Thursday, February 21, 2008

ViChayei Olam Nata Bisocheinu - Purim Katan

As I’m sure many of you know, today was Purim Katan. Aside from it being the 14th day of Adar Rishon and a day of minimal levity it is also the Yartzeit of the late Rav Shimon Schwab Zt”l….

Tonight in the Yeshiva University’s main Beis Medrish, Rabbi Elchanan Adler Shlit”a addressed the student body in an intriguing and thought evoking speech. He reflected upon a major part of this week’s Parsha.

In this weeks sedra we learn of the infamous occurrence with the Golden Calf. Many meforshim commenting on this grave sin, mention that the causers of this despicable act were not from Jewish decent but were in fact Egyptian converts (Eirev Rav).

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz Zt”l asks in his work Sichos Mussar, many people seem to find comfort in the fact that it wasn’t the Jews themselves who originally sinned but that it was the non-Jews who directly distorted the Jews ideas. Rav Chaim says, unfortunately there should not be any comfort found in this. The Egyptians saw and even experienced all of the miracles that G-d performed in Egypt and at the sea!

How is it possible that even the Eirev Rav could have sinned so gravely after experiencing these unbelievable events?!

Rav Chaim answers, that often times we have experiences which give us momentary highs. At the point of theses temporary euphorias we believe that we have been eternally changed. Shortly after the high leaves however, we realize that it was nothing more than a mirage.

When the Eirev Rav saw all of the miracles that were performed by G-d in Mitzrayim they were mesmerized. This placed them into a momentary trance that had them following the ways of klal yisrael up until mamad Har Sinai. Unfortunately this love of Hashem was only a quick fix and left immediately after they were “abandoned” my Moshe at Har Sinai.

Rav Adler recalled a specific meeting that he once had with Rav Shimon Schwab Zt”l. Rav Schwab told him a story that involved the true meaning of the words, “Vichayei Olam Nata Bisocheinu”.

As a child R’ Schwab had the opportunity to meet the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim barded the child (R’ Schwab) with rhetorical existential questions. The main one being, “where will you be in 100 years?” “where will you be in 1000 years?” “where will you be in 1,000,000?” After each question the Chofetz Chaim appropriately answered with increasing emotion, “with the Ribbono Shel Olam!”

R’Schwab commented that when a person says “ViChayei Olam Nata Bisocheinu”, it should not be a temporary fix, but it should be something that is permanently ingrained within each and every one of us. We should truthfully believe that we are and will always be with the Ribbono Shel Olam.

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