Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travels and Travails

by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

The parshiyos that we lain during the summer months contain lengthy descriptions of the travels and travails of Klal Yisroel in the midbar. Stop after stop, they camped, they rested and they continued.

The accounts of the masa’os contain lessons relevant to us at this time of year.

These weeks, wherever you happen to find yourself in the Jewish world, you see minivans and Suburbans loaded down with families heading off to the country. You peer inside and find duffel bags labeled for camp, hardworking rabbeim and moros smiling at the ability to take a breather, and regular good people looking forward to the rarified air and slower pace ahead of them.

Just as each juncture in life, the highways and byways on which we travel to reach our various destinations, serves a purpose and contains lessons for us.

For the next couple of months, the intensity of life hopefully dials down a notch; allowing people to relax and release some of their stress. We must remember, though, that our mandate remains the same. We are Jews twelve months a year; summer heat, mountain air, dusty bungalows, hot grills and tantalizing barbecues should not distract us from our responsibilities.

City families migrate out of town and settle in bungalows and comfortable homes in the region dotted with mountains, lakes and a few native year-round residents. Many mekomos haTorah resettle as well, escaping the streets of the city for more peaceful and private environs where Torah learning continues unabated. Bnei Torah look forward to the weeks spent on camp grounds, striving for greater heights in ruchniyus, in surroundings which allow them to appreciate the niflaos haBorei. There’s nothing like it.

In the summer camps, devoted staff members try to ensure that the ruchniyus of the campers improves at the same time that they enjoy the open air and physical activities of the summer, so that the youngsters emerge from the summer rejuvenated, rested and ready to take on a new school year.

In bungalow colonies, toddlers play as their mothers sit close by, chatting and taking in the serene surroundings. The men take it easy as well, playing ball, learning, davening and enjoying the leisurely pace of country life. Children run off to day camp, leaving their humble abodes in the morning and sometimes not returning until dusk, tired, filthy and out of breath, but sporting a smile that conveys the joy of summer for a youngster.

It’s a special time for all, and even those of us not privileged to relocate or alter our schedules as much as we would like to during these summer months, would benefit from taking an occasional breather and allowing the slower pace of the season to impact us positively.

One of the most productive and exhilarating seasons in the prewar olam hayeshivos were these summer months, when bnei yeshiva - separated from each other most of the year by very long distances, at a time when there were no telephones, cars or busses - gathered in dacha locations.

The black and white pictures of the era show leafy trees and sun-dotted paths, smiling bochurim gathered around leading roshei yeshiva, their plainly evident simchas haTorah adding to the pictures a color all their own. The photographs capture their sheer joy at being together, united in a setting conducive to pilpul chaveirim and chilutz atzamos.

So many of the stories retold in the olam haTorah took place in the dachas in places such as Kremenchuk, a town none of us can find on a map, but anyone who has been through the yeshiva system has heard of repeatedly.

There was another small hamlet called Druskenik, where many would go for dacha during the summer. Even though the local householders waited all year for the summer months, when they could generate some much-needed income by renting out space, the rov of the town would make it his mission to ensure that poor bochurim who had no money for room and board were also welcomed. He arranged for a few homes to be set aside for this purpose, with free space for bnei yeshiva.

One of those talmidim, Rav Nisson Waxman, who went on to become a rov in Petach Tikva, wrote of the time he arrived in the picturesque vacation town and heard the news that the rabbon shel kol bnei hagolah, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, was on his way there. The excitement was palpable, for Rav Chaim Ozer was the virtual king of Lithuanian Jewry and champion of the bnei Torah. He carried the burdens of a nation and its individuals, and had no respite from the endless lines and requests that came to his door. He was always available for everyone who needed him, writing classic teshuvos in response to the most intricate halacha shailos from around the world, helping the poor and forlorn, and providing guidance to rabbonim, roshei yeshiva and yeshiva bochurim as well.

His much anticipated, short summer break, allowed him to sit in the forest with talmidei chachomim and yeshiva students discussing the havayos Abaye v’Rava in the pleasant air, with fewer of the pressing issues occupying his time.

Rav Nisson Waxman depicted the scene of bnei yeshiva lining the street near the house slated to be the gadol’s vacation home, as they awaited his imminent arrival. Accompanied by the rov, Rav Chaim Ozer soon came. Together, they entered the home.

Inquisitive bochurim who were within earshot were sure that they overheard Rav Chaim Ozer say to the rov that he had to check the place out. They were almost certain that they heard him say, “I must check if it’s suitable for her.” But that didn’t make sense.

“Isn’t Rav Chaim Ozer a widower?” everyone in the crowd asked each other in mumbles, as they wondered to whom he was referring.

The rov later explained that Rav Chaim Ozer was worried about the cook who would be charged with preparing meals for him and his many inevitable visitors. He feared that the kitchen might be far from the dining room and that the distance would create an extra burden for the woman, who would have to carry food between the rooms many times a day. So the senior rov, the greatest giant of Klal Yisroel in his day, personally went to inspect the house to ensure that it would be convenient for the cook.

The Torah of the masa’os.

Rav Moshe Feinstein was one of the greatest poskim in recent history and served as rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim.

A talmid of the yeshiva who lived in an out-of-town community, far from the great yeshiva centers, grew apprehensive about going home for the summer vacation. In yeshiva, he was surrounded by friends and Torah. Back home, there were very few frum Yidden and only one shul. His parents wanted him home for the summer, and he understood that he had to comply with their wishes, but he dreaded the loneliness he knew would set in.

As the zeman finally wound down and the day of departure arrived, he went to his rosh yeshiva for advice and a brochah. Rav Moshe had once piece of advice to share with him.

“When you go home, they will be watching you,” said Rav Moshe. “No one from your town has ever come to learn in New York before, and they will probably consider you a great talmid chochom. They will be looking to see how you respond to their rabbi. They will observe whether or not you, the accomplished student in a great yeshiva, consider him to be a scholar. Most probably, the rabbi in your town delivers a brief shiur between Minchah and Maariv, and most likely, it will be something simple. You will probably want to learn while he speaks, considering yourself above whatever he is saying.”

Rav Moshe looked at the bochur and continued. “My advice to you is that when the rov speaks, close your Gemara and listen intently to whatever he is saying. Otherwise, people will think less of him.”

With that, Rav Moshe wished the bochur a safe trip home.

The posek hador was giving a p’sak in the sugya of masa’os, how a ben Torah, a mentch, behaves when he is away from yeshiva.

Summer is a gift. Vacation and the relaxed pace are gifts. As with any gift, without proper awareness of how to utilize it, the gift is worthless. We must be ever vigilant for ourselves and our children especially during this care-free period.

In this week’s parsha, in the middle of relating the names of the various places where Klal Yisroel camped, reassembling the Mishkan and then dismantling it again, the posuk tells us, “Az yoshir Bnei Yisroel es hashirah hazos.” The Yidden sang a song.

They understood that each leg of the journey was part of a bigger plan. They knew that each station along the way was part of a process of preparing them for their arrival in Eretz Hakodesh. Midroshim and meforshim interpret the names of various places as referring to different experiences and lessons throughout the travels and travails of the Jewish people.

As we begin the summer, the season of masa’os, let us plan accordingly for a healthy and safe summer, spiritually as well as physically. Let us remind ourselves that to be inconsiderate of other people’s feelings isn’t fun and is never in style, during winter or summer. As we think about enjoying ourselves, let’s also consider other people’s feelings and try to provide those around us with as good a time as we seek for ourselves.

Let’s get out there to enjoy Hashem’s world and not stay locked up in our daled amos, but may we never forsake the daled amos shel halachah.

Let us loosen up and slow down a bit so that we will have more strength to take on the challenges of Elul with greater intensity.

And let us hope that we, too, will be able to look back at our summer masa’os and appreciate their value, singing a shirah of our own for all we have gained by the time the bell rings to announce that summer and its blessings have come to a close.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Guarantee for Our Future

by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

We learn this week’s parsha and are struck by how odd it seems that someone would challenge Moshe after all he had done for the Bnei Yisroel altruistically. This is compounded by the number of times Hashem defended Moshe. How could someone as smart as Korach do something so foolish and how could so many people be taken in by him and join the rebellion?

Miriam spoke against Moshe Rabbeinu and was promptly punished. The meraglim doubted the veracity of Moshe Rabbeinu’s promise and, again, their punishment was swift and harsh. In this week’s parsha, we are again presented with an account of rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu.

Korach is Exhibit A in the teaching of Chazal that “hakinah, hataavah vehakavod motziim es ho’odom min ho’olam.” His ambition and lust fueled him in a way that totally altered his perception of reality and truth.

Rashi tells us that Korach fooled himself. His thirst for power and drive for recognition toxically combined with his ego to convince him that he was right. His ulterior motives tripped him up. Because of his negiah he thought that Moshe had appointed his brother Aharon to a high position and ignored the better candidate. Though Moshe had repeatedly proven that he was following the command of Hashem, Korach, like people who haven’t subjected their jealousy and bad middos, had lost his ability to think clearly.

Ambition is good. All around us are good people who have risen to leadership positions as a result of hard work and determination. However, in the dog-eat-dog world where everything goes and the ends justify the means, people think that by trampling over others, by lying, and by playing on people’s emotions instead of by targeting their intellect, they can become popular and powerful. However, such achievement is short-lived and flames out rather quickly.

Korach ran a quick and easy campaign, because hate spreads like a fire. “Did you know that...? Have you heard the truth? I’ll tell you the real story.” He used the same successful tactics, grievances and claims as today’s hate-mongers. All throughout history people have been susceptible to the machinations of demagogues.

Korach deluded himself into thinking that he would be different than those who previously had made the same mistake as he and doubting the Ish Elokim. He was operating from a position brought on by negius, and thus his view was altered and his thinking fatally flawed.

The Chazon Ish writes that a gadol baTorah does not make decisions based on negius and has no personal interest. Korach couldn’t face this fact. He refused to accept the reality that a true gadol doesn’t have an agenda.

Rav Elazar Shach zt”l explained the concept of daas Torah as such. When a great person who has no personal negiah and is totally absorbed with his Torah study is asked a question, it is as if the Torah itself is responding to the query.

Moshe Rabbeinu, the consummate humble person, the one who delivered them from slavery, virtually the only leader the Jews had known, and the man whose every word was Torah, was the person who Korach and his group accused of malfeasance.

The Mishnah in Avos states that a machlokes lesheim Shomayim is sofo lehiskayeim, while a machlokes shelo lesheim Shomayim has no kiyum.

The Mishnah tells us that the disputes between Hillel and Shamai were lesheim Shomayim, while the quarrel of Korach va’adaso was the quintessential machlokes shelo lesheim Shomayim, an argument that is sustained purely to serve a personal agenda.

A machlokes lesheim Shomayim is fueled by the desire of both antagonists to determine the truth. Hillel and Shammai shared the same goal, but they had differing methods of interpreting and understanding the words and concepts of the Torah to determine the will of the Ribbono Shel Olam. Hillel and Shammai are so much a part of our everyday life, because by studying their drashos and sevaros, and by understanding their discussions, we are able to arrive at a more illuminated understanding of Torah. Their teachings and words endure - sofo lehiskayeim.

When the machlokes is lo lesheim Shomayim, the other side is not interested in the truth. They are only interested in winning. There is nothing to be learned by dissecting their arguments, for they are illogical and obviously false.

A story is told about two friends who were talmidim in the great Volozhiner Yeshiva. Meir was exceptional, brilliant and driven, and had been considered one of the yeshiva’s most accomplished students. That was before he began reading and then becoming increasingly influenced by Haskalah literature which robbed our people of thousands of promising people such as Meir. The poisoned pens of the Maskilim which mocked and disdained the holy traditions and Torah leaders succeeded and Meir found himself unable to apply himself to learning and davening.

Chaim had been his chavrusah and best friend, but as Meir fell under the spell of Haskalah, their friendship fell apart. However, Meir was determined to take Chaim along with him. He sought to take his simple, unsophisticated friend by the hand and lead him into the great, big world beyond the walls of the Volozhiner Yeshiva. Chaim refused to hear his friend’s arguments, explaining that he derived all the intellectual and emotional stimulation he needed from the pages of the Gemara.

Meir didn’t give up and continued hammering at Chaim with the arguments he picked up in the beautifully poetic pamphlets of the Maskilim, who used their creative gifts to carefully compose tracts that brilliantly mocked everything and everyone holy.

Meir turned to Chaim and asked, “How can you learn Gemara all day and delve into the words of the Tannaim and Amoraim if you have no idea who they were and what they were all about? First you have to learn some history and connect with their era. Familiarize yourself with the geography of the great cities and yeshivos in which they learned, and then you will be able to begin a proper analysis of their words and teachings.”

It was to be Meir’s final argument. Chaim looked at him with pity and turned to head back in to the bais medrash. “You know Meir’l,” he said as he walked off, “you may know where Abaye and Rava died, but I know where they live.”

To paraphrase the Volozhiner bochur, Hillel and Shammai are alive and well in every bais medrash in the world. Moshe’s Torah is as fresh as the day it was given at Sinai, while Korach and his group are buried deep down in a wayward desert, crying out to be heard.

Hillel and Shammai pursued truth, not the argument. Their disputes were a means to arrive at the truth.

Those who engage in Korach-type debates and disputes are not interested in the truth. There is nothing to be gained by debating them or studying their arguments. They are simply baalei machlokes, heirs to Korach va’adaso.

Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t arrive at his leadership position by way of hubris, coup, terrorism, or taking advantage of people by forcing them to go along with him. In fact, he was the most humble person. He got there because Hashem put him there. He rose to the highest levels possible for a human. He led the Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim, delivered the Torah to them, adjudicated their disputes, brought them close to Hashem, and gave them everything they needed, yet that wasn’t good enough for Korach, the members of the Sanhedrin, and the masses who followed him. It seems shocking, yet too often, today, we can hear the echoes of Korach’s cry.

Bnei Korach lo meisu.

Sinas am ha’aretz towards talmidei chachomim is all around us. Where there are Jews, there are rabble-rousers who covet positions of power and scheme to destroy the humble talmidei chachomim and leaders who spent decades of their lives in obscurity getting closer to Hashem while working on their middos and growing in Torah and everything that is important. They are people who don’t necessarily occupy official positions, yet they become recognized by Klal Yisroel for their gadlus. And there are people who mock and fight them.

It seems incompressible, but if you look back at our recent history, you see that there were people who fought against the Chofetz Chaim and called him a baal machlokes and troublemaker. Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, who was not only one of the most brilliant minds the Jewish people ever saw, but also possessed the kindest and most gentle nature, was vilified by people who wanted his position. He was the rabbon shel kol bnei hagolah, father and mother of yeshivos, of the poor and forlorn, and of the almanos and yesomim, yet there were people in Vilna who fought him and ran an election to usurp his position.

Though Chazal warn, “Hizaharu begachaloson,” there are always those who become overcome with envy and jealousy and delude themselves into thinking that they are more worthy for the position. They rally other malcontents to their side and do what Korach did.

Today, we see people battling against time-honored practices such a metzizah and quietly encourage the government to intervene and interfere with our religion. They stoop to lies, pseudo-science and fabrications to portray us as baby killers. The media gobbles it up without a second thought. The people who care most about life are portrayed as inconsiderate of the lives of infants and more concerned about some ancient ritual. Such stories are permitted to fester, and only one or two among us has the courage to rise up from the machaneh and say, “Enough with the lies. We have suffered enough from being portrayed as people who don’t care about the lives of children. Tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters were murdered because of the lie that we are baby killers.”

The lie is permitted to gain hold and none of the proud Jewish spokesmen protest.

The same goes for the new focus on abuse. Rabbis who spend their days ministering to their flocks and delving into the eternal words of the Torah are portrayed as callously concerned strictly with maintaining their positions. The oft-repeated canard is that they care not about the sanctity of life. People who spend their lives caring for people are said to turn a blind eye to children who are abused.

It is high time we rose up and said that we have heard that sorry song enough times. Of course every responsible rabbi agrees that predators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Of course religious Jews maintain that monsters should not be permitted to walk the streets and destroy lives.

No one who harms a child, in any way, with any type of abuse, should be coddled. Rabbis have been saying that for thousands of years, yet we are portrayed as being a group who doesn’t hear the cries of the victims. The nation that has spawned the greatest proliferation of chessed organizations, which the rest of the world never even attempts to emulate, is portrayed as uncaring and no one says anything. How can that be?

When the nations of the world were still offering up their children as sacrifices to pagan gods, the Torah was concerned about ensuring that our children remain safe and healthy.

Molesters are classified halachically as rodfim and are treated as such when they are caught and their reprehensible actions are proven. Yes, sometimes unfortunately, these evil people are not sufficiently punished, and those exceptions should be addressed, but how can we permit the minority to impugn the character of every rov, rosh yeshiva and frum Jew?

All around us, we see the koach of Korach va’adaso taking hold, pulling people in their direction, creating doubt in the hearts of many. Their target, as always, is still Moshe Rabbeinu and those who follow his teachings.

Therefore, four times a week, we rise to our feet and point towards the Sefer Torah and call out, “Vezos haTorah asher som Moshe lifnei Bnei Yisroel al pi Hashem beyad Moshe.” We proclaim our allegiance to the Torah, which guides our every step and shapes our opinions. We restate that we received it from Moshe.

We point at the Torah and say, “This is timeless. This is enduring. This is real and lasting. It is the honest truth.” We received it from Moshe Rabbeinu, the humblest and greatest leader, and in every generation, the Moshes of the dor transmit the heritage to us as they lead us to grow in the lives the Torah demands of us.

This Shabbos is the 30th yahrtzeit of the great Lakewood rosh yeshiva, Rav Shnuer Kotler zt”l. His father, Rav Aharon zt”l, breathed life into dry bones, creating a European-style yeshiva in a place no one thought it possible, working with superhuman energy and dedication, experiencing extraordinary siyata diShmaya.

When Rav Aharon passed away, it was feared that his many accomplishments and the yeshiva he had established would be lost. Yet, providentially, Rav Shneur led Lakewood into its glory era, increasing the numbers and the breadth of limudim, and leading the kollel movement in its spread across America.

Rav Aharon’s talmidim spread out across America and around the world, imparting his message and adding legions to the forces of Torah. Their success and his in transmitting Torah, yiras Shomayim and ahavas Yisroel to the succeeding generations are proof that Toras Moshe never grows old or stale. It remains relevant and vibrant wherever Hashgachah guides Jews.

And so it was with many of the Holocaust-era Chassidic and yeshiva leaders who arrived here, penniless. They had lost their families, friends and students, but they were not alone. They clung to the Toras Moshe and it sustained them. It was their oxygen and lifesaver and they were buffeted about in strange, choppy seas. They never despaired or wavered. Today we harvest the fruits of their labors. Every week, there are more people pointing to the Sefer Torah and proclaiming, “Vezos haTorah.”

Those who follow Moshe Rabbeinu and his successors are growing and tipping the population scales. A just completed survey of New York’s Jews showed, once again, that intermarriage is on the rise. The Conservative and Reform, who a few decades ago thought they had the Orthodox beat, continue to lose adherents despite all the games they have played, from patrilineal descent to counting anyone who claims to be a Jew as a Jew.

The media is surprised. The entrenched liberal power brokers are fearful. New York’s organizational leaders are worried about their future. They fret over the calamitous future predicted by the finding that 64% of New York’s Jewish children are Orthodox.

The only group that is experiencing growth is the one that adheres to Toras Moshe and whose offspring is educated in the Torah way. The only guarantee for our future is provided by learning and observing the Torah. Yet, they refuse to accept that bare fact and instead engage in desperate battles against us.

As they and the other modern-day Korachs use emotion, hyperbole and every tool at their disposal to get our attention and detour us from the path which led from Sinai to Yerushalayim, Yavneh, Pumpedisah, Gerona, Sefard, Ashkenaz, Volozhin, Warsaw, Slabodka, Vilna, Liadi, Berditchev, Morocco, Brisk, and so many other stations until it led to us, we need to stay focused on the truth of Moshe Rabbeinu and his modern-day successors. We dare not fall for gimmicks, charlatans and those who would lead us down the path of oblivion.

We are approaching the twelve-month mark of last summer’s terrible tekufah, the weeks when we sustained blow after crippling blow. As their yahrtzeits arrive, we should focus on whom we lost and what sort of people walked amongst us in Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Rav Yitzchok Dov Koppelman, Rav Chaim Stein and Rav Elazar Abuchatzeirah, zichronam livracha, among others. When we think about them and the lives they led, and the giants whom we merit having among us, we will be reminded even in our day that the Torah is as vibrant as ever, al pi Hashem beyad Moshe.

May this summer be one of happiness and brocha, as we asked this past Shabbos in Rosh Chodesh bentching for a month of “chaim shetehei bonu ahavas Torah veyiras Shomayim,” coupled with shemuos tovos and besoros tovos for everyone, everywhere.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seeing, Thinking and Remembering

by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

We tend to think of the mitzvos of the Torah as actions and deeds, which we perform with our hands, legs, and sometimes even our mouths. The mitzvah of tzitzis is unique, as it is a mitzvah that we also fulfill with our eyes and minds.

Let us take a moment to closely examine this mitzvah.

Each morning, in shuls across the globe, you can witness a similar scene. Yidden pause upon the dawn of a new day, before the frantic pace of the day’s work overtakes them, and freeze themselves in time as they wrap their tallis around their heads, ensconcing themselves in a cocoon of love and peace.

Everything stops.

The tallis might have a silver atarah, or no atarah at all, black stripes or blue stripes or white ones, but it provides the same shelter and protection.

What goes through the mind of the Yid who begins each day with this comforting ritual? What does he contemplate as he says, “May the tallis spread its wings over them”? Does he think about anything at all? Or is he merely doing this action and saying these words because he did it yesterday and the day before and for as far back as he can remember?

The conclusion of this week’s parsha, whose central account is the tragic tale of the meraglim, offers a means with which we can be reminded to observe the mitzvos of Hashem and not go astray. This is accomplished by properly observing the commandment of placing tzitzis on the corners of a begged.

How do tzitzis serve as this reminder?

The posuk (15:39) says, “Vehaya lochem letzitzis ure’isem oso uzechartem,” which is usually translated literally as you will see the tzitzis and you will remember all the mitzvos.

Rashi quotes the Medrash Tanchumah which states that this is achieved because the gematria of the word tzitzis together with the eight strings and five knots equals 613. Thus, gazing at the tzitzis will remind a person of the 613 mitzvos. The Ramban argues with this calculation and suggests that the remembrance of the mitzvos comes from looking at the techeiles, as the Gemara states in Maseches Menachos (43b). The color of techeiles is similar to the color of the sea, and the color of the sea is similar to the color of the sky, and sky is where the Kisei Hakavod is located. Thus, when you look at the techeiles in the tzitzis, you will think of Hashem and you won’t sin. Certainly, each step in this process is replete with meaning and significance, but how many of us actually look at the tzitzis strings and think of the gematria, and how many look at the blue strands of techeiles and think of the Creator of heaven and earth? Can we train our eyes to connect the dots, to see blue strings and think about Hashem?

Perhaps we can explain that when the Torah says “ure’isem oso,” it doesn’t mean a simple viewing, but rather to see and to contemplate, much the same as the word re’eh at the beginning of Parshas Re’eh. The Torah there says, “Re’eh Anochi nosein lifneichem hayom brocha uklalah.” Hashem says, “Re’eh, perceive that there are two paths you can take in life, that of brocha and that of klalah. Consider your actions. Think about what you are doing and reflect upon which path you are about to set out.” Hashem isn’t merely telling us to look at the paths, but to contemplate them and to ponder the consequences of our actions.

So too, using the root of that word in the injunction “ure’isem oso,” the Torah is saying, so to speak, that when you are getting dressed in the morning and you put on the begged, don’t just throw it on in haste as just another layer of clothing. Take a few extra seconds and add meaning to your day and to your life. Think about what you are doing. Introspect and consider the two paths in front of you this day, with the opportunity to follow the path of brocha. [See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 8, 8]

How fortunate we are to wrap ourselves in a begged that carries within its folds a hint to the 613 mitzvos. The deep shade of blue as a reminder.

By instructing us to be ro’eh, the Torah is telling us to engage our hearts and minds in the process, and if we do the mitzvah with thought, it will protect us from sin. A person who lives in contemplation considers his actions and will not be taken in by the attraction and glitz of the yeitzer. If you will be ro’eh and zocher, then you will be a lo sosuru Yid.

Rav Shlomo Wolbe, the great mashgiach, would spend summer bein hazemanim in the beis medrash of Yeshiva Ohr Somayach, where the sincerity and determination of fresh baalei teshuvah inspired him.

He would often converse with the young men in that institution, and one day he was asked the following question. “I have just discovered Yiddishkeit,” said a new baal teshuvah, “and I cannot get enough of each mitzvah. I linger with tefillin on my head as long as I can. I relish the opportunity to give tzedakah and savor each word in tefillah. All around me, however, I see people tiredly putting on tefillin, as if by rote, davening listlessly, seemingly going through the motions. How can it be that I, a relative newcomer to observance, have so much more passion and enthusiasm than people who’ve learned Torah and have been religious all their lives?”

Rav Wolbe responded, “You came as a tinok shenishba (the term used by Chazal for an infant raised without an appreciation for the practices of Judaism). You were raised in captivity, amongst people who didn’t know and certainly didn’t believe. But the people around you are also tinokos shenishbu. Each one is a tinok shenishba bein anoshim she’osim mitzvos anoshim melumoda. They are captive amongst a society that does mitzvah by rote!”

Re’iyah doesn’t just mean to see. If you look deeper, if you contemplate the images that are captured by your eyes, then the continuation of the posuk, the assurance that seeing tzitzis will lead to “uzechartem - you will remember,” has new meaning and depth.

Zechirah means to live with a connection to it, similar to “Zachor es yom hashabbos lekadsho,” which doesn’t mean to simply remember to keep Shabbos holy. It means to observe the Lamed Tes melachos and protect Shabbos, keeping it holy and keeping yourself holy.

When the Yid takes the silver becher in hand on Friday night, gripping it tightly as he allows the kedushah of Shabbos to infiltrate his home and heart, he is fulfilling a mitzvas asei. From where do we derive the obligation to make Kiddush on a cup of wine?

In fact, when making Kiddush, we fulfill the obligation of remembering Shabbos. Chazal derive the chiyuv of Kiddush from the word zachor in the posuk of the first of the Aseres Hadibros which states, “Zachor es yom hashabbos lekadsho.” And while the rudimentary translation would be “Remember the Shabbos day to keep it holy,” Chazal remark, “Zochreihu al hayayin.” It doesn’t mean that the way we remember Shabbos is by drinking a cup of wine, but that we commemorate the gift of Shabbos, the meaning of the day that is an enduring testimony to creation, with this act of Kiddush.

Those of us who have to stay inside our shuls on Yom Tov to take part in the haunting tefillah of Yizkor, while the “children” are ushered out, ask Hashem to remember the souls of our departed loved ones. Is there a lack of memory in Heaven that we need to ask Him to remember? Is any act or any person ever forgotten Above? Why do we say, “Yizkor Elokim - Hashem should remember”?

We know that “Ein shik’cha lifnei Kisei Kevodecha.” Hashem doesn’t forget anything or anyone, so why would we be asking for them to be remembered if they are not forgotten?

Zechirah, obviously, doesn’t mean mere memory, but represents something much deeper. It refers to a form of connection.

Here, too, regarding mitzvas tzitzis, if the re’iyah is a tangible, vibrant vision, then the zechirah will have an impact upon us. Allegorically, we can say that just as Chazal learn from zachor “zochreihu al hayayin, we can say “uzechartem - zochreihem al yedei hatzitzis.”

There is a concept of Yiddishe oigen, a vision aligned with the true reality. See things with Yiddishe eyes - eyes wrapped in kedushah, suffused with Torah and mitzvos, and developed with tears of tefillah and Tehillim.

During one of the many periods of dread of impending war and attack by overwhelming Arab armies in Eretz Yisroel, there was widespread panic about what the coming days would hold for the people of Israel. As Rav Yechezkel Abramsky was sitting with his talmidim in Bayit Vegan speaking about the fearful military situation, he approached the window of the room they were in. He pointed to the magnificent view of the harei Yehudah surrounding the Holy City. As he did so, he quoted the posuk, “Yerushalayim harim saviv lah, vaHashem saviv le’amo mei’atah ve’ad olam.” Then he told his students, “Just as all of you see the harim saviv lah, the mountains surrounding her, I see the fact that Hashem is saviv le’amo the same way, with the same clarity.”

That’s what it means to see. That’s what re’eh means.

Velo sasuru acharei levavchem ve’achrei eineichem. People who don’t wear tzitzis, who don’t have 613 mitzvos, who are not chosen and whose actions have no consequences, go through life as if browsing in a mall or online, mindlessly treading water, passing time, surfing, falling for every lure and getting entrapped as a mouse does chasing a morsel of cheese without pondering the consequences of its desperation for a moment’s enjoyment.

Each morning, we slip that hallowed garment over our heads. Every day we daven and encircle ourselves with eternal folds and stripes, and as we do so, we listen to the tallis whisper to us, “You are meant for greater things. You are meant for gadlus. You are in the world for achievement. It’s in your DNA to reach for the heights.”

Generations of Jews gave up their lives in pogroms, in marketplaces across Europe, and in auto-da-fes because they were just a little different and saw the world differently. Our grandparents gave up everything because while the rest of the world saw everything in black and white, they saw it in color. Their vision was richer and brighter and they were ready to die for what they saw. They gave up their lives so that we would be able to see, perceive, remember, ponder and think, and not so that we should go through life as if we were mind-numbed robots.

We have a shared, collective memory bank, and in it we have memories, Yiddishe memories. Deep in our souls, we recall Yetzias Mitzrayim, Mattan Torah and the good times in Eretz Yisroel. And in that bank is another memory: kol mitzvos Hashem.

If we look the way our fathers looked, we will remember the memory that accompanied them through days and nights, defining their lives. We won’t be superficial, we won’t act superficially, and we won’t think superficially. We won’t just get through the day flitting about, occupying our time with matters of little or no consequence.

At the beginning of each day, we get a new chance to see. May Hashem open our eyes and bless us with the peace and happiness reserved for those who walk in the path of the blessed, who see the posuk of “Re’eh anochi nosein lifneichem hayom brocha uklalah” in front of their eyes at every turn and make sure they walk in the path of brocha.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Greatness, Leadership, Humility and What Hashem Wants From Us

by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

In the media business, one of the most dreaded occurrences is a slow news day. What will the talking heads pontificate about if there is nothing going on? What will the media giants write about to fill the pages of their slumping newspapers? How will CNN pick up its slumping ratings if there is no news?

For the next few months, they have nothing to worry about. With an election in November, there will be no shortage of stories. Long-forgotten high school enemies are waiting to be interviewed. Eagle-eyed reporters are on the lookout for the inevitable mistakes and blunders, which then spawn denials and counter-attacks.

Eager to keep the focus off the flailing economy, the incumbent and his allies in the media will be working overtime to churn out stories that arouse viewer emotions and distract their intellect. They will be slamming anything the challenger ever did in his life, painting success as failure and intellectual growth as flip-flopping.

The issues will be pushed to the back of the public psyche. Hate, cynicism and negativity will run amok. The winner will likely be the one who can best impugn the other. Accomplishments won’t count, character won’t count, and past history won’t count. All is fair in political war.

Compare that model for assuming leadership against ours. Rav Chaim Kanievsky sits in his small apartment praying for anonymity, but welcoming in whoever comes seeking him out. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman is about as quiet a person as you can find. He sits in his apartment, at a small, old, simple table, along with a chavrusah a quarter his age, studying with him as an equal. When they are done, dozens converge upon the elderly gadol, having stood on line waiting to approach him.

The same pattern follows in this country, with eminently approachable talmidei chachomim gedolim, many without gabboim to serve as buffers between them and the people who seek them out for their direction and guidance, sitting in botei medrash, seeking nothing more than anonymity and the ability to engage in learning, mitzvos and maasim tovim.

At the end of this week’s parsha, we are told that Miriam spoke against her brother, Moshe Rabbeinu, and impugned his motives and what he had done. The Torah testifies in his defense, “Veha’ish Moshe onov me’od mikol ho’odom asher al p’nei ho’adamah - Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3).

The defense the Torah offers doesn’t seem to address Miriam’s complaint. To respond to the aspersions on Moshe’s character, the Torah doesn’t say that Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest leader who ever lived. It doesn’t say that he was the teacher of all of Klal Yisorel for eternity. It doesn’t discuss the dinei Torah he paskened and the halachos he taught. It doesn’t say that he was an Ish Elokim, who was chosen to deliver Hashem’s Torah. It doesn’t say that he performed open miracles and that he was a baal mofeis. Hakadosh Boruch Hu didn’t recount Moshe’s extraordinary birth and history. In order to refute what Miriam said about him, the Torah simply states that Moshe was the ultimate onov.

Apparently, the middah of anovah encompasses all else. The attribute of humility includes all others. Thus, the statement that Moshe was the consummate onov was the most effective answer to her lashon horah.

An onov recognizes his place in the world. He recognizes his responsibility in life and he knows that all that he has are gifts from Hashem. An onov knows mah chovaso ba’olamo. He knows and recognizes what is incumbent upon him in every situation. He seeks not his own glory, but rather the glory of Hashem and His creatures.

The onov lives his life as a kli, a vessel, to hold the light of kevod Shomayim, so his decisions and actions are pure and clean. It isn’t about him, but about what he can do to increase Hashem’s glory. Thus, the answer to Miriam was: “How dare you doubt his motivations? He is an onov!”

The onov doesn’t see himself as being above other people. The greater the person is, the smarter he is, and the more he knows and accomplishes, the more reason for him to be humble. The more he learns, the more he sees there is to know. The smarter he is, the more he realizes that there is so much he doesn’t understand. The closer he is to Hashem, the more he comprehends that all he has - his life, his money, his wife, his children, his intelligence and everything else - are gifts from Hashem. He knows that he is tola’as velo ish.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the zechus to have the Stamford rosh yeshiva, Rav Meir Hershkowitz, in my home for a meeting to discuss an upcoming fund raiser for the yeshiva. During the course of the conversation, the rosh yeshiva loaned someone his very inexpensive, Bic-like pen. When the meeting was over, the rosh yeshiva asked for his pen, but it was not to be found.

Last year, we gave out Parker pens to boys who participated in the Summer Masmidei Yated program. I took one of the leftover ones and gave it to Rav Meir. He looked at it, commented that it was a nice pen, and asked why I would give it to him. I told him that we used these pens for prizes for boys who learned well and we had a few extra.

With simplistic humility, he gave the pen back to me. “I knew I had to be here tonight, and it was on my mind during the day,” said the rosh yeshiva. “I am not sure I leaned well enough today to deserve it. I can’t take it.”

One of the greatest talmidim of Rav Aharon Kotler, a man who does little else but learn Torah all day, a man who is famed for his gadlus baTorah, refused to accept a pen used to reward children who learn well, because he thought that, perhaps, his learning that day wasn’t up to par.

Those of us in the room looked at each other in amazement. We had just witnessed true gadlus.

Our leaders don’t demand honor and respect. They are focused as they deflect all honor to Heaven. We, however, recognize their devotion to Hashem and their greatness in Torah and we force honor upon them.

Rav Eizek Sher, a son-in-law of the Alter of Slabodka and founder of the yeshiva’s branch in Bnei Brak, was a paragon of mussar. One morning, he was walking up the narrow walkway towards the yeshiva, his stately figure and countenance inspiring respect in talmidim and passersby. He walked slowly and deliberately, every step measured and focused.

As he made his way slowly up the path, a young woman suddenly came rushing down that very same path, blocking the way. The bochur who accompanied Rav Sher gestured for her to step aside, but she seemed not to notice them and hurried by without a word of apology, intent on reaching her destination. The bochur was irate. “Eizo chatzufah!” he exclaimed.

The aged baal mussar didn’t say a word, continuing on his way to the yeshiva as if nothing had happened.

The next day, Rav Eizek reviewed the incident with the bochur and opened his eyes to how he was to view and interact with people, putting aside his own feelings and pride.

“Let’s consider what happened yesterday,” he began. “I, Eizek Sher, am a respected rosh yeshiva. When I get up in the morning, my rebbetzin has a warm drink waiting for me before I leave for Shacharis. I make my way to daven in yeshiva, and all along the way people nod to me in greeting, opening doors for me as I pass. In the yeshiva itself, by the time I arrive at my seat, someone has placed a siddur on my shtender and another rushes forward to carry my tallis and tefillin for me. I daven at the front of the large room, in a place of respect along the front wall.

“When davening is over, I sit in my seat and learn in peace for a few precious minutes before heading home for a delicious and filling breakfast, again served by my dedicated rebbetzin, who is completely focused on my wellbeing.

The rosh yeshiva looked at his companion. “Now, let us consider the schedule of this young wife and mother. It is very likely that she has an infant who was crying persistently throughout the night, making sleep impossible. Then, when morning finally came, there were several other children who needed to be dressed and fed, all of them clamoring for her attention. She ran from one to the next, trying valiantly to meet the demands of each one, and, finally, with a hurried tefillah on her lips, she got each one off to school, no small feat. She wanted so badly to sit down and enjoy a quick cup of coffee or piece of toast, but, alas, she looked at the clock and saw that if she does, she would be late for work.”

The rosh yeshiva continued: “She must work hard in order to support her husband, a budding talmid chochom, and she is gratified to be able to be his partner, yet the long hours sometimes wear her down. Her boss warned her that she must start arriving punctually, so she hurries out of the house without a chance to catch her breath, rushing to be on time for work.

“On the way, she barely notices the old man, walking slowly and leisurely, enjoying the warm sunshine and soft breeze. She sees none of it, only her empty chair at work and the face of her boss.

“Yet,” finished Rav Eizek, “the elderly man keeps walking so slowly, blocking her path, so she steps aside and runs around him, so anxious is she.”

He looked at the bochur with a long stare. “And then you say that she has chutzpah?”

Rav Eizek did not see himself, his own kavod, and the perceived slight of honor. He saw a Yiddishe tochter, late for work. The gadlus ha’odom of Slabodka combined with the middas anovah of the Mesilas Yeshorim.

• • • • •

The Chasam Sofer is renowned as one of the greatest Talmudic geniuses, talmidei chachomim, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim and leaders our nation has known in the past few centuries.

One day, while he was delivering his shiur to his talmidim in the yeshiva, he noticed that something was amiss. He saw that the bochurim weren’t sitting with their usual fear and deep concentration. Instead, they were sitting nonchalantly and even giggling here and there. He was very unnerved and stopped the shiur until he was able to get to the bottom of what was going on.

He found out that Yitzchok Aharon, a brilliant student, had transcribed from memory the shiur that the Chasam Sofer had delivered during the previous machzor (cycle of learning) on this same topic. In his brilliance, the young talmid also transcribed the different mannerisms that the Chasam Sofer, rebbi of Klal Yisroel, had displayed at each point in the shiur the last time he delivered it.

The Chasam Sofer let it be known that he was upset with Yitzchok Aharon. Then he shut his Gemorah and left the room.

The boys were petrified from the way they had upset their rebbi and knew they were in for a terrible punishment. Their fears were realized the next day when word came down that every bochur in the yeshiva was to attend the shiur that day, with no exception. Three hundred and eighty nine ashen-faced boys limped into shiur that day. Poor Yitzchok Aharon was so petrified that he couldn’t walk. He literally had to be carried by his chaveirim into the room and placed in his seat.

When they were all seated, the Chasam Sofer walked into the room, bent over in sadness. He was crying as he spoke.

“Yesterday,” he began, “I lost myself. Instead of praising Yitzchok Aharon for his brilliance and depth of love for his rebbi’s shiurim that he was able to recall the shiur word for word with the expressions, I transgressed the aveirah of malbin pnei chaveiro berabim,” he said.

The Chasam Sofer began sobbing uncontrollably and had to pause before continuing.

“One who is malbin pnei chaveiro berabim forfeits his share in the World to Come. By doing so, I have lost my right to say shiurim here. But I want forgiveness. I beg you to forgive me, I beg Hashem to forgive me. I promise to never behave like that again. And I beg Yitzchok Aharon to forgive me.”

“Please, Yitzchok Aharon, tell me that you are moichel me.”

Yitzchok Aharon was frozen by fear. He couldn’t open his mouth. He had been carried into the room, petrified that he had offended his great rebbi, the giant of the generation, the lion of the Jewish people, and as he sat there hearing the impassioned plea, he was too overcome to respond.

He sat hunched over in his seat, quivering.

The bochurim saw the great pain their rebbi was experiencing and they turned to Yitzchok Aharon. “Please,” they said. “Tell rebbi that you’re mochel. Please.”

Yitzchok Aharon was finally able to open his mouth, but he couldn’t emit any sounds. He tried and tried and the chorus begging him grew louder. Finally, he was able to softly utter the words, “Yo, ich bin moichel.”

The Chasam Sofer asked him again, “Are you mochel beleiv sholeim?”

The young talmid of the great leader stood up and walked over to his rebbi, kissed him on his hand, and assured him that, of course, he was.

With that, the Chasam Sofer was relieved. He announced that since he was forgiven, he would resume saying his shiurim.

The Chasam Sofer was the greatest giant of his time, a man who struck fear in mortals, yet anovah was his driving middah. He felt that he, the world leader of Jews, had overreacted to a young student, and he begged that he be forgiven. His overriding concern was properly serving Hashem, and when he thought that he had transgressed, there was no feeling of pride that could prevent him from pleading for forgiveness in front of close to four hundred students.

Because, the greater the man, the more humble he is. The more gadlus he has, the bigger an onov he is.

• • • • •

I was reminded of this incident involving the Chasam Sofer when my dear friend, Rabbi Yechiel Spero, the master mechaneich and Yated columnist, shared the following story with me.

The children who attended the cheder in the small village of Janowska in the late 1930s loved their melamed, Rav Naftali, more than anything. Although he was nearing 70, he still chose to teach young children, those just learning Alef-Bais, those starting to learn Chumash, and those beginning the study of Mishnayos. His warmth and caring for his students endeared him to all.

The cheder was housed in a local shul, and each day would begin the same for Rav Naftali’s talmidim. He would ask them if they had a good breakfast, which, he explained, was vital to being able to learn well. He would also make sure that they had gotten a good night’s sleep. If one of the boys put his head down on the table, the rebbi would ask, “What time did you go to sleep last night?” The boys knew that Rav Naftali loved them as if they were his own children, and they loved him in return.

Although Rav Naftali taught the lower grades, he was known to be an outstanding talmid chochom. His erudition and ability to master even the most difficult portions of Shas were known throughout the village. There was no part of Torah, including the hidden secrets, in which he was not well-versed. Nevertheless, when passing this tzaddik on the street, one would never know it. He would proudly say that he was melamed tinokos shel bais rabban, a teacher of young children. He treasured his job. It was the perfect position for him, as he was an onov who abhorred kavod.

In shul, the men often urged him to sit in a place of honor near the front, but he always refused, even becoming a bit agitated, but otherwise he was always pleasant and kind. Kavod was something from which he passionately stayed away.

But there was one day in Rav Naftali’s life when he did actually boast of his own greatness - the very last day of his life.

The Nazis had been drawing closer and closer. The townspeople knew that they had only a few days until the terror would come to their doors, but there was nowhere to run. So they waited, trying to go about life as if nothing was wrong. The older children, of course, sensed that something terrible was going to happen. They noticed the adults’ worried faces and whispered discussions. The only thing anyone could do at this point was daven.

Rav Naftali was also aware of the impending doom and was terrified for his own family and, of course, for the tzon kodoshim, the holy flock, for whom he was responsible. They were no different than any of his own children or grandchildren. The talmidim whom he loved went about their daily lives as if nothing was about to happen, doing their schoolwork and repeating their pesukim in their singsong voices.

Rav Naftali knew that before the dreaded moment arrived, he would need to prepare his children - all of his children - in some way for what lay ahead.

The day finally came.

The children had just finished learning and were running around outside during recess. Rav Naftali heard the low rumble in the distance, but the children didn’t hear it at first. They just continued playing their games, as the trucks were less than a mile away. Suddenly, everyone realized what was about to happen and ran to hide. Although they had prepared for this and everyone had a hiding place, the panic and fear were overwhelming.

Rav Naftali had told his family about his personal plan: His own children were older, but his talmidim were young. If the Nazis came while he was teaching, he would stay with the children. Now it was real. He calmly but firmly encouraged the children to stop their recess immediately and run into the shul. They didn’t understand what was happening, but they followed their rebbi’s instructions. Once inside, they sat around the table and looked at the face of their rebbi. His expression was one they had never seen before.

“Kinderlach,” he said, “I must tell you that there are terrible resha’im who are coming now. They are going to take us all away. Im yirtzeh Hashem, we will be protected, but I need you to remember something.”

Rav Naftali no longer spoke softly. His voice grew louder as he looked around the room, frightening the young boys. Their faces showed their fear as well as their deep love of the rebbi.

“Look at me!” he shouted. “Remember what you see. All my life I have never once demanded or accepted any honor for my own benefit. But I want you to always remember one thing…”

By now, the younger ones were crying or trying terribly hard not to.

Rav Naftali could no longer hold back his own tears and wept while pointing to himself.

“Kinderlach, this is gadlus baTorah. Look at me and never forget it. This is the tzurah of a gadol b’Yisroel! No matter what happens, this is what you should aspire to be; you must never forget that Torah is the most important thing in life.”

He then put his arms around them and held onto them. The trucks rumbled through the town, the vicious dogs and blaring loudspeakers filling the air with frightening noise and commands. The Jews were told to go to the center of town. Shaking, Rav Naftali led his children out of the shul.

A few hours later, they were herded away, the gadol baTorah together with his children…

One child remained from that small group, and he was able to tell this incredible story.

Gadlus and anovah, hand in hand. Rav Naftali knew he was a gadol, he knew that he possessed greatness, but he minimized it. He sought nothing for himself. His sole intent was to complete his mission of spreading Torah and goodness in this world. He sought neither honor nor recognition, for he appreciated how fleeting and meaningless they are.

• • • • •

Hashem’s answer to Miriam was meant to impart this message. An onov has a cheshbon and it’s never a personal one. He doesn’t live for himself. He lives for others, to accomplish for the greater good and to serve Hashem. Don’t doubt the purity of his motives, for he is humble.

Let no one believe that there is a contradiction between being humble and possessing sufficient self-esteem. Society is obsessed with the need for self-esteem, using terms like personal empowerment as it seeks to instill a sense of ego in a generation devoid of substance and thus lacking self-worth.

In this week’s parsha, the Torah provides a lesson of just how valuable and cherished every person is.

Miriam was punished for speaking lashon horah. She was afflicted with tzora’as and forced into seclusion. Yet, the Torah reports that the nation didn’t continue on their sojourn through the desert until Miriam was healed. Why the need to keep everyone waiting and why the need to record it for all time? It was to show that even though Miriam sinned, Hashem still loved her.

Often, people who err and slip lose their self-worth, feeling as though their indiscretion will somehow doom them. They become broken, sure that Hashem will turn on them because they did an aveirah. Sometimes, one little aveirah sets a person on a downward spiral, ending with a painful crash at the bottom of a deep pit.

The Torah reports that Am Yisroel waited in the desert for Miriam for several days in order to dispel that notion. We love the person who has fallen, and we stand by, ready to pick him up. The Torah is admonishing us not to give up on ourselves and not to give up on others, even though they have sinned. Miriam Haneviah spoke ill of her brother, transgressing the laws of lashon horah, and was punished for doing so, but she didn’t lose favor in the eyes of Hashem. She was welcomed back into Hashem’s embrace and into the embrace of Am Yisroel.

We all make mistakes and we all sin, but let no one permit that fact to interfere with their obligations in avodas Hashem, for just as Rav Eizik Sher humbly explained to his talmid the thinking of the Yiddishe tochter and just as the Chasam Sofer humbly regretted his reaction to the conduct of his talmid, we, too, must react with anovah to what we perceive as transgressions of others. We, too, must look to find the good in others. We must work on our middos so that we adopt the middah of anovah.

When dealing with others and when judging others, we should not perceive ourselves as the chochom mikol odom, but rather as the onov mikol odom. That way, we will be true bnei Torah and talmidim of Moshe. We will also be fulfilling the dictum of the novi Michah (6:8), “He has said to you, what is Hashem’s definition of good, and what does Hashem demand from you, but only to do justice, to love kindness and to walk with humility with your G-d.”

Humility and acting justly, with honesty and loving-kindness, are outgrowths of walking with Hashem, as should be the desire and ambition of every frum person. If we would indeed tread this path, there would be so much love, achdus and shalom in the world. There would be such an abundance of kindness, justice and goodness that Moshiach would definitely be sent to end the golus. May it come to pass speedily in our time. Amein.