This summer was very different from previous summers. Plans kept changing. Camps didn’t open. Advocacy was at its greatest yet did not succeed. We are terribly upset and frustrated. How did we respond when we heard that the camps are closed? We had protests in New York and Lakewood. “Kids Lives Matter,” we proclaimed.
What message did our children receive? Advocacy. The Governor didn’t let. The Mayor is still demanding…
We are Yidden. When we view our situation and it appears dire, we turn to Hashem. Hakol kol Yaakov. Elected officials are just pawns in the hand of Hashem. We should rally our children to the beis medrash and pour out our hearts to Hashem!
Harav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l, explains the goat sent as the Azazel on Yom Kippur. It’s the defining difference between Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov is the genteel hakol kol Yaakov. Esav is the violent yadayim yedei Esav. When that goat goes tumbling down the mountain, breaking apart in all its gore, the glee of the blood-lusting Esav is defined. That separates us from the nations.
I overheard an influential person advocating that shuls should remain closed, commenting, “As to the answering of Yehei Shmei Rabba — we can wait another two weeks.” If he really believes Chazal when they write that Yehei Shmei Rabba can abolish a gezeirah ra, can we wait two weeks? Do we believe it ourselves? If we don’t believe the koach of tefillah, of Yehei Shmei Rabba, so what could we expect from our children?
The shogeg — the unintentional murderer — goes to the city of refuge. The “poor” fellow can’t stand it. He is scheming, “How do I get out of here?” He plots and realizes that the only way is if the Kohen Gadol dies. So he starts thinking how to get rid of the Kohen Gadol and comes up with a great idea. “I’ll daven that he should die!” So with tremendous kavanah and heartfelt tefillah, he davens, “Please, please, Hashem — kill the Kohen Gadol!” On Sukkos, while shaking his lulav and esrog, he screams out “Ana Hashem hoshiah na! Please, please, kill the Kohen Gadol!”
Aware of this possibility, the Kohen Gadol’s mother and wife organize culinary delights to sweeten the shogeg’s stay, hoping he does not pray for the demise of the Kohen Gadol.
Think about it. He’s already killed someone, albeit unintentionally. He must be a reckless type of person, or even one who was deemed “worthy” of killing his victim — as it is written, “Megalglin zechus ak y’deu zakkai v’chovah al yedei chayav — a meritorious act is brought about by Heaven through a meritorious person, and an iniquitous act through a guilty person.” Now he is ready to pray that the Kohen Gadol should die! What a lowlife! Yet the mother and wife are so afraid of his tefillos.
The shogeg begins to enjoy the ever-increasing amount of delicious food that the Kohen Gadol’s mother sends him. His thoughts about leaving begin to wane. It really is not so bad here, living among many Leviim. He might even start to daven for the Kohen Gadol to live long.
Now, let’s look at ourselves. We are in galus. If we truly realized our depressed spiritual state we would surely cry out our with our heartfelt tefillos, “Please, Hashem, save us from this galus!” But the Satan comes and gives us luxuries and sumptuous food. He wants to make it appear that it’s gantz geshmak here so we should be happy to stay!
Unfortunately, in our galus, it’s so hard to find refuge from the ever-increasing negative influences that surround us. We need to realize that we can and should passionately daven in Uva l’Tzion, “Shenishmor chukecho ba’olam hazeh v’nizkeh v’nichyeh v’nirash tovah uvrachah l’yemos haMoshiach” and understand that whatever “good” we enjoy here, away from home, is nothing compared to the physical and spiritual delights of our real Home.
In jail, Rabbi Sholom Rubashkin told me, he never looked at the TV. Why? He didn’t want to think like a non-Jew!
In Yerushalayim, a Yid was dancing in the rain. He never heard the forecast that it’s bad weather. All he knew was what the Gemara told him, that rain is the greatest blessing.
This Elul, let us disconnect from the nonstop negative influences of our current environment.
Harav Shalom Schwadron, zt”l, related the story of how Harav Elya Dushnitzer, zt”l, asked him to request that the Menahel of the cheder have the children recite Tehillim for him to sell his orchard. Rav Shalom forgot.
Upon meeting Rav Shalom a week later, Rav Elya asked him, “What happened?”
“Oy, I forgot. But how did you know?”
“Because it’s not sold.”
Rav Shalom promptly told the Menahel. Shortly afterward, the orchard was sold.
We can still marshal our greatest koach — our children — and cry out for yeshuos for our yeshivos, for the cholim to have a refuah sheleimah, and ultimately for the Geulah sheleimah!n
Rabbi Yelen is the Rav of Congregation Yagdil Torah, Southfield, Michigan.