I hope that everyone had a meaningful Rosh Hashanah and that all our tefillos will be readily accepted. May we all be blessed with a healthy, good, and inspiring year for all our families. If we were following the year in review, we would all agree that we are not sad to see the year go and hope the coming year will be better. We all suffered from the pandemic, and unfortunately we all know of family members who were either sick or who died of the virus this year, leaving us all trying to find a message we can learn from the events of this past year.
The Rosh Yeshivah, HaRav Eliezer Gibber shlit”a, shared an inspiring message on Rosh Hashanah that I would like to share with you. In the tefillos of Rosh Hashanah we speak of Akeidas Yitzchok, the Binding of Yitzchok, and the various cryptic messages that are unfolded within these verses. Avrohom receives a most heartrending and difficult commandment from Hashem: to sacrifice his only son, who was to be the progenitor and future of Klal Yisroel.
The Rosh Yeshivah explained that Avrohom’s behavior and response showed that Avrohom had no questions to ask on the word of Hashem. A second lesson learned is that although it may be hard for us to understand Hashem’s master plan, it is still the will of Hashem. Pandemics, sickness, and loss of life all help us to increase our faith in Hashem. Rabbi Gibber’s Rebbe, HaRav Mendel Kaplan zt”l, shared that the posuk on the Akeidah states, “Vayashkem Avrohom baboker – Avrohom rose early in the morning.” HaRav Kaplan explained that the biggest lesson learned from Avrohom was that even in the face of the most unimaginable and heartrending task Avrohom is still able to sleep through the night. Avrohom clearly had no questions of Hashem and had complete faith that even though he could never fathom the meaning behind Hashem’s request, he still trusted implicitly that if this was what Hashem wanted, it was all for the best.
The Klausenberger Rebbe, z”tl, who suffered the tragedy of losing his entire family during the Holocaust, rebuilt a branch of Chassidus, yeshivos, a hospital, and so much more. He was once approached and asked how he was able to rebuild a life of grandiose proportions after the tragedies that he had suffered. The Rosh Yeshivah answered from a posuk we recite at the Seder, bedomayich chayi. Rashi comments that the zechus they had to leave Mitzrayim was the dam Pesach and dam milah. The Rebbe, however, responded with a different interpretation. Aharon’s two children perished for bringing a foreign fire on the Altar. The posuk tells us that Aharon’s response was, “Vayidom Aharon – Aharon was silent.” Aharon realized that pondering too much could have made him begin to question their deaths. As a Torah leader of Klal Yisroel, Aharon understood that there was no second-guessing Hashem, and that this was 100 percent the will of Hashem. The Rebbe explained that this was the bedomayich chayi – dam referring to vayidom – total silence. Six million suffered and many may have had questions of Hashem. The Rebbe said that he preferred to keep silent and to look to all that he could accomplish in the future rather than focusing on his tragic past.
We say during the Yomim Noro’im that teshuvoh, tefilloh, and tzedokoh, repentance, prayer, and charity, remove the evil decree. As we look forward to the New Year, we do so with a sincere request that Hashem use our merits to remove the pandemic. We are fortunate to have great Rabbonim and leaders who guide us locally on how to strengthen our connection to Hashem.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask forgiveness of anyone I may have slighted over the course of the year.
Best wishes for a gemar chasimoh tovoh and the blessing of good health and abundant nachas from your children.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman