Monday, June 2, 2008

Last Bear Minyan

Bear Minyan - Hatzlacha vBracha

May 30, 2008

To the Bear Stearns Minyan, one last time:

After two great years at the Bear, and having been observant for about the same amount of time, I have chosen to exit galus and the world of gashmius (at least temporarily) in order to immerse myself in the ruchnius that I hope to find at Ohr Somayach in eretz Yisroel. I had been planning to go learn at some point, and despite having had a potential opportunity to go over to JPMorgan, the events that took place in mid-March made my decision that much clearer. Not only has Hashem provided me with the ability to go learn but he has blessed me with a “scholarship” care of JPM.

The Bear mincha minyan was really my first regular minyan and it provided me with much inspiration. The whole concept was foreign to me. The idea that a few dozen men at a major financial institution would take time out of their busy schedules and express their gratitude to Hashem, in a conference room within the building no less, was a big motivator for me. Moreover, nobody was talking, rarely were there any cell phone interruptions, and some were even able to achieve serious kavanagh. Thank you to everyone who davened for inspiring me with your tefillah.

While I sympathize with those who lost money and jobs, we know that everything happens for a reason and it will all work out for the best. That being said, the collapse of BSC provided a great deal of mussar to all who wish to see it. There are some employees who gave their heart and soul to the company for many years, and some lost thousands or even millions of dollars (Jimmy literally lost a billion!) – they learned the hard way that money is fleeting. Still there are others who were with the company for only a few months who will receive a nice severance package and have already accepted offers elsewhere at higher salaries. There are those, who because of the extraordinary amount of time that they spent at the office, missed out on many milestones (birthdays, weddings, etc.), and lost it all. And there are those who were just in the right place at the right time. And of course there are stories of everything in between. There are no accidents. Hashem is in charge of the world. Sometimes when we are in certain situations it is difficult to have a clear perspective. In the business world it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day and to lose sight of what really matters This experience has truly served to clarify for me the idea that the only “things” that are timeless are the mitzvahs that we do and the tzedakah that we give in olam hazeh. Bear Stearns will soon be a distant memory but hopefully this lesson will remain with us.

There is a famous story of an extraordinarily wealthy man who wrote two wills. When he passed away his children were instructed to immediately open will #1 and then 30 days later to open will #2. Will #1 indicated that the man’s last wish was to be buried in his favorite pair of socks. The chevra kadisha informed the children that this would not be possible. The children pleaded, informing them that their father was a very powerful man who had given a substantial amount of tzedakah throughout his life. They asked, “Do you know who our father is?” Still, the chevra kadisha told the children that it was not halachically permissible. They informed the children that the dead could only be buried in a white kittel. The children sadly buried their father unable to fulfill his final request. After 30 days had passed will #2 was read to the children. “By now children, you have buried me without my socks. I want you to realize that no matter how many millions of dollars you accumulate in your lifetime, you cannot even take your socks with you to the next world.”

There was once a man traveling through Europe in the 1800’s. He came to the town where the Chofetz Chaim had lived. The traveler stopped in to meet the great Talmid Chuchum. When he arrived at the house, he saw that the Chofetz Chaim lived in a tiny home. He knocked on the door and when he looked inside he saw a nearly empty one-bedroom apartment. The traveler asked the Chofetz Chaim, “aren’t you the great Chofetz Chaim? How can you live like this? Where are all of your possessions?” The Chofetz Chaim turned to the traveler and posed the same question. “Where are all of your possessions? All you have with you is a suitcase.” The traveler answered, “Well, I am just passing through,” to which the Chofetz Chaim responded, “I too am just passing through.”

These are old stories but their messages are powerful. It is of course important to make a living and support a family but it is also important to learn Torah b’yom u b’layla, to treat others with respect, to be a Kiddush Hashem and to always act l’shaem shemayim. As I have been inspired by everyone at the minyan, and certainly affected by the events that have transpired at Bear, I hope that you are all inspired by the messages that Hashem sends us on a daily basis and that you continue to strive to achieve a true closeness to the Rabbeinu shel Olam.

Nachum and I had a brief conversation with our CEO, Alan Schwartz, in the elevator on the way to Mincha yesterday. We invited him to daven with us though we conveyed our feelings that maybe our prayers for the well-being of Bear Stearns had not been received in the way that a lot of people had hoped. He had a meeting to attend but he left us with some great mussar. He said something along the lines of ‘don’t worry fellas – your prayers are being answered – we just don’t know how.’ Now I don’t know if he has been meeting with a Rabbi over the past few months or if it was just the power of the pintele Yid but I thought it was a great attitude reflecting on what has no doubt been the most tragic part of his career. Hashem sends us messages all the time and from the most unexpected places.

A big hakores hatov to Andy on behalf of the entire minyan for all his hard work and for being our shaliach mitzvah. By the way, if you have noticed that Andy hasn’t been around as much lately it is because he has been spending his mornings learning in Yeshiva. Yafeh!

Hatzlacha vBracha!

Robert Savit

Vice President

Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.


Anonymous said...

Does that mean your not posting anymore?

Ibn Mordechai said...

No, with Hashems help I will continue posting as long as I can. My apologies if I gave off that impression with this post.

Most recently I have been on a bit of a hiatus so I have not had the opportuntiy to write Divrei Torah. Thank you for all of your help while I've been away.

Iy"H I will get back to posting as soon as I can

Anonymous said...

Parshas Naso
נָשֹׂא אֶת-רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי קְהָת מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי לֵוִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם.
There is an amazing fact about this weeks Parsha it is the longest coming in at 176 Posukim ,it does not end there the Perek in Tehillim with the most Pesukim has 176 of them, and Baba Basra the longest Masechta in Shas has 176 Daf. What is the significance of this number? Rav Isbee answers there are 22 letters of the aleph-beis. Therefore this number represents Torah. The natural world Teva is always in sevens: there are seven days of the week, there are also Shivas Minim, seven continents, seven notes on a musical scale, last but not least seven seas. That being established the world beyond Nature Mimaleh Min Teva is always represented by eight. Now we know the secret of the number 176. When you take the torah represented by 22 and multiply by 8 Mimaleh Min Teva it equals 176.The secret to our number is Hashem is showing us the torah is above other studies it is Mimaleh Min Teva.
דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר נָזִיר לְהַזִּיר לַיהוָה
The Nazir is a person who is described as one whom by not drinking wine and not cutting his hair. That is he separates himself in order to reach a higher level of Kedusha. The Gemara in Nedarim has a similar case of spiritual climbing, when addressing a person who accepts upon himself optional fasting. The Gemara there says כל היושב בתענית נקרא חוטא. The question is why is this separation from worldly pleasures viewed negatively? It would seem natural for a person climbing the spiritual ladder to want to take an active role in reaching his goal of spiritual growth. Why does the Gemara look at it as a negative thing? The Ostrovtze Rebbe gives a profound insight into the Gemara's question. A closer look at the words reveals the truth of the question. The Gemara does not view separating yourself from worldly matters negatively. The words are כל היושב that is one who sits, he tortures himself and does not let the message reach him, he is unmoved it is only then that the gemara says it is as if he is נקרא חוטא.
שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמֵאָה הַקְּעָרָה הָאַחַת כֶּסֶף וְשִׁבְעִים הַמִּזְרָק הָאֶחָד כֹּל כֶּסֶף הַכֵּלִים אַלְפַּיִם וְאַרְבַּע-מֵאוֹת בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶש כַּפּוֹת זָהָב שְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה מְלֵאֹת קְטֹרֶת עֲשָׂרָה עֲשָׂרָה הַכַּף בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ כָּל-זְהַב הַכַּפּוֹת עֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה. ׁ
The Torah tells us what each Nasi brought to the Mizbach a set of gifts .Why in this Posuk does it only say the Keilim they where brought in and not the contents? The second question is why by the ladles of קְטֹרֶת it does mention what was in them? The answer requires a slight background in Kedoshim. The Griz answers all the Nesiim came together to offer their gifts. They thought it was possible Hashem would tell them each to offer separately. They knew the Din that if you make hekdesh your gift it must be offered on that very day if not you have LINA. That means a Korban left over night which is Pasul. Therefore when the brought in the Keilim only with the קְטֹרֶת full because it says in the gemara in Shevous on Yud aleph Amud aleph by קְטֹרֶת there is no LINA. The posuk does not mention the contents of the Keilim because they would have become Pasul because of LINA. The קְטֹרֶת was mentioned because for the קְטֹרֶת there was no such concern. Therefore we see not only where they leaders of Klal Yisroel they where also Bekiem in Kodeshim.

Anonymous said...

Ignore The first Post
נָשֹׂא אֶת-רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי קְהָת מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי לֵוִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם
(במדבר )
There is an amazing occurrence involving this weeks Parsha. Naso is the longest containing 176 Pesukim. The longest Perek in Tehillim has 176 Pesukim, and Baba Basra, the longest Masechta in Shas, has 176 Dafim. What is the significance of this recurring number? Rav Isbeeז"ל answers there are 22 letters of the Aleph-Beis. This number represents Torah. The natural world (Teva) is always in sevens: there are seven days of the week, there are also Shivas Minim, seven continents, seven notes on a musical scale, and last but not least, the seven seas. Accordingly, eight always represents the world beyond nature (L’maaleh Min HaTeva). Now we uncover the secret of the number 176. When you take the Torah (represented by 22) and multiply by L’maaleh Min HaTeva (numerically 8) it equals 176. Through this number, Hashem is showing us that the Torah is above other studies, it is L’maaleh Min HaTeva.

דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם איש או אשה כי יפלא לנדר נדר נזיר להזיר לה'
(במדבר ו:ב)
The Torah describes a Nazir as one who separates himself from worldly pleasures, specifically refraining from consuming wine products and haircutting, in order to attain an elevated spiritual level, greater Kedusha. The Gemara in Nedarim, addressing a person seeking spiritual ascension through acceptance of optional fasting, writes כל היושב בתענית נקרא חוטא. It would seem natural for a person climbing the spiritual ladder to take an active role in reaching his goal of spiritual growth, why then, does the Gemara view it so negatively? The Ostrovtze Rebbe provides profound insight into the true intent of the Gemara's statement. The Gemara is not condescending to one who seeks spiritual elevation through abstinence of worldly pleasures. The words are כל היושב literally translated as “one who sits,” meaning he tortures himself needlessly. He is physically refraining from Hashem’s gifts, yet since the message is not absorbed, is considered spiritually inactive, a יושב. Only in such a case is the Gemara critical and stating that he is נקרא חוטא.
שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמֵאָה הַקְּעָרָה הָאַחַת כֶּסֶף וְשִׁבְעִים הַמִּזְרָק הָאֶחָד כֹּל כֶּסֶף הַכֵּלִים אַלְפַּיִם וְאַרְבַּע-מֵאוֹת בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶש כַּפּוֹת זָהָב שְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה מְלֵאֹת קְטֹרֶת עֲשָׂרָה עֲשָׂרָה הַכַּף בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ כָּל-זְהַב הַכַּפּוֹת עֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה.
The Torah tells us that each Nasi brought a set of gifts to the Mizbeach. For what reason does the Posuk mention only the Keilim that held the gifts but omit the seemingly more essential contents of these containers? Furthermore, conversely, regarding the ladles full of קְטֹרֶת that the Nessim offered, we find explicit mention of the contents of the ladles! What is the reason for this apparent dichotomy? The answer requires a brief refresher in Hilchos Kodshim. There is a Halacha instructing that anything made hekdesh/consecrated must be offered on the same day. Violation of this edict results in Lina and the expired offerings become Pasul. Accordingly, the Brisker Rav directs our attention to the גמרא שבועת דף יא. stating that the din of Lina does not apply to the consecration of incense. Knowing this, the Nessiim were not hesitant to preload the incense into the ladles. However, as the Nessiim correctly suspected, Hashem dedicated an entire day to the gifts of each Nasi. Had the Nessiim arrived all at once with their gifts prepackaged, all of the offerings except for those of the one Nasi awarded the first day would fall into the category of Lina and consequently become Pasul. With this in mind, they arrived with the containers for their gifts but left the gifts separate. Only when it was their special day for presenting gifts did they add the gifts to the baskets they had prepared prior.

You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!