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Thoughts from R' Blass Part One

07/18/2011 04:37:50 PM


I will be beginning to send out weekly or bi-weekly e-mails on different topics both halachik and otherwise. Please feel free to e-mail me with any feedback, comments, or questions.

In reflecting about the unspeakable tragedy in Borough Park that gripped our community last week I found myself thinking about the Gemara at the beginning of Meseches Brachos. The gemara records a conversation between two of the Talmuds sages. One of the Amoraim was suffering greatly and when the second Amora came to visit he asks ' Chaviv Alecha HaYissurim- is your suffering precious to you?'. The obvious question, which the Gemara addresses, is how do we understand this concept of the preciousness or the value of suffering.

One can obviously relate to this question in a myriad of ways, but I always felt that in a way suffering serves to strip a person down to their essence. When a person experiences deep loss, everything that once seemed significant falls by the waist side and what emerges are the deep connections or the deeply felt values that rise to the fore.

The Maharal makes a similar point in discussing Bnai Yisroel's exodus from Egypt. The Maharal essentially said that Bnai Yisroel couldn't leave Mitzraim until they had reached the 49th level of impurity so that they could be in a total state of darkness, only when they had become completely stripped as a nation, only when they had felt the pure and unadultarated connection with the Ribbono Shel Olam could they truly experience the joy of the redemption. A nation, like a person can experience becoming stripped down to one's essence. In a way there is a chavivus- a preciousness to that process and to seeing what emerges from that process.

In a real way, that is something that I believe our community experienced last week. The search and then the gruesome discovery of the body of an eight year old Chassidish boy stripped the Jeiwsh community down to its core and what was revealed was an incredible sense of National oneness. When push comes to shove a mother from Monsey can't sleep because of the heaviness of heart of a mother from Borough Park. The word Rachamim, the defining characteristic of the Ribbono Shel Olam and of Am Yisroel comes from the word Rechem- womb. At heart we need to feel, and we do feel, that we are disparate parts that emanate from the same source and that we have all experienced, and continue to experience, collectively both the joys and sorrow of a nation. In a way there is a preciousness in that sorrow.

We should only experience joy moving forward, and when we don't we should feel the presence and comfort of Am Yisroel that ushers us through times of incredible darkness.

Warmly R' Blass

Fri, May 7 2021 25 Iyyar 5781