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Parshas Lech Lecha 5778 - Every Jewish Soul a Shining Star

 

ויוצא אתו החוצה ויאמר הבט נא השמימה וספר הכוכבים אםתוכל לספר אתם ויאמר לו כה יהיה זרעך.

“And He took him outside and said:‘Please look at the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to countthem.’ And He said to him, ‘Thus will be your offspring.’”

The literal meaning of this verseis that after the coming of Moshiach, Hashem will show Avraham the multitudesof angels that were created from the mitzvos performed by hisoffspring – because, as we know, every mitzvah performedcreates an angel. “The good deeds of the righteous are considered theiroffspring.” The billions of angels/offspring of Avraham and his children willbe beyond calculation.

The words of the Torah hold meaningin every generation. What does this verse teach us for now, while we are stillin exile? There is a profound lesson in this verse, which the following incidentbrings to light:

After the Holocaust, there wereunfortunately some survivors who lost their faith due to the tremendoussuffering they endured. Tragically, there were survivors who became bitter andcompletely left the Torah, proclaiming that there is no Judge or justice inthis world, G-d forbid.

There is a moving story about onesuch survivor. A religious Jew was traveling to Eretz Yisroel, and foundhimself seated in the airplane next to a secular Jew who spoke bitterly aboutthe holocaust. “My parents, wife and children were all murdered,” hecomplained. “They were completely innocent. How could G-d allow such terriblethings to happen?” He concluded that there could not possibly be a G-d if thisis what happened to the world. The religious Jew tried to change hiscompanion’s perception of the holocaust, but to no avail. After landingin Israel, they each went their separate ways.

The religious Jew wasin Israel for the High Holidays. On Yom Kippur, during the shortrecess after Shacharis, he took a walk around the block of the shul.As he was walking, he noticed an obviously secular Jew walking on the otherside of the street, carrying several packages. It pained him to see someonedesecrate Yom Kippur. And then he suddenly recognized the person as his flightcompanion.

He ran across the street andgreeted the non-religious Jew. “We are about to say Yizkor in shul,”he explained. “Won’t you do this much for the departed souls of your dearparents, wife and children? Won’t you come inside and say Yizkor in theirmemory?”

At first the non-religious personrefused to hear of it, but it wasn’t long before he conceded. As he enteredthe shul, the friendly gabbai (sexton) welcomedhim warmly and patiently helped him through the Yizkor prayer. He asked for theexact Hebrew names of the stranger’s martyred father, mother and wife. Then heasked him for the names of his children. Crying openly, the stranger said thename of his eldest son. The gabbai paled and asked him torepeat the name. The stranger repeated the name once more. The gabbai exclaimed:“That’s my full Hebrew name!”

The shul eruptedin pandemonium. It turned out that the gabbai was a youngchild during the Holocaust. He managed to escape deportation and hid out in thewoods until he finally reached a safe haven. After the holocaust, he came toEretz Yisroel, thinking that he is the only surviving member of his family.After asking a few more questions, it became clear that the middle-aged secularJew was none other than the gabbai’s father.

After witnessing the open Hand ofProvidence, the father turned around completely and became fully religious. Henow firmly believed that there is a G-d who plans everything that transpires,although His Face is sometimes painfully hidden.

This story shows us that even whenit appears as if the light within a Jew’s soul has become extinguished, thereis always a tiny spark that remains alive. When the spark is fanned, it burstsinto a flame and shines brightly.

This is the teaching of this verse:“And he took him outside” – the yetzer hara sometimes managesto take a Jew outside of his faith and says to him, “Look at the heavens.”The yetzer hara argues that G-d’s Face is obscured and thereis nothing to be seen up there. G-d doesn’t exist (ח"ו),he says.

But Hashem responds, “Count thestars, if you are able to count them.” All stars shine, but some of them cannotbe seen with the naked eye. “Thus will be your offspring.” Every Jew is like ashining star, his soul ablaze with the light of Hashem. Not always is the lightvisible, but it is always there.

Because every Jewish soul is ashining star with an eternal light.

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:
Shmuel ben Chaim
Feinberg A"H
5708-5769 9 Shvat

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:

 
 
 
 
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