The amazing aspect of Yaakov’s preparation to meet his brother Eisav was his calm and calculated approach. He was well aware that his brother intended to do him harm, but rather than lose control, Yaakov came up with a plan. His every move was coordinated in a methodical manner, which eventually led to a peaceful and successful reunion.

A young man from a fine family, replete with outstanding midos and a yearning for Torah study, was having difficulty finding a shidduch. It wasn’t hard to figure out why: Although he was an otherwise good-looking boy, he had a bright red scar running down one side of his face. The scar was unmistakable and the moment anyone looked at him, the first thing that was noticed was the big eyesore on the side of his face. Many shadchanim proposed matches for him based on his reputation as a talmid chacham and a fine, upright bachur. However, the moment any girl would take one look at his face, she would invariably become uneasy and avert her eyes. In fact, most anybody who met him for the first time would display the same reaction. No girl would ever agree to go out with him on a second date.

It has become customary – almost a rite of passage – for a bride and groom to find fault with their in-laws for any number of perceived “grievances” that they claim are perpetrated against them. However, no matter how much one might want to complain about his shver or shvigger (father-in-law or mother-in-law), all will agree that no one had a more difficult time with his father-in-law than Yaakov Avinu had with Lavan! From the moment they met on the fateful day that Yaakov saw Rachel at the well, Lavan never ceased to take advantage of the pure and innocent soul that was Yaakov Avinu. He tricked him into working many extra years for him; he changed his wages on a number of occasions. He even switched his wives, forcing Yaakov to marry both of Lavan’s daughters. Lavan, the evil father-in-law, the one who attempted to “uproot everything,” serves as a lesson to us all to be wary and alert to those who wish to do us harm.

A prominent rosh kollel in Jerusalem once came to discuss a pressing matter with the renowned tzadik and Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef, Chacham Rabbeinu Yehudah Tzadkah zt”l. At present, he explained, his kollel was being housed in one of the large synagogues in the city and the avreichim were learning well. The problem was that a number of the synagogue’s gabbaim were threatening to evict them from their sanctuary on the basis that they were tracking dust and dirt into the synagogue every time they walked in, and the gabbaim had no intention of cleaning up each day after the young men. The rosh kollel was in a bind, for he had no other place to go – were they to be asked to leave.

In the early 1970s, the organization known as Hineni was founded by the renowned Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, who saw the need for an outreach program to assist those in need of escaping the emotional vacuums of their lives. Her popular weekly classes, which focused on Torah teachings and the important things in life, attracted thousands each week.

Aside from the horrendous loss of life the Second World War dealt our people, another disastrous effect of the Holocaust was, for a large portion of survivors, their loss of faith. After what they had been through, they became disenchanted and threw off any semblance of their Jewish past and their lineage. One such man survived World War II in body, but not in spirit. He was “angry” with G-d and vowed to shake off anything to do with religion. After some time in a DP camp, he boarded a ship that brought him to New York, and he settled in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. He soon married a similarly disenchanted woman and started a family. They had a son who was the apple of their eye, but they were careful to raise him without anything resembling Yahadus: no bris milah, no Shabbos, no Torah!