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Thoughts from R' Blass Part Two

08/23/2011 04:19:26 PM


I mentioned a month back that I was going to begin to write weekly or biweekly e-mails on various topics both halachik and otherwise. I have been slow getting out of the gate, but with the beginning of the school year I would like to get into a steady pattern.

I spoke in shul this past Shabbos, and again Sunday evening at Mincha, about the ramifications of the Pasuk of the 'V'asafta D'ganecha' which literally means that 'you will gather in your grain'. Rabbeinu Bachya in his classic sefer Chovevos HaLevavos (Shaar HaBitachon Perek Gimmel) explains that this pasuk teaches us that to work, in one's field or otherwise, carries the weight of a  Mitzvas Asei, a positive Mitzva from the Torah. Rabbeinu Bachya spends a good deal of time discussing what is the parameters of this Mitzva to work and what kavanos (intentions) does a person require in order to fulfill this Mitzvah.    

Certainly one can aver that this question hinges on the quality of ones day that is spent not in the confines of the Shul or the study hall. Is somehow one's life at work an extension of their identity as a Jew and as one who strives to develop a relationship with his creator. There are those people who put on Tefillin everyday, or who carve into their day a few minutes to learn Torah or who generally in their professional lives manage to sanctify the Shem HaShem in their every action so much so, that one understands that their professional life is a Mitzva in that it serves as an extension of their basic religious personality. Their is something incredibly impressive and inspiring about those people- men and women who are able to somehow seamlessly integrate and harmonize the seemingly disparate parts of their existence.  

As I mentioned in shul on Sunday night, this paradigm of the integrated religious personality brings me back to painful reflections of Donny Ladell, whose second year yahrtzeit was just this past Monday (the 22nd of Av). Donny managed to take all of the parts of his life: working in a lab in Harvard, volunteering to help build homes in Central America, a wide social network of friends and acquaintances and somehow seamlessly integrate these parts into a Torah personality informed and inspired by Chazal's teachings. Donny's basic goodness, optimism, refined middos and personal integrity were such that in every walk of life he was able to quietly draw people both towards him as well as towards a respect for the Torah that he proudly represented. Two years later Donny's loss is still painfully felt by all who knew him and cared for him, and at the same time his life continues to inspire his friends and family. Our thoughts continue to be with Miriam and Eli and with all those who have suffered the unspeakable tragedy of losing a child.

May our community merit to only share Simchas in the future. R' Blass



Fri, May 7 2021 25 Iyyar 5781