From Today's Hakhel Email:
Special Note Five: With the crisis situation and defeats of the previous weeks, we experience a feeling of fear and strict justice. Bila'am himself exclaimed, "Oi-Mi Yichyeh M'Sumo Kel-- OH! Who will survive when He imposes these?" (Bamidbar 24:23)
It would seem appropriate, especially as we enter the period of the Three Weeks, for each one of us to do what we can to avoid this din, this strict justice, upon us individually and upon our families. After all, Hillel teaches in Avos, "Im ain ani li mi li--If I am not for myself who will be for me?" (Avos 1:14) Last week, we wrote about the importance of Chessed, especially Chessed which is infused with Rachamim--True Mercy. The following are three additional recommendations--life vests supplied in turbulent waters:
1. The Gemara (Rosh HaShana 17A) teaches "For one who passes over his Middos (e.g., does not anger, does not take vengeance, and does not react--even when the situation may completely justify it)--Hashem will, in turn, pass over his sins. The Cheshbon is simple-you control yourself even when justified, and Hashem likewise controls His anger against you--even when justified.
2. The Gemara (Sotah 21A) teaches that the study of Torah does not only save one from punishment once punishment has commenced--but actually even shields and protects one before the onset of any new punishment, as well. The Gemara explains (based upon the Posuk in Mishlei (6:23)), that Torah is compared to the light of the sun, which unlike the light of a candle that eventually is extinguished, successfully provides light for a person day after day. In the summertime, when the Tinokos Shel Beis Rabban--the schoolchildren--study less than when in school, we should try to make up the slack by learning a little more ourselves.
3. It is said that in the name of Gedolim, that one should make Brachos aloud in order to cause others to answer "Amen." This special level of gratitude and faith serves as an affirmation and reaffirmation of Hashem's control over the world, obviating the need for Hashem to remind us personally in other ways. For an excellent review of this concept, you can order the tape "Attitude of Gratitude" (Rabbi Jonathan Rietti and Rabbi Yechiel Spero) from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation at 845-352-3505.
As is evident from all of the above, Hashem is not asking that we stand on our hands, stretch or shrivel, or do 180 degree flips! Some nicely-made Brachos, some additional Torah study, some self-control in situations which last only a fleeting moment anyway, can be literally life-saving--and as troubles reach from Teheran to Emanuel, and from the Mediterranean Sea to Iowa, we must light up the darkness long enough and strong enough for us to survive until daybreak.
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