July 8, 2024
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Lech Lecha: The Red Roof and the Pomegranate

Once, in the town of Fort Lee, there lived three brothers: Shmulik, Ari, and Hank. They lived in a small house on the shores of the mighty Hudson River with their parents, Moshe and Henrietta. Their father was a woodchopper and handyman, and their mother was a computer software designer for a major military contractor.

Their whole lives, Shmulik, Ari, and Hank dreamed of making aliyah, of moving to Israel. They each made their plans separately, but they hoped to live together in the Holy Land.

However, each brother had a different view of Israel.

Shmulik wanted to live in a place where he could defend his homeland. He wanted to be high on a hill in the Judean desert, where he could be a protector of the Jewish State. He wanted to feel the dry desert air blow through the windows of his red-roofed villa and defend his community with his presence in the Aretz Hakedoshah. He also wanted a makolet down the block with lots of prilis.

Ari was more cosmopolitan and wanted to live in the heartland. He wanted to be in a suburb of Tel Aviv, surrounded by parks, a shopping mall, and a video store that had all of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Hebrew subtitles.

Hank was a farmer at heart, having come from the Garden State. He wanted to live in an isolated settlement where he could have a beautiful house with lots of solar panels on the roof, grow carrots, olives, and an occasional pomegranate, have a large, hairy dog, and drive a really big green tractor.

When all three brothers had finally finished all their schooling, they sat down together in their parents’ living room to discuss their plans. The three wanted to stay together, but they couldn’t agree on where to live. The Galil? The Golan? The Judean Desert? Ranana? Beit Shemesh? The three got into a fistfight that had to be physically broken up by their mother. She may have been a software designer for a major military contractor, but she also spent a lot of time at the gym.

“What are you doing?” she cried. “Can’t we all just get along?”

Shmulik, Ari, and Hank explained their problem. They just couldn’t agree on where to live. Each of their needs was so different.

Their mother brought them to the local wise man, known as The Iluy of Edgewater. He had spent many years in deep contemplation, and rumor had it he had once been Madonna’s Kabbalist. In short, his waters ran deep.

The Iluy was a small man, but his eyes burnt deeply with the fire of Torah. He listened to their story intently and then sat in silence for a few minutes, before he spoke in a thin, wispy voice.

“You know, every person in life has his or her own unique contribution to make for the Ribbono Shel Olam, the Master of the World. And each person should help in the way that he or she does best. Why, when Avraham Avinu, our father Abraham, was sent out from Ur Kasdim and told Lech Lecha to go forth, Hashem knew that Avraham was someone who could bring people close to Him. Avraham had tremendous yirat shamayim, fear of God, and he was a giant in hachnansat orchim, in hospitality to guests. Why, he was the greatest people person of all time! So Hashem gave him the mission of spreading the word. He chose Avraham for this mission because that was his strength. So, too, each of us have our strengths, and we must use them.

“So, too, with your parents. Shmulik, what does your father do?”

“He is a woodcutter, Rebbe.”

“Nu? So Hashem made him a woodcutter because that is how your father could best serve Him. And Hank, what does your mother do?”

“She is a software designer for a major military contractor, Rebbe.”

“Really? Well, uh, I’m sure that is in Hashem’s plan, too. A military contractor, you say?”

“Yes, Rebbe.”

“Go figure. Anyway, each of you must find a place to fulfill your own unique destiny and take your place in Hashem’s plan.”

The Rebbe then pulled out a map of Israel and showed them a major new settlement called Carnei Avraham that was going up outside of Modiin that straddled both sides of the Green Line. It had lush fields for agriculture and was less than 15 minutes from a major mall.

In the end, all three brothers took their place in Carnei Avraham, only a few minutes from each other, and each fulfilled his destiny in Klal Yisroel. Shmulik got a house on the edge of the settlement, facing the desert and the great beyond; Hank got his tractor and grew pomegranates, and Ari got the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD, though it was dubbed instead of subtitled. Well, we all have to make sacrifices.

Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics and author of the parsha story blog Maggidofbergenfield.com.

By Larry Stiefel

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