Friday, June 27, 2008

“Do Not Be Like Korach…”

Since this week is Parshas Korach from which we learn the prohibition of machlokes, I wish to share one of many favorite stories:
Rav Chaim Meir, the Imrei Chaim of Vizhnitz, zt”l, was known to be very sharp-witted; a trait common to those who had received semichah from the famous Maharsham, zt”l. There are countless stories of his penetrating insight and understanding from when he was the young Rav of the town Velchovitz, in the district of Maramures, Hungary.
By that time, the controversy between Misnagdim and Chassidim that had raged since the cherem of the Gra, zt”l, had already been in abeyance for well over fifty years due to the joint efforts of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, zt”l, and the Mittler Rebbe of Lubavitch, zt”l. It was thus with considerable consternation that most viewed the reprinting of old inflammatory “seforim” whose whole purpose had been to fan the sparks of the machlokes into a raging fire. At a time when all faithful Jews had to strengthen themselves against many foes from with in and without, such books could be a distraction that could cost spiritual lives!
The Imrei Chaim complained about those printers who had decided to print such works. He said, “The printers who publish these kinds of books can even be responsible for causing someone to violate the holy Shabbos! As everyone knows, the custom here is that kosher Jewish women place a holy sefer on the table with the Shabobs candles so that the table will serve as a base for that which is permitted (the book) in addition to serving as a base for that which is forbidden (the lit candles). Unfortunately, if the women will use one of these books that chiefly discusses various false claims about a defunct controversy as a means of ensuring that the table is not a bosis l’davar assur, her table will be a base to two forbidden objects: one that is forbidden only on Shabbos, and the other forbidden even during the week!”
In his customary sharp way, the Rebbe concluded, “Actually, this is a clear Gemara in Yevamos 60b. There we find that a ‘sign of sin is hadroken, the change in countenance that indicates a certain sinful change in personal status. The word hadroken can be read a different way, though. In Yiddish, ha-drukin means the printing press. So we see here that sometimes the printing press is the agent of sin—like when such destructive books are printed!”
Hashem should save us from needless machlokes!

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