Let’s Make a Difference


By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss

As we march closer to Rosh HaShannah, the Jewish Day of Judgement, the wise person prepares for this critical encounter with the Divine Judge.  One of the best defenses that one can muster is to make oneself needed by as many people as possible.  The Gemora teaches us “HaOlamnidonbiskiraachas – The world is judged with one sweeping, global overview.”  This means that besides inspecting everyone individually, Hashem also takes a look at how all of the pieces of humanity interlock, one with another, and if someone is needed by many people and they don’t deserve to lose him, then he or she is granted another year even if they personally don’t deserve it because of sin or spiritual lethargy.

The Gemora teaches us this all-important concept when it discusses the tragic death of the great tzadikim,Nadav and Avihu, the children of AharonHaKohein.  The Gemora questions why these great people died at the Hands of Hashem.   The Gemora answers that it was because they weren’t married and because they had no children.  This is mystifying since the Torah itself says that they were executed by laser like beams which emanated from the Holy of Holies because theyintroduced a foreign fire on the mizbei’ach, the altar, during the week of the Tabernacle’s inauguration.

So, how can the Gemora advance a different reason than that whichHashem tells us in the Gemora?  The commentators almost unanimously explain that indeed the reason for Nadav and Avihu’s death was because of their extracurricular fire-offering.   However, if they had been married, the fact that their wives would have needed them would have saved them.  Furthermore, even if they no longer had wives, the Gemora advances further, if they had had children, the children wouldhave saved them. In a similar vein, the ChasamSofer, Zt”l, Zy”a, interprets the verse, “V’hosircha Hashem bifribitnicha – Hashem will give you extra because of the fruit of your womb,” to mean that if a person stays active in the tutelage of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, this will add years to their life because they are needed to ensure the passing of the Torah legacy to their descendants.

A great example of how one person can make themselves needed by the masses is the wondrous life of the late RebbetzinJungreis, Zt”l, Zy”a.  Readers of the Jewish Press, for the last half-century, are well aware of the impact the she made in their lives.  In thousands of living rooms across the globe, Friday nights have been illuminated by her sage advice and inspiration for the five decades.Each of us, in our own way, needs to realize that we can make a difference.  But, we must be conscious to make this effort.

Once in a great while, the Jewish Press has to ‘bump’ an article because of lack of space.  When my column is omitted, I complain through my wonderful agent, Shelley Zeitlin, to the trusted Senior Editor, Jason Maoz, he responds, ‘Tell Rav Weiss that now he’s ahead for next week.”  But I respond,‘By leaving out my column, tens of thousands of people will not learn its Torah this Shabbos.’  To me, that is a reality of how I can impact as many people as possible.

I know my readers will be thinking ‘What does this have to do with me? I don’t have a column in a major newspaper.  But the way we answer “amein” in shul encourages those around us to do the same.  So too, when we are quiet by davening or when we come on time for davening, when we are courteous to everyone in the office, when we take the lead in demonstrating charitable pledges, when we exhibit respect to our spouses, when we are a role model on how we watch our children in shul, we are making a difference – and we are acquiring a strong cloaking mechanism of defense.

I’ve mentioned many times the Orchos Chaim l’HaRavLuniel, Zt”l, Zy”a, who states,“Harotzehl’harichyomim, heveimarbehb’achimv’rei’im – If you want to live long, have many relatives and friends.”  For, if we are needed by the lowly and the downtrodden, the impoverished and the vulnerable, or even if we are a staunch friend to another, that is a huge reason for Hashem to extend our lease on life.  So, let’s start getting involved in our shuls, schools, with our relatives, let’s make new friends and help them and in that merit mayHashem bless us all with a New Year of good health, happiness and everything wonderful.

Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.

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  1. Can you believe reform and conservative judaism are still around looking for their treif and toeivah today even as 5777 approaches? Clearly we must daven more often in our safe sanity and prayers and thus find more ways to continue the kiruv.

    But there is good news! They are shrinking and becoming more infiltrated by the last cause efforts of their crimes!

    The Torah forbids toeivah yet there are jews today who keep it as if it is a tree of life.

    Shame on them! We must find Torah and keep our ways! Israel is always with Torah values.

    Thus, I am sure that G-d is indeed changing the strength of Israel for the stronger. It is the way of Torah.