Lately there have been demonstrations in Israel. The forces of chaos are sprouting like mushrooms. What should we do when chaos surrounds us?
I do not think that we can stand in front of the crowd and try to speak common sense to them, because they do not want to listen. They are not looking for wisdom. In fact, their fingers are in their ears; they do not want to hear truth.
This generation acts without thinking.
“A complete person … does nothing out of habit or unintentionally; everything is done with a goal and purpose. I heard the Chazon Ish zt”l praise one Torah Scholar by saying that ‘almost all of his movements are pre-calculated.’” (Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkovitz zt”l)
Every weekday we say the bracha for “da’as.” A prerequisite for a Jew is to think! To be honest, I believe most people go through life without thinking, like robots or machines. Most of our actions are rote. We do things without understanding, and – tragically! – in this we resemble animals.
In this week’s Haftara, we read the famous words, “An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master’s trough. [But] Israel does not know!” How devastating is this indictment!
Does it bother you when you see people – who otherwise look normal – walking down the street talking to themselves? Have they gone insane? Oh, they are on the cell phone! That “explains” it.
Some people walk around with metal devices attached to their ears. What did we do before cell phones? Perhaps we contemplated something serious as we walked. Perhaps we went over words of Torah; perhaps we reviewed matters of Torah Ethics, contemplating life-altering decisions.
But we have become slaves! As it says, “His master shall bring him to … the door or to the doorpost, and … gore through his ear with the awl and he shall serve him forever.”
Enslaved to a piece of metal, we walk around like robots, mentally chained to a voice which comes through this piece of metal attached to our ears. If we do not run away from this addiction, we are in danger of eternal slavery, G-d forbid!
Why is kavana so important? Because we have to understand what we are doing. When I daven I am speaking directly to the King of kings! This is mind-boggling! We should be trembling and crying! (Maybe that is why we have a minhag to shuckle.) Our life is hanging in the balance every second! Why are we blasé?
I hate to say it, but we have a rampant plague in which people race through davening at lightning speed. How can one ask for Life before The King without thinking and trembling with every word?
Among other things, it shows terrible disrespect! Where is honoring the King?
And how can we come before Him in sloppy clothes? In the Bais Hamikdosh every garment the Kohanimwore was mandated in Shomayim! The kohanim stood in Hashem’s Palace! And the King of Israel had a haircut every day!
And we! How do we look when we stand before the King?
My heilige friend, Reb Shloimie Feldinger, has a beautiful chiddush. What is the difference between the two famous speaking animals in the Torah, the nachash and Bilaam’s donkey? The nachash is remembered for evil, but Bilaam’s donkey is our hero, who gave mussar to the archetypal Jew-hater. What is the difference?
The nachash was created along with the animals in the first six days of Creation; the donkey was created “bain ha shmoshos” on the Sixth Day, just before Shabbos.
Listen please to Reb Shloimie’s brilliant words: the nachash spoke to Chava without hesitation a few hours after he was created. The words came gushing out and caused immeasurable harm from which we are still suffering. The nachash spoke without thinking.
The donkey, on the other hand, waited about 2500 years before speaking! He had millennia to consider his words, so he spoke with wisdom. Because he thought before he spoke, his words brought bracha.
Don’t be a nachash! Think before you speak! Think before you act!
Contemplate the perfect days when kings, prophets and kohanim walked in our midst, the days of the Bais Hamikdosh! We had everything and more! And we let go of the endless riches showered upon us by the Master of the Universe! Now, in the darkness of the Three Weeks, when the world is trying to eat us up, we are – nebach! -- eating ourselves!
“Ata chonain l’adam daas … You graciously endow man with wisdom and teach insight to a frail mortal. Endow us graciously from Yourself with wisdom, insight and discernment. Blessed are You, Hashem, gracious Giver of Wisdom.”
Hashem does in fact provide all this if we want it. But we have to work for His gifts. We can attain spiritual perfection, because that is why He created us! But, if we go through life in sleep mode, then we are in danger of staying in Golus – G-d forbid -- until the world collapses. And there is no guarantee where we will end up.
Hashem will rescue us if we open our eyes! There will come a day, may it be soon in our lifetime, when “Zion shall be redeemed with justice and her returnees with righteousness!” (Haftaras Dvarim)
Bain ha shemoshos: Twilight
Chava: Eve, the mother of all mankind
Chiddush: Original Torah thought
Kavana: Contemplation during prayer or when doing a mitzvah
Kohanim: The Priests, descended from Aharon, the brother of Moses
Minhag: Accepted tradition in Jewish life
Mussar: An ethical lecture
Nachash: The Snake
Shemoneh Esreh: Standing prayer said at least three times a day
Shuckle: To bow or sway during prayer