My rosh yeshiva in Israel, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l (late rosh yeshiva of Mir Yerushalayim), was stricken with Parkinson’s disease for his entire tenure as rosh yeshiva. Under his leadership, the yeshiva grew from 1,000 students to 6,000 and increased from one building to seven! He gave shiurim, met with students and carried the whole yeshiva’s budget on his shoulders. In his advanced stages of Parkinson’s, he still traveled to America to raise funds, meeting donors in their offices despite the strain. Once, the rosh yeshiva asked a supporter for a much larger donation than usual. The donor wanted to excuse himself with a nicety, but shocked himself when the word “yes” jumped from his lips! It was clear, he said later, that seeing the rosh yeshiva push himself beyond his limits for the love of his students, he could not say no. The rosh yeshiva’s challenging illness actually helped him raise the millions of dollars he needed for the maintenance and growth of the yeshiva.
Parshas Naso discusses the Nazir, who accepts upon himself to refrain from drinking wine, consuming grape products, cutting his hair and touching the dead. The Torah describes the act of becoming a nazir with the words “Ish ki yaflei” a person who accepts upon himself something wondrous. The wonder of the nazir is to go against the flow. Most people engage in worldly pursuits, while ignoring the neshama (soul). The nazir, to elevate himself spiritually, accepts the challenge of undertaking to focus on his neshama and not let his body be in the driver’s seat.
Rav Gedalia Schorr notes that we say the same word (derived from the word “pelah”) daily in the bracha of Asher Yatzar after we use the restroom. The bracha concludes with the words “mafli la’assos.” The Rema (Shulchan Aruch 6:1) explains that in addition to thanking Hashem for normal bodily function, we are thanking Hashem for the wonder of keeping two opposite forces together. Man has a body and a soul, which have two opposite agendas, and Hashem makes them exist together in harmony. Indeed, the success of the soul is only due to the body, and the success of the body is only due to the soul.
In our own daily life, we sometimes let our challenges temporarily overcome us. We need to recognize that any challenges that come our way are from Hashem and therefore, in some way, for our good. Dealing with these challenges effectively might in fact be the key to our ultimate accomplishments and success.
The bracha of borei nefashos that we say after eating certain foods is an incredible bracha; it describes this exact point: It indicates that Hashem creates many different people with all their needs and sustains them with all that He created. We have our needs and Hashem provides for them.
The Bobover Rebbe would go to visit people after Shabbos morning davening in their homes. He would drink a l’chaim, pass out cake to all the people there, make a bracha, eat a small piece and then move on to the next home.
One Shabbos on his rounds, the Rebbe stopped to see Reb Zishe, who was rosh kollel of Bobov. Reb Zishe was married for 10 years but had no children. Also present was Reb Zishe’s gabbai (assistant), Reb Shmuel, who had no children after nine years of marriage. The Rebbe gave out a l’chaim and piece of cake, then uncharacteristically drank the entire cup. He motioned to Reb Zishe and Reb Shmuel and loudly recited the bracha Baruch atah… borei nefashos rabbos v’chesronam—Hashem creates many people each with their needs—l’hachoyos bahem nefesh kol chai—to give each of them life. All answered “amen!!” Within the year, Reb Zishe had a baby girl and Reb Shmuel had a baby boy. It was clear the Rebbe purposely drank a full cup to require him to say this after-bracha so he could ask for Hashem to fill their void and get all to answer amen.
Twenty years later, the Bobover Rebbe visited Reb Zishe and Reb Shmuel to drink a l’chaim on the engagement of their children to each other. Their void of being childless for so many years was destined to be filled by each other’s simcha and give them a joyous life together.
Instead of letting our difficulties hold us back, let’s instead realize the wondrous ways of Hashem and use the resources given to us by Hashem to achieve success as we conquer these difficulties.
You might be stuck at home because of COVID-19 but your dating doesn’t have to be stuck in neutral. I crowd-sourced for great ideas to help you continue distance dating in meaningful, relationship-strengthening, and fun ways. Here’s a few ways to move your relationship forward.
- Getting-to-Know-You Games & Activities
You may be miles apart but these games can bring you and a date closer than ever.
Never Have I Ever
Although this game is meant for a group, play it one-on-one to learn anything you want to know about your date in an indirect and fun way. Consider planning your lists of questions before you play, or find questions here.
Another question-and-answer board game, this one will help you get a deeper understanding of each other. With thought-provoking, soul-searching questions like, “If you could live your life over, what would you do differently,” you might want to break out this game with a bottle of red. Well, maybe two bottles, one for each of you, since you’ll be playing via video chat.
Take the quiz to learn more about each other as well as yourself. Discuss the results.
These increasingly personal questions are designed to create a sense of trust and closeness. They have caused couples who didn’t know each other to fall in love. Are you ready to try them?
- Videochatting Games
It is likely you can find any of your favorite games online or as an app. Here are a few current, and classic, favorites.
This online learning platform has a “family fun” track with more games than you’ll ever be able to play. But you can try — together with your date. You will each have to download the app and one person will be the host and need to share their screen.
Good Old Hangman
Grab a giant whiteboard or paper. Or play online. Hangmanwords makes it easy to play with others.
Yahtzee, Uno, or Scrabble Go (or Words with Friends)
Use the apps or set up the actual game in each of your homes and play away.
Heads Up! on the Houseparty app
Invite your friends to a chat in Houseparty, then select the small dice icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select Heads Up! to launch a new game. There are a handful of free decks to choose from and dozens more themed decks you can purchase for about $1.
The Goosechase website prompts you to make fun use of household items or create and share videos of you fulfilling different challenges.
You each take turns naming household objects, and then you each have to run to get it. The first person back to the computer wins. You can name specific items like a flat-head screwdriver to more general things like toothpaste or something from the fridge. Get exercise and get to know each other a little better. . . but not too much better. Choose objects with discretion.
Have fun telling facts or stories about your life. Your date has to determine if what you are saying is true or a lie. Before a date, each person writes facts that are true or false. Email each other one fact at a time. The opposite player asks questions to decide whether you are telling the truth or not.
Being stuck at home has opened new opportunities to see the world at very affordable prices.
Secrets of the Old City Tour lets you visit the holy sites of Jerusalem from your separate couches. Save the airfare, the jetlag, yet get a taste of being in Jerusalem! This is a video tour individuals rent for 7 days. We received special permission to allow one of you to pay the $14.99 and watch the video together during your date.
Visit The Biblical Museum of Natural History in Israel. This unique museum focuses on animals in the Torah and is offering 50-minute, virtual interactive tours for only $5/person during the Coronavirus situation.
Chef It Up
Cook a meal together and then eat it together.
We may be working from home, schooling from home, shopping from home, and even dating from home. During this time let’s get creative and find ways to connect from a distance. May you use this time of being isolated at home to bring you and your date closer together.
Originally published on Aish.com.