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Ask Before You Act

After twenty challenging years in the house of Lavan, Yaakov was ready to leave with his four wives and family. Anticipating that Lavan would be up to no good, Yaakov slipped away in the darkness of night. Rochel Imeinu knew that her father had Terafim. This was a type of idol manufactured by killing a firstborn human, cutting off its head, and then putting under its tongue certain names of demons. When done correctly, these Terafim then forecast the future. Rochel, afraid that the Terafim would reveal to her father their escape, and also wanting to reform her father, stole the Terafim. When Lavan subsequently pursued Yaakov and accused him, “Lama ganavta es elohoi – Why did you steal my idols?” Yaakov made the fatal statement, “Im asher timtza elohecha lo yichyeh – the one who you find your idols by should not live.” This curse would tragically devolve upon Rochel and she would die at the very young age of thirty-six years. On his deathbed, Yaakov sadly reminisces about this when he said, “Meisah alai Rochel – Rochel died because of me.”

But, the Medrash adds another caveat to this drama. It reveals the cause of Rochel Imeinu’s early demise was because she didn’t ask Yaakov, who was the Godol HaDor, for direction before she stole her father’s idols. This piece of information teaches us one of the very great fundamentals of life. Before doing a questionable activity, learn to ask first. This is something that we should teach our children from a very young age. Before you do something, seek expert guidance.

You have several friends. You only want to invite one of them to a party. Ask a rebbe or your parents if that’s the right thing to do or whether your other friends might feel very slighted. If there’s one piece of chocolate in the fridge, ask before you eat it. Maybe your parents promised it to one of your brothers or sisters. If you’re not sure how to behave during recess, you want to choose the best player for your team but you might make someone else feel very bad, ask.

If we get used to asking at a young age, when we grow up we’ll know how to ask if we’re not sure if a particular business deal is ehrlich, or how to handle a delicate shalom bais issue. This discipline, to get used to asking for advice, is especially important for men. Just observe when a woman gets lost, she doesn’t mind asking multiple times for directions. A man, however, stubbornly insists that he can figure is out. It’s just not macho to ask but it is the Torah way.

There is a way to subliminally get your children to be accustomed to go to the rabbi and that is by taking them after davening to say good Shabbos or good yom tov to the rabbi or to the rosh yeshiva. If you do that each time, by the time the child is bar mitzvah, they have gone to the rav thousands of times. Such a child will find it easier to go to the rabbis for advice on how to date, and how to please his wife.

May it be the will of Hashem that we know when to ask, who to ask, and are not too proud to ask, and in that merit may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.

Please learn, give tzedaka, and daven l’iluy nishmas of Miriam Liba bas Aharon.

Start the cycle of Mishna Yomis with Rabbi Weiss by dialing 718.906.6471. Or you can listen to his daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection 4. Both are FREE services. Rabbi Weiss is currently stepping up his speaking engagements. To bring him to your community, call 718.916.3100 or email RMMWSI@aol.com. Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles. To receive a weekly cassette tape or CD directly from Rabbi Weiss, please send a check to Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, P.O. Box 140726, Staten Island, NY 10314 or contact him at RMMWSI@aol.com. Now back in print is a large size paperback edition of Power Bentching. To order call him at 718-916-3100 or email at above. Attend Rabbi Weiss’s weekly shiur at the Landau Shul, Avenue L and East 9th in Flatbush, Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. Rabbi Weiss’s Daf Yomi shiurim can be heard LIVE on KolHaloshon at (718) 906-6400. Write to KolHaloshon@gmail.com for details. They can now also be seen on TorahAnyTime.com and Facebook.