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Monday, September 24, 2012

Yom Kippur

I was told that Reb Yehuda Leib Chasman said this from the Chofetz Chaim, before his last Yom Kippur, which was in 1936.

The Czar decided to make a tour of Russia, and he expected every city he visited to express its loyalty and to joyously celebrate his visit.  He visited the cosmopolitan St. Petersburg, and they feted him in an exuberant and amazing fashion.  In Moscow, too, there was tremendous celebration, and while it didn't match St. Petersberg, it was in keeping with what they could imagine and do, and he was pleased. As he visited the smaller provincial towns, they, too, did the best they could, and he was satisfied.  He decided he was going to visit some far off village in the hinterlands, but he knew the simple people just had enough to barely survive, and they barely knew who he was, and he couldn't expect much from them at all.

There was someone in the town that did, however, know what was about to happen- he had lived in the big city, and he knew who the Czar was, and worse, he knew the local custom.  The local custom was that whenever a stranger would come to town, they would throw stones at him.  So this man begged the townspeople, look, you have no idea who it is that is coming, and you can't even imagine the honor that he is due.  All I ask you is, please don't throw stones at the Czar.

The Chafetz Chaim said that on our madreiga, it's hard for us to have any inkling of what it means to come before Hashem on the Yamim Nora'im.  At least let's try to not thrown stones.

I once said a similar thought, here.  The idea was that the Mishna in Pirkei Avos 5
כל מי שיש בו שלושה דברים הללו, הרי זה מתלמידיו של אברהם; וכל מי שאין בו שלושה דברים הללו, הרי זה מתלמידיו של בלעם:  תלמידיו של אברהם--עין טובה, ונפש שפלה, ורוח נמוכה; אבל תלמידיו של בלעם--עין רעה, ונפש רחבה, ורוח גבוהה.  מה בין תלמידיו של אברהם לתלמידיו של בלעם:  תלמידיו של בלעם יורדין לגיהינם, ונוחלין באר שחת--שנאמר "ואתה אלוהים, תורידם לבאר שחת--אנשי דמים ומרמה . . ." (תהילים נה,כד); אבל תלמידיו של אברהם יורשין גן עדן, שנאמר "להנחיל אוהביי, יש; ואוצרותיהם אמלא" (משלי ח,כא).
contrasts the disciples of Moshe Rabbeinu with the disciples of Bilaam.  Unfortunately, it is beyond us to even have a glimmer of an idea of what Moshe Rabbeinu was, but I find it pretty easy to understand who Bilam was.  So even if it's hard to try to emulate Moshe Rabbeinu, the least we can do it try to Not be a talmid of Bilam.

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