Thursday, November 22, 2012

‘Hashem Is Giving Us a Rope of Support’©

A message from Rav Aryeh Leib Shapiro, Mashgiach of Yeshivah Ketanah Ponevezh.

For days Israel has been bombarded by missiles, and residents of the south have become literal refugees in their own country. There have been injuries and deaths, Rachmana litzlan. How are we supposed to relate to the situation?


It is known that fear of an illness can be worse that the illness itself. We have a million Jews living in deadly fear. My mother was in Auschwitz, in camps for five years, yet she told me that her teeth chattered each time she heard a siren during the Gulf War. Although the chances of being hit by a car in Be’er Sheva are greater than those of been hit by a rocket, the fear is overwhelming.

On the one hand, so many Jews are suffering — hester panim, total darkness. On the other hand, we in Eretz Yisrael have witnessed miracles that are too unbelievable to be told. Are we meant to be afraid?
What should our reaction be?

Even if we are not being directly targeted by Kassems, we have a responsibility to be nosei b’ol, to bear the yoke of our brothers’ suffering along with them. Am Yisrael is compared to a sheep among 70 wolves that seek to tear us apart. The sheep is unique in that if any part of its body hurts, its entire body will vibrate. This is Klal Yisrael; each Jew must feel the pain of every other Jew, no matter what the cause of the other’s hurt.

It says (Tehillim 22:6), “In You they trusted, and they were not shamed.” What shame is Dovid Hamelech referring to? In the davening in Ahavah Rabbah there is also a reference to shame: “… and may we not feel shame for all eternity. Because we have trusted in Your great and awesome holy Name, may we exult and rejoice in Your salvation. Bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth …” Again, which shame is being referred to?

In the brachah of “Al Hatzaddikim” in Shemoneh Esrei two different terms are used: Hashem is referred to as a “Mainstay” (Mishan) and an “Assurance” (Mivtach) for the righteous. A mishan is
something one can lean on and rely on. Mivtach refers to bitachon – trust. Which mivtach is being referred to?

Both the Ibn Ezra and the Vilna Gaon discuss a concept in Megillas Esther that sheds light on the current situation. Rav Avraham, the Vilna Gaon’s brother, also brings it in his commentary on tefillah.

Each and every occurrence in Megillas Esther was needed as a stepping stone to the next event. Everything was interwoven, and without the previous incident the next one could not have happen and the eventual salvation could not have come about. There seems to be one exception to this rule: when the king was unable to sleep, and as a result, Mordechai was honored by being led through the city on the royal steed. It would seem that even had this episode not occurred, the end miracle would have been the same.

Esther invited the king and Haman to her first banquet, and the king asked what her request was. She answered, “Come tomorrow.” So why invite him today, in the first place? But we find that the king’s
insomnia and the honoring of Mordechai— a small salvation — occurred between the first and second feasts. After which Esther said “ish tzar v’oyev” and the complete salvation came.

The Ibn Ezra says that Hashem could redeem us from galus at this very second. He from His side has no need to wait and make us suffer any longer. But Hashem wants to redeem us in such a way that we will have complete happiness in the Geulah. For this to happen, we need to feel we attained salvation through our own effort: through our tefillah, our scrupulousness in doing mitzvos, our avodas Hashem,
and so on. Geulah that comes undeserved will not be a source of simchah.

Dovid says, “In You they trusted, and they were not shamed.” Says the Ramchal, Hashem causes us to have yissurim so we can fortify ourselves in emunah, bitachon, and tefillah. In the merit of having
strengthened ourselves in trust and prayer, Hashem will redeem us. Geulah will be a reward for our prayers and the bitachon we had in Him.

The Ibn Ezra tells us that Hashem throws us anchors of small salvations to show that “I am with you, I am rooting for you. Here, feel how I am with you.”

When we feel Hakadosh Baruch Hu is with us, we are motivated to work on improving our bitachon and tefillah.

Esther is sitting at that first banquet. She sees that, as yet, no anchor of hope has been sent by Hashem. She knows that before deliverance a lightning-flash of salvation sent by the Ribbono shel Olam will
first appear. This will be a mishan and a mivtach, something to hold onto. And when the Jews hold onto this mishenet (support), they will be able to strengthen their prayers and trust, and bring the
Redemption.

Esther was waiting for the rope of the anchor to descend. And it did, with the wondrous events that led to Mordechai riding on the king’s steed. She now knew she could denounce Haman and it would
all end in the Jews having “orah, simchah, sasson v’yikar.”

The Vilna Gaon says: Ribbono shel Olam, You can bring the final Redemption “because we have trusted in Your great and awesome holy Name,” and because of this we will have real simchah when the Geulah comes and “not feel shame for all eternity,” and we will then “exult and rejoice in Your
salvation,” so please, “You Bring us in peacefulness from the four corners of the earth.”

In Shoshanas Yaakov we say that “all those who trust in You will not be shamed.” Purim teaches Jews throughout the generations that before redeeming us, Hashem sends us flashes of light so as to give us a
rope of support to hold onto, so that we will know that we are not alone and can strengthen ourselves.

There is hope. Take the support, hold onto it and move forward. On seeing the darkness of the times
being lit by flashes of nissim, we must grab onto the message being sent to us and grow
in our avodas Hashem, tefillah, and bitachon. In that way, we will have a part in bringing the Geulah through our deeds. The Geulah is very close at hand. It is all up to us.

Israel News 8 KISLEV, 5773 NOVEMBER 22, 2012 HAMODIA A15
‘Hashem Is Giving Us a Rope of Support’
A message from Rav Aryeh Leib Shapiro, Mashgiach of Yeshivah Ketanah Ponevezh

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