When Harav Yaakov Dovid, the first Rebbe of Amshinov, zy”a, arranged that the city of Sochanov appoint Harav Simchah, a legendary tzaddik and devout Amshinover Chassid, as their Rav, Reb Simchah agreed on two conditions. Saying that he was unable to speak publicly, he asked that he not be required to give any drashos. In addition, since, in his great modesty, he insisted that he didn’t know how to pasken, he asked not to be responsible for issuing halachic rulings.
After some time had passed, the Rav was approached by the leaders of the kehillah, who pointed out that the town’s shul was in a terrible state of disrepair and funds were desperately needed to restore it.
They told Reb Simchah that since it was known that the Rav didn’t give drashos, if he would make an exception and address the kehillah about this issue in order to raise money for this cause, it would underscore to the city’s residents just how important it was.
“I don’t know what to say,” Reb Simchah humbly replied.
Reb Yechezkel, one of the kehillah members present, had expected this response and therefore had prepared a drashah for the Rav to deliver. All the Rav had to do was read it aloud — and to this Reb Simchah agreed.
When the appointed time came and Reb Simchah began to speak, Reb Yechezkel suddenly realized that he had forgotten to tell the Rav not to say that he hadn’t prepared the speech. Now it was too late. The Rav was already speaking.
It was exactly as he had imagined.
“The roshei hakehillah approached me saying that we have to repair the beis medrash, and that I should give a drashah about it,” Reb Simchah began. “I told them that I can’t give a drashah, and Chatzkel told me that he knew of this, and therefore had already prepared a drashah for me. He said that I should say…”
As he read the prepared speech, Reb Simchah stopped every two words or so to clarify. “Chatzkel said I should say… Chatzkel said I should say…”
In the middle of his speech, Reb Simchah suddenly declared with great emotion: “Kedushas beis medrash is so great!” — and fainted on the spot.
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The Midrash Rabbah (31:1) expounds at length about the uniqueness of the Torah, and the relationship between Hashem and His nation. It also teaches us a parable about a king who married off his daughter to the king of another land. After the wedding, the groom wished to take his bride back to his country.
The father-in-law found the thought of separating from his daughter to be unbearable.
“The daughter I have given you is my only one,” the king said. “I can’t separate from her, but I also can’t tell you not to take her, for she is your wife. However, this favor I ask of you: Wherever you go, make for me a small room, so that I should reside with you.”
So Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Yisrael: “I gave you the Torah. I cannot separate myself, but I cannot tell you not to take her. [Therefore] wherever you go, make me one bayis, that I should reside in.” The Midrash then proceeds to quote the passuk in this week’s parashah: “Make a Mikdash for Me so that I should dwell among them…”
Harav Yehoshua, the Rebbe of Belz, zy”a, wonders about the fact that the king in the parable says, “Wherever you go, make for me a small room.” This seems to allude to when the king and the new queen are traveling. Presumably, the king is most of the time in his own palace and not on the road, so why is the primary focus on times of travel?
The Rebbe explains that when both kings are home in their respective palaces, there are easily accessible roads that connect the two locations, allowing the king to visit his daughter when he wishes, and ensuring that he will constantly be in touch with her.
The primary concern and longing of the king were for when his daughter and her husband would be traveling and might be inaccessible, and therefore he requested, “Wherever you go, make for me a small room,” so even then he shouldn’t be separated from his beloved child.
When Klal Yisrael was in their “home” and the Beis Hamikdash stood in Yerushalayim, Jews merited the light of the Torah and the glory of closeness to Hashem through the holiness of the Beis Hamikdash.
Even while we are “traveling” during our long sojourn in exile, and unable to bask in the holiness of the Beis Hamikdash, in His infinite mercy, Hashem gave us the opportunity to bask in batei knessios and batei midrashos that are mikdashei me’at. These, the Rebbe says, are the “one bayis,” the equivalent to the small room that the Midrash is referring to.
As Harav Simchah of Sochanov declared, “Kedushas beis medrash is so great!”