Wednesday, September 08, 2010

don't ask!

I have been swamped with work and sadly have had no time to think, much less to write, and here Rosh Hashana is upon us already! I just want to highlight a beautiful Midrash (in Parshas Emor) that I heard pointed out by R’ Meir Goldvicht and just saw discussed in the Shem m’Shmuel:

בחדש השביעי ר' ברכיה היה קרי ליה ירחא דשבועתא שבו נשבע הקב"ה לאברהם אבינו ע"ה, הדא הוא דכתיב (בראשית כב): ויאמר בי נשבעתי נאם ה'. מה צורך היה לשבועה? ר' ביבי בר אבא, בשם ר' יוחנן אמר: עמד אברהם אבינו בתפלה ותחנונים לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא ואמר לפניו: רבש"ע! גלוי וידוע לפניך בשעה שאמרת לי (שם כב): קח נא את בנך את יחידך, היה בלבי מה להשיבך והיה בלבי מה לאמר אתמול אמרת לי: כי ביצחק יקרא לך זרע ועכשיו אתה אומר לי: והעלהו שם לעולה?! אלא כשם שהיה לי מה להשיבך וכבשתי את יצרי ולא השבותיך, (תהלים לח): כחרש לא אשמע וכאלם לא יפתח פיו, כך כשיהיו בניו של יצחק באים לידי עבירות ומעשים רעים תהא מזכיר להם עקידת יצחק אביהם, ועמוד מכסא הדין לכסא רחמים ומתמלא עליהם רחמים, ותרחם עליהם ותהפוך להם מדת הדין למדת רחמים. אימתי? בחדש השביעי:

The Midrash explains that when commanded to perform the akeidah, Avraham had every right to turn around and question G-d. Hashem had promised Avraham that his family line would continue through the lineage of Yitzchak. Yet, here Avraham was, called upon to sacrifice this son in whom all his hope for the future was invested. This question had to power to force Hashem’s hand and release Avraham from his mental anguish and the trial of the akeidah. Yet, Avraham was silent – he did not ask, and instead simply obeyed the plain meaning of Hashem's instructions.

After the akeidah, Avraham asked for one more gift in addition to Hashem’s blessing. “Just as I could have challenged you and questioned your words, but was silent,” said Avraham, “So too, when my descendents come before you with all their sins and faults and evil deeds, don’t question them – remember the akeidah instead.”

Chodesh hashevi’i,” the seventh month, alludes to this oath, the “shevu’a,” taken by Hashem to not question us, to overlook our defects. When the once-a-year guy saunters into shul on Rosh HaShana or Yom Kippur with the satin colorful yalmukah perched on his head like a tepee, with his bar mitzvah talis wrapped his shoulders, Hashem doesn’t ask, “Yankel, where have you been? Where were you on Shabbos, where were you on Yom Tov? Where are your children, your grandchildren?” Hashem doesn’t ask questions -- instead, He silently remembers the akeidah and grants us another year.

I don’t think there is some magical formula that grants us dispensation from din because our great-great ancestor Avraham had an unquestioning commitment to G-d. What the Midrash perhaps means is that the unquestioning commitment of Avraham is inside each one of us as part of our spiritual genes. Davka the once-a-year guy who doesn’t understand what we believe, why we believe, how to believe, yet puts all those questions aside and shows up anyway proves the point. Maybe it’s just a cultural thing, it’s just the thing Jews do this time of year no matter what you do the rest of the year, but maybe it’s also that little piece of Avraham left inside that pushes aside all the questions and objections and better things to do and brings a person to where he should be.

Kesiva v’chasima tova to all!

No comments:

Post a Comment