“The kohen who is exalted above his brethren…” (Vayikra 21:10).
The Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah) comments that the kohen gadol was greater than other kohanim in five areas: strength, beauty, wealth, wisdom, and years. (The Medrash proves that the kohen gadol was strong from the fact that he had to lift up 22,000 kohanim daily, back and forth, up and down, to sanctify them for the avodah [Bamidbar 8:11].)
A similar statement is made in the Talmud (Nedarim 38a) about prophets: “Hashem only rests his Divine Presence on one who is mighty, wealthy, wise, and humble.” The Rambam writes (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 7:1) that prophecy is only bestowed on one who is strong in character, meaning that he is able to subjugate his natural inclinations.
The Torah (Shemos 35:21) says, “Every man whose heart inspired him came…for the work of the Mishkan.” The Ramban notes that although the volunteers weren’t craftsmen or qualified artisans, they came forward to do the will of Hashem and ultimately did miraculously perfect work for the Mishkan.
R’ Chaim Shmulevitz explained that every person is infused with latent talents that remain untapped. We often believe that we are fully cognizant of our skills and limitations, but, in truth, we are often not aware of our potential at all. People who are challenged in extraordinary times are often able, not only to survive, but to flourish. They are inspired with a sense of mission and renewed strength, and are propelled to accomplish great feats.
During these extraordinarily trying times, we are continuously witnessing astounding humanitarianism and magnanimity. Hatzalah volunteers throughout the world are leaving their families at all times of day and night, sometimes working 24-hour shifts. Misaskim volunteers are dealing with an inundation of requests for help and emotional support during the past few weeks.
Shomrim, Chaverim, Tomchei Shabbos, and Bikur Cholim organizations are lending their efforts in every way possible, assisting patients and their families in the community. Rabbis and rebbetzins are constantly giving virtual shiurim, providing inspiration and encouragement. Rebbeim, moros, and teachers are using various mediums to keep their classes going and stay in touch with their students.
Ohel, HASC, Women’s League, Amudim, and a host of other organizations too numerous to mention are servicing their members and the community at large with chizuk, information, diversion, and companionship.
Kol HaLashon, Kol Mevaser, TorahAnytime, Chazaq, and countless other Torah institutions are steadily disseminating Torah and inspiration to the masses. Jewish music personalities have contributed their time and sponsored free kumsitz gatherings via Zoom to brighten people’s lives.
Recently, we witnessed an innovative birchas ilanos project was as a long flatbed truck traveled down streets carrying live fruit trees and a loudspeaker repeating the berachah for the benefit of those who hadn’t yet said it.
Many mosdos and educational institutions have helped families acquire kosher phones free of charge for their children who need it for their classes.
Then you have the regular, everyday people who anonymously reach out and are selflessly there for their neighbors, friends, and relatives, for shopping, lending money, running errands, and just helping out.
We read in Michah (7:8), “Though I sit (ki eishev) in the darkness, Hashem is a light onto me.” The Darkei Emunah writes that the word “eishev” is a mnemonic for the three most important things one should contemplate when sitting in the darkness. Aleph stands for emunah – keeping one’s faith; shin stands for simcha – remaining happy; and beis stands for bitachon – trusting in Hashem.
The great tzaddik R’ Moshe Leib of Sassov was deeply committed to the mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim. Every Yid was precious to him, and he would do anything possible to redeem Jews, even sinners, to whom he would then gently appeal to abandon their bad ways and return to Hashem.
Once he redeemed a thief who had been imprisoned for a while in a dungeon. The tzaddik was deeply shaken when he saw the thief’s body covered with wounds and bruises. The prisoner explained that he had been maliciously beaten to get him to inform on his friend. However, he had stoically withstood the beatings.
“How did you do that?” asked the Sassover.
The thief explained, “Our people know that ‘they don’t hit you forever.’ I withstood the punishment because I knew there would eventually be an end to the beatings.”
The tzaddik exclaimed: This is good advice for anyone who has to withstand a spiritual or physical challenge. They should know that “they don’t beat you forever.” As Sefer Iyov says, “There is an end to the darkness” (28:3).
R’ Meir Tzvi Zachman said that Shlomo HaMelech wanted to encapsulate all his wisdom in a few words that would always be before him. He retained a goldsmith to make a ring for him with a seal engraved with the words “gam zeh yaavor – this too shall pass.” When he faced challenging times and his fortune was less than optimal, he knew that “this too shall pass.”
When the great Torah sage, Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, was asked what could be done during bleak times to save us from the birth pangs of Moshiach, he replied “Torah and gemilus chassadim.” There has certainly been a tremendous increase in Torah. Personally, I have been giving more than double my normal amount of shi’urim and Torah classes. And the gemilus chassadim throughout the world is incalculable.
In these zechusim, may we merit to imminently see the fulfillment of “this too shall pass.”