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Words of encouragement from Rabbi Aharon Dovid Goldberg

00:00 / 01:04

Klal Yisroel finds itself today in a tremendous eis tzarah. The events that have unfolded this week where over 1,000 Yidden were killed al kiddush Hashem in Eretz Yisroel have left all of us shattered. Klal Yisroel is worried. This is a time for us to make a cheshbon hanefesh. This is a time of tefillah, teshuvah, and hisorerus. But it is also a time for chizuk. Klal Yisroel has to be mekayem the words “Ish l’re’eihu yomar chazak.” We have to be mechazek ourselves in the things that can help us in this scary time.

The Ribono Shel Olam has many plans and we do not know exactly what the Ribono Shel Olam wants from us. But if we can find something to be mechakzek ourselves in, we have to try to do that. I would like to give over to the tzibbur a hisorerus that I had this year; something that happened to us here in Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland in the inyanim of kavod Shabbos.

The Aruch L’ner tells us that we find historically that a year when Rosh Hashanah fell out on Shabbos is either a tremendously good year for Klal Yisroel or, chas v’shalom, a tremendously bad year, a year of puraniyos. Churban bayis rishon and bayis sheini happened in years when Rosh Hashanah fell out on Shabbos. In our generation, 9/11 happened in a year when Rosh Hashanah came out on Shabbos. The Aruch L’ner explains how he understands why it is like that.

The Gemara says that any year Klal Yisroel chas v’shalom does not blow shofar on Rosh Hashanah will be a bad year, rachmana litzlan. Tosfos says that is talking about a case where they did not blow shofar because of an oneis, but not if they did not blow the shofar because of Shabbos. Then, it would not be a bad year. But if we do not have the zechus of shofar to quiet down the Satan, how are we going to manage? 

The Aruch L’ner gives a mashal of a man who was sentenced to death by the king. He went to his close friends and asked them to be mishtadel for him with the king. Each one said, “I cannot help you.” His wife told him that she had a connection to the king, so maybe she would be successful. She went and the melech forgave him. A few weeks later one of this man’s friends had the same thing – he was also sentenced to death, and his friends would not help him. He said to his wife, “This man’s wife helped him, so maybe you can go to the melech, too.” And she went. The king looked at her and saw there were bruises on her; she did not look good. He asked her why she looked like this, and someone spoke up and said her husband beats her up and does not treat her well. The king said, “If that is how he treats his wife, I am not going to be mochel him.”

The Aruch L’ner says that Shabbos is the wife of Klal Yisroel. We have to understand something about Shabbos. Shabbos is not stam a mitzva. Shabbos is a metzius. There are two mitzvos like this – Torah is a metzius; Torah has feelings. Shabbos is also like that. It is not like a mitzvah like tzitzis or tefillin. Shabbos is a metzius, it is the wife of Klal Yisroel; Shabbos has feelings. That is why there is an inyan of kavod Shabbos; to be mechabed it, to greet it. Shabbos has a koach to be a meilitz yosher for Klal Yisroel with the Ribono Shel Olam. If we do not blow shofar because we are careful with kavod Shabbos, Shabbos protects us with the Ribono Shel Olam; Shabbos says, “Look at my Klal Yisroel!” But the Aruch L’ner says that is only if we keep Shabbos and treat it properly all year round. If we treat Shabbos properly all year round, then Shabbos will protect us in a year that Rosh Hashanah comes out on Shabbos. But if we do not treat it properly all year round, if chas v’shalom we are mevazeh the Shabbos, then Shabbos cannot help us.

The Aruch L’ner says that in a year that we are careful with kavod Shabbos, then Shabbos will protect us. Those were the years that Rosh Hashanah came out on Shabbos that were the best years for Klal Yisroel. And chas v’shalom, there are those years that Rosh Hashanah came out on Shabbos that we were bad to Shabbos.

I have to be modeh to the rabbim that I said this Aruch L’ner to the yeshiva and the mechinah two weeks before the end of the year. I told them that this year Rosh Hashanah will be on Shabbos, so we have to do something to be mechabed the Shabbos. I asked the bachurim, every bachur, that for the last two weeks of the year, every bachur should be at minchah erev Shabbos. The Chazon Ish wrote in a letter that there are incredible maalos and segulos of minchah erev Shabbos. Minchah erev Shabbos is a tremendous eis ratzon. I asked that for those two weeks, every single bachur should be on time, and then we will be mekabel Shabbos with a different kavod Shabbos. 

We did it, Baruch Hashem. The bachurim held it out for two weeks; every bachur was there for minchah. We davened minchah b’hislahavus and we were mekabel Shabbos. And a nes happened to us. On Shabbos, the night of Rosh Hashanah, two bachurim in the dorm went to sleep. They had a lamp in their room that they covered with a towel. At 1:30 in the morning that towel caught fire and it started smoking in the room. B’chasdei Hashem a bachur from the mechinah had stayed up learning leil Rosh Hashanah until 1:30 in the morning. He came back into the dorm, and the smoke from that room was so strong already that he smelled smoke in the hall. He went into the room, he saw that the towel caught fire, and he grabbed it and took it out. The two bachurim that were sleeping – he saved their lives, literally. They had to bentch gomel the next morning. After, I told the yeshiva that we see how the Ribono Shel Olam protected us; the Ribono Shel Olam was makdim refuah l’makkah. We were mechabed the Shabbos and on leil Shabbos Rosh Hashanah the Ribono Shel Olam protected us from a tragedy, rachmana litzlan. I shake when I think what could have happened rachmana litzlan to these two bachurim. Shabbos protects us!

I will say over another maaseh that I know personally. There was a person named Sam Zeitlin. He was not a religious Jew. He was a professional cyclist, training in America to be on the American Olympic team. He had a tremendous koach. Because of the antisemitism going on in the sports world in America he decided to go to Eretz Yisroel and ride for the Maccabees in Eretz Yisroel. If he was going to be an Olympic cyclist, he would go to Eretz Yisroel and ride for them. He came to Eretz Yisroel, and he joined the group training people to go to the Olympics. One Friday night, he came to the Kosel; he knew nothing. All he knew was to say Shema Yisroel. He came to the Kosel and said Shema Yisroel. He saw people davening – he did not know what it meant to daven. I was there at the Kosel that Friday night with my brother Chaim Yosef zt”l. He walked over to us and started talking to us, asking some questions about Yiddishkeit, and we saw he was earnest. I had the zechus with my brother zt”l to talk to him a little bit. We told him, “We will take you to someone who can help you.” We took him that night to a friend of mine from Chicago, Rabbi Gershon Weinberger. He had a house where he used to be mekarev people. We took him to that house, and one thing led to another – he ate there Shabbos night, he ended up as a chavrusa with Rabbi Weinberger… Rabbi Weinberger was mekarev him. He sent him to Bnei Brak to learn in the yeshiva called Magen Avrohom, the forerunner of Aish Hatorah. While he was there, he was still training for the Olympics. He learned in the yeshiva, and he would go for three hours a day to train for the Olympics. That year, they made the tryouts for the Olympic team on Shabbos. He went to them, and he pleaded with them – he was the best person! – he told them that he did not want to come on Shabbos. When he used to ride his bike in the mountains, practicing, he would sing the song “Shabbos hayom La’Hashem. They would not give in; they said, “It has to be Shabbos.” So, he decided he is not going to go to the Olympics. He had become a baal teshuvah, and he was shomer Shabbos, and he gave up going to the Olympics – this was his goal for his whole life! That Olympics was in 1972 in Munich, where the athletes from Eretz Yisroel – the Maccabees – were killed by Palestinian terrorists. He was saved bzchus haShabbos. “Ki eshmera Shabbos Keil yishmereini.” Shabbos has the tremendous koach of protecting us.

Shabbos is a metzius. Shabbos is not a stam mitzvah. Rav Matisyahu Salomon brings that when the Chafetz Chaim finished writing the Mishnah Berurah, all six chalakim, he made a simchah in his house for six days in a row. The first day – Sunday – he made a siyum. He served food with such gashmiyus that the people there were shocked that the Chafetz Chaim would do such a thing. It was a simchah of chelek alef and he spoke about the inyanim of chelek alef. Monday, chelek beis; Tuesday, chelek gimmel; Wednesday, chelek daled; Thursday, chelek hei; and Friday, chelek vav. Everyone who was there thought that they finished the siyum on the whole Mishnah Berurah. But on Shabbos the Chafetz Chaim called them again; he said he wants them to come to another seudah. They asked him why, and he said that Shabbos came to him in a dream. Shabbos had a taaneh that the Chafetz Chaim made a simchah on all the days for the Mishnah Berurah but he did not make one for Shabbos. Shabbos is a metzius! It came and asked the Chafetz Chaim to make a siyum. The Chafetz Chaim made another siyum on Yom Shabbos with inyanim from chelek gimmel and chelek daled, inyanim of Shabbos. Shabbos is a metzius.

I would like to add on to this maaseh and explain why Shabbos came. I think the answer is because Shabbos is really the mekor habrachah. The brachah for a whole week comes from Shabbos! So, Shabbos had a taaneh on the Chafetz Chaim, “How could you make a simchah of six chalakim for the Mishnah Berurah and not make a simchah for Shabbos? Where did chelek alef get koach from? It all came from Shabbos.” Shabbos is the mekor habrachah; Shabbos can protect us.

We are living through a moredik time. We do not know what we need to do, but we have to find some things to work on l’maaseh. I would like to give over to the tzibbur that perhaps this is a zach, now when we need shemirah. We should try to be mechazek in what we can in shemiras Shabbos. The first thing is the kabbalas Shabbos. The nashim tzidkaniyos who can, should be mekabel Shabbos ten minutes earlier, at least for this week, Shabbos Bereishis. They should be ready for Shabbos, dressed in bigdei Shabbos. If they can, they should daven kabbalas Shabbos with their daughters at home. Be makebel Shabbos! Show Shabbos that we appreciate it. Men should try to daven minchah erev Shabbos with a moredik kavanah and they should be makebel Shabbos. But it is not just the kabbalas Shabbos – we have to elevate our whole Shabbos! What are we doing all Shabbos? How do I spend Shabbos? How does my Shabbos table look? What do I speak about at my Shabbos table? A Shabbos table has to have divrei Torah, for the children you have to have stories, you have to have zemiros, you have to prepare. The talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov said a person should rest on erev Shabbos so he would be awake on leil Shabbos. It is said from the Mezeritcher Maggid that this is the “elfteh dibrah,” the 11th commandment. Prepare yourself for the Friday night seudah! Have divrei Torah; they should be geshmak for the children. What are we reading on Shabbos? The papers and the magazines – these things have to be checked – what are we allowed to read on Shabbos? What are we not allowed to read? We have to enhance our Shabbos. It would be kedai at a seudas Shabbos to learn explanations of tefillah. We are in a time of tzarah and we need the koach of tefillah. We should learn the meaning of the words of tefillos so we can understand what we are davening. Learn something at a seudas Shabbos! We have to try to enhance our Shabbos. If we can enhance our Shabbos even a little bit, we can hope to the Ribono Shel Olam that Shabbos will be a meilitz yosher for us.

This tragedy started in Eretz Yisroel on Shabbos, in a year that Rosh Hashanah fell on Shabbos. We have to be concerned. But the Aruch L’ner told us what we can do: we have to ask the Shabbos to protect us. The Ribono Shel Olam can make that if we are mechabed the Shabbos then this could turn into one of the best years for Klal Yisroel. Chazal tell us that if we keep Shabbos for two weeks Mashiach will come! It appears that there are so many tikkunim that Klal Yisroel has to do – we spent so many years in galus – but if we keep Shabbos for two weeks that could accomplish all the things that we need. We should be mekabel on ourselves to try to enhance our Shabbos, every person in his own way. Even if you are by yourself, learn hilchos Shabbos – do something to be mechabed the Shabbos.

We ask and be mispalel to the Ribono Shel Olam that Shabbos should come and protect us. Ki eshmera Shabbos Kel yishmireini.

The Ribono Shel Olam should be merachem on us that bzchus the shemiras Shabbos, we should be zocheh to the yom shekulo Shabbos, zocheh to see nisgalus kvod shamayim, with Mashiach tzidkeinu bimheirah v’yameinu, amen.

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