emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bomb Shelter Achdus

Once again, the sound of the Red Alert sirens can be heard in the south of Israel, and that invariably means a pit stop in the closest bomb shelter.

In EmunahSpeak: Nu?, we quoted HaRav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal's fascinating account of a great assembly of gedolei Torah that met at the home of R. Yisachar Dov of Belz ztvk”l in the city of Rutzfort, Hungary to where the Rebbe had escaped at the outbreak of the war in 1914. He describes how for almost an hour the senior member of the group, R. Moshe Dovid Teitelbaum z”l, av beit din of Madiar-Lapush in Zibanbergen, grandson and foremost disciple of the Yitav Lev z”l, petitioned the Rebbe of Belz to initiate a movement of awaking to repentance which “would undoubtedly influence the entire generation to return their hearts to our Father in Heaven.”  When he finished, the Rebbe answered him briefly and to the point:

“O Rebbe of Lapush, have you concluded your petition?  When Mashiach arrives, the Jews will repent.  In the meantime, it is of utmost importance that the Jews love one another.  One must love even the lowliest Jew as himself.  One must engender unity and keep far away from anything that causes disunity.  The salvation of Israel during times of trouble rests on this.”

On these words Rav Teichtal commented: “Know and understand this, and do not be a pious fool who is quick to find fault with Israel.  Do not cause disunity among those who are united, particularly at a time when the divine attribute of justice hovers over all of Israel.  It is a time of trouble for Ya’akov, may the Merciful One protect us!”

No one who made a difference gave these words the time of day, neither then nor now, a hundred years later.

And that includes funerals, for as we pointed out in the same essay:

In the way we deal with others Hashem deals with us.  When we ask Hashem to send us Moshiach when we don’t deserve it are we not asking for the ultimate chesed that He could do for us?  And isn’t the ultimate chesed on our part a chesed shel emes?

And yet, when a family of Torah Jews is slaughtered in their beds or eight Yeshiva bochurim are gunned down in their Yeshiva we seem to be incapable of stepping outside of our label saturated existence long enough to attend the funeral.  It matters not a whit how many people show up because it’s not a numbers game.

It’s all about the mosaic of Torah Jewry.

In Shomayim, three hundred of EVERYBODY at a levayah will trump thirty thousand of only a certain SOMEBODY every time. 

Hashem wants that there should be achdus by Yidden.  Period.

There's nothing to talk here.  What Hashem wants Hashem gets.  If we can't get it together by means of our own free will, even at a funeral, then Hashem will force it upon us.  He will bring about circumstances that will send us running for the nearest bomb shelter and we won't care who's in there with us because it's a matter of life and death.

Given a choice we would hold our nose and look to hang out elsewhere.  So for that very reason many of us will not be given a choice.  We will be forced into a situation that in better times we would have avoided like the plague, but we'll be okay with that because the bomb shelter, in addition to offering physical protection, is also reputation safe.

We don't have to worry what our ideological comrades will think of us when we come out into the sun sandwiched between two guys sporting knitted kippas.  It's understood that we were forced into this juxtaposition by the exigencies of the moment.

Unfortunately, what others think of us all too often trumps our better instincts.  So when we are confronted by situations in which our participation can't readily be explained away by the exigencies of the moment we take a dive as to our better selves and take a pass on a funeral and the like lest someone think that our presence signifies agreement with the world view of the dearly departed.