Torah Minute – February 6, 2020


Jewish Inspiration in 60 Seconds or Less, by Rabbi Moshe Katz

Hope you’re having a great day!
… I had a great day this week.
Tuesday night was the wedding of my great niece!
Bayla Simes.
Many of you recognize her last name.
Because you remember my amazing nephew Yehuda Simes.
(For those who are new to the Torah Minute?
Yehuda was married to my niece Shaindel.
Around ten years ago, their family was in a horrific car accident.
And Yehuda was left a quadriplegic.)
Ironically, today is Yehuda’s yartzeit, the anniversary of his passing.
He is sorely missed. But his memory continues to inspire people all over the world.
And it surely inspires Bayla.
So, this Torah Minute is in honor of Bayla and in tribute to Yehuda.
Of the many ”Yehuda stories” I have told?
This one stands out.
…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, we went to the supermarket to pick up the ice cream.
And it was very important that we got the right kind!
We called my niece Shaindel, Yehuda’s wife, from the store.
She told us what to get, and then she said…
“Oh, a very important message from Yehudah.”
(Remember, Yehuda 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 message that he struggled to give?
I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t heard it straight from Shaindel!
“Please make sure there’s enough ice cream for all the nurses!”
It was a very moving scene as each child approached Yehuda 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.
What did Yehuda’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!
Our bride, Bayla, was eleven at the time of the accident.
And three months later?
She celebrated her Bat Mitzvah.
It was not the typical venue.
Not a hall. Not a party room. And not a synagogue.
It was in the intensive care unit of the hospital in Ottawa!
Bayla didn’t need to choose a “Mitzvah Project” to mark the occasion.
The Mitzvah was obvious to her. She learned it from Yehudah.
From the “ice cream party”!
She shared her Bat Mitzvah cake with the staff of the ICU!
… Fast forward to 2020.
What should Bayla look for in a husband?
It was a “no brainer”.
She learned what was important from Yehuda.
Not from what he told her.
But from what he showed her!
Her husband would need to love Torah, like Yehuda.
To love people, like Yehuda.
And he had to be a giver, like Yehuda!
Bayla’s husband Simcha passed the test with flying colors.
And I know that Yehuda would love him!
What about Bayla’s “career choice”?
It is not likely to surprise you.
She wants to help others.
In a few weeks she will have her masters in special education.
It goes back to Yehuda and the “ice cream party”!
… Mazal tov to Bayla and Simcha! I am so proud to be their great uncle!
And in tribute to Yehuda?
Ice cream is something we all encounter (much too) often.
It often leaves us feeling guilty!
But we can also use it to remind us of Yehuda.
And even when we may find it hard to “think of others”?
Yehuda should remind us…
We can!
All the best,


Rabbi Moshe Katz | Director | 

Chicago Torah Network | THE CTN CENTER | 2832 W. Touhy Avenue | Chicago, IL 60645
773 761 0400, ext. 201 | fax: 773 761 9262 |

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