Friday, July 19, 2019 -
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Open the Ark . . . in the ninth month

Dear Tzviling,

I enjoy reading your column, and now I have a timely question for you. My wife is expecting in a few weeks (our first) and we’re all so excited.

Someone in my local synagogue told me the other day that it is a blessing for me to open the doors of the Ark and take out the Torah when it is read in the synagogue.

Can you elaborate?

Omri, Montreal

Dear Omri,

Thank you for sharing the great news.

Getting ready for a new baby is a very special time — a time of excitement and anticipation.

When a baby is born, we wish the parents that they be privileged to raise the child to Torah, marriage and good deeds.

Is there any part of the service which reflects the goal of raising the child to Torah?

You guessed it —opening the doors of the Ark and taking out the Torah.

It symbolizes the following:

Just as the doors are opened and a Torah scroll emerges, so too, the child who emerges from the womb at birth, should have the merit of being raised in the ways of the Torah. That is why many try (discreetly, in the ninth month) to have the honor of opening the Ark doors.

This reminds us of the following story:

Four Jewish men are anxiously sitting in the waiting room of a large hospital in NY, awaiting the news of the birth of their children.

What do expectant fathers talk about in the waiting room?

They discuss babies and Jewish customs related to babies.

Mendel asks the others: “Did you have a chance to open the Ark doors?”

“Yes,” shouts Yankel, “just last week.”

The door of the waiting room opens and a nurse walks in.

“Mazel tov, Yankel,” she says. “Your wife just gave birth to a baby girl.”

Then Ari speaks up.

“I opened up Ark on Shabbos Rosh Chodesh”  (when two Torahs are taken from the Ark).

Another nurse rushes in.

“Mazel tov, Ari,” she says. “Your wife just gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl!”

Then Vevel chimes in.

“I opened the doors on Shemini Atzeret,” when three scrolls are take out).

Again, the nurse comes running.

“Mazel tov, Velvel!” she says. “Your wife just gave birth to three twin boys!”

Hearing this, Mendel collapses.

You see, Mendel opened the doors of the Ark on the night of Simchas Torah . . .

SEND your questions to to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.

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