Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Night the Al-mighty Smiled

Rav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky zt"l once quipped that after Tu B'Av, someone with clear and pure ears can hear the shuffling of the arranging of the chairs for the Heavenly judgment. Perhaps, a similar sentiment may be shared regarding the Siyum Hashas. On the 13th day of Av, 5772, anyone with an open heart could sense that the Ribbono Shel Olam was smiling. Indeed, we caught a glimpse of "chedvesa dileih.” "Chazu, chazu bonai chavivai..."

As I attempt to digest the awesomeness of such an overwhelmingly emotional event, I search for a highlight, something that punctuates the evening.


Certainly, there were moments we won’t soon forget, amongst them Rav Yitzchok Scheiner’s humble and penetrating plea for the fulfillment of a plan to better ourselves in our limud haTorah and concentrate on hilchos lashon hara.


But for me, it was, once again, the dancing and singing. As nearly 100,000 people erupted in unbridled song, I stood next to my eleven-year-old son and we walked one section over to where my family was seated.


Providentially, my father and brothers were handed floor seats from a complete stranger as they entered Met Life Stadium and were now a mere few feet away.


As mesaymim, they had more to celebrate than I, but I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, as we held onto each other and sang and danced. Filled with pride for their accomplishments, a chut hameshulash formed, the unbreakable bond of a grandfather, father and son – three generations – holding onto each other, cherishing Torah Shebaal Peh in the deepest recesses of our neshamos, knowing that something special, even historical, was transpiring. Fighting back tears, I whispered to my son, “Look around, Shmulie. Don’t ever forget this. What you’re seeing now you will remember forever.”


Veshavti bevais Hashem le’orech yomim…


I wanted to sing, but the emotion silenced my voice, substituting the shirah of joy with hopeful tears of “Madu’ah lo ba ben Yishai?” Throughout those truly precious moments, my neshamah rejoiced silently in song, as my eyes danced, soaking in the throngs of thousands celebrating this unforgettable simcha.


And I know I wasn’t alone in feeling this sentiment. I know because I saw a father, across from me, clutching his son’s hand and holding it next to his heart, fingers intertwined, dancing. Yes, he too, was crying.


There were a number of those who were physically unable to dance, some who appeared to be in a quite debilitative state. But their neshamos, too, joined with the rest of ours, side by side. Singing. Yearning. Hoping. Crying.


But something else happened. You see, after I held my father’s hand for a moment, he noticed that the fellow who stood next to him seemed unattached, alone. The other side of the row had apparently headed towards the open area at the end of the aisle. My father reached out to him and held onto his hand, including him in “our” dance. It mattered not that he was now holding the hand of a stranger instead of his own child. For we are all brothers. “Achim anachnu.”


Our joy was one. “Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu…”


The Medrash Shmuel on Pirkei Avos writes, “VehaTorah vehasimcha achim heim, velo yifredu – Torah and joy are brothers; they are inseparable. Ki pikudei Hashem yeshorim mesamchei lev.”


Embracing limud haTorah, we, together, as brothers and sisters, experienced true joy as perhaps never before. And that is what we witnessed and sensed at the siyum.


True brotherhood.


Brotherhood from up high.


And a similar brotherhood down here below.


By now, they’ve begun to disband the largest mechitzah ever. No, not the one separating the women from the men, but the one that prevents the Bais Hamikdosh from descending.


Can one imagine the joy of the Lubliner Rov, Rav Meir Shapiro zt”l, who although biologically childless, leaves a legacy of spiritual children like few others have? This was his children’s chasunah. Who can fathom such nachas?


As a bochur, Reb Moshe Prager learned at Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. One week, he was invited to be a guest at the home of Rav Meir Shapiro for the Shabbos day seudah. It was only Moshe and Rav Meir and his wife, as Rav Meir had no children. Suddenly, an urgent knocking interrupted the seudah. A little boy was missing from his home. Rav Meir immediately arose from his meal and arranged for a search party to find the boy. Within a few hours, the boy was safely returned to his parents. Rav Meir was visibly moved from the emotional reunion. 


Shortly thereafter, Rav Meir resumed his seudah. Once more, his table was lonely and quiet. The childless couple held back their emotions, but the thought of a tearful, heart-laden hug from relieved and ever-grateful parents brought Rav Meir and his wife to tears. Although they immediately regained their composure, Rav Meir’s talmid could not help but notice the raw tzaar of his rebbi and his wife. Their empty Shabbos table was simply too much to bear. 


The Al-mighty knows Rav Meir’s pain, as “golu bonim mei’al shulchan avihem,”the children, Klal Yisroel, are missing from their Father’s table. The Shechinah is suffering. 


The Chiddushei Harim writes that during the week after Tisha B’Av, the Aibishter sits shivah for His destroyed Home. But on the night of the Siyum Hashas, the Al-mighty was reunited with His children, as tears flowed freely. 


Rav Meir’s heart was overflowing with nachas from his children. 


Yes, tonight the Ribbono Shel Olam smiled.


The millions who gave their lives to die al kiddush Hashem, including the one and half million children, must have danced as well, shaking their heads in utter disbelief at a sight they never deemed possible. They fought and died for a night like tonight. No doubt, they, too, smiled.


While the rest of us, their children, cried tears of joy.


The Gemara in Maseches Taanis concludes, “Asid Hakadosh Boruch Hu la’asos machol latzadikim vehu yosheiv beinehem beGan Eden – The Al-mighty will form a circle for the righteous and He will sit amongst them.”


Feeling the palpable Presence of the Shechinah, this night was beyond special.



Because on this night, we caught a glimpse of the Aibishter’s smile.


And a peek into a world that awaits us.



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