Rosh Hashannah is over. Now, we are in the Days of Penitence. Now, we get the chance to think over how we can improve. We get the opportunity to think about where we want to be next year at this time.
A reader has just sent an essay to me from the ‘Dixie Yid’. I don’t know who that is, but the essay below appears to have been written by Rav Moshe Weinberger. It was written for Parshat Ki Tavo, which we read two weeks ago.
I’d like you to take look at it. Here are some excerpts. Perhaps it will affect how you approach your thinking about next New Year’s Day:
I met with a Jew from Paris this week. From the news alone, one cannot properly appreciate the effect increased Anti-Semitism is having on the Jewish community there. This community is over one thousand years old. But now, the main topic of conversation among Parisian Jews is [not if they’ll move to Israel, but] when and how they will move… .
For hundreds of years, they felt they had found a place of refuge in Paris. But now they simply feel like strangers, like they do not belong. They wish they had a place in France. But they now realize that they must move on to either the next step in their exile or back home to Eretz Yisroel. …
Our people thought, many times in history, that we have found “rest” with various nations of the world. But, sooner or later, they [were reminded that they were] G-d’s wandering dove, longing and searching to find its way home. In the late thirteenth century and early fourteenth century, the nation of Poland guaranteed Jews’ religious and civil rights and invited the Jews to emigrate there. It was a country with nothing and they practically begged the Jews to build a community there. Our people even said that the Hebrew word for Poland (פולין) is a contraction of the words “פה לין, here, you shall rest.” To our dismay, we know what happened to the Jews of Poland during the Holocaust.
The Jews of Morocco used to have a sizable and beautiful Jewish community. Even today, the small community of 3,000 Jews believes that the government of “friendly Arabs” will always protect them. But we see what happened to the Jewish community protected by the Shah of Iran. I have had many students from Persia who showed me pictures of their estates, swimming pools, and mansions with servants from the time of the Shah. Jews had some of the most prominent positions in the government in Iran at that time. But now, the community has dwindled and they are ruled by despots and Islamic extremists. Similarly, the Meshech Chochma [1843-1926] presciently wrote that “If the Jew thinks that Berlin is Jerusalem [as Jews had declared often between the 19th century and the rise of the Nazi Party]… then a raging storm wind will uproot him by his trunk and subject him before a faraway gentile nation…”
…Hashem told his people, who feel homeless and hapless, who are seeking His refuge: “I shall make a place for you.” One of the tzadikim [righteous ones] of the previous generation acutely felt the call to return home just after the Holocaust. The Klauzenberger Rebbe, zt”l, first moved to New York when he left Europe after the War [he had survived the concentration camps]. Some time later, over parshas Ki Savo, the Torah reader reached the psukim [sentences] of the rebuke. He followed the regular custom of quietly and quickly reading the horrible curses that will befall our people if we do not keep the mitzvos [commandments]. But the Rebbe interrupted the reader, calling out, “Louder!”
Confused, the Torah reader paused, not knowing what to do. On one hand, he could not ignore the Rebbe. But on the other hand, the custom is clear. One does not read the curses of the rebuke loudly and slowly. The Rebbe then called out again, “I said, Louder!” The reader was dumbfounded and did not know how to respond. He therefore continued standing there in silence. So the Rebbe spoke up: “Why are you afraid of reading these curses out loud?! We have already endured all of them. We have been through it. It is done. This whole exile is done. I am through here. It is time to return home.”
Indeed, the Rebbe had already begun making plans to return to Eretz Yisroel. The Torah reader began reading the curses loudly and slowly. Many people in the shul began to openly weep as the enormity of everything that they had been through washed over them. Not long afterward, the Rebbe and many of the chassidim returned home to Eretz Yisroel to build the Torah community of Kiryat Sanz.
This year, may the wandering dove, the Jewish people, finally find rest for its weary wings in its true home of Eretz Yisroel with the coming of Moshiach and the arrival of the complete redemption.
Where will you be next Rosh Hashannah?