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Thought for the Day: Fueling Avodas HaShem with Love and Mussar

One of the g'dolei acharonim (I believe it was R' Chaim Volozhin, talmid muvhak of the Gr"a and father of the modern yeshiva system) was stuck on a particular gemara.  Only after days of intense work and fasting was he able to understand the depths of that particular sugya.  A short time after his exhaustive ordeal, R' Chaim was walking through the beis medrash and heard two ba'alei batim learning the same sugya and one of them asked precisely the question that had tormented R' Chaim for so many days.  Much to his dismay, his chavrusa replied, almost off-handedly, with the precisely the answer that R' Chaim had reached!  R' Chaim was distraught and asked his Rebbie why an answer so (apparently) simple had eluded him.  The Gr"a told him that the answer was neither simple nor obvious until R' Chaim had put so much of himself into the sugya.  R' Chaim had changed the world and made that gemara accessible to everyone.

Art Scroll published its first translation and commentary of kisvei kodesh, M'gillas Esther, in 1975.  I started on that course that would lead eventual lead to my becoming a frum, orthodox Jew in 1978 or so.  By that time, there were many, many resources available to ba'alei t'shuva.  Today there are so many quality resources available that it is hard to imagine what any Jew from America will be answer on Yom HaDin why he did not excel in avodas HaShem.  Tinok sh'nishbah?  Lack of knowledge and no resources?  Are you kidding?  Even Amazon has Art Scroll!  Budget is tight?  There are very high quality and freely available resources on the internet.

Now, if you had not been frum in the 1950s, you certainly could have claimed tinok sh'nishba and lack of direction.  Forget "no ArtScroll"; try, "no good english translation at all".  More than that, it wasn't at all cool to be a ba'al tshuva.  No outreach groups, no daf yomi, no shuls to help you learn how to daven, how to make shabbos, how to make a seder... how to be Jewish.  And yet, miracle of miracles, some Jews found their way.  The struggled and fought and excavated their way to a life true Torah observance.  They opened the gates of heaven to release the infusion of k'dusha into the world that has fueled ArtScroll, Ohr Soamayach, Aish HaTorah, Shma Yisrael Torah Network, and on and on and on.

On 16 Adar (Feb26)... just last Tuesday, one of those g'dolei ba'alei t'shuva, Chaya Leah bas Yosef (Lois Lefkovich) left this world.  She fought to open great vaults of k'dusha that had been locked away for so long.  We are all living on the wealth of Torah that she struggled to provide for us.  It was a labor of love undertaken to know her Creator.  I can testify that it was a labor of love, because to me (and so many others) she was Bubbie Lois.  She took us all in and made us her family.

If you are a ba'al t'shuva, then you owe Bubbie Lois a tremendous debt of gratitude.  You can turn that thought into action by signing up to learn mishnayos in commemoration of the her shloshim:
Mishnayos study in memory of Chaya Leah bas Yosef (Lois Lefkovich), a"h.
If you are not a ba'al t'shuva, there is no time like the present. I'd hurry if I were you (actually, I already signed up for Oholos); opportunities like this are rare indeed.


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