Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Pomegranate’s Shell

Someone once asked the Maharil Diskin, zt”l, “Why is the pomegranate used as a symbol of being filled with good points? Why not an orange, or a banana, or any other fruit with a peel?”

Rav Diskin explained, “The pomegranate has a hard exterior and also a lot of waste in between the seeds. True, the apparently ‘empty ones’ among the Jewish people are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate, but you still have to break through the hard exterior and sift through the bad in order to discover the good!”

When the Belzer Rebbe, zt”l, first came to Israel, he decided to settle in Tel Aviv. This was very disconcerting to some, because they felt that it would have been more appropriate for him to settle in an established observant community. Someone even had the nerve to question the Rebbe as to why he had settled in the middle of a non-religious area of Tel Aviv as opposed to Yerushalayim. “After all, Tel Aviv is full of goyim!” the man posed.

The Rebbe was deeply disturbed by those words. “How can you say that?” he thundered. “You have no idea how wonderful this city is! One goes down the street and sees a person who appears to be a goy coming his way. Suddenly, one realizes that it is actually a Jew, because all the ‘goyim’ here are Jewish! We know that the minute that we hear the shofar of Moshiach, the hard shell surrounding such a person will break away and his real self will surface. As long as being here does not harm those who are faithful to Torah, why shouldn’t we serve as an example to such people that there are plenty of religious Jews who are waiting for them to find their true selves and come back to their source?”

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