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‘The Luckiest Man’

Rav Shach z"tl

Rav Shach z"tl

It is the second meaning that we refer to when we repeat David HaMelech’s words in Tehillim. True, it is not always easy to keep the Torah. However, one who does so realizes that Torah is like a song which bursts forth from within the deepest recesses of his soul like a harmonious ensemble.

Rav Shach then relates that, as a young boy, he was very poor. He was sent to the renowned Slutzker Yeshiva where he had no food, no drink, and no clothes. He had only Torah.

When the First World War broke out, the Jews of Lithuania were exiled and dispersed throughout Europe, and the students of the yeshiva were sent home. Rav Shach however, had no idea where his parents were and therefore had nowhere to go. He made the town shul his home, sleeping on the benches and living off whatever food he could solicit. He only had one change of clothes, which he washed every Friday on the roof, and then waited for them to dry. Few people noticed him or cared much for him and his hair grew long. This went on for a number of years until the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Isser Zalmen Meltzer, zt’l welcomed him into his home.

Rav Shach then concludes, “If I were to write down all the agony and misery that has been my lot throughout my life, I would fill volumes that would be much thicker than my Avi Ezri. I can honestly say that I never had a good day in my life! I never had any pleasure in this world. ובכל זאת מיום עמדי על דעתי עד היום אני הבן אדם הכי מאושר בעולםYet, despite everything, from the day I began to understand things until today, I am (consider myself) the luckiest man on the face of the earth. There has never been a moment in my life that I have not been filled with joy. Why? Because I learn Torah!”

Every person has goals and aspirations, which largely define who he is and what is important to him. Every person has a different response to the question of ‘Who is a lucky person?’ and “what would it take for one to ‘consider himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth’?” It depends on one’s value system and priorities.

The Yom Tov of Shavuos is a relatively short holiday. The Gemara states that on Shavuos one is obligated to eat a lavish meal and enjoy the day physically, to demonstrate that the Torah enriches our physical lives too.

It is a one day celebration of what is truly important to us and why we – the eternal people – are truly the luckiest people on the face of the earth.

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 stamtorah@gmail.com. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.

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