Monday, October 25, 2004

Answering The Call

Answering The Call
By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Parshas Lech Lecha opens with a message to Avrohom Avinu which reverberates until this very day.

“Lech Lecha M’Artzecha U’Mimoladetecha U’mibeis Avichu El Ha’aretz Asher Arekhu.” Hashem tells Avrohom to leave his father’s home and his native country for a trek to the Promised Land.

Anyone who was in the El Al terminals last week can testify that the call still rings loudly in our day.

We live in a generation when any yeshiva bochur or Bais Yaakov girl who wants to, can walk onto an airplane and travel to Eretz Yisroel to study Torah.

What a drastically different world we live in from the world inhabited by previous generations. All through the ages, throughout the Diaspora, Jews wanted to return to Eretz Yisroel. Ever since the Romans evicted us from the land, Jews have been pining to go back. Until contemporary times, most people who wanted to travel there were unsuccessful. The hardships of the journey were daunting; the many obstacles virtually insurmountable.

The Ramban made it to Eretz Yisroel 750 years ago and wrote of the deplorable state of Yerushalayim where incredibly, there wasn’t even one functioning shul. There was only a minyan on Shabbos in someone’s home.

The Vilna Gaon sought twice to move to Eretz Yisroel but his efforts were unsuccessful. The Chofetz Chaim longed to live in Eretz Yisroel but did not merit to see his dream fulfilled. So many other Jews throughout the generations—both rich and poor, young and old, learned and simple—harbored the same dream, but were unable to achieve their desire.

How thankful we have to be that in our day the situation has completely reversed.

Today, anyone who wants to can go to Eretz Yisroel with relatively minimal effort and expenditure.

The yeshivos of Brisk and Mir are overflowing with American Talmidim. Do we appreciate this wondrous gift? There is no time more appropriate than now to express our thanks and appreciation.

We look around us and see all the problems enveloping the world. Wherever we look we see secular society decaying at a rapid pace. How thankful we ought to be when we look at our own young people.

While not every parent is zocheh to have children soaking up Toras Eretz Yisroel, or any Torah, for that matter, we must permit ourselves at times a moment of pride and happiness in viewing the positive side of the overall picture today.

At the same time, our hearts must go out to those whose children are still groping to find their way. We must use our resources to help these young people at risk, and not be content with merely reading the ubiquitous articles on the subject and shaking our heads sympathetically.

We shudder when we read of the travails encountered by the Talmidim of the Gaon and Baal Shem Tov upon their Aliyah to Eretz Yisroel. They had to contend with hunger, disease, pestilence, marauding Arabs and extreme poverty.

My great-grandfather longed to live in Eretz Yisroel but was unable to do so. Last week his great-great grandson walked into a tube with 400 other young people, flew off into the air—a scene that would have astounded his great-great grandfather and the Jews of Lita—and a day later he was in Yerushalayim.

My grandfather took leave of his parents in Hanishishuk, Lithuania to go learn in the yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim on the other side of the Polish border in Radun. He never saw them again. As so many others who left home to go learn in yeshiva, the trip entailed true Mesiras Nefesh for the young men and their parents. They were not able to come home for Yom Tov; they had no spending money; and were not able to phone home every day.

Think about how lucky we are. Think about how blessed we are. Think about all the opportunities available to us. We can go virtually anywhere and do anything we want. The vast majority of us use these opportunities constructively.

Instead of looking for things to complain about and harping on the negative, in our personal conversations and public discourses, we should try to focus on what is good and endeavor to increase the good in our world. We should help more people avail themselves of those opportunities which bring blessing and nachas. The good will chase away the evil; the positive will overcome the negative.

Boys leave the comforts of home to fly off to study in a yeshiva which has no dining room or dormitory. They do so because they want to grow in havana of Torah.
The Mir Yeshiva grows by leaps and bounds, opening new Batei Midrashim and undertaking new projects to accommodate the exponential growth of ambitious Talmidim.
And on these shores, we witness the explosion of Torah in Lakewood, NJ; and the expansion of a Torah community built around a yeshiva, to an extent unparalleled in the long Golus.

As an aged Rosh Yeshiva travels across the world to deliver words of chizuk to an ever -growing population of Bnei Torah, we should all open our eyes, ears and hearts, to that world. How can we not gain faith and succor from the amazing growth of our yeshivos!

How long ago was it that we were written off? How long ago was it that yeshivos had to go begging for Talmidim and scrapping for paltry donations to keep the impoverished institutions open? How long ago was it that the Mir was housed in one building and Brisk in a shul? How long ago was it that people thought yeshivos would never be rebuilt on this side of the ocean altogether?

How long ago was it that people believed that the Ponovezher Rav had taken leave of his senses when he publicized his dream of a world-famous yeshiva—that today stands tall and proud in the center of Bnei Brak?

Today the call of Lech Lecha resounds ever so loudly and is heard by ever increasing numbers of young people.

Let us do what we can to help that call reverberate around our local towns, cities and across the world.

Let us all do more to help assist the growth of Torah, Bnei Torah, Gedolei Torah and Torah institutions.

Let us look at each and every milestone our children pass in yeshiva as a stepping-stone to the glorious day when they, too, will take their place in the ever-growing ranks of Bnei Torah who will one day pass the torch to the next generation.
Let us all appreciate the gifts lavished upon us by a loving Father. And let us be worthy of the brachos of “Veheyei Brachah,” promised to our forefather Avrohom Avinu, who paved the way for all of us.


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