Home > Rabbi Baruch Lederman > Precautions, spiritually and physically, better than cures

Precautions, spiritually and physically, better than cures

By  Rabbi Baruch Lederman

Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO–The Torah gives very explicit instructions. The Torah tells us what to do. It also tells us how, when and where to do it. Every detail is spelled out. Just like using a washing machine,  when you read and adhere to the directions, all will be well. If not, things will go awry, as the following true story, documented in Parsha Parables by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky,
illustrates:

It was the eve of December 25th, 1776.  General George Washington was reeling from his crushing defeats in New York.  In a bold and daring move, he had decided to cross the ice-filled Delaware River and attack Trenton, New Jersey.  He planned to surprise the thousands of Hessian troops guarding that portal.  He did not know that his surprise attack  was almost no surprise.  A farmer, a British sympathizer knocked on the door where the Hessian Commander, Colonel Johann Rall was attending a holiday party.  Rall had always  scoffed at the thought of attack, boasting, “Those clod-hoppers will not attack us!”

The farmer had heard of the plans and seen the movement across the shore.  He wanted to get the message to the Colonel but he could not get past a servant who accepted a note which spelled out Washington’s plans and handed it to the commander.   Rall, however, was in the middle of a card game and would not be interrupted.  He stuffed the paper  in his pocket without even glancing at it.  He continued playing through the night until he collapsed from drunken exhaustion.

At dawn, Washington attacked.  His ammunition was so waterlogged that his troops could hardly fire a shot.  They did not need to.  The Hessians were drowsy from the previous  night’s festivities and the Colonial Army’s bayonets were as sharp as the troops’ spirit.  After an overwhelming onslaught in which the colonists took nearly 900 prisoners, Rall who  was mortally wounded, surrendered.   As the doctor cut away his jacket, a note fell out.  Rall read it and mournfully said, “If I only had read this last night, I would not be here today.”

The Rosh Yeshiva ztl, told us that when he was a youth, he told his father, Reb Dovid Leibowitz ztl, that he was thinking about becoming a doctor instead of a Rabbi. His father  replied, “Try preventive medicine.” He was telling his son that if we learn and follow the dictates of the Torah our lives will be enriched both physically and spiritually.

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Dedicated by Anonymous for the release of Gilad Shalit.

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Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego

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