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Scroll Shocker

Scroll Shocker

Port Washington rabbi sees God’s hand in sefer Torah connections.

The story of the Torah has been called by some a miracle, but ask Rabbi Shalom Paltiel of the Chabad of Port Washington and he will tell you it is just God at work.

When Rabbi Paltiel told the Torah scroll’s story during his first day Rosh HaShanah sermon, he said “it created shock waves in our community in terms of people realizing the active hand of God in our lives and how personal Torah and Jewishness is to each and every one of us. … One woman left the synagogue in tears.”

The 175-year-old Torah was bought by a congregant, Menashe Shurka, as a gift for his son, Yosef, on the occasion of the boy’s bar mitzvah June 13. When Shurka examined the Torah, he noticed an inscription on the back of the parchment that said the scribes were Rabbi David Kalazan and his son, Yosef. It gave both of their dates of birth and death.

“The birthday of the first scribe was the [Hebrew date of the] 21st of Sivan, which is Josef’s birthday,” Rabbi Paltiel said. “That is also the date of death of the second scribe. The first scribe died on rosh chodesh Tammuz — the date of Yosef’s bar mitzvah celebration, which this year was June 13 or 613 [the number of Biblical commandments]. … It’s wild; you can’t make this up.”

“And the most shocking thing,” Rabbi Paltiel said, was that Menashe Shurka did an ancestry search and learned that the two scribes were his Yemenite wife’s relatives.

“They were the boy’s grandfathers going back seven generations,” he said. “It shows the providence of almighty God, which is normally hidden from view. A story like this inspires us to recognize that perhaps everything that is going on in our lives is orchestrated by the great creator.

“Anytime a Jew embraces Torah — any Jewish act — he is engaging not just in something wonderful but embracing something that is inherently his.”

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