Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lessons for the Living

On the 20th of Adar 5761, an “atzeres hisorrerus,” was arranged in the memory of a certain talmid chacham who had passed away. Rav Tzvi Yavrov, shlit”a, approached Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, and asked, “It says: ‘Thirty days before Pesach one may not eulogize.’ What is the exact definition of hisorrerus as opposed to hesped? What is the demarcation between arousing one to repentance and eulogizing?”

Rav Kanievsky replied, “A hesped is about the deceased. Hisorrerus is a discussion of issues about which the tzibur needs a wake-up call. Saying what we can learn from the niftar is also in this category.”

“But regarding what should the speakers issue their wake-up call?”

Rav Kanievsky responded, “Ask the rabbis what they think.”

“But what topic should be discussed, in the Rav’s opinion?”

Rav Kanievsky replied, “One of the four things the Mishnah warns brings pestilence in its wake is partaking of fruit of shevi’is, of the shemitah year. It warns, ‘Motzei Shevi’is on account of the fruits of shevi’is. The security situation in Israel now, during this year after shemitah, is like a plague! Arabs surround us, so we need to strengthen shemitah observance for protection!”

Rav Yavrov asked, “But aren’t the attendees are all careful regarding shevi’is?”

Rav Kanievsky answered, “Nevertheless, learning about it and discussing it has an affect on the rest of the Jewish people. As Rav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, said, ‘When the one learning all day in Eishyshok slackens from his Torah study, a student in Paris decides to break Shabbos!”

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