The Blessing of the Field
A Response By HaRav Moshe Mordecai Chodosh
With the Rosh Yeshiva's permission, and at his request, I shall say a few words. The Rosh Yeshiva discussed how the sinking of the gates of the Beis Hamikdosh in the ground, was what gave the impetus for the rise of the great edifice of the yeshivos and the swelling of the ranks of those learning Torah, which have taken place since the fearsome destruction of European Jewry.
In a related vein, I would like to mention a idea which was often repeated by the eldest son of the gaon and kodosh, HaRav Elchonon Bunim Wassermann zt'l, Hy'd, our teacher, the late Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Elozor Simcha Wassermann zt'l. He would quote the comments of the Daas Zekeinim by the Baalei Tosafos, on the posuk in Devorim 28:3, "Blessed are you in the city; blessed are you in the field." The Baalei Tosafos explain that, " `Blessed are you in the city,' refers to Yerushalayim, which is called `the holy city' and `Blessed are you in the field,' refers to Tzion, as the posuk says, `Tzion shall be plowed like a field.' "
HaRav Wassermann would point out the difficulty here. How can the posuk's blessing, "Blessed are you in the field," be linked with "Tzion shall be plowed like a field," which refers to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh?
Here is the answer, which builds upon the words uttered by HaRav Elchonon Wassermann shortly before he was taken for execution by the criminals yemach shemom, in response to his followers' request that he explain why such horrible events had befallen them. He said as follows (from the notes of HaRav Simcha Wassermann, which appear in Koveitz Maamorim, chelek II):
"Once, someone who knew nothing about agriculture came to a farmer and asked him to teach him about farming. The farmer took him to a field and asked him what he could see. `I see a richly vegetated, attractive looking piece of land,' said the man, who then watched in amazement as the farmer plowed up all the growth, reducing the beautiful green field to low mounds of brown earth.
`Why have you ruined the field?!' asked the baffled visitor.
`Have patience and you will see,' replied the farmer.
The farmer then showed his visitor a sack of plump grains and told him to tell him what he saw. The visitor described the satisfying, inviting looking kernels and was once again shocked to see the farmer ruining something beautiful as he walked along the furrows, leaving seeds all over the field, on the open soil and then covering them over with clods of earth.
`Have you gone out of your mind?' asked the visitor.
To which the farmer once again replied, `Have patience and you'll see.'
Some time later, the farmer took his visitor back to the field and together they looked at the rows of green shoots rising from the furrows, stretching as far as the eye could see. The farmer's visitor smiled broadly.
`I do apologize,' he said. `Now I understand what you were doing. You have made the field more beautiful than ever. Your craft is truly amazing.'
`No,' said the farmer. `We're not yet finished. You'll need to have more patience.'
Another period of time passed and the stalks had completed their growth. The farmer now took a scythe and reaped every stalk, while his guest watched in amazed horror as the beautifully ordered field was transformed into a scene of ugly destruction. Then the farmer gathered the fallen ears into bundles and adorned the field with them. Later, he took all the bundles away, and beat them and smashed them, until they became a mixture of straw and loose grains. Later, he separated the grains from the stubble and then made them into a huge pile, all the time dismissing his visitor's protests with the assurance that they were not yet finished and that he should have more patience.
The farmer now brought a wagon and loaded the grain onto it. He took it to a mill, where he ground up the fertile grains into a suffocating white powder. Again, the visitor complained, `You've taken grain and turned it into dust!' and again, the farmer asked him to be patient.
The farmer filled up sacks with the flour and brought it home. He mixed some of it with water, while his visitor wondered what the point was in preparing this white slime. When he saw the farmer take a lump of dough and shape it carefully into a loaf, he smiled again, however, his smile was short lived, for the farmer lit a fire in the oven and placed the piece of dough inside.
`Now I'm sure you're crazy!' cried the visitor. `After all your work, you're going to burn what you made?!'
The farmer looked at him and chuckled. `Didn't I tell you to wait patiently?'
At last, the farmer opened the oven and took out a crisp, golden loaf, which was giving off an appetizing aroma. `Come,' said the farmer, as he led the way to the kitchen, cut a slice of bread, spread it with butter and offered it to his guest, who had only just calmed down.
`Now,' he asked, `do you understand?'
Reb Elchonon concluded his words saying, "The farmer is a parable for Hakodosh Boruch Hu. We are the fools, who don't even have the beginning of an understanding of His ways, or of their ultimate outcome. Only at the culmination of the process, will Am Yisroel understand why it all happened. When Moshiach finally arrives, we will know why all of this had to take place. Until that time, we must gird ourselves with patience and have faith that everything, even what appears to be destruction and suffering, is part of a process that will lead to good and to pleasantness."
This is the meaning of the comments of the Baalei Hatosfos. The posuk says that, "Tzion will be plowed like a field." If it would have said, "Tzion will be destroyed", then there would certainly be no place to link it with the posuk, "Blessed are you in the field." However, the truth is that although the churban appears to be destruction, it really represents the plowing, which led to the sowing, from which the academy of Yavneh and it sages sprouted, to which the words, "Blessed are you in the field" can certainly be applied.
All the surviving bnei Torah, who consume the fruits that have sprouted from the fearsome plowing, and the members of our yeshiva in particular, which bears the name of our master, the gaon and kodosh HaRav Elchonon Bunim Wassermann ztvk'l, are duty bound to immerse themselves with renewed strength and vigor, into toil over Torah, so that the sacrifices made by the martyrs, should not be in vain chas vesholom, and to sow the field after the plowing. Then, the merit of the kedoshim, and in particular the merit of our master Reb Elchonon Bunim, will support us and the redeemer will come to Tzion.
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