By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
The Medrash informs us of the two people who were the two wisest gentiles of all time. The first one we are very acquainted with. None other than the infamous Bilaam. The second, however, is not a household name and I’m pretty sure that most of my dear readers have never heard of him. He was a world renowned wise man by the name of Avnimus HaGardi, Avnimus the weaver. The Medrash then relates that all of the nations of the world asked for a meeting with Avnimus. Each nation sent a representative to this summit and they posed the following urgent question to him. “Is there a way for us to get rid of the Jews?” (This question sounds very familiar doesn’t it? Paroh had the same question. So did Haman. So did Sancherev and so did Hitler.) Avnimus gave them the following answer. You must go to their synagogues and study halls and observe whether you hear the sound of their children learning and studying Torah. If you do, then you will certainly not prevail over them. For the verse says, “Hakol kol Yaakov,” if the voice is the voice of Yaakov, then the Yadayim of Eisav, the hands of Eisav and all enemies of the Jews will hold no sway over them.
In a similar vein, the Gemora teaches us in Makkos [10a] that the verse states, “Omdos hayu ragleinu b’shorayich Yerushalayim,” which the Gemora expounds to mean, “When are the feet of our soldiers firm and successful at the battlefield? When Torah is studied at the Gates of Yerushalyim.” The Israeli air force, its elite troops and its secret intelligence systems are only successful when there is plenty of Torah in the Gates of Yerushalayim. When the wicked Roman General Titus descended upon his murderous assault of Yerushalayim, there was something that he was obsessively curious about. He couldn’t wait to invade the Beis HaMikadash and feast his eyes on the contents of the Kodesh HaKadoshim, the Holy of Holies. He had heard that this was a room that no one was allowed to enter except for one day of the year, Yom Kippur, and even then only one person was allowed to enter and that was the Kohen Gadol. He wanted to see what was so special inside of that room.
When he breached it, he was shocked to find a box containing the Torah and, on top of it, the luchos with angelic Keruvim in the shape of a young boy and young girl. He could not comprehend what was so special about the contents of the room. But we know. We understand that the secret of Jewish survival is pure children learning Hashem’s Torah. As we are taught, “Ein haolom miskaiyem ela bishvil hevel tinokos shel beis raban – The world only survives because of the learning of school children.
During the scary time of the scud missile attacks against our people, when the Israeli government gave everybody gas masks and even a packet of injections in case there was, G-d forbid, a chemical warhead on one of the scuds, a group of kindergarten teachers approached the then poseik hador, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt”l, Zy”a, with the following query. They wanted him to cancel class for the young grades until the danger passed. These young moros posed the following: If there is an alarm, how are we supposed to put gas masks on 30 frightened children. On which do we put the mask first? And what if we have to give injections? Rav Shlomo Zalman categorically refused to shut down the classes. He explained that if we do, it is then that we will really be in danger for as we said, the world survives on the learning of these pure children. If we stop that, G-d forbid, then we could be in real danger.
When Yaakov had his famous fight with the angel, we are taught that it was the infamous Sama-el, none other than the Angel of Death. And the Torah informs us, Vayar ki lo yochol lo – The angel saw that he couldn’t prevail on Yaakov.” The lesson of this story is a profound one for Yaakov was the man of Torah, the yosheiv ohalim, the dweller in the tents of the Academy of the Shem and Ever and as such the angel had no sway over him. So let us reevaluate if we spend enough time daily upon our Torah, let us make sure we marry people who will study Torah daily, let us raise our children to understand that the centrality of Yiddishkiet is Torah and in that merit may Hashem bless us with long life, good health and everything wonderful.
Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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