One of the greatest treasures that we have as the Jewish people is our tzadikim, our truly righteous people. Many people underestimate the global benefits that we accrue from our gedolim. The Torah teaches us, “Vatamas sham Miriam vatikaveir sham v’lo hayah mayim la’eidah – And Miriam died there and was buried there (in the desert) and there was no more water for the entire congregation.” For forty years, the Bnei Yisroel were recipients of a stupendous miracle: A mobile rock followed them during their sojourn through the desert and miraculously gave water to millions of people and their animals. As we sing about in Hallel, “Hahofchi hatzur agam mayim, chalomish l’mayno mayim – He switched a rock into a marsh of water, a flint stone into a veritable wellspring.” Imagine, a rock giving more water than Niagara Falls. When Miriam died, this miracle abruptly stopped. The Tiv HaTorah says this teaches us the power of a righteous person. Millions of men, women, and children had water to drink in the merit of one woman and when that merit ended, the spigot was turned off.
The Gemora teaches us in Sanhedrin, Who is an apikores? If we were asked this question, we would simply say, a heretic, an apostate, a disbeliever. But, the Gemora says something else. The Gemora teaches that it is one who says, “Mai ahani lon Rabonan – What do the Rabbis do to help us?” All they do is sit with their books; they are parasites. It is important for us to realize that when Reb Chaim Kanievsky, Shlit”a, sits and learns day and night, he is protecting us from plagues and tornadoes, terrorist attacks and car accidents.
The Mincha Belulah says that the water ceased when Miriam died midah kneged midah, measure for measure, in retribution for the fact that the Bnei Yisroel did not shed tears over her death. The Tzror HaMor says the Canaanites were allowed to attack the Bnei Yisroel because the Bnei Yisroel did not protest when Hashem told them that Aharon needed to go up the mountain and die. This stiff-necked people should have mounted a picket line and a mass prayer rally to petition Hashem to spare Aharon. Only afterwards does it say Vayivku al Aharon… kol Beis Yisroel, that all of the House of Israel cried. Where were they before? Indeed, from the very fact that all of the Bnei Yisroel cried, the Sfas Emes extrapolates Aharon’s incredible merit for the congregation. He says that it proves that during the entire forty years in the desert not one person was killed b’shogeig, accidentally for if one was, he would have been exiled to the camp of the Levites and would have been set free upon the death of Aharon. Then, at least, that person would have been happy upon the demise of Aharon. Thus we see the power of a Tzadik, on his watch not one person was killed accidentally for four decades!
We can also see the extraordinary power of a tzadik by the fact that the mabul-the great flood was delayed and the entire world was spared for seven days to mourn properly the righteous Metsushelach – so not only did Metsushelach save the entire world during his long life, but even upon his demise he still saved the world for another seven days.
The Gemora tells us that every day a Bas Kol emanated and announced that the whole world is nourished because of Chanina B’ni, in the great merit of the great Rav Chanina ben Dosa. This Heavenly Echo, I believe, was not just a lesson for that generation. Rather, it’s true for all generations. Our economic success hinges greatly upon our righteous ones.
The Yaros Dvash therefore recommends that we have these benefits in mind, when we say the blessing of Al HaTzadikim, for the righteous ones, in our shmone esray. And as we mention the Tzadikim and Chasidim we should pray passionately, that Yeh’mu Na Rachamecha, they should be granted Your mercy, for the safety and serenity of the world rests upon their shoulders.
In the merit of the righteous ones, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’ articles.
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