By Daniel Keren
For almost 30 years, Torah Connections, a Brooklyn-based organization directed by Dr. Aaron Mandel has orchestrated special Kinos programs for the fast day of Shiva Asar B’Tammuz that begins Klal Yisroel’s Three Weeks of Mourning over the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash in Yerushalayim.
Last week, hundreds of men and women packed the Merkaz HaSimcha shul in Flatbush to gain inspiration and hope from a special Kinos that featured the world renowned Rabbi Paysach Krohn and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser who both offered unique suggestions on how to make the Three Weeks more meaningful and something that by our sincere prayers can be transformed into the ultimate celebration of the coming of Moshiach and the end of our bitter and long galus.
Rabbi Krohn, noted Mohel, author of the ArtScroll series of Maggid books and popular lecturer began by noting that “We have come together tonight when everyone in Klal Yisroel is worried about what the next news report will bring.”
Lives Shaken by the Fear of Missiles Launched by Terrorists
Even while we are in the Shloshim for the three martyred teenage yeshiva student from Eretz Yisroel, our attention has been diverted from that terrible tragedy to our concern for the many in Ashdod, Ashkelon and now Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv [and other communities] whose lives are shaken with fear of the hundreds of missiles being launched by our ruthless enemies against us in civilian areas
Rabbi Krohn referred to a very frightening pasuk in the Tochocha. If there is a very terrible episode that happens to the Jewish nation (i.e. the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli yeshiva students or the launching by terrorists in Gaza of missiles against Jewish communities in Eretz Yisroel), and we develop a casual attitude that such bad things are unfortunately normal in life, then Hashem will punish us for such an attitude by dealing with us in a similarly casual manner.
Quoting the Ohr Hachayim Hakodesh
He quoted the Ohr Hachayim Hakodesh whose yarhtzeit was this past Sunday as teaching that in the past when something bad happened, one could reflect that maybe it was a mida kenegged mida from something he or she had done which was wrong.
Once Rabbi Krohn asked Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky why does someone suffer from a terrible stomachache? And the Torah Gadol’s response was that perhaps such an individual should take extra care with regards to kashrus and make sure that all of the food that he is eating is really kosher.
Everyone Should Look for Way to Come Closer to Hashem
Today we are not on the level of the Naviim of old. And we can only conjecture what might be the cause of our problems. Rabbi Krohn noted that his suggestions were just his ideas. But each and every one of us could look for ways to improve in some mitzvah or good deed that will bring us closer to Hashem.
Rabbi Krohn began by noting that something we can all improve upon is how we dispense tzedakah, for we should be inspired by the pasuk that declares Tzedakah saves one from death. What kind of tzedakah should we give?
The Kapischnitzer Rebbe, Zt”l
The Kapischnitzer Rebbe, zt”l, came to America before the Second World War and eventually established a beis medrash in Boro Park where many Yidden were attracted because of his inspiring Avodas Hashem. One time, accompanied by his shamash, the Rebbe made a special trip to the Diamond District in Manhattan to visit the owner of a large jewelry business. It just so happened that the owner was one of his Chassidim and when his secretary informed him that the Kapischnitzer Rebbe was waiting to see him, he quickly left his office to discover how he could be of service to the tzaddik.
Startled by the Unexpected Visit of the Tzaddik
He asked the Rebbe, “Oy! Why did you have to trouble yourself to come all the way to my office? You could have simply come to me in shul this morning after davening!”
The Kapischnitzer Rebbe explained that he since he needed the favor, it was derech eretz for him to go to the makom of the person’s whose assistance he desired. The diamond dealer begged, “Just tell me Rebbe what I can do for you?”
The Rebbe explained that he was coming on behalf a poor Jew whose health prevented him from working. The man’s wife was trying to hold down two jobs and still couldn’t manage to buy food or clothes or other necessities for the family which included many children. Therefore, he was coming to request a large sum of money for this family.
The Diamond Dealer Almost Feints
The chassid pleaded with the Rebbe to tell him how much money to give. The Rebbe answered, “That I can’t do. It has to come from you, but the family needs a lot of money. Please write out the check to your brother.” The diamond dealer almost feinted.
Rabbi Krohn said that all too often we forget about our own close family and friends. We give large amounts of money to impressive mosdos because they give prestigious awards. While it is definitely important to support such institutions, we must first give precedence and not forget our own family. And in this merit we will be deserving of Hashem’s fatherly mercy towards us for He wants us to care about His children, especially those whom we are closely related to.
We Must Believe that Moshiach Can Come Today
Rabbi Krohn said that it is not enough to believe that Moshiach can come at the end of times. We have to believe that he can come today, at anytime, while you are on the George Washington Bridge or while you are out shopping for challahs for Shabbos.
Even if you think that we have a geshmak galus, you still have to make a major effort to long for the yeshua and for this Rabbi Krohn suggested that one try to have extra kavanah when davening the blessing of Tzemach Dovid in the Shemonah Esrai.
The Special Tefillin of the Ohr Hachayim
Rabbi Krohn recalled a story of how just before the Ohr Hachayim passed away he told his wife that when a rich man from Istanbul, Turkey would come and ask to buy his holy pair of tefillin, she should ask for enough money to be able to support herself and the children. However, she was to warn the rich man that he must never speak mundane words while wearing the Ohr Hachayim’s special tefillin. He should only say words of Torah or tefillah.
Sure enough, a rich man came from Turkey and pleaded with the almanah to be allowed to buy the tzaddik’s tefillin. He even agreed to the condition that Ohr Hachayim had told his wife before his petirah that he never utter mundane words while wearing them. And sure enough, whenever the rich man would be wearing the Tefillin, he felt a special and unusually close spiritual connection to Hashem.
A Major Disaster Occurred at the Man’s Factory
Then one day, a young man in his factory came to the man in shul while he was still wearing the tefillin of the Ohr Hachayim. He cried out that a major disaster had occurred in the factory and he needed the owner’s advice on what to do. The man tried to shoo him away. But the employee was insistent and in a careless moment the rich man gave directions on how to solve the factory problem.
Immediately the man sensed that the tefillin had lost its special aura. He took it off and showed it to a sofer who upon opening the tzaddik’s former tefillin discovered that all the osios had disappeared and all that remained was a blank parchment. The rich man was devastated.
A Shocking Revelation of Disrespect Today Towards Tefillin
Rabbi Krohn said that today, he has seen and heard of too many men who are also not careful when wearing tefillin in shul. They disrespect the holy item not necessarily by talking mundane words, but rather by actually texting mundane words to others or checking their emails when they should be davening. If we show such disrespect to Hashem, is it surprising that He has not yet sent us the geulah?
Completing Tuesday’s Shiva Asar B’Tammuz Kinos orchestrated by Torah Connections was the internationally popular Maggid Shiur and author – Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Rav of K’hal Bnei Yitzchok in Flatbush.
Are We Ready for the Geulah?
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser in his Divrei Chizuk asked “Are we ready for the Geulah?” During these Three Weeks, we try to focus attention on desiring that G-d send us the Redemption. But what happens? We forget! We get involved in our own activities and lose sight of the fact that at any moment Moshiach can come and the Bais Hamikdash will be rebuilt.
He explained that one reason for this lax attitude is that none of us today have ever actually experienced the benefits of the Bais Hamikdash or seen the Moshiach. We are like captives who were born in prison. For galus is a prison.
True a prisoner can have a comfortable bed and be given delicious food and provided with cable television. And if he is never released from prison, one might erroneously think that his life is perfect. And in our own galus here in America we are prisoners who think that we have the best of life because we can go on luxurious vacations and enjoy other pleasurable but mundane activities.
We Would Quickly Realize the Unimportance of Gashmius Pleasures
But if we could ever truly experience the ruchnius of the Bais Hamikdash, we would quickly realize just how unimportant and empty all our gashmius pleasures in the seemingly beautiful galus really are. We have to make an effort to understand how important and vital the Bais Hamikdash is and how greater our lives would be if we would merit to have Hashem’s holy sanctuary rebuilt.
Among the diversions that take us away from appreciating the value of coming closer to Hashem with the coming of Moshiach and the restoration of the Bais Hamikdash are such non-frum activities as getting lost in the Internet or enjoying music. Most of the Jewish music that is played at simchas today, Rabbi Goldwasser said are taken from the lowest cultures around us. We have to make a concerted effort to free ourselves from these debilitating influences and we will then be able to develop a truer desire for the geulah.
Major Tisha B’Av Program in Brooklyn
Torah Connections will be organizing a major Tisha B’Av Program in Brooklyn that will attract participants from throughout the New York Metropolitan area. Major speakers from Eretz Yisroel and from around the country will give lectures of chizuk and there will be times for davening. Separate seating is available at the event that will be held on Monday night, August 4th and all day Tuesday, August 5th at the Yeshiva of Brooklyn Boys School on the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue L. For more details please call (718) 998-5822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The above article is written L’illuy nishmas Nechama bas R’ Noach, my beloved wife of almost 30 years who was nifteres last month.