In every generation, the Jewish people are blessed by the Almighty with a leader to whom, regardless of the domain – be it communal or individual life – nothing is done without his advice or consent. Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor zt”l was known as “Rabban shel kol Yisrael” (Teacher of all Israel), and although he led various communities during his almost 80 years of life, his greatest renown arose from the city of Kovno, Lithuania, where he served as Rav for more than 30 years. It was there that he established his reputation as the Poseik HaDor, and he maintained a large correspondence with rabbis, roshei yeshivah, laymen, communities, philanthropists, and representatives in many parts of the world, who sought his advice and instruction on all conceivable subjects relating to klal Yisrael. His sound reasoning and love of peace established him as truly one of the great leaders of world Jewry. The N’tziv, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin zt”l of Volozhin, once said that Rav Yitzchak Elchanan merited all this because of his exceptional diligence in Torah study. “He is the greatest masmid of our generation,” said the N’tziv, who was also known for his exceptional diligence.

Yosef is sent by his father to Sh’chem to check on his brothers. Along the way, he becomes lost and is found by a “man” who notices him in a field and tells Yosef where his brothers are. The N’tziv (in his Haameik Davar) writes: “In truth, the Torah should have said, “and he found a man,” for it was Yosef who was wandering alone, searching, and found the man – not the man who was walking on his way. Rather, the pasuk comes to teach us that the man was a messenger from Heaven, sent to encounter Yosef and bring him to Dosan, and the “man” (angel) went and found him in that place.

It was the chasunah of a relative. A happy time, a special time, and Reb Anshel was filled with gratitude to be there. A retired businessman with a large and ever-growing family immersed in lives of avodas Hashem, Reb Anshel is known and respected in the Toronto community and beyond. As a guest myself, I was also participating in the beautiful simchah. During the chasan’s tish, waiting for the badeken ceremony to begin, I noticed Reb Anshel coming out of the crowd, toward me.

The Gemara relates that Yaakov Avinu crossed the river to retrieve pachim k’tanim, the small jugs that had been left behind. From here we learn: “Tzadikim, chavivim aleihem mamonam yoser m’gufam l’fi she’ein poshtin y’deihem b’gezel, For the righteous, their money is more precious than their bodies since they never stretch out their hands in theft.” The Arizal explains the Gemara in a different manner. A tzadik recognizes that nothing that comes his way is coincidental. Each and every item found in his possession is there for a specific purpose and must never be squandered. Yaakov Avinu understood that if in addition to his riches Hashem also made him the owner of these small jugs, he must use them for avodas Hashem too. It is for this reason that the Gemara connects this concept to the idea of refraining from theft. Just as all that was given to me was predestined, so too, anything that was given to my friend is exactly where it ought to be.

Rivka Toledano, a religious emergency room nurse, has seen a lot in her time, but on one occasion, she recalls a miraculous occurrence that she personally witnessed while working in a Canadian hospital. It was a cold December night, in the middle of a snowstorm, when the ER can get pretty crazy. Chanukah was starting that night, and Rivka was looking forward to completing her shift and going home to light the menorah with her family.

There’s no panic quite like discovering that your suitcase has disappeared from beneath the bus you had just traveled on, right before a two-day Yom Tov to another city. It wreaks havoc on one’s psyche and causes extreme panic. That’s what happened to Shlomo and Meira Weber just a few hours before the onset of Rosh HaShanah in Ramat Beit Shemesh.