There is much noise in the world today.
Noise is a sign of sheker.
“[The word of G-d said to Eliyahu], ‘Go out [of the cave] and stand on the mountain before Hashem.’ And behold, Hashem was passing, and a great powerful wind, smashing mountains and breaking rocks, went before Hashem. [Eliyahu was told] ‘Hashem is not in the wind.’ After the wind came an earthquake. ‘Hashem is not in the earthquake.’ After the earthquake came a fire. ‘Hashem is not in the fire.’ After the fire came a still, thin sound. When Eliyahu heard [this], he wrapped his face in his mantle went out and stood by the cave’s entrance, and behold a voice [spoke] to him ….” (I Kings 19:11ff)
This is a loud world. The Children of Yishmael and Edom scream and yell, trying to drown each other out. Their music breaks people’s eardrums. (By the way, why do we imitate it?)
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus zt”l was walking with his son and they saw a crowd laughing uproariously. The son asked, “Why are they laughing so loud?” to which Rabbi Pincus answered, “Because they are so sad. People laugh like that when they have no happiness.”
Chazal describe the ideal man: “Who is destined for a share in the World to Come? One who is modest and humble, who enters bowing and leaves bowing, who learns Torah constantly but doesn’t take credit for himself.” (Sanhedrin 88b) One who trusts in Hashem does not need to grab the headlines and blow his horn.
The Bais Hamikdosh was built in silence; no sound of metal was heard there.
This week we meet our Father Avraham. In a place called Ur Kasdim, in what is today southern Iraq, he came into this world. It is hard to imagine a more forsaken place. From there he traveled to Haran and then followed the command of Hashem to travel onward to the Holy Land. Did anyone hear Hashem speaking to Avraham? Did anyone hear the words by which Hashem created the universe? Did anyone hear Hashem speaking to Moshe Rabbeinu? During Shemoneh Esreh no one hears us speaking to Hashem.
The most powerful words are uttered in silence.
I personally do not pay attention to the media; all one gains from the media is confusion and depression. Here is how Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l used to get his “news.” His doctor ordered him to walk thirty minutes every day. At an intersection on Ocean Parkway, where he waited for the light to change, there was a vending machine selling the New York Times (that evil newspaper owned by Jews). While waiting for the light, he read the headlines on the top of Page One. That was enough news for him.
Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Weinfeld Shlita”h spoke last week about one who sees a sota in her disgrace (Bamidbar 6:1ff) and how the Torah places the sugya of the nazir next to this to show that one who sees degradation can be led to immoral thoughts. It is important to shield ourselves from violent images, and improper sounds. It is our avoda to purify ourselves and the world. We are the ones who are going to bring purity into the world through Moshiach ben Dovid and the rebuilt Bais Hamikdosh. The ideal of purity should be in front of us at all times, not the impure images promulgated by Yishmael and Edom.
The nations roar, but the mightiness of Hashem will drown their voice. Erev Shabbos we say, “Like rivers [the evil nations] raised their voice; like rivers they shall raise their destructiveness.”
Radak says the evil nations will roar against Israel like raging rivers.” (Artscroll commentary) [But] more than the roar of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, You [Hashem] are mighty on high ….” (Tehillim 93)
In the Bais Medrash of Kelm, “absolute silence reigned … unpunctuated by outbursts … or dramatic external actions. One of the gabbai’s tasks was to give a bang if anyone raised his voice above the norm and thereby distracted others.” (Artscroll Rav Dessler, p. 52) Our gadolim value silence and deep concentration upon the words of Torah.
Avraham Avinu brought purity into a corrupt world. Quietly, he taught the world about the existence of Hashem, bringing them under the wings of the Shechina. The nations of the world rage and scream, but we speak quietly, bringing sanctity into the world.
“Avraham was worthy of being created before Adam, but Hashem said, ‘Perhaps Adam will spoil things [by sinning], and there will be no one to set things right. Therefore, I will create Adam first, so that Avraham will come and repair what he spoils.” (Beraishis Rabbah 14:6, cited in The Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities)
In the quiet of the night, when no one sees, the Great Ones learn Torah, bringing the Shechina into the world. May the voice of our enemies soon be drowned out by the sound of the Shofar Gadol with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid.
Bais Hamikdosh: Holy Temple
Chazal: The rabbis of the Mishna and Gemora
Edom: The children of Esav, who hate Am Yisroel
Eliahu: Elijah the Prophet
Nazir: A person who vows to abstain from wine
Shechina: Presence of Hashem
Sota: A woman suspected of adultery.
Sugya: Subject in the Gemora