When Rav Yisroel Spira zt”l, the Bluzhover Rebbe, was forced to relocate from Istrik, Poland, to Lvov, it was then under Soviet rule. According to Soviet practice, each person was to be employed in a productive job; otherwise, he was classified as a parasite and was liable to be exiled to Siberia. There were no exceptions. All chasidic rabbis had to find productive positions in the Communist utopia and were forbidden to use the title “Rabbi.”

It has become customary – almost a rite of passage – for a bride and groom to find fault with their in-laws for any number of perceived “grievances” that they claim are perpetrated against them. However, no matter how much one might want to complain about his shver or shvigger (father-in-law or mother-in-law), all will agree that no one had a more difficult time with his father-in-law than Yaakov Avinu had with Lavan! From the moment they met on the fateful day that Yaakov saw Rachel at the well, Lavan never ceased to take advantage of the pure and innocent soul that was Yaakov Avinu. He tricked him into working many extra years for him; he changed his wages on a number of occasions. He even switched his wives, forcing Yaakov to marry both of Lavan’s daughters. Lavan, the evil father-in-law, the one who attempted to “uproot everything,” serves as a lesson to us all to be wary and alert to those who wish to do us harm.

The following story was related by the rabbi of a large and prominent congregation. He remarked that one does not realize the power of one’s words and their effect on others, and often even a small and innocent comment can generate shockwaves and repercussions that last for days, months – even generations to come.

In the early 1970s, the organization known as Hineni was founded by the renowned Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, who saw the need for an outreach program to assist those in need of escaping the emotional vacuums of their lives. Her popular weekly classes, which focused on Torah teachings and the important things in life, attracted thousands each week.

The amazing aspect of Yaakov’s preparation to meet his brother Eisav was his calm and calculated approach. He was well aware that his brother intended to do him harm, but rather than lose control, Yaakov came up with a plan. His every move was coordinated in a methodical manner, which eventually led to a peaceful and successful reunion.

A young man from a fine family, replete with outstanding midos and a yearning for Torah study, was having difficulty finding a shidduch. It wasn’t hard to figure out why: Although he was an otherwise good-looking boy, he had a bright red scar running down one side of his face. The scar was unmistakable and the moment anyone looked at him, the first thing that was noticed was the big eyesore on the side of his face. Many shadchanim proposed matches for him based on his reputation as a talmid chacham and a fine, upright bachur. However, the moment any girl would take one look at his face, she would invariably become uneasy and avert her eyes. In fact, most anybody who met him for the first time would display the same reaction. No girl would ever agree to go out with him on a second date.