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Parshas Ki Sisa - In the Merit of....                            17 Adar I 5779

02/21/19 14:01:52

Feb21

This Dvar Torah is L’Ilui Nishmas Imi Morasi Yocheved Bas Tzvi on her 2nd Yahrzeit 17 Adar

Last Motzai Shabbos I had one of the most delightful experiences in Israel. Fifteen post high school students learning in Yeshiva from our Beth Jacob family got together for a Melava Malka in Yerushalayim. At first, I was skeptical of the idea and then became concerned about the logistics, especially when we found out restaurants don’t take seating reservations on Shabbos night because they are jam packed. With Siyata Dishmaya (and the Rebbetzin’s management), what surely looked like what might become a natural disaster turned out to be a most successful get-together. Everyone enjoyed the company, reuniting with friends from the Alta Heim while relishing a good meal.

Today’s generation takes for granted the opportunity of learning in Israel following high school graduation. The concept of post high school students taking a year or two or more of learning in Eretz Yisrael has grown to become the norm over the last fifty years. What began as a single year abroad has blossomed into multi-year learning and, in many incidences has attracted some to join the IDF. Others choose to remain, making Aliyah. It is a tremendous zchus/merit for one to learn in Israel. Not everyone has the benefit or the merit to do so. Not to take anything away from those who are able to, but it has become much easier over time. My Rebbi, Rabbi Berel Wein YB”L, often described the love the previous generations had for Eretz Yisrael. He remarked, “Our grandparents would have trekked through Europe barefoot in the snow if they could reach the shores of Eretz Yisrael to learn Torah and live in Eretz Yisrael.” So, the open question: Why are we so fortunate to be given this benefit?

Our generation in general has witnessed an incredible increase in the learning and spreading of Torah. Only last Sunday our own Rabbi Danzger participated in an incredible event known as the Shasathon whereby hundreds of study partners learn approximately ten daf (20 pages) of gemara in one day, collectively beginning and completing the entire Talmud consisting of 2711 folios. Many of the participants raised money for an organization helping couples with infertility and other Shalom Bayis issues. Rabbi Danzger and his brother raised the sixth highest amount from the three million dollars donated. The individuals who participated had the merit to be a part of this monumental task. Many people think, “Oh, anyone can just do this.” I’m not convinced that anyone who wants to be a part of something so large or learn in Israel for an extended period is guaranteed the ability to participate in such an undertaking; it takes something much more than desire, but what is it?

Every day, three times a day in the Amida, we mention our forefathers and, in their merits, afford us protection, guidance, and the will to succeed. This is recognized as Zchus Avos - merits of the fathers. In the same vain Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov did things for the children of Am Yisrael, our more direct forefathers did as well. Someone up the chain perhaps two, three, four or more generations ago from whom we descend did some great things and we are the beneficiaries of their acts. Someone, somewhere, someplace did something that earned some merit which has been awarded to a descendent of theirs. Who knows what act it was, but the result or benefit from it actualized in someone in their family chain the desire and ability to learn Torah. Learning Torah is not only meaningful for thevstudent, it gives great merit for amazing, incredible things to happen to a later generation as well. And so the cycle of merits rolls on so long as the opportunities are seized and something good and positive is done with that opportunity. This may all sound nice, but is there precedent to such a concept in the Torah? While we know there is precedent, where is such evidence to be found?

In this week’s Parshas Ki Sisa the second half of Matan Torah takes place and is not the ending that anyone would have thought of who was privileged to witness the giving of the Torah. As we know, a miscalculation occurred, and Moshe was thought to be late; in fact this purported belief even convinced some that he was dead, allowing the evil doers to strike and seize the moment of weakness of the Jews who felt completely lost. The creation of the Golden Calf ensued and before anyone could realize how far off they had strayed, they were worshipping the Golden Calf. Moshe is told about this by God and descends the mountain, throwing down the Luchos and confronting the people. The Torah states in Shmos 32:26: “VaYaamod Moshe B’Shaar HaMachaneh, VaYomer, Mi LaHashem Elaiy, VaYeiasfu Eilav Kal Bnei Levi”. “And thereupon Moshe stood at the gate of the camp and said: ‘Who is for God, let him come to me! And all the sons of Levi gathered together unto him.’ The Chasam Sofer teaches us that the word Kal or All of the sons of Levi gathered included Korach and his family, despite having disputes with Moshe. When it came to defend the name and honor of Hashem, they were with their brethren to help out.

The sefer Talilei Oros writes a story about the Chofetz Chaim regarding the need to appreciate the gathering of Levi. A student once entered before the saintly Chofetz Chaim and was asked, “Are you a Kohein?” The student replied in the negative, no, I am not a kohein. The Chofetz Chaim asked why aren’t you a Kohein? The student answered because my father is not a kohein nor was his father a kohein. The Chofetz Chaim pressed on and asked why his father or grandfather were not kohanim? The student was flabbergasted and didn’t understand the line of questioning by his Rebbi. The Chofetz Chain then peered into his eyes and said, “Do you know why I am a kohein and you are not a kohein?” Without delay he continued by explaining that following the catastrophe of the golden calf Moshe called out and said, ‘Mi LaHashem Elaiy?’ Who is for God let him come to me.’ At that point all the Levites gathered around Moshe and as a result merited the Kehuna, the priesthood. This included not only that generation, but also their children and their children’s children until eternity.

The Chofetz Chaim concluded by saying that it is from here that we learn the following. In the same manner, through acts of Mesiras Nefesh - self-sacrifice which goes against the majority, they merited the Kehuna. So too, if we answer the call to ‘Who is to Hashem?’ we will also merit that our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren receive special and unique ‘zechusim’ - merits that will help shape and drive their lives in ways they never thought possible.

We are the beneficiaries from previous generations, together taking a stand for the honor of Hashem. We need to do the same for all the generations who will follow us for years and years to come. Through our actions and deeds we will afford great opportunities to our descendants, continuing the unbroken chain of Am Yisrael!

Mon, October 21 2019 22 Tishrei 5780