Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
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.
Comments are closed.
The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.
Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof
What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.
Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.
The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.
Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US
No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?
For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.
It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.
For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.
Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation
Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.
Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers
Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror
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: