Feb 27, 2014

Why Am I Hearing This?

Someone told me the following:

Her son will be bar mitzvah next year and he started working with a teacher to prepare his haftora.  One day in shul, her husband heard someone relate a story.  The story had to do with a man whose son was not very bright.  He went to R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z'l and asked what to do.  He just couldn't see his son laining the haftora like the other boys.

R' Shlomo Zalman said, don't wait until it's six months before his bar mitzvah.  Start a year in advance.  So the boy began studying and preparing to lain the haftora.

Months went by and the boy's father got to talking with someone whose son was also going to be bar mitzvah.  They realized that their sons' bar mitzvah would be on the same Shabbos.  The other man referred to the haftora his son was preparing, "Machar Chodesh," because the Shabbos of the bar mitzvah it would be Shabbos Mevorchim with Rosh Chodesh on Sunday.  When this happens, the usual haftora is waived for the special reading of erev Rosh Chodesh.

The father of the weak boy was in shock.  He hadn't realized that the bar mitzvah Shabbos was Shabbos Mevorchim with the "Machar Chodesh" haftorah.  His son was preparing the wrong haftora!

He went back to R' Shlomo Zalman and asked him what to do, as his son would certainly not be able to start preparing a different haftora at that point.  R' Shlomo Zalman told him to have his son continue preparing the haftora he was working on and that would be fine.

The Shabbos of the bar mitzvah, in walked R' Shlomo Zalman to the shul where the weak boy would be laining.  After the davening, the father went over to him to ask why he had gone out of his way to come to that shul.

R' Shlomo Zalman said, if I would not have come, your son would have started laining and people would have said: No! It's "Machar Chodesh!" Then you would have told them that I said that what he is laining is fine ...

In order to preempt any opposition, R' Shlomo Zalman bothered to show up himself, davening not in his usual shul, so all would go smoothly.

A very nice story indeed.  But it doesn't end there.  The father of the bar mitzvah boy who heard this story in shul wondered: Why did I hear this story?

He went home and checked and ... yup, his son was preparing the wrong haftora.  It will be Shabbos Mevorchim that Shabbos, and the proper haftora for that particular Shabbos is "Machar Chodesh." His son is bright enough so switching haftoras is not a problem.

Without the premise that everything is b'hashgacha pratis, the question, Why did I hear this story? is not relevant.  Whenever we wonder why we met someone, why that person called when they did, why we had to see, hear, encounter something, the underlying thought is, Hashem is running the show.  And that's a good thought to have.

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