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Harav Matisyahu Salomon, the Lakewood Mashgiach, once related the following personal story:
“When I was a young man I was a student in the Gateshead Yeshiva. The yeshiva had a 125 students – not large quantitatively, but qualitatively tremendous. The building was fairly small and the tables were so narrow that the volumes of Gemara overlapped each other. If a student wanted to turn the page he had to ask everyone around him to lift their Gemaras first. Yet despite it all we studied with tremendous diligence.
“One day a Dayan from London came to visit the yeshiva. Adressing the student body he read to us a page from an American journal.
“The article was written by an obviously irreligious Jew, albeit who possessed an appreciation for Jewish history. The author explained that, along with a group of journalists, he was invited on a European tour. When they arrived in England one of the places they visited was a village in Northeast England called Wallsend.
“Wallsend is an ancient village that dates back almost two millennia. When the Romans invaded and conquered England they constructed a wall to serve as a barrier to keep the mighty Scottish Picks out of England. They named it Hadrian’s Wall after the Roman Emperor. The village where the wall ended was aptly called Wallsend. Today there is nothing left of the wall except for a few moss-covered stones in the village of Wallsend. It is nothing more than a tourist attraction.
“The day the journalist arrived at Wallsend he recalled that he had yahrtzeit for his mother and he wanted to recite kaddish in her memory. When he asked the tour guide if there were any Jewish Services in the area, the guide replied that there was a school in the village of Gateshead ten miles away.
“The journalist arrived at the yeshiva in the middle of the afternoon. He had never been in a yeshiva before and the sight that greeted him was extraordinary. There were tens of young men huddled together on small benches studying, debating, and arguing with passion and vibrancy. The journalist did not comprehend anything they were saying, but he stood and watched spellbound. But then he overheard something which caught his attention. One student called out to his friend, ‘But Rabi Akiva says…!’ Those words reverberated in his ears.
“Even after they destroyed the Bais Hamikdash, the Romans understood that their job was incomplete. In order to destroy the Jewish People, they had to stop the public study and teaching of Torah. Hadrian sentenced Rabi Akiva’s to death because he taught Torah publicly. Hadrian ordered him killed in a most barbaric and heinous fashion to serve as an example of the severe consequences for teaching Torah. Yet today, centuries later, Hadrian and the Roman Empire are long gone, relegated to the history books and symbolized by a few moss-covered stones. Rabi Akiva, on the other hand, is alive and well. His teachings and legacy are still being promulgated and studied today!
Rabbi Salomon concluded that the story gave him so much encouragement because it serves as a powerful representation of G-d’s Promise, “But despite all this, when they will be in the land of their enemies, I will not have been revolted by them nor will I have rejected them to obliterate them, to annul My covenant with them – for I am Hashem, their G-d.” Rashi explains that a Jew must never think that the atrocities of exile prove that G-d no longer loves us. His love for us is boundless, and even in exile the covenant remains in full force.
All of the empires and countries that have sought to vanquish and obliterate us are gone. Yet we remain. That is the greatest sign of His love for us.
The verses of Shema, recited thrice daily, form the cornerstone of our faith, responsibility, and devotion to G-d. A Jew is obligated to state with conviction, “You shall love Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your “Me’od”
The Gemara offers two explanations of the word me’od. The first explanation is “with all of your resources”; one must prioritize G-d over his money and physical resources. The second is that one must love G-d despite whatever “middah” (Character Trait/Divine Attribute) G-d utilizes towards him. At times G-d may act toward a person with the attribute of justice, at other times with compassion. But no matter which attribute it is one must realize that G-d does all for the good and He must love G-d for that.
About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at email@example.com. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.
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Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.
“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”
Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.
Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?
First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.
Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?
How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.
Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?
Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?
Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol
You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them
Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat
People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.
A person who truly feels that everything is a blessing from G-d will count his blessings and realize just how much he has.
Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.
Often in life we become stuck – stuck in the morass of our habits and the rote of our comfort level.
The innkeeper smiled and replied, “Why do you think we are dancing? We are dancing because G-d destroyed the Bais HaMikdash!”
After listening to the driver’s incredible story, Rabbi Levenstein asked him, “What about you? After seeing such a miracle why didn’t you became Torah observant?”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshas-vaeschanan-wholeheartedly/2012/08/03/
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