Kenneth Cohen

Rabbi Eliezer Cried

The Gemara in Chagiga, tells how Rabbi Eliezer reacted upon reading of Yosef’s revealing himself to his brothers. When he reached the verse that said that the brothers were dumbfounded, and could not speak, he cried. He said that if the brothers could not answer Yosef, who was a man of flesh and blood, how will we answer Hashem on the day of reckoning.

Rabbi Eliezer realized the extent of what the Day of Judgement, will mean for every human being. Everything is written down in Heaven, and ultimately, there will be true justice. We will be rewarded for our good deeds, and especially those deeds that took the most effort on our part. And we will need to answer for our indiscretions and misdeeds.

It is ironic that a holy rabbi like Rabbi Eliezer, realized this truth. He probably did not have to worry about whether or not he would pass the test. And the ones who really need to wake up and live a more pious life, are oblivious to this reality.
There is a Pasuk in Parshat Kedoshim that says, מפני שיבה תקום. The simple translation is that we are to rise for the elderly and show them respect. It was suggested that the wording should have been, לפני שיבה תקום. This would mean that before we become old, we should wake up.

The process of self awareness and working on self improvement, must begin now. We study the stories of the Torah because of the profound lessons they teach us. This lesson may be one of the biggest of all.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at