A Bissel Torah: Shoftim/Open the Gates of Heaven


I’m tired, I confess.  But there is a bonding opportunity now in between camp and school.  Have you noticed that camps are no longer eight weeks long, not even seven weeks long anymore, but now six and a half weeks long.  It poses a real challenge to working parents, but a real opportunity as well.  How to balance the very real desire to bond with your children and the need to make money.


Twenty-eight years ago, when I graduated law school, I had two corporate legal job offers.  It was 1989, and the markets crashed and the offers were rescinded.  I volunteered at the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) where I gained legal experience and I started my practice with offices in New York and New Jersey.  I was single and living at home, I was 23 years old, and I had the time and opportunity to build my practice over the years.


The rescission of the job offers seemed so awful at the time.  But over the years, with my practice just a few blocks away from my home, and a fully stocked home office, I am glad that I was mistress over my hours, so I could maximize my time with my children.


And so it is, that I had plans to come home from the JLI retreat and get work done before the kids returned from camp, and my Yosef Yeshaya fell ill.  I rescheduled the clients who were not emergencies to a later date, and now all the children are home, and the planned fun activities are curtailed to accommodate a convalescing child.  I cant help but think how many times I thought over the years, when I had to reschedule my days for sick children, the famous sentence Mordechai said to Esther: “Who knows if it wasn’t for this very moment, that you became queen.”  Who knows if I started my own practice so that I could do what needed to be done at home at that moment.  Faith that all turns out for the best.


I am avoiding what was so painful last week, but I want to share with you.  The Parshah starts with “judges and police you shall appoint in your gates.”  The Lubavitcher Rebbe states that these gates are the gates to one’s heart.  That we should internalize the laws that G-d gave us, and the decisions handed down through His appointed judges and carried out by police.


I struggled with Psalms I was saying this week for my son, Yosef as I sat with him in ICU.  I got to the section of the Psalms which are the chapters that we recite as a group for Rosh Chodesh/the beginning of the Jewish month, the prayer of Hallel/Praise to G-d.  Yosef was burning up, I didn’t have a diagnosis, and I get to chapter 118, “open up the gates of justice, I will enter and praise G-d…this came about by G-d’s hand, it is wondrous in our eyes…this is the day that G-d created, let’s rejoice and be happy about it.”


Open up the gates, G-d, you created this miserable day for me, and yet I have to be in wonderment and joy because you gave me another day, as miserable as it is, and it is my obligation to rejoice and be happy.  I truly choked on the words, oh how difficult for me to say…but I wanted to complete the Psalms for the benefit of Yosef’s healing, and so I said those words with a heavy heart.  It was at that moment, that I stopped to count my blessings, I wrote about last week.  Trying to inject gratitude in the dismal situation.


This week was Rosh Chodesh, I went to my favorite hallowed davening place, my Ohel Sara Amen Group, in memory of Sarit Marton.  By then, Yosef was released from the hospital to convalesce at home for three weeks.  When I reached these same words, I was so thrilled that he was on the road to recovery, I was able to recite the words with the joy with which they were meant to be said.  I felt that G-d heard my prayers and my praise.  He knows that when I said them in the hospital I choked on them, but was determined nevertheless to praise G-d because it had to be good, because G-d had created that day, and mitoch shelo lishmah bah lishmah/saying it without the right intention leads to saying with the right intentions, and I was so happy being in my Amen Group singing this thanks to HKBH for finding the right Dr./messenger to diagnose my son and send him on his path of healing.


We are in the Jewish month of Elul, a time when G-d is in the field, open to all who want to approach Him.  No need to get dressed up, no need to make an appointment with His assistants, He is waiting for us to reach out to him.  Open our gates/hearts to G-d and His laws/judgments, and He will reciprocate and open up His gates of Heaven to our prayers and pleas.


Seek our G-d where He can be found, Find Him when He is near.  My Yosef’s stomach organs are still inflamed.  They say it will take 2-3 weeks to restore his health.  Please continue to daven for Yosef Yeshayah ben Sara Leah in hopes that HKBH grant him a complete recovery.


I know it’s hard to balance professional and personal lives, but what we want to transmit to our children is not done through osmosis, but with together time.  This is our time to be close to our children here on Earth and bring them closer to our Father in Heaven.  Open up the gates.


Shabbat Shalom.



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