CTN Torah Minute by Rabbi Moshe Katz – Prayers and Good Wishes for Rabbi Simes

This article is a series of Torah Minutes from the Chicago Torah Network – each time that Rabbi Simes is discussed,  beginning in July 2010 up to present reprinted with permission by Rabbi Moshe Katz. Please read them all! So inspiring!

Torah Minutes 

Prayers and Good Wishes for Rabbi Simes


Hope you’re having a great day.

Whether we have ever met or not, I consider you “family”.  So I am sharing this with you.

… You may have seen it on the national news.

“A very serious traffic accident involving a Canadian Jewish family.

 The driver swerved to avoid a deer and crashed into the median.

Their van rolled over several times and was left in a vertical position.

The seven children were unhurt and the mother suffered non life threatening injuries.

The father suffered serious neck and spinal injuries and was evacuated by helicopter to a medical center in Syracuse NY.”

… Stories like this always touch us.  And then we go on with our routine.

But there are always people who are profoundly impacted by what happened.

Family and loved ones of those involved.

In this case, that includes me.

The father is my nephew, married to my niece Shaindel.

Yehuda is a very special young man.  As sweet as they come.

He and Shaindel moved to Ottawa to teach Torah to Jewish kids.

And they are from the most respected and beloved couples in the community.

… Shaindel told me that Yehuda was aware that he was seriously hurt.

What did he say?

“I’m in a lot of pain.  Get us help.  And get people to daven (pray)!”

And that’s why I’m sharing this with you!

Thank G-d, Yehuda is being treated in a top notch medical center.

But Yehuda and Shaindel are deeply religious.

And they have tremendous faith in the power of prayer.

People all over the world are praying for Yehuda.

And I am asking you to join them.

You and thousands others read my Torah Minutes.

And there can be great power in our collective prayers!

… Please say the following prayer daily.

“May it be Your will, L-rd my G-d, and the G-d of my forefathers, that you quickly send a complete recovery from heaven, spiritual healing and physical healing to Yehuda Pinchas son of Osna, among the others in Israel who are in need of healing.”

And there is one more thing you can do.

If you would like to send good wishes to Yehuda and Shaindel?

I would be glad to pass them on.

Because in addition to the spiritual power of prayer?

They get tremendous strength from the fact their fellow Jews are praying for them!   

Thank G-d, Yehuda is conscious and aware and has shown some encouraging improvements.

And nothing will give him more strength than to hear you say…

“Your Uncle Moshe told me about you and I am davening (praying) for you!”     

All the best,



I hope you’re having a great day.

Thanks to all of you who offered prayers and good wishes for my nephew!

The huge number of people all over the world praying for Yehudah is amazing!

And is a tremendous source of encouragement to him and the family.

We are very grateful that everyone came out of the crash alive.

The children were, thank G-d, unhurt.

And my niece Shaindel, their mother, has been discharged from the hospital.

(Thank G-d, with only a few broken ribs.)

To anyone who saw the van, standing vertically on the side of the road, it was a miracle!

Yehudah is, thank G-d, alert, but did suffer serious spinal injury.

The next few weeks and months will be crucial.

We are hopeful that intensive rehab will be successful.

So please keep praying! (Yehuda Pinchas ben (son of) Osna).

What else can we do?

I wanted to share an amazing project:

As I mentioned, while Yehudah is getting the best medical care available?  The family has strong faith in the power of prayer and other spiritual efforts.

And in the power of a united Jewish community.

They have requested that their community unite to enhance its Shabbat experience.

It’s called the “Ottawa Jewish Community Shabbat Project for Rabbi Simes & Family.”(The project is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and many other organizations.)

And I wanted to ask the readers of the Torah Minute to join this project.

You are a great “community” of Jews of all backgrounds.

A community with tremendous spiritual power!

Here are some of the things they’re doing in Ottawa.

Lighting Shabbat candles – and making sure to do it before sunset. (Click here for user friendly instructions and explanations: http://www.aish.com/sh/ht/fn/48965051.html)

Reciting Kiddush over wine Friday night. (Click here for user friendly instructions and explanations: http://www.aish.com/sh/ht/fn/48967396.html)

And setting aside time for Jewish learning. (Please let me know if you want some guidance with this. I would love to help.)

… In addition, here’s something else for you to consider that would be extremely meaningful to me.

“The CTN Jewish Unity Shabbat Service”.

I will be leading a special ‘user-friendly’ Shabbat morning service a week from this Shabbat.  That’s Saturday, July 17.

The CTN User-Friendly Service is not a complete service.  Instead we take select prayers and discuss their meaning and relevance.

I share short insights, inspiring stories and nuggets of inspiration.  (And maybe a few jokes!)

(Please note that this service is designed for people who do not attend a full traditional service.  If you do usually attend a full service, great!  Please have Yehudah in mind.)

I guarantee you will not be passive while I “conduct the service’.

You’ll be engaged, stimulated and inspired.

Let’s unite to enhance our Shabbat and create tremendous spiritual energy …

… and to give encouragement to Yehudah and his family!

The Jewish Unity Shabbat Service

Saturday, July 17th  9:30 – 11:00 A.M.

The CTN Center 2832West Touhy.

Please let me know if you will be coming!  Thank you!

All the best,



Hope you’re having a great day.

It’s amazing how our perspective on things can change.

My nephew Yehudah has a very long road ahead of him.

Thank G-d, there have been some encouraging signs.

Very small things.  But very important things.

Like a little sensation where there was none before.

But when it happens to Yehudah?

It’s exciting!  And it gives us hope.

It also makes us think about the things that we usually take for granted.

It reminded me of this story.

An Israeli tour bus driver was greeting everyone with a big smile and a hearty ‘Good morning!’

Finally one of the passengers says to him: “Boy.  You’re in a real good mood today”.

And the driver explained: “Something happened yesterday that really got me thinking.

I was hired to show a family the sights.  We stopped at a very beautiful spot.  It was just breathtaking.

Everyone got off the bus to take a closer look.  And then I noticed one older man who had remained on the bus.

I asked him if he needed help.   He said: “No thank you.

It’s just that I’m almost completely blind.  And I wouldn’t appreciate the scene.  So I might as well wait on the bus”.

… And then, he told me something amazing.

“You should know that I’m a very successful businessman.  A millionaire.

But I’d give up every penny to be able to enjoy a beautiful sight again

The bus driver continued: “This morning I got up and started thinking.

That man would give up a million dollars to be able to see.

… And I can see!  So I’m a millionaire!

… A millionaire!

Of course I’m excited!”

… The doctors are cautious, but hopeful.

It is possible for him to bounce back and regain full function.

Yehudah is very alert, very aware of the challenge he faces.  And very determined.

He’s also aware that as much as he is ready to give it all he has?

He will need a huge amount of help.

He’s now in Ottawa where there is a rehab center specializing in spinal injuries.

And where he will get the best medical care possible.

But Yehudah deeply believes that there is a whole other level of help.

Spiritual energy.

The thousands of people praying for him all over the world.

Huge numbers of people who have decided to be more sensitive to the feelings of others.

And thousands of people who are trying to make their Shabbos more special.

Like the woman who wrote to say that she “did it for Yehudah”…

“I left my computer off the entire Shabbos!” 

Try to think of something you can do to make this Shabbos special.

(No gossip?  No computer?  No Blackberry?

(Shabbat candles?  Special Shabbat dinner? Jewish learning?  Quality time with family or friends?)

And if you regularly attend a full Shabbat morning service, that’s great.

If not, there’s this week’s special CTN Shabbat Experience. 

It’s informal and relaxed.  We’ll sit around a table and make Shabbat more meaningful.

And make our lives more meaningful.

We’ll say some select prayers and really understand their meaning.

You’ll hear short insights, inspiring stories and nuggets of inspiration.

And you can even ask questions and get answers!

And yes… There will be a Kiddush following with great food.

The CTN Shabbat Experience

Saturday, July 17, 9:30 – 11 am at the CTN Center, 2832 West Touhy

Registration: http://www.torahnetwork.org/shabbatservice.htm

All the best,



Hope you’re having a great day.

… My wife and I just spent a week in Ottawa visiting our nephew Yehudah.

It was the first time we’ve seen him since the accident.

And while it was far from our typical “vacation”?

It was not only a change of pace.

And not only a chance to visit Yehudah and his family.

We came away inspired.

… As you may remember, Yehudah suffered spinal injury from the accident.

He is still in intensive care but, thank G-d, is making slow progress daily.

With great effort, and despite a tracheotomy to help his breathing?

He can talk softly.

You can understand him if you get close and also watch his lips.

And while I don’t know exactly how it works?

They attach something for a few hours a day which helps him speak.

(It reduces the amount of oxygen coming from the ventilator.

And that makes him work harder at breathing.

But it also lets more oxygen into his larynx.)

Bottom line?

If he works really hard at breathing and at the same time tries to talk?

It’s much louder and clearer.

And what was the first thing Yehudah said when they put it on?

When he could finally “talk”?

“I wanted to thank all of you for helping me overcome this challenge.”

… Talk about being humbled?  About being inspired?

We all have “thank – you’s” that have not been said. 

Sometimes we just forget.  Sometimes there’s “too much going on.”

And sometimes we find it hard to say thank you.

But if we think of Yehudah?

About how much he has “going on”.  How easily he could just focus on himself?

And about how hard he has to work just to say thank you?

We’ll be much better at saying thank you.

And much better people!

… Yehudah is very determined.

Of course, he wants to recover.  And he wants to return to his family.

But he doesn’t stop talking about something else…

“I need to get back to teaching Torah to Jewish kids!”

We all look forward to Yehudah returning to the class room.

But in the meantime?

He has taught his uncle Moshe quite a bit.

And he has given us all a tremendous lesson!

Let’s be “good students”.

Think of a thank you that you have not said.

And say it!

All the best,



Hope you’re having a great day.

One more story about my nephew Yehudah!

For various reasons, after the accident his kids didn’t see him for many weeks.

And while my wife and I were in Ottawa visiting?

They were going to see him for the first time.

It was obviously a very emotional time.

And a very challenging experience for the kids.

Someone had a great idea to make it easier for them.

Turn it into an ice cream party!

This way the kids will see their Dad and also have some fun.

So on the way, my wife and I went to the supermarket to pick up the ice cream.

And it was very important that we got the right kind!

So we called my niece Shaindel from the store.

She told us what to get, and then she said…

“Oh, a very important message from Yehudah.”

(Remember, Yehudah was in the critical care unit.

He was working so hard to talk despite a tracheotomy.

And he was preparing for an emotional visit from his children.)

And what was this urgent massage that he struggled to give?

“Please make sure there’s enough ice cream for all the nurses!”

It was a very moving scene as each kid approached Yehudah and kissed him.

Then, out with the ice cream pops!

One for each kid.  And one for each nurse.

But there were still some left.

So what did Yehudah’s kids do?

They learned from their father!

They walked through the corridor of the critical care unit.

And handed out ice cream to every doctor or nurse they saw!

… You may have noticed that I am very proud to be Yehudah’s uncle.

He’s inspired me.

And I hope he’s inspired you! 

All the best,



I recently saw something I wanted to share.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens.

But sometimes we look so long at the closed door?

That we don’t see the one that has opened.”

… I think it’s a great approach to life.

And a very Jewish approach.

But when someone says something like this?

I sometimes wonder.

What was their life like?

Did they have a challenging life and still manage to have this perspective?

Or did they have a relatively easy life.

And maybe?

It’s just talk.

… I was amazed to see who said these words.

Who was able to see past their challenges and focus on a brighter future?

And to look for the new door of opportunity that might be opening?

It was Helen Keller!

A person who couldn’t see and couldn’t hear!

And the movie about her life was called the “Miracle Worker”!

… We all have our challenges.

Sometimes they can be extremely difficult.

And sometimes its “one of those days”.

But thinking of Helen Keller can give us a perspective on life.

We should thank G-d for something that we tend to take for granted.

The gift of sight!  The ability to see!

We all know the amazing things we’re able to see.

A beautiful baby. 

(And if that baby is a grandchild?  Wow!)

Children playing.  A sunrise.  Our spouses.  Flowers.  A sky full of stars.

Appreciating the gift of sight won’t make our problems go away.

But they will become a bit smaller!

… And we should also think about what Helen Keller said.

About seeing the new door of happiness opening.

And you know what we should really work at?

Trying to see as well as Helen Keller!

… Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for my nephew Yehuda.

He believes very strongly that your prayers have helped “open doors” for him.

Thank G-d, he is now totally off the respirator and has begun intensive rehab.

He has a long road ahead of him but gets strength from your concern and from your prayers!

And while many doors have opened for Yehudah and his family?

They, thank G-d, saw a huge new door of happiness open…

And I’ll share the good news…

My niece Shaindel gave birth to a baby boy!

Yehuda was there at the delivery and celebrated the bris (circumcision) with the family!

All the best,


Hi – Hope you’re having a great day.

… I wanted to share an amazing experience with you.

We just returned from visiting our nephew Yehudah (and niece Shaindel) inOttawa.

As you may remember, Yehudah suffered serious spinal injury in a car accident.

We last saw him in the summer of 2010, shortly after the accident.

Very few people with his level of spinal injury even survive the accident!

He was in intensive care and doctors weren’t sure if he would ever breathe on his own.

… Fast forward a year and a half?

We were absolutely amazed at the progress that he has made.

Not only does he breathe on his own?

He talks, jokes, studies Torah and is involved in every aspect of his nine children’s lives!

(This includes giving them rides on his motorized wheel chair!)

And as you may also remember, Yehudah’s passion is teaching.

He has dedicated his life to teaching Torah to Jewish kids and adults.

Yehudah was determined to return to the classroom.

And he is now in school one period a week teaching Jewish philosophy!

… Yehudah has also regained some feeling and movement in certain areas.

In fact, he was still celebrating a pretty recent “milestone”.

One that gives him tremendous joy.

What is it that this amazing person celebrates…

He is now able to turn the pages in his prayer book!

And Yehudah told me about another milestone.

It’s about saying the Shma, the Jewish declaration of faith.

“Here Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is one.”

Traditionally, to insure concentration, we cover our eyes when reciting the Shma.

Yehudah told me…

“I was not able to do that.

And one day, for the first time, with assistance…

 I raised my hands to my eyes.

“And I was drowning in tears!”

… As excited as Yehudah is about returning to the classroom?

His biggest frustration remains that he can not, at this time, teach more.

But the truth is?

He teaches and inspires, by example, Jews of all backgrounds, all over the world.

I’m honored to be one of his students!

And I would like to invite you to become his student as well!

To be inspired by him to take a small, but very meaningful, Jewish step.

A step that will connect you to thousands of years of Jewish history.

Consider taking five seconds every day to say the Shma.

Think of Yehudah.  Be thankful that you can raise your hands to cover your eyes.

And say…

“Sh’ma Yisroel, Adonoy Elohaynu, Adonoy e-chod.”

(If you already say the Shma daily?

Be inspired by Yehudah to say it with even more feeling!)

And the most powerful thing you can do to make Yehudah’s day?

Drop me a note that he has inspired you and I will pass it on!



… Hope you’re having a great day.

Please allow a very personal note.

Today is my Mom’s yartzeit.  The anniversary of her passing.

“Elisheva bas (daughter of) Dov Ber”.

And it’s because of her that I write Torah Minutes.  That I have any Torah to teach.

She grew up at a time when most American Jews were drifting away from Judaism.

Especially the younger generation.

But Mom had a passion and love for Torah that couldn’t be shaken.

… When my mother was a teenager her grandmother called her over.

She wanted to talk to her privately. Had a favor to ask of her.

Not what you would expect a “Bubby” to ask of a 15-year-old girl!

But it tells you a lot about America in those days. And a lot about my Mom.

What did she say to her?

She said, “Please promise me. If at all possible.

G-d willing, you’ll have children.  Have someone in your family named after me.

Because I know that I can count on you.

Your children will live by the Torah!  They will make me proud!”

… You may be wondering if Mom was able to honor her grandmother’s request!

My niece Shaindel is named after Mom’s grandmother.

And she lights Shabbat candles every week with Mom’s candelabra.

Shaindel is blessed with nine children!

And each and every one is being raised with a love of Torah.

In her “spare time”? 

She teaches Torah in a Jewish day school.  She speaks in her community.

People are inspired by her lessons.  By her lectures.

But most importantly?

They’re inspired by her love for Judaism. 

Because it’s contagious!

How right my great grandmother was!

… And there’s more.

You may remember something else that I’ve mentioned about Shaindel.

It’s her husband Yehudah who suffered spinal injury in a terrible accident.

People all over the world have been inspired by his faith and strength of character.

He has even spoken publicly about his experience.

And he can’t wait to get back to teaching Torah!

… There’s the old saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman”!

Shaindel has managed to juggle raising nine children with taking care of Yehudah!

She’s been a constant source of faith and inspiration.

And she doesn’t stop smiling!   

(She’s also very humble. She may be upset at her Uncle Moshe for writing about her.

But she’ll get over it.  And she’ll be smiling again very soon!)

I’ve always felt it.  But it’s even more striking now…

How right my great grandmother was!

And Shaindel is an amazing tribute to my Mom’s memory!

 CBC Radio inOttawa broadcasted a beautiful documentary about Yehudah.

You can hear Yehudah and Shaindel talk about their experience.


I’m sure you will find it moving, inspiring and even life changing!

All the best,


Hi –

I hope that you are having a great day.

… I feel like this may be the most important Torah Minute yet!

First, thanks to all of you who keep asking about my nephew Yehuda.  (As I am sure many of you remember, Yehuda was in a car accident and suffered very serious spinal injury.)

And thanks for all your prayers.  Thank G-d, as you will see in a minute, there has been tremendous improvement!

I’ve told you a bit about how special a young man Yehuda is.

But have always felt frustrated.

Because I can’t do him justice!

But I now have an amazing opportunity for you to get to know Yehuda.

Because the local Ottawa newspaper ran a story about him and also asked him to be videoed.

The truth is that Yehuda is a very private person.  And he agreed to share his experience for only one reason.

… He hopes that other people will be inspired by his message.

And in terms of his fellow Jews?

Yehuda loves Jews!  He has devoted his life to teaching them.  To inspiring them.

And while he can’t teach in a classroom right now?

He hopes he can teach by sharing his story.

… Yehuda is not reading his message.  He is not using a teleprompter.  And in fact it was something they asked him to do very last minute.

He is speaking straight from his heart!

… I’m sure you will be very touched by the article and by seeing Yehuda and hearing his message:


And you may think, “I wish I could do something for this special person.”

… Well you can!

Yehuda believes deeply in the spiritual power that we can generate on his behalf.

So first, please continue praying for Yehuda Pinchas ben Osna.

And second?

His deepest hope is that people will be inspired to grow Jewishly.

And any step you take will give him tremendous strength and encouragement.

I’d like to make a few suggestions. Some things you can do that will make a big difference to you … and to Yehuda.

1. Learn from Yehuda to appreciate the gift of life, by saying the Modeh Ani, / “Thank G-d I’m Alive” prayer every morning.

If you read Hebrew, you can find the Modeh Ani here:http://www.berachot.org/hebrew/modeh.html

Here’s the English transliteration and translation: “Modeh ani lifanecha Melech chai v’kayam shehechezarta bi nishmosi b’chemlah, rabbah emunasecha.”

“I gratefully thank You, Living and Eternal King.  For You have returned my soul within me with compassion.  Abundant is Your faithfulness!”

2. Sign up for CTN’s Discovery Seminar, Sunday, February 27. Info and registration at:www.torahnetwork.org/discovery.htm

This is a truly thought provoking and life changing series of classes that speaks to the question of why be Jewish, and explores whether or not we can prove that G-d wrote the Torah. It’s fascinating stuff and an amazing catalyst for Jewish growth.  Please join me for this unique and powerful event.

3. Light Shabbat candles Friday before sunset. (Candle lighting times for your city can be found at http://www.aish.com/sh/c/).  User friendly instructions and explanations athttp://www.aish.com/sh/ht/fn/48965051.html

5. Recite Kiddush over wine Friday night. User friendly instructions and explanations athttp://www.aish.com/sh/ht/fn/48967396.html

6. Learn more about Kosher.  There’s a great book, “Kosher for the Clueless but Curious” at http://www.artscroll.com/Books/kccp.html

7. Learn more about ‘lashon hara’ – the Torah’s laws and lessons about gossip and slander. There’s a great book, “Gossip: Ten Pathways to Eliminate It from Your Life and Transform Your Soul, by Lori Palatnik, at http://www.amazon.com/Gossip-Pathways-Eliminate-Your-Transform/dp/0757300553

… I hope you will watch the video … be inspired … and do something for yourself.

And for Yehuda.

I would greatly appreciate if you would send me your Jewish growth commitment so I can forward it to Yehuda, along with any other message you would like me to give him.

You’ll bring a big smile to the face of a very special young man.

Thank you.

All the best,

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