Lileui Nishmat my dear Rav, Rav Binyamin Bein Yitzchak Yehuda whose Yahrtzeit was Rosh Chodesh Mar Cheshvan, Mar Cheshvan 1 this past Wednesday
In his weekly parsha blog, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks quotes an interesting D’var Torah he once heard from his Rav, Rav Dr. Nahum Rabinovich Shlitta current Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Maalei Adumim, Israel on this week’s parsha. In the D’var Torah Rav Rabinovich quotes a Midrash from Buber’s Tanchuma (also known as the Midrash Yelamdenu). Commenting on the verse in the parsha, “ Then God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ark’ (Gen. 8:16), ”the Midrash makes the observation that God only told Noach to leave the ark after Noach first thinks to himself, “since I only entered the ark with permission (from God), shall I leave without permission? The Midrash then adds that, however, according to Rabbi Yehuda Bar Ilai, If he (Rabbi Yehuda) would had been in Noach’s situation he would have smashed down the doors of the ark before being granted permission.
Based on this Midrash Rav Rabinovich then teaches a very valuable lesson. That when the world around us is in a “flood” state of wreckage we shouldn’t just wait for God’s permission to heal a fractured world but act even before being asked to do so. In general I feel this is an important life lesson. To paraphrase the words of Hillel to be a man in a place where there are none (Paraphrase Pirkei Avot 2:5) to go above the call of duty.
Unfortunately our people are currently a tremendous time of tragedy and sorrow once again. One only needs to open the newspaper (or read it online) to see the many stabbings and attacked which have occurred to our holy brothers and sisters in our holy land. Currently the army and police have done their job by working tremendously hard to fight against our enemies and protect our people. However, it is up to all of us even those of us not in the police or army positions in Israel and the diaspora to do our parts to take the initiative to respond to the recent attacks.
Some responses which I have seen so far include learning around the clock a project spearheaded both by my yeshiva in Israel Yeshivat Torat Shraga and my Alma Mater Yeshiva University in New York. I have also seen countless posts via Facebook from fellow Jews in both Israel and abroad which depict what is really going on in Israel right now despite the biased anti-Israel rhetoric which others maybe spreading using social media.
There is another area however, which thank God I have also seen strengthened during this time which I feel is especially important for strive to improve at and that is increasing or acts of Chesed (kindness) towards our fellow Jews which has tremendous power to rebuild worlds. Someone pointed out to me this week that the same shoresh or root of the word neshek (small gun) is the same as that of neshika (kiss). Therefore, it is especially important that we go out of our way to take time to do acts of kindness for our fellow Jews or other acts where we think of them before ourselves more so than usual. Whether that be davening for specific people injured in the attacks to be healed or learning in memory of those loss or even extending or even things as small as clearing our place when eating out at a restaurant so the waiter’s and manager’s job there is a little bit easier.
May we merit to not be passive but active in helping our people get through the current situation despite the current situation and may HASHEM bring us to a time where all the Jewish people are united in peace and tranquility in our holy land of Eretz Yisrael with the coming of the Moschiach and the final redemption may it be speedily in our days.
Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom, Gut Shabbos- Gidon Herschander. Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh 3 Mar Cheshvan,5776.