The Jewish Eye
Reb Elchonon - Who Do You Listen To, The Optimist Or The Pessimists?
In the times of old, Am Yisroel had Nevi'im. It seems hard to understand why Am Yisroel had such a hard time doing tshuva, when the Nevi'im were not shy about spreading their gloomy messages. The answer says Reb Elchonon, lied in their counterparts, the Nevi'ei HaBa'al. For every call from the Nevi'ei Hashem to awaken or else, the Nevi'ei HaBa'al would decry them as agents of doom. "Hashem loves you, keep it up", the Nevi'ei HaBa'al would say. Needless to say Nevi'im like Yeshayahu and Yirmiyahu had a rough time getting the message across and were usually on the run afraid for their lives. Not surprisingly even back then people preferred to hear good news.
"Pnei HaDor Kpnei HaKelev" is the hallmark of the days preceding Moshiach, says Reb Elchonon. While there are no Nevi'im, the leaders are like dogs. Although they walk in front, they only go in the direction that the people they are leading want them to go. We are sure we are perfect in the eyes of Hashem. Problems in Eretz Yisroel? Of course says Reb Elchonon, it is because of the Arab leaders incite their people. It is the tactical errors made by our political leaders. It is the fault of the international community who fail to adequately understand and address the problem. In other countries where the Jews are, it is the antisemitic leaders that are causing the trouble. BiKitzur, in a nutshell it is everyone's fault except our own. Instead of curing the real problem, we spend our time debating the best solution for each of the problems that we concoct.
The gemara in Kesubos says Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakkai cried, "Ashreichem Yisroel, when you do Hashem's will, no nation can stand up to you. When we do not, we will be given over to a lowly nation (Arabs according to Rashi, in the words of Reb Elchonon). Reb Elchonon says the word "Ashreichem" how fortunate, goes on the fact that we will be given over to a lowly nation. Why? He says that if we are given over to a mighty nation, we would view it as "the way of the world". The Nevi'ei HaBa'al would have a voice. When Eretz Yisroel is held hostage by a group of powerless bandits, it is clear that this is the Yad Hashem. The voice calling for tshuva is the lone voice being broadcast. Fortunate are we to live in a time where circumstances are so bizarre that the call of the Nevi'ei HaEmes clearly dominate the noise of Nevi'ei Sheker.
Reb Elchonon Wasserman Hy"d was a Talmid and the spiritual successor to the Chofetz Chaim. His voice was Da'as Torah for the generation that was led into to the abyss of the Holocaust. He was a Navi L'Hashem, preaching and beseeching the people to do tshuvah and avert the disaster that ultimately struck. He fought like a lion against the prevailing views o his day, which dismissed Torah as irrelevant and an icon of the past.
Despite his ominous warnings and clear vision about the impending disaster, although he was safely on the shores of the US for a fundraising trip and was beseeched not to go back to Europe, he insisted on being with his Yeshiva where he ultimately met a heroes death, butchered by the Nazis Yimach Shimam V'Zichram.
The Nazis are history, but Reb Elchonon's voice still lingers on and is eerily relevant to our generation. A collection of his speeches were collected and published in Ikvisa D'Mishicha.
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