Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: The Right Jew at the Right Time and Place

Two incidents, one happened two thousand years ago, one happened less than a century ago.  Find the common thread.

Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, z"tzl, was exiled to Siberia in 1929 C.E.  Pressure and politicking forced his release in 1931.  While waiting for his train, R' Abramsky saw one of the commanding officers from the labor camp walking around the station.  R' Abramsky tried to stay as hidden as possible, but shuddered as he watched the officer walk straight toward him.  "Let me see your ticket!", he was told.  R' Abramsky had no choice but to surrender his ticket.  "Just as I thought", said the officer as he pocketed the ticket.  Then he reached into a different pocket and handed the rav another ticket.  Seeing the look of confusion, the commanding officer explained, "I am a Jew.  My mother told me on her death bed that her only request was that if I ever had the chance to save the life of a Jew, I should do it.  They gave you a ticket for an open car and in this weather you would have been dead in no time.  The ticket I gave you is for a heated car."  With that, the officer was gone.

Hillel once brought an animal for an olah to the beis hamikdash.  It was Yom Tov and a group of scholars from Beis Shamai came to Hillel and asked him about the animal.  Hillel said it was a female (which can't be brought as an olah) in order to avoid a machlokes because Shamai held it was assur to bring an olah l'chatchila on Yom Tov.  The scholars of Beis Shamai decided to make a play to assert that the halacha was like them.  Bava ben Buta, who was a talmid of Shamai (not Beis Shamai, but Shamai himself) was there and knew the halacha was like Beis Hillel.  Bava ben Buta sent for the best male sheep in Yerushalyim and announced that anyone who wanted should come to bring an olah.  That established the halacha like Bais Hillel and no one ever again even thought to argue.

What's the common thread?  Only someone as far from Yiddishkeit as that unnamed officer could have had the authority to exchange those tickets for R' Abramsky.  He was carefully groomed his whole life to be able to be in just the right place to save the rav's life.  Planted, as it were, as a mole by HaShem Yisbarach in the Communist army for just that moment.  Bava ben Buta, a talmid of Shamai himself, was the only one with the stature and authority to have been able to kovei'a the halacha like Beis Hillel.

Each of us is being groomed and prepared for our job, for our time to be just the right Jew and just the right time to justify our entire existence.  Be on the lookout.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…