30 Jan BORUCH HASHEM
I called a friend whom I hadn’t spoken to for
a while. “How are you doing…. How’s life”
“Ehh is ehh” she responded.
What ever happened to Boruch HaShem, I
Boruch HaShem. Blessed be HaShem.
Words to live by. Words that identify us as
Am Yisroel, HaShem’s nation. The air we
breathe, the clothes we wear, the food on our
table. Our homes, our families, our friends.
So much to be grateful for. Every moment is
precious. Every day is a Boruch HaShem
“Vayishma Yisro, and Yisro heard” (Shemos
18:1). In this week’s parsha, Yisro, priest of
Midyan, father-in-law of Moshe, and
quintessential truth-seeker, hears of all the
miracles HaShem did for the Jewish people.
Rashi explains that Yisro heard about the
splitting of the sea, the war with Amalek, the
manna from heaven, and the be’er, the well
of Miriam. All were the “news stories” of
the day. Upon learning of these miraculous
events, Yisro was inspired to trek through
the desert and meet up with Moshe and Bnei
The Ohr HaChaim teaches that Yisro was a
true friend of Bnei Yisroel, and wanted to
hear everything, down to the very last detail.
“And Moshe told his father-in-law
everything that HaShem did to Pharaoh and
the Egyptians for the sake of Bnei Yisroel”
(Shemos 18:8) By Moshe telling over the
story, it confirmed to Yisro that yes, it was
all true, the great miracles really did happen.
Furthermore, Yisro’s learning of the Exodus
second-handedly cannot be compared to
hearing the stories from Moshe, who
actually experienced the events.
“And Yisro said, Boruch HaShem…”
(Shemos 18:10) Yisro’s immediate reaction
was to thank HaShem. The same Boruch
HaShem that we say so often. The words of
an Am Kodosh, a holy nation, who attribute
everything to HaShem. The ability to
recognize the blessings in life. To live with
words of gratitude on our lips.
I grew up in a home where every other
word was Boruch HaShem. When my
mother a”h would receive a
compliment, she responded with
Boruch HaShem, Chasdei HaShem. In
later years, when each each of my
parents experienced illness and great
pain, the words Boruch HaShem were
still with them.
Herman, a member of my parents’
shul, would frequent a local nursing
home, spending time with the
residents. One year, when Chanukah
came around, Herman wanted to go out of
his way to bring joy and a smile to their
faces. He purchased boxes of chocolates to
gift the residents.
One problem. The head nurse told him that
many residents were on restricted diets, and
unable to eat sweets. She was very
apologetic, but made it clear that Herman
could not distribute the chocolates.
Herman wasn’t fazed. Always the quick
thinker, he seized the opportunity to thank
the nursing home staff for their kind service,
and distributed the chocolates to them.
When Herman handed a box of chocolates
to Rita, an African-American nurse, she
responded with a joyous Boruch HaShem.
Herman laughed. He couldn’t help but ask
Rita from where she learned to say Boruch
“Oh, I was a home attendant for a very
holy rabbi in Brooklyn. Whenever anyone
came to visit, he smiled and said Boruch
Herman was curious and asked for the
name of that rabbi. “Rabbi Abraham
Jungreis…. The kindest rabbi.”
How happy Herman was to share the story
with my parents. Rabbi Avraham Jungreis
was my zeide.
Whenever I teach Torah classes, I find that
I gain insight and a better understanding
of concepts and ideas that we don’t often
give much thought to.
I was teaching Parshas Yisro. A discussion
ensued about Yisro’s words of Boruch
After class, one of the participants
approached me and asked if I knew what
she found difficult about becoming
religious. I began to guess. Kashrus?
Shabbos? Dressing modestly? She told
me it was none of the above. I gave up.
“Boruch HaShem”, she told me. Boruch
HaShem? I didn’t get it. She explained. “It
used to be when I asked people how they
were doing, I heard a whole story. I heard
about their dates, their husbands, their in-
laws, their children. I heard all about the ups
and downs in their lives. Now, when I ask
my religious friends how they are, the
response it always Boruch HaShem. Where
do you go from there in conversation?”
It was then that I realized the added benefit
of Boruch HaShem. It’s a protection from
loshon hora, wrongful gossip. How are you?
Boruch HaShem. End of discussion. The
issue of TMI (Too Much Info) doesn’t even
Additionally, each time we say Boruch
HaShem, it subconsciously impacts our
neshama. It sensitizes us to these special
words and strengthens our connection to
HaShem. Without even realizing it, we are
reminded that HaShem is the source of all
good in our life.
This past week, I was menachem ovel a
family who were sitting shiva for a young,
beautiful daughter, Hinda bas Mordecahi
a”h. A girl who was filled with life and
spirit even during illness. A girl from whom
we can all learn so much.
The mother shared a most inspiring story.
She related that as the family sat around the
Rosh HaShana table, each child expressed
what they will be davening for. Even though
Hindy was not well at the time, she said that
she will not ask – she will thank.
Each of the verses in Eishes Chayil speaks
of the many strengths of the Jewish woman.
“Lo yichbeh balaila neira, At night her light
is not extinguished.” To remain full of spirit
and hope even during the “nighttime” of
life, the dark and difficult days. Hindy had
the ability to say Boruch HaShem. To
recognize the blessings in her life – even
during challenging times.
May the lesson taught to us by Hindy be an
aliyas neshama, an elevation for her