Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Circle of Tzaddikim

"עתיד הקב"ה לעשות מחול לצדיקים..."

Rav Leible Eiger, zt”l, once asked his grandfather, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, zt”l, to explain the Gemara on the last daf in Taanis. It recounts that in the ultimate future, HaKadosh Boruch Hu will form a circle of the righteous with Himself at the center, so to speak. Each tzaddik will point to Him and say, “This is Hashem for whom we hoped and yearned.

Rav Leibele asked, “What is the meaning of this image of the tzaddikim in a circle with Hashem in the middle being pointed at, as it were?”

Rabbi Akiva Eiger answered, “In this world, each tzaddik serves Hashem differently via his own unique path to holiness. In the ultimate future, however, it will be revealed that all of these seemingly diverse paths really lead to the same destination: connection to Hashem. This is the meaning of this image of a circle; not that they will actually stand in a circle pointing toward Hashem in the middle, but that it will be revealed to all just who was truly righteous, and that each of their apparently disparate paths were really one at the center—they were each motivated by the selfsame hope: to come close to Hashem in accordance with each of their unique natures.”

Someone from Lithuanian stock was approached about a match for his daughter with a young man who was a chossid. Although this bothered the prospective father-in-law, the young man in question happened to be an exceptional scholar and was known to possess profound yiras shomayim. The girl’s father decided to speak the matter over with the Brisker Rov, zt”l.

After hearing about the perceived advantages and disadvantages of the young man, the Brisker Rov said, “Nowadays, what is the real difference between a chossid and a misnaged anyway? Is it just that the chossid makes a l’chayim after the fish at the Shabbos meal? Is that really such a terrible thing? Such an insignificant detail should not concern you in the least!”

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