web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Passover: Getting the Message


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.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Passover: Getting the Message”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Betar soccer fans pour out on the field at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, where Hamas planned to carry out a mass-casualty attack.
Hamas Planned Massive Attack at Teddy Soccer Stadium in Jerusalem
Latest Indepth Stories
What, me incite terror? Abba: "The Jews must be barred by any means possible."

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

More Articles from Larry Domnitch
David Ben-Gurion publicly pronounces the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14 1948, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

330px-Balfour_portrait_and_declaration

Rav Kook offered recognition to the British but not thanks; the British merely fulfilled its destiny

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/passover-getting-the-message/2008/04/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: