Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
In 1924, a rabbinical conference was held in the city of Grodno, then located in Poland. The sages had gathered to discuss matters pertaining to Russian and Polish Jewry and to establish a program of action for the Va’ad haYeshivot, the council of yeshivas.
Those were difficult times. In Poland, Jews were suffering harsh anti-Semitism, while in Russia, Jewish communities were struggling under the weight of communist oppression. Many young Jews, influenced by modern trends and social movements, were drifting away from their traditions and people.
In attendance at the Grodno conference was the venerated Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, widely known as the Chofetz Chaim.
The question was soon raised as to how the rabbis should respond to the growing turmoil in the Jewish community. Should they even attempt to reach those who were influenced by decades of the Haskalah (Enlightenment), which stressed that the Jews change to adapt to society? If the “enlighteners” were not interested in hearing the message of maintaining tradition, then perhaps it would be better if the rabbis did not attempt to persuade at all?
Some cited the dictum of the Talmud (Yevamot 65B): “Just as it is an obligation to say something that one will listen to, so too it is an obligation not to say something that will not be heeded.”
After a lengthy and heated debate, the Chofetz Chaim stood up. All eyes turned to the beloved leader.
The Chofetz Chaim began with a story. He recounted an incident that had occurred in the Ukrainian city of Kiev some 50 years earlier. It was a freezing cold winter day. On the street, he noticed a poor elderly woman holding a basket of dried pears. She called out, “Dried pears, three kopecks a pound! Fellow Jews, please buy!”
The Chofetz Chaim watched as she stood in the street and pedestrians passed her by. No one stopped. After some time, he approached the woman and said, “You are freezing for no purpose. It would be better for you to go home. At least you won’t freeze.”
The woman thanked the Chofetz Chaim for his advice and then replied. “I have been standing here for forty years and calling people to come and buy, and it also always seems to me that they never buy anything. But when I return home at night, the basket is lighter and there is money in my pocket.”
It may have seemed like no one was listening to the woman’s calls, especially on that freezing cold day, but her message was heard. The Chofetz Chaim was telling the assembly that there would be a response to their appeals. He urged the rabbis to raise their voices. He assured them that their efforts would not be futile.
“With Hashem’s help, your words will inspire and kindle hearts. Some day, when you make an accounting, you too (as the saleswoman) will no doubt find that you made a profit.”
The Chofetz Chaim’s words had an impact upon the conference participants, who returned to their communities and heeded his call. Their actions impacted their generation and future ones as well.
In our own times, it might seem futile to repeat the messages of Passover at the Seder to those who seem disinterested year after year, or to those who simply wait for the meal. Yet the Torah mandates that the events be retold in all their glorious and magnificent detail every Passover. Doing so, we know, is not in vain.
Passover offers a special opportunity to affect the future. As we spread the enduring message of the Exodus and its immense importance to each and every Jew, we should never despair if it seems that some are not listening. The message has a way of reaching its audience.
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Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.
The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.
Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.
Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”
Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?
Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.
The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.
Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!
Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.
A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.
Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.
Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”
Nearly two decades into the 20th century, Jews were suffering the horrors of pogroms, mass expulsions, starvation and disease in Eastern Europe while Jewish soldiers in various armies were enduring the carnage of the battlefield. Amid the horrors, however, a glimmer of hope appeared.
On November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., an agreement signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiegne France, ended hostilities on the Western front and signaled the end of the First World War.
On the eve of the Six-Day War, Israel stood alone.
The events of June 1967 came just a decade after the 1956 Sinai Campaign waged by Israel, France and Great Britain to protect international passage through the Suez Canal.
Had Judge Richard Goldstone only issued a distorted litany of accusations against the Jewish state – dayenu.
Had the British government only issued an arrest warrant against Kadima leader and former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni – dayenu.
Last month, Israel lost a very close friend in Alexander Haig.
During his confirmation hearings in January 1981for the position of secretary of state, Haig reiterated his commitment to the existing U.S. policy of not dealing with the PLO or other Palestinians opposed to Israel’s existence.
● Had President Obama only given a speech in Cairo to the Arab world in “de-Nile” of the actual history of the region – dayenu.
Jerusalem, as it has so many times in the past, is today occupying center stage in the world theater. Once again the City of David is under siege. Not by an invading army, but by pressure exerted by nations to relinquish Israeli sovereignty over Jewry’s eternal capital.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/passover-getting-the-message/2008/04/16/
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