: Patty Presby was just arrested! She was accused of using her clients’ money for her own personal gain, and for cheating on her taxes. Zohara was shocked, upset and completely embarrassed at this turn of events. How could she have been so close to giving her entire life over to such a person? How could she have been fooled so easily?

In truth, we are all at risk of falling into the same trap. We are impressed by fame and fortune, and we can forget the right reasons to trust others. Yaakov Avinu was no different. When he hears the news about Yosef, he does not immediately feel comforted. Only when he sees the wagons does he feel better. Why do the wagons make the difference? Additionally, who was it that sent the wagons? Was it Yosef, as it says when Yaakov first encounters them, or was it Pharaoh, as it says when Yaakov’s family loads up?

The confusion in the pasuk can be explained by the following: Yaakov was impressed by the royal wagons, which were sent by Pharaoh to transport Yaakov to Mitzrayim. But Yaakov knew not to be impressed by an Egyptian king. So he tells himself these are “Yosef’s wagons”; they are holy and special, not just fancy and royal, and in truth, they are. They are the wagons that will reunite Bnei Yisrael, but they are also the wagons that will eventually lead to slavery.

Fame and fortune have their place, but we have to be very careful about how they influence us.

Shabbat Shalom!


Yair Daar is the middle school dean of students at Yeshivat He’Atid. He can be reached at   [email protected].

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