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FRUMToronto Articles Thoughts for the Week

Inspirational words of Torah from Gedolei Yisroel.

Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
The Severity of Galus
HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, notes that the worst part of our Galus is when Hashem is “Haster Astir” (Devorim 31:18)--completely hides Himself from us.  Indeed, what greater tragedy can there be than to be removed from the Source of all life and goodness—Hashem?  And this occurs when we feel comfortable and complacent with Galus life.  Paradoxically, then the most extreme Galus is reflected by our comfort and satisfaction.  As an example, HaRav Salomon states that during the time of the Cantonists, when Jewish boys were forcibly abducted into the Czar’s army for 25 years, everyone acknowledged and agreed this was a terrible gezaira--decree--of Galus.  On the other hand, with the current “kids-at-risk” situation all over the world, there are those who simply attribute it to community, local or family problems, to issues of a lack of communication or, sometimes, even too much affluence, but many fail to recognize it for what it truly is--the same Gezeiras Galus as the Czar’s Cantonists.

Similarly, HaRav Salomon notes, we are beset by most severe and serious illnesses in a manner disproportionate to the rest of the population.  This is not happenstance, it does not **ultimately** have to do “with the water”, or “with the family”, or because of other hazardous factors--it is, rather, a stark gezaira of Galus which we all share in and suffer from together.  It is not someone else’s issue or problem--it is OUR tragic situation together...

HaRav Salomon has other examples, but the point is clear.  What we must do, and what we must do now, is rid ourselves of the notion, and certainly of the feeling, that we are currently content with the notion of a two-car garage, the latest technology, the most Glatt Kosher of international cuisine--and even the freedom to privately and publicly study, observe and practice the Torah.

We all know the lessons from our past history as to getting too comfortable in exile.  Hashem, as our loving Father, jolts us back into a recognition that we must strive for the Geulah.  Many note that the name for this month, Av, means Father.  For only a father would “potch” us in the way Hashem has in order to lead us on the proper path.

Chazal, with their Ruach HaKodesh, recognized that we needed to focus on removing ourselves from a complacency, and even satisfaction, with Galus.  Accordingly when they instituted the final text of Shemone Esrei, they included six brachos in a row (!), commencing with “Tika B’Shofar” and continuing through “Es Tzemach” by which we in various ways pray for, and thus stay connected to, the Geulah.

Over the next three weeks (in contrast to the previous “Three Weeks”), until the week of Rosh Chodesh Elul, let us make it our job to concentrate at least on the first of these Brachos, “Tika B’Shofar” in each of our daily Shemone Esreis.  As we recite the Brocha, we should picture the personal and communal tzaros and tragedies around us, feel for a loving Father who is forced to leave His home together with His child--and the unbounded everlasting joy and ecstasy it will bring to the Father and His child alike when our sincere prayers are answered--with the ingathering of our exiles, the coming of the Moshiach and the building of the Bais HaMikdash!
Special Note Two:  Several additional brief points on the time period that we are in:
1.      Chazal teach us that once Av enters, we are to reduce the amount of our joy.  Many have pointed out that the context Chazal use, even in Av, is one of joy.  We are not instructed to “increase our mourning,” but to “decrease our joy.”  This thought fits in beautifully with the commentary of the Tiferes Yisroel to last week’s Perek, Chapter 2 of Pirkei Avos.  There, Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai asked his five primary disciples, “What is the proper way to which man should cling?”  The first four primary disciples each responded in his own way.  Rebbe Elazar then responded that one should cling to “a Lev Tov--a good heart.”  Rabban Yochanan then said to his students, “I prefer the words of Elazar to your words, for your words are included in his words.”  What is so all-encompassing about the words “Lev Tov” that it per se includes the other responses of Rabban Yochanan’s other four top students?!  The Tiferes Yisroel explains that the phrase “Lev Tov” means “Leebo tomid sameach, u’mezuman l’heitiv lakol--that one’s frame of mind is a happy one, and that he is ready to help every one.”  It is this middah that Rabban Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar instruct us is so primary and all-encompassing.  Accordingly, even in these days of Av, and even as we approach Tisha B’Av, we should not forget these six Hebrew words as the attitude and approach to life that our Sages teach us to cling to.  We especially note that the Hebrew word “Yidbak” (cling) is utilized by Chazal--it is not simply a nice approach or a good thing, but something we should not deviate from--but practice sticking to--as if it were with glue or honey.
2.      Chazal (Brachos 8A) expressly teach us that “from the day the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, HaKadosh Baruch Hu has only the Four Amos of Halacha.”  This teaching has tremendous implications and repercussions, as it appears to require us to place a primary focus on learning Halacha.  The Hashkafa behind these words of Chazal may be explained as follows:  If we do not live in times when Hashem causes His presence to dwell in this world through His Bais HaMikdash, then at the very least we should demonstrate our utmost desire to follow His Will and His Directives to the greatest extent possible anywhere in the world.  We do this by following the Halacha--that dictates as to how Hashem wants us to lead our lives.  In addition to the daily requirement to study Halacha (whether it be from a Mishna Berurah, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, English halacha sefer, or other means), we should also demonstrate our desire to follow Hashem’s word by asking a Shaila, or looking up a Halacha, as soon as the issue comes up, and not putting it off to another (perhaps more comfortable) time.   The Bais Din of the Machon HaHora’a (based in Monsey, New York) is also available on a 24-hour basis at 845-HALACHA.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shmiras HaLashon Shaila Hotline is available from 9:00PM to 10:30PM on Monday through Thursday and on Motzai Shabbos at 718-951-3696.  If HaKadosh Baruch Hu only has Four Amos of Halacha at this time, so should we….
3.      At a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, posed the following question:  “What is the greatest Chilul Hashem in the world today?!  What is the one thing that we should most ashamed of?!”  He answered that the greatest Chilul Hashem, the greatest shame to us today, is that we are still in Galus.  That being said, each and every one of us should do their utmost to rid themselves and all of Klal Yisroel of this Chilul Hashem.  At a time when our personal hygiene may not be on the same par as it is during the rest of the year, we should view the Chilul Hashem around us as spiritual filth, caked in very deeply, which we need to remove with whatever will get it off.  If we feel a little unclean during the Nine Days--imagine how the spiritual world feels throughout the entire year!  Hakhel Suggestion:  The Torah in Vayikra (22:32) juxtaposes the admonition not to commit a Chilul Hashem with the requirement to be Mekadesh Shem Shamayim.  We may suggest, then, that one means of eradicating the great Chilul Hashem is by acts of Kiddush Hashem. Let us start with little, everyday acts of honesty and integrity which indicates that your character, as a Torah Jew, is beyond reproach. You can do your part in ending the greatest Chilul Hashem in world history--through your daily activities. It is not necessarily simple--and needs practice. In last week’s Haftora, Yeshayahu HaNavi exhorted us "Limdu Haitev", which the Meforshim explain to mean--teach yourself to be good. Even if you come from the finest family, and are among the choicest of people, the Yetzer Hora is dedicated to tripping you up, and one must train yourself in, and dedicate yourself to, acts of Kiddush Hashem--at home, on the street, in the market place, in the workplace, and even in Shul. Remember, your family and friends are looking at you to, so the good lessons and worthy practices will multiply themselves in a manifold way. Be creative--think about what you can do in the circumstances that Hashem has placed you--and only you--in.

If the commitment is not made now ....then when?!

Hakhel MIS

Posted 7/28/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)

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