Torah Tidbits

2 September 2014 / 7 Elul 5774
Issue 1027
Shabbat Parshat Vaychi
December 27, 2012

Chizuk and Idud

CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim not yet Olim respectively

Yaakov calls his children together to reveal to them that which will transpire at the “end of days” (B’reishit 49:1). Rashi quotes the Talmud Pesachim 56a - that at that moment Yaakov’s prophetic powers waned as the Shechina had left him. Yaakov feared that this was, perhaps, a result of the fact that one of his offspring had strayed from the true path. Just as Avraham had witnessed a similar occurrence with Yishmael, and Yitzchak with his son Eisav, Yaakov thought that one of his own sons was no longer worthy of continuing the family tradition. Sensing this, Yaakov’s sons proclaimed in unison, “Shema Yisrael” - “Listen our Father Israel, just as you believe in one G-d, so too, is our belief as well”.
When Yaakov heard this proclamation, he replied, “Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuto - Blessed be His Name for ever and ever.”
The prevalent custom is for a dying person to recite the Shema as his last words, however, the original story demonstrates how a person can feel jubilation - even on his deathbed - if he is assured that all his offspring will continue reciting Shema in his wake.
To this day we re-enact this scene emulating the sons’ cry and their father’s reply, as we daily follow the Shema with the silent uttering of the Baruch Shem Kavod.
This notion of the heartfelt sense of relief and consolation upon witnessing one’s descendants following in the spiritual path of their forbears, reminds me of the following story:
Our son, Zev, an Israel army chaplain, led a delegation of IDF soldiers on a trip to Poland. Besides giving shiurim to the group, his mission was to carry a small Torah as he accompanied the group everywhere they went. As they entered the gates of Aushwitz- Birkenau, a Holocaust survivor who was part of the delegation, turned to him with tears in his eyes, and said: “My heart is bursting; my murdered parents and grandparents would be filled with pride knowing that the Torah walks at the head of the Israeli army, and that today Jews will no longer be denigrated and decimated with impunity”.
Today we are blessed and every Jew is granted the opportunity to return home proudly carrying a Sefer Torah in his heart, knowing that he can be a full participant, and not merely a spectator, to the continued unfolding drama of Jewish History.
Israel need not be a ‘spectator sport’.
The oral proclamation of allegiance to Yaakov’s spiritual legacy can be joined with action returning to Israel’s homeland - coming out of the stands on to the home-court of the Jewish People!

Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness, Ramat Shiloh, Beit Shemesh

TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the Orthodox Union’s ‘Torah Insights’, a weekly Torah publication on Parshat HaShavu’a

In This Issue of Torah Tidbits

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