Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Chayai Sarah) Respect, Beloved and a Reflection
The Torah relates that when our forefather Avraham sought to purchase a burial plot for his wife Sarah, he called a town meeting with the Hittite inhabitants of the City of Chevron. The people were deeply respectful to Avraham when they addressed and spoke to him.
The Talmud tells us because of the respect they afforded Avraham, many years later, during the forty years the Jews were traveling in the desert towards the Land of Israel, they merited a calm period in the war-ridden Land of Cannan.
Rabbi Ahron Leib Shteinman makes an interesting observation: If they merited such reward for respecting Avraham, a righteous man of G-d, surely one should take into consideration the consequence of condemning or insulting a representative of G-d.
Last week, the Jewish world lost one of its most precious personalities. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel was the dean of Yeshivas Mir, the largest Yeshiva in Israel, which including the married and single students has an enrollment of 7600!
Rabbi Finkel suffered terribly from Parkinson’s, yet amazingly, he lectured, continually studied, oversaw the day to day functions of the institution and carried the overwhelming and massive financial burden of the Yeshiva on his shoulders. Although there was only a few hours from the time of his sudden passing until his funeral, over 100,000 people attended his funeral in Jerusalem!
My son Yehoshua, who is currently studying in the Lakewood Yeshiva, shared with me an insight that Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon presented during a eulogy delivered in Lakewood in his memory.
Rabbi Solomon wondered; although he had a sterling character, what was it about Rabbi Finkel that drew everyone to genuinely love him? He explained with the following insightful analysis. Since the Rabbi suffered from a debilitating illness, with noticeable bodily spasms and difficulty speaking, no one envied him or wished upon themselves what he was stricken with!
Since there was no jealousy which causes separation between people, anyone who came in contact with him was able to focus on his true character and genuine essence!
Rabbi Solomon said that when one who was an image of such wholesomeness, devotion, righteousness and harmony is taken from our midst, it places the responsibility upon the Jewish people to fill the void that he left.
Setting aside our feelings of jealousy and envy of others enables us to get along and genuinely care for each other!
Last week, we marked an anniversary of the chilling, destructive and terrifying events of Kristallnacht.
I recently came across a recording by Rabbi Shimon Schwab o.b.m. concerning an event that was a precursor to Kristallnacht and the horrific events of the Holocaust.
I quote: “On Shabbos April 1, 1933 when I was in Darmstadt, the Nazis instituted their infamous boycott of all Jewish business establishments and offices throughout Germany. This included both major cities and small villages. The boycott was organized down to the finest details, with pickets, signs, insults, and slurs of Jews. Saturday was selected because that was the busiest shopping day of the week. It never occurred to the Nazis that Shabbos was the Jewish day of rest, because most Jewish establishments were open for business on Shabbos.
“Fearing what might happen that day, we went to Shul on Shabbos morning at 6:00 a.m. so that we would be finished by 8:00 a.m. when the business day would normally begin.
As the Haftorah for that Shabbos was read, a relevant verse stood out, ‘As a result of their sin, G-d placed the Jewish people in excommunication ‘in boycott’ and Israel was reviled and insulted!’ I felt as if the prophet was speaking directly to us in Germany.
That day went down in infamy in Jewish history as the ‘Boycott Shabbos,’ and was in fact the beginning of the end of Jewish life in Germany.”
Wishing you a restful, peaceful and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks