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Faigy Peritzman

A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


ou shall place the Urim V’Tumim into the Choshen of Judgment so that they will be over Aharon’s heart when he comes before Hashem, and Aharon will carry the judgment of Bnei Yisrael over his heart before Hashem at all times.” (Shemos 28:30)


Rashi says the Urim and V’Tumim refer to the inscription of Hashem’s ineffable Name, which Moshe placed within the folds of the Choshen. Through the koach of the Name, when Bnei Yisrael were debating a matter, letters on the stones would light up, indicating an answer to their question.

In Divrei Hayamim II (35) the navi Yirmiyahu laments as he recounts the death of King Yoshiyahu, one of the righteous kings of Beis David. The king of Mitzrayim went up to fight the king of Ashur, causing Yoshiyahu to take up arms to fight Mitzrayim. Mitzrayim asked, “Why are you coming against me? I have nothing against you, I just need to pass through your land to fight Ashur.”

But Yoshiyahu went to battle against Mitzrayim anyway and was fatally wounded. Where did Yoshiyahu go wrong? (Rabbi Dovid Hofstedter, Dorash Dovid)

It always hits me between Tu B’Shevat and Purim. This year, we have an extra month, and I’m determined to capitalize on it.

I’d spend a day or two wading through receipts, Post-it Notes, parshah arts and crafts, and piles of papers. Then I’d come into Pesach cleaning, lighter and less encumbered. Or so I dreamed.

I was knee-deep in shoeboxes of papers when I found the ziplock bag. Inside were five self-addressed envelopes with the return address bearing one of the most famous addresses within the frum world. Rashbam 23, Bnei Brak.

Pirkei D’Rabi Eliezer explains that although Yoshiyahu had tried to eradicate idolatry from Bnei Yisrael, he failed to accomplish this completely, as there were scoffers in his generation who disobeyed his command and continued serving their idols. Bnei Yisrael were therefore not worthy of winning a battle against Mitzrayim.

I opened the first envelope with care bordering on reverence. I clearly remember the first time we’d penned a question to Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita. My husband and I had sat together trying to consolidate our thoughts, emotions, and confusion as to whether or not we should move out of Yerushalayim.

And there was our answer, in Rav Chaim’s handwriting, clearly answering our question in the affirmative and wishing us his brachah v’hatzlachah.

Another envelope asking advice on a medical procedure.

A third dealing with a girl’s name for an unborn child who ended up being a boy. Rav Chaim’s response seemed to reflect his famous intuition: Contact me if necessary after the baby is born.

Yaaros Dvash asks why the righteous King Yoshiyahu didn’t present his plan to the Urim V’Tumim to determine if he should go to battle against Mitzrayim. Wasn’t this the practice of all the virtuous leaders since the days of Moshe and Yehoshua?

Perhaps Yoshiyahu assumed that since Bnei Yisrael were on a low madreigah due to their idolatry, they weren’t worthy to receive an answer from the Urim V’Tumim.

However, after noting with due reverence King Yoshiyahu’s greatness, the Alter of Kelm suggests [based on the phrase “v’davku bo leitzanei hador”] that perhaps we are being taught a lesson. Perhaps a measure of the generation’s attitude of scoffing had in some small way affected Yoshiyahu himself — the prevailing atmosphere of disrespect for Hashem contributed, minutely, to Yoshiyau neglecting to consult with the Urim V’Tumim. It caused him to overlook this option and instead he made his own decision, sealing his fate.

I took the ziplock and placed it carefully on top of the save pile. These papers were precious.

These five letters were statements attesting to cornerstone moments in our lives, to our determination to base our decisions on emunas chachamim. These envelopes were a tangible legacy that I wanted to pass on to my children: When in doubt, just ask.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 630)


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