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8 Tishrei 5762 - September 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Ashreichem Yisroel! -- Reb Yeruchom's Last Simchas Torah

Divrei Torah delivered by HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz, the Mirrer mashgiach, zt'l, on his last Simchas Torah, in 5696 (1936).

HaRav Wolbe writes (in Ho'odom Biyekor, his biographical work on Reb Yeruchom), "We will never forget Simchas Torah with him. He used to give a rousing talk, in great excitement. He would end each section of the ma'amar with the melody of Ashreichem Yisroel, [which] he would sing and dance [to on the platform in front of the Oron Hakodesh], his hands raised heavenward. The group of his talmidim, who were crowded together below, would dance in front of him.

When he finished speaking he came down from the Oron Hakodesh and a dance took place, as tears, prompted by the extreme emotions of holiness, streamed from everybody's eyes. What a glorious sight, to see his hundreds of talmidim, among them truly great men, dancing in tears and in song. Our master and teacher himself once cried out in the middle of one of these rousing ma'morim, "Ich veis nit voss is helter bei'em Borei Olom, der Yom Kippur unzerer, tzu der Simchas Torah! (I don't know which the Creator prefers, our Yom Kippur or our Simchas Torah!)"

Ashreichem Yisroel!

There is a widespread mistake, whereby people think that Hakodosh Boruch Hu loves Yisroel because of the nation's virtues. The truth however is that Hakodosh Boruch Hu's love is not dependent upon any reason whatsoever. His love is that of a father for his son. A father does not love his son because of the son's beauty or goodness. His love springs from a natural feeling that isn't dependent on anything but which results in the father wanting his son to be beautiful and good. Hakodosh Boruch Hu's love for us is the same; it is independent of any reasons.

Love is the secret of the Israelite nation! If this is what we have merited, it is a cause for rejoicing.

Ashreichem Yisroel! Ashreichem Yisroel! Ashreichem Yisroel! Ki becho bochar Elokim!

With this, the Ramban's question on the posuk (Devorim 7:7), "For it is not on account of your numbers . . . " is answered and his question is understood. Hashem yisborach's love is not dependent upon anything -- not on our exalted level and not on anything else! It is independent of absolutely everything! If we have merited that, then Ashreichem Yisroel!

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

The Sifrei comments on the blessing that Moshe Rabbenu gave just before he died, "If not now, when?" This apparently means, that [for] Moshe Rabbenu, who chastised Yisroel throughout his life, from whom not a single word of praise was ever heard, [particularly now,] before he died, [was when he] said "Ashreichem Yisroel"?

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

The entire Torah consists of justice. There are rewards for mitzvos and punishments for aveiros. If we have transgressed, how does it help us if we are "a nation that is saved by Hashem"? (Devorim 33:29)

But the truth is that there is no contradiction. It's true that the whole Torah consists of justice but at the same time, the nation's secret is love -- the love of a father for his son. If the son is unsuccessful on one path, his father leads him along another, until the son ultimately succeeds. This is how Hakodosh Boruch Hu behaves with Klal Yisroel and if this is what we have merited, then

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

Were this not the case, we would have a grave problem: how can we merit the times of Moshiach if justice is followed? How can he come, in view of our many sins? However, our secret is that we are "a nation that is saved by Hashem" and this is also the secret of, "Who is a G-d like You, who forgives sin and who passes over disobedience, to the remnant of His possession," (Michoh 7:18). Vos zenen mir? Ober Yidden zenen mir! (What are we? But we are Yidden!) And if we have merited this then we should be happy.

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

When Moshe Rabbenu went up to receive the Torah, he learned it and forgot it, again and again, until Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave it to him as a gift. "A gift" implies something different, it implies being given something utterly free.

The holy Torah is so pure and gleaming, that Moshe Rabbenu was unable to grasp it and Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave it to him as a free gift. We don't need to do anything at all, just to open our hands and say, "Give us!" And He'll immediately bestow limitless blessings upon us from never ending sources! If we have merited this then,

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

The Torah, which is so vast, can be obtained so easily. The entire Torah, its mitzvos, its commands and its attributes [that it teaches us], are all like matches with which to ignite fire in the soul of Am Yisroel. The fire is already there, all it needs is a spark from the matches to bring it out.

The Israelite nation abounds with light and fire. The Torah, with all its mitzvos and its virtues are matches to the soul of Klal Yisroel. And if we have merited this, then

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

If Torah and mitzvos, and its characteristics and traits, which are exalted and esteemed beyond imagination, are simply matches to ignite the fire within the soul of Yisroel, we can infer from this the tremendous distinction of the soul of Yisroel! And if we have merited this, then

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

The Torah is our inheritance, as the posuk (Devorim 33:4) says, "Moshe commanded us Torah, moroshoh, an inheritance, for the assembly of Yaakov." Chazal tell us, "Don't read it moroshoh, inheritance, but me'orosoh, betrothed," for each Jew has a portion in Torah. And even the learning itself is a side issue in view of this fundamental principle! And for meriting this,

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

Chazal tell us about an am ho'oretz who met Rabbi Yanai, and told him, "You look after my inheritance." This means that [even] an am ho'oretz, who has never learned any Torah, is still a part of the soul of Klal Yisroel and has a portion in Torah. If we have merited this then,

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

Today is Simchas Torah. The foundation of this festival is [Hashem's declaration to Klal Yisroel], "It is hard for Me to part from you." Its foundation is Hashem's love for us. Now that we must part from Him -- one last kiss and one embrace with Him! Our joy is great at the forgiveness and pardon which He bestowed upon us during the Days of Judgment, and at the love which His kissing us during this holy Yom Tov of Succos represents. Our joy is great and this is our prayer to Him yisborach - - that we merit being in the same, wonderful position in a year's time, as we are today; that He sustain us and bestow an abundance of blessing upon us; that we unite to become one unit, to praise Him and to exalt Him! And if we have merited this then,

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

This is what Luzatto refers to when he writes, "Even if you have sinned greatly, my son, do not give up hope, for you are descended from Yisroel, and Hashem will make your path successful. This is the prayer of a rishon who prayed, `I have rebelled and sinned and been remorseful many times, yet I am descended from Yisroel, from the Ovos, Avrohom . . . ' " for Hashem's love of us is independent of anything else. He loves us and is good to us in every situation. If we merit this, then

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

There is an idea, concerning how easy it is to attain Torah, [stated in] an explicit posuk -- one of the pesukim of Malchuyos -- which nobody can argue with: "And [Hashem is] King of Yeshurun, when the people gather, and the tribes of Yisroel are together" (Devorim 33:5). When Chazal tell us that Hashem wants us to [say Malchuyos, "so that you should] make Me rule over you," how are we to make Him our King? How are we to attain this? "And [Hashem is] King of Yeshurun." If there is even a small force standing united -- it doesn't need a lot -- then His rule is apparent. [Even if] just one kind, Yisroel, gathers, because of this -- "And [Hashem is] King of Yeshurun"! It is so easy to make Hashem King! And if we merit this then,

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

The posuk (Malachi 3:16) says, "Then those who fear Hashem spoke, one to the other, and Hashem listened and heard." The posuk doesn't say what they were speaking about, what they said and what advice they gave the community. All it says is that those who feared Hashem were speaking and immediately, "Hashem listened and heard." If we merit this then,

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

And how much more does this apply to us, who have been designated by Klal Yisroel to devote ourselves solely to avodas Hashem! How wondrous is the ease with which we can attain the holy Torah! If we merit this -- and how great is this merit of ours if we do -- then

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

May Hakodosh Boruch Hu help us to meet here in a year's time, with the same countenances and let none of us be ashamed by any other of us and we say -- if we merit this, that

Ashreichem Yisroel! . . .

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