# 455 (s5766-45 / 16 Av 5766)

The Happy Mother of Sons

As she started to get onto a bus, a woman in front of her turned around, attacked her and viciously beat her.


The Happy Mother of Sons

by David Wilder


The following account is 100% true. It happened to my son-in-law's sister, Mina, and her husband Yoav, who live in Kiryat Arba. I heard it from Yoav on the Friday night before Rosh Hashana 5765.

One day Mina was in Jerusalem, running around, doing errands. As she started to get onto a bus in the city, a woman in front of her turned around and attacked her. She hit her, kicked her, and viciously beat her. It was an extremely ugly event, and it left Mina hurting, physically and emotionally.

Afterwards, Mina made her way to her husband Yoav's place of employment. Yoav is an expert scribe. He writes Torah scrolls by hand on fine parchment. Arriving at his office, Mina related what had happened to her a short time before. Upon hearing the story, Yoav was of course quite upset and decided to approach an important Rabbi to ask his advice about what to do.

At that time, Rabbi Shamai Gross, a Torah scholar and judge was visiting Yoav's office. Yoav approached him and repeated Mina's story, asking his council. The rabbi, after hearing the story, told Yoav and Mina to sit down in the office, and in a few minutes he would come speak to them. A few minutes later he sat down with them and told them about a tremendous argument that had occurred in his community between two men, which threatened to tear the neighborhood apart. In the midst of the ongoing quarrel the Rabbi approached one of the men involved and said to him: "I want you to fully forgive the other person, absolving him of all blame. If you do this, you will receive a present from G-d, whatever you want. All you have to do is exonerate the other person."

When the man finally agreed to forgive the other person, he had very few requests. In fact, being childless for twenty years, his list had only one item.

Nine months later his wife gave birth to their first child, a son.

The Rabbi concluded by saying, I just arrived now from this child's brit milah circumcision ceremony.

"Now," said Rabbi Gross to Mina, "if you agree to fully pardon the woman who attacked you, no questions asked, you too can have whatever you want. G-d will grant your wish."

Mina, her head still spinning from the recent attack, and also stunned by the story and the Rabbi's promise, managed to express her agreement. She fully forgave the other woman, and left for home.

Rabbi Gross looked at Yoav and said, "Yoav, I see you didn't understand." Yoav, startled, asked, "What didn't I understand?"

"Yoav," answered the Rabbi, "now, right now, go home, and make your decision. This minute, leave work, leave everything. Now!"

So, Yoav went home to Kiryat Arba and sat down in the living room with a cup of coffee. "So Mina," he said, "what do you want? You have an open contract with G-d."

Mina looked at Yoav and said, "I want a son."

Yoav, slightly shaken, responded, "But Mina, we have eight children. Isn't that enough?"

"We haven't had a child in five years and I want a baby, I want a son, with the following characteristics," and she detailed exactly what she wanted. Yoav looked at her and said, "if that's you want, so be it."

And nine months later Mina gave birth to a baby boy.

However, that's not the end of the story. Once the baby was born he had to be named. Yoav had a secret dream: to name a son after a famous rabbinic scholar who had been killed during the Holocaust, Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtel. Rabbi Teichtel had written an extensive treatise about the importance of the holy Land of Yisrael, and was known to be a genius. However, such a name is not common in Israel and Yoav didn't know exactly how to approach suggesting the name to Mina.

Following the birth, Yoav spoke to Mina and suggested: "We were so fortunate to have such a miracle, perhaps we should give thanks to G-d, and maybe represent that in the baby's name. Maybe a name like Yisachar (which, in Hebrew) incorporates the word 'sachar' which means reward), would be appropriate. He then continued, "We could call him Yisachar Shlomo, after the author of the famous book about Eretz Yisrael."

Mina's reaction was very lukewarm. "It's such a long name, and very 'heavy.' I'm not sure that I like it.

Yoav replied calmly that she could name the baby whatever she liked, he would be satisfied with whatever she chose, and left it at that.

In the meantime, it was doubtful whether the baby would be circumcised on the eighth day following his birth, because the bilirubin count in his blood was very high. Yoav was sure the brit milah would be delayed and they'd have more time to decide on a name.

Two days before the milah was supposed to take place, the mohel circumciser, notified Yoav that he had broken his finger and would not be able to perform the ceremony. However, he suggested someone else, who could replace him. Yoav called him and set up a time to meet and allow him to examine the baby, to determine whether or not the brit milah could take place on time.

Yoav and Mina drove to the man's home, at a community between Hebron and Jerusalem, called Beitar Elit. As they took the baby and left their car, they looked up at the street sign. To their shock, it was the same name as Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtel's book about Eretz Yisrael. On the spot they decided that this could not be coincidence, and decided to name the baby after the great Rabbi.

Within a day, the baby's bilirubin count dropped from 15 to 7, an almost unheard of reduction, and the brit milah took place on the eighth day, as scheduled. The sandak, the person honored to hold the baby during the ceremony, was none other than Rabbi Shamai Gross, who had, nine months earlier, promised Mina whatever she would choose if she agreed to forgive the woman who had attacked her. The baby's name: Yisachar Shlomo.

The story doesn't end here.

Shortly thereafter, we attended a Saturday afternoon wedding celebration meal of a friend married a few days earlier. One of the participants at the meal was Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv, a well-known Torah scholar who has written a number of books about Torah, the Hebrew alphabet and the letters' numerical equivalents (gematriot). Following the meal Mina approached the Rabbi and asked for a blessing for her family and children.

The Rabbi, who knew nothing of the above-told story blessed her, and concluded his blessing with the words, "you are 'the mother of sons is happy.' This phrase, from Psalms and the Hallel prayer, which in Hebrew is, Eim HaBanim Semeicha, is also the name of the book about Eretz Yisrael written by her baby son's namesake, Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtel, the holy martyr of blessed memory, may the Al-mighty avenge his blood.

That, my friends, is the strength and power of forgiveness.


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from: www.hebron.org.il.]

In memory of Rabbi Levi Bistritsky
--whose 4th yahrzeit falls Sunday, 19 Av-
the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Tsfat
who is still so sorely missed by his community,
and the grandson-in-law of Rabbi Yisachar-Shlomo Teichtel.


Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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