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FRUMToronto Articles Parsha Pearls

Devrei Torah relating to the weekly Parsha.

Blog Image: rav wolbe.jpg
Dvar Torah # 596 - Pirkei Avos 1, 1 - Toldos
Pirkei Avos 1,1

(א', א') ונביאים מסרוה לאנשי כנסת הגדולה. הם אמרו שלשה דברים: הוי מתונים בדין...
The Prophets transmitted [the Torah] to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: "Be deliberate in judgment..."

Regarding the necessity to proceed slowly in avodas Hashem, Rav Wolbe would quote Rav Dessler who compared the Yetzer Hara to a spring. If one pushes down slightly there will be no abrupt reaction when he lets go, but if he pushes down too hard, then when he lets go it will spring back in his face. In this regard, I once heard a story from a well known Rav.

There was a boy who spent his days in Yeshiva clowning around. One day he took his life into his hands and decided that he was going to get serious about his learning. The next morning he came into the Beis Medrash and learned for the entire seder (learning session). The same scene repeated itself during the afternoon and evening sedarim. At the end of the day, the Mashgiach of his Yeshiva called the boy into his office. When the boy entered, the venerable Mashgiach turned to him and said, "Grow up!"

Here is a boy who finally began to take his attendance in Yeshiva seriously and after the very first day of his turnaround his Mashgiach buries him! What was the Mashgiach thinking? The answer is that the Mashgiach understood human nature while the boy did not. Maturing does not mean seriously altering one's conduct in a split second. There is no way that someone who habitually wasted day after day could possibly turnaround 180 degrees in a single night. Thus, realistically, there was no way that the boy's well meaning decision could last.
Moreover, such behavior could backfire and leave the boy wounded to the point where he might possibly never want to open a sefer again for the rest of his life. A day or two later after the inspiration begins to wane he might think to himself, "Hey, I really tried and it simply did not go." Consequently, he would conclude that obviously learning is just not for him, and permanently leave the Beis Medrash in search of other pastures.
In this regard Rav Wolbe would cite the pasuk, "A man's foolishness corrupts his way, and his heart rages against Hashem" (Mishlei 19:3). The Gra explains that sometimes people try advancing in their avodas Hashem and when they are unsuccessful they blame Hashem for not aiding them in achieving their goals. "Doesn't Hashem see I'm trying so hard to do His will? Why doesn't He help me?" they grumble. However, the fault is no one's but their own. They proceeded too quickly, and thus as they tried bounding up the ladder of avodas Hashem two steps at a time they ended up falling through the rungs. The proper way to advance in avodas Hashem is slowly but surely.

Rav Wolbe gave classes in Torah hashkafa to nonreligious Jews on various occasions (which he subsequently compiled and published as a sefer called Bein Sheishes La'Asor). After delivering one such class to a group of generals in the Israeli Army, someone asked him how it went. "They are already all wearing tefillin" he responded wryly. Rav Wolbe was not a sarcastic type of person, but he felt the need to convey this most important message: Real change does not happen in a single day, and one should not expect to see a difference after a single class.
Although I have not been able to verify this story, the lesson is certainly apropos for Rav Wolbe who would often say that there are no crash courses in Yiddishkeit.

The truth is that this idea is stated quite succinctly by the Torah. The Leviim were required to train for five years before beginning the avodah in the Bais Hamikdosh. Chazal deduce from this directive that five years is ample time to master a vocation. Accordingly, they conclude that a disciple who studies Torah for the duration of five years and sees no success in his learning, should opt for a profession instead of learning Torah full time. Chazal felt that a few months, or even a few years, was not enough time to gauge a person's success. They didn't give up until five years of continuous effort failed. Yet, we often decide after a few weeks of unsuccessfully trying to master a middah to throw in the towel?!

Ask yourself and answer: Does failure in the realm of avodas Hashem cause me to give up? Do I really put in all my effort when trying to improve my middos? What was the longest amount of time that I spent attempting to advance in any single area of Yiddishkeit? Am I expecting too much of myself?

Posted 11/16/2017 11:02 PM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls | Comments (0)

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