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Weekly Chizuk


Stand a Chance

"Speak to the people of Israel, that they take me an offering. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." (Shemos 25:2, 8)

Adapted from Ha'aros v. II, by Moreinu v'Rabbeinu HaGaon HaTzaddik Rav Zeidel Epstein, zt"l, p. 135

Chazal interpret, "It doesn't say, 'in it.' Rather it says, 'in them,' meaning: in each and every one of them." (Editor's note: This is not a quote from any known Chazal. However it is quoted extensively by the commentaries and is treated as if it originated from Chazal. See Kli Yakar on Shemos 25:3, 26:15, and 39:43, Nefesh Hachaim Shaar I chap. 4, Meshech Chochmah 29:18, Sefas Emes parshas Terumah, ", et. al.)

Hakadosh Baruch has promised each and every member of Klal Yisroel that he has the ability to attain the level of "I shall dwell among them," in each situation and in every time. It just depends upon your present spiritual level and how much effort you put in.

One of the first questions they ask a person upon his passing is, "Did you await anxiously the salvation?"(Shabbos 31a). Usually we interpret the word as waiting for, believe in, hope for the future final salvation, the coming of the Moshiach.

However, there is another meaning to this phrase: a person has to recognize that everything, every move of his, depends upon Hakadosh Baruch Hu's help. One must anticipate, wait for, and hope for his own personal salvation.

The wicked man watches out for the righteous man and seeks to put him to death. The Lord does not leave him in his hands (Tehillim 37:32-33). Chazal (Kiddushin 30b) interpret this wicked man as the Satan, the Yetzer Ha-ra. Therefore the possuk is telling us that if it weren't for Hakadosh Baruch Hu's help, one couldn't stand up against the Yetzer Ha-ra. And the Yetzer Ha-ra is always standing right next to you to trip you up. So you constantly need Hakadosh Baruch Hu's assistance. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning, until you go to sleep, each move you make you need Hashem Yisborach's mercy and loving-kindness to help you and ensure that every move should be successful. This should be a person's constant thought through the day.

The Shulchan Aruch starts off with the very basic and all-encompassing principle that "I put Hashem before me continuously." This is quite strange. Only very lofty individuals have reached such a plateau that they put Hashem before them all the time. How can the Shulchan Aruch begin with this and instruct even beginners to conduct themselves in such a manner?

We can say that this teaches us that there are many levels of this cognizance of Hashem. True, there are lofty people who see nothing else but Hashem. When they look Heavenward they immediately detect the handiwork of the Creator, "When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established" (Tehillim 8:4).

We common folk, however, haven't yet reached this awareness. Yet from time to time we can remember that Hashem Yisborach is with us and ready to help us at all times.

This is the underlying meaning of the question, "Did you anticipate the salvation?" During your lifetime did you live with the constant awareness that Hakadosh Baruch Hu will bring about your salvation?

* * *

There is a story I heard many years ago which has resurfaced recently. I wish to share it with you.

There was a young Talmud scholar who used to visit the Hebrew University Library where he could study ancient and rare manuscripts. One day after eating lunch he proceeded to recite the Grace after Meals, Birkas HaMazon, sufficiently loudly that the young librarian was able to hear him.

After he had finished, the librarian approached him. She, too, had had some level of traditional Jewish background, and knew the words of the "Bentching" -- and recognized an unfamiliar addition. Near the end of the third blessing, in the phrase "that we not be embarrassed or humiliated, forever," he had added "v'lo nikashel," "and we will not stumble," after "humiliated."

This is said according to the custom of several Chassidic groups, and also in the Sephardic (Eastern) form of this blessing, but the librarian was totally unfamiliar with it. When this young man said that this was his custom, and insisted that it was his family tradition, they debated the issue for some time. She proceeded to get out several "bentchers" (booklets with Grace, Sabbath songs, etc.), of which the HU library had many, and showed him that none of them had this passage, proving her assertion that there was no such version.

Several days later, this young man was able to find a bentcher that indeed contained his version of the passage. He bookmarked the page, circled "v'lo nikashel" in bright red marker, and sent it off to the librarian courtesy of the HU library.

About a year later, he received an invitation to a Jewish wedding. He recognized neither name on the invitation, but in accordance with Israeli custom, he went anyways. He approached the groom, and saw that he didn't recognize him by face either. He inquired, and the groom responded that he had been invited by the bride.

So he approached the bride - and recognized her as the librarian with whom he had debated the benching! And she proceeded to explain why their one interaction had warranted an invitation to her wedding, conducted in accordance with Jewish tradition. This young woman explained that she had been dating a non-Jewish man. Things had gotten serious, and at roughly the same time as her debate with the young Talmud scholar, he had proposed. She told her non-Jewish beau that she needed several days to consider her decision.

Finally, one morning, she woke up and concluded that she loved him, and should marry him. They were going to meet for lunch, and she was going to accept his proposal at that time. But first, the mail arrived at the library, including a small package. She opened the package, and saw the bentcher inside. She opened the bentcher to the bookmarked page, and there it was, circled in bright red marker:

V'lo Nikashel -- and we will not stumble!

If it weren't for Hakadosh Baruch Hu's help, one has no chance against the Yetzer Ha-ra.

Gut Shabbos!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff

Rosh Yeshiva

Yeshiva Gedolah Medrash Chaim

Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood). You can access Rav Parkoff's Chizuk Sheets online:

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