The Gaon, Reb Yosef Duber of Brisk, saw a very rich man remaining in shul Yom Kippur night after the congregation had left for home. He was saying Tehillim with a few elderly and poor people.
Reb Yosef called him over and said, “Do you realize that if a person deserts his regiment for another he is considered a traitor and will be punished by the generals?”
The rich man looked at the Gaon but didn’t understand him.
“I will explain,” said the Gaon. “Every person is required to serve G-d with all his might and effort. The rich person, before Yom Kippur, should give a lot of tzeddakah and grant loans to the poor who cannot repay their debts. The poor person, who cannot give charity, should remain in shul after Kol Nidrei to say Tehillim. The combined efforts of the two groups, rich and poor, will help to annul the bad decree.
“The rich, who have fulfilled their duty of charity, usually go home after the Kol Nidrei, content in the knowledge that they have helped. But you have not fulfilled your charitable duty, and are now remaining in shul to say Tehillim. You have escaped from your regiment of service and are attempting to enter the regiment of the poor; it won’t work.”
The Changing Of Regiments
A similar story is told about the Chofetz Chaim. He once saw a Jewish merchant who knew very little Torah attempt to be very pious. He was a very charitable person who had made a lot of money by supplying the local military barracks with food.
During Aseres Yimei Teshuva, he was in shul every night for Selichos. Although he did not understand the meaning of one word, he davened with great kavannah. But tumbling out of bed at such an unearthly hour made his spirit and flesh sag. After the third night, he complained to the Chofetz Chaim with an apologetic sigh, “It’s hard for me to get up so early every morning. I’m not used to it.”
“My friend,” answered the Chofetz Chaim, “you have business connections with the Imperial Army so you’ll readily understand the point I am going to make. You know that the army is divided into all kinds of departments and services. There are infantry, cavalry, snipers and many other groups. The soldiers in each branch of the service have their own particular function to perform. Now let me ask you, what would happen to an infantryman if he deserted his regiment and went to serve in the cavalry? He would be court-martialed, wouldn’t he?”
“Surely he would,” agreed the merchant. “That’s a serious breach of discipline. But what connection has this with me?”
“I’ll tell you,” said the sainted Gaon. “The soldiers in Hashem’s army are also distributed among various branches of the service. The Torah scholars are the artillerymen; those who do good deed are the infantrymen, and so on. It’s very clear that on account of your money, the Almighty has put you in the charity regiment where you can serve most usefully. Your function is to help the poor, support widows, orphans, and destitute scholars. By every rule of discipline, you should be home now in bed and comfortably asleep. Instead, I find you have deserted your regiment, the charity regiment, and have joined up with the heavy artillery regiment, consisting of Torah scholars. You don’t belong here, my friend! Better go back to your own regiment, before G-d, the Commander-in-Chief, finds out you are missing!”
To Blow The Shofar You Must Be Honest
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov was seeking a Baal Tokaiya in his congregation for Rosh Hashanah. Many people answered the call as it was a great honor.