By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Last week, I invited you to join the global Daf Yomi club. I attempted to seduce you with the promise of Eternal reward. This week, I want to tell you a personal story of how sacrificing daily to participate in Daf Yomi study affords great protection for us and our loved ones in this world as well.
Twenty-seven years ago, after being in my shul-the Agudas Yisroel of Staten Island-for the first days of Pesach, I spent the latter days in one of the then popular hotels. Unfortunately, our oldest daughter, Chani (who is now happily married with lovely children), ate a piece of tainted chopped meat and contracted E.coli poisoning. I’ll never forget that all of a sudden while I was saying my Daf Yomi in the Agudah of 14th Avenue, all of the Hatzoloh walkie-talkies at the shiur started going off (there were very few cellphones in those day) with the message that Rav Weiss should call home immediately. Rav Shmuel Dovid Friedman, Shlit”a, was at the shiur in those days and had a cellphone (four times the size of today’s iPhone), and in the middle of the shiur I called home. My Rebbetzin told me to get home quickly because something was very wrong with Chani. I dashed home and, after three days in Staten Island Hospital, we transferred her to Babies Hospital of Colombia-Presbyterian where they diagnosed her with a rare virus generated by the E.coli virus. She needed multiple blood transfusions and was put on peritoneal dialysis.
As she was only six at the time and she was in a frightening ICU, my wife and I farmed-out all of our children to wonderful neighbors and moved into the hospital. I remember making the duplicates of my weekly tape subscription (You can still get a weekly subscription for a CD of my Chumash shiur or from the archives of over thirty years for $312/year. Just call 718-916-3100 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great way to support my Torah efforts.) on the floor of the hospital and mailing them in the postbox in the lobby of Columbia-Presbyterian. We stayed at the hospital around the clock as something was always going on with our daughter.
The only time I left the hospital was to say my daf shiur at the Agudah of 14th Avenue which, at the time, had over 200 people in nightly attendance. A car would pick me up at about 9:15 to take me to Boro Park whence the shiur commenced at 10:15 (the shiur is now at the same time across the street in First Congregation Anshei Sefard) and another car would take me back to the hospital where I would arrive back at around 12:15 a.m. to face a night of challenges. I still remember how nearby YU would send over every night two of their wonderful boys to stay with my wife until I returned. The boys would sit and learn and be of comfort and security for my Rebbetzin while I was away. (Wherever you are now – I’m sure many of you are already zadies – know that we have not forgotten your kindness during those frightening nights.)
Baruch Hashem, after 5 ½ weeks, the virus and the infection left without a trace and Hashem returned our daughter to us in full health, bli ayin hara. A year later, on the anniversary, we made a seudas hodaah, a feast of thanksgiving, and our daughter bentched gomel. (I remember asking that no one bring gifts but that if one wanted to express their feelings to us, they should give a donation to our shul. I still remember how we raised six thousand much needed dollars at the time.) When preparing my speech for the event, I told my wife, “Let me see what the gematria of Chanah Weiss is. After, all everyone loves a good gematria.” For maximum effect, let’s work it out together. Channah equals 63; ches is 8, nun is 50 and hei is 5. Weiss, spelled vav-vav-yud-yud-samech is 92; vav is 6, vav is 6, yud is 10, yud is 10 and samech is 60, totaling 92. Together, 63 and 92 add up to 155. I remember saying to my wife, “Hey! That’s a familiar number,” and then I literally got the chills when I realized that 155 is the exact numerical value of Daf HaYomi. Daf is daled, 4 and pei is 80, equaling 84. HaYomi – hei is 5, yud 10, vav 6, mem is 40, and yud is 10. That’s 71. This gives us 84 plus 71, giving us a grand total of 155. This completely bowled me over since we were always saying that the sacrifice of schlepping back and forth to my nightly Daf Yomi, while I was physically and mentally exhausted, would be a merit for Chani!
You should know that this story just emphasizes how Hashem give special protection to those who go the extra mile to learn daily Hashem’s Talmud. And I share with you this story as an extra push for those to whom it is very hard after a hard day’s work to sacrifice going home and collapsing on the easy chair or eating supper and rolling into bed. It’s not too late. Become part of Hashem’s Torah army and in that merit may we be blessed, together with our loved ones, with long live, good health, and everything wonderful.
Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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