Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Teves 5760 - December 22, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
"Each With His Camp and Each With His Banner"

by L. Jungerman

"He blessed each with the blessing suited him."

Ramchal explains that serving Hashem includes many varied aspects, missions and tasks. The all-inclusive one is: "Whatever is called in My name, I created it for My glory, formed it and also made it."

In the overall plan of creation, each component is assigned a special task. Every creature has its custom-designed function which only he/she/it can fulfill in this world. And for this end and purpose, he is provided with specific tools, opportunities, structure, setup of conditions, talents, character strengths, tests and challenges -- all together designed to help him fulfill his destiny in life and in Creation.

The blessings of Yaakov Ovinu to his twelve children, the tribes of Israel, were the prototype of all the various roles within the nation-body. He blessed each one individually. Each son merited a custom-designed blessing to fulfill his mission, one that specially suited him and reflected what was expected of him in the future, with a blessing to succeed.

"When the levels and strata are all in order . . . then every one is aware of where he fits in. This is what is written: `Each with his particular blessing did he bless them.' No one is supposed to overstep his bounds, for each one acknowledges his place and does what is expected of him" (Adir Bamorom, Vol. I).

This is a qualitative world outlook. Everything in this world is necessary, but no one is expected to do everything. Each must recognize his particular task. There must be Torah scholars, the tribe of Levi. There must be those who excel in prayer, and because this is their strength and greater preoccupation, the Torah they acquire is preserved through prayer. The nation needs the communally active and the do- gooders, the baalei chessed who devote themselves to helping others. We need the artisans and skilled craftsmen as well as the moneymakers, the Yissochors and the Zevuluns. But this is at a national, comprehensive level.

On the individual basis, each person must seek his special area of expression and function, what he does best, where he fits in best. For "if I am not for myself, who will do my job?" No one else is suited to do what I do best, just as I cannot fulfill the task of someone gifted in different areas.

How can a person know his strengths exactly? The Gaon answers this question in his commentary on Mishlei. When the Jewish people were blessed with prophecy, the prophets had the capacity of reading into people's souls and destinies, and they knew exactly what was the source of each person's soul, what his mission was in life in serving Hashem. This is why the prophets were also called advisors, and why we pray for their return, "And I will reestablish your judges as of yore, and your counselors as in the beginning."

Once prophecy ceased, says the Gaon, we are able to identify our role in life according to our particular character strengths. Every person has tendencies and feels attracted towards certain areas. This, of course, does not mean that if a person is not drawn to any particular thing, he is absolved. We are all obligated to keep the entire Torah as servants of Hashem, whether we like it or not. But where shall we focus our attention? Where will we find expression for our special talents and strengths? This is a question each person must answer by himself.

And conversely, it is also written that along the path one chooses as his tailored destiny, one cannot help but encounter many pitfalls and difficulties. This, after all, is part of the mission, not to coast along, but to contend with obstacles and overcome them by the finish line.

In some cases, the direction and goal is very clear-cut. In youth, when one is in the burst of growth, it is obvious that one must accumulate as much Torah as possible. The fervor, energy and strength of this prime time must be utilized for establishing the foundation that will support a person throughout the remainder of his life.

Whoever chooses to divert his attention by engaging in all kinds of mitzvos `lesheim shomayim' is deceiving himself and forfeiting the gift of youth. He doesn't know what he is doing! That is not his business at this point. "If Torah students toiled purely and wholly in their study," writes the Chazon Ish, "they would be rescuing many others from sin, indirectly, by means of generating and radiating greater purity in this world." The Chazon Ish likens the Jewish nation to a body composed of various organs and limbs, each with its own function. Woe unto that body where the heart assumes the function of the hands or the brain takes over the work of the feet.

Chazal tell that a Levi whose assigned task was to sing in the Beis Hamikdosh once took the initiative to help shut the gates. The Levite responsible for this rebuked him and said, "Go back to where you belong. You are a musician and I am a gatekeeper. A musician who guards the gates deserves death."

No one is free to ignore his particular role and go volunteer to do a task reserved for someone else. A musician who wishes to monitor the gates deserves death.

Each one according to his blessing, according to his role and mission.

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