Wednesday, September 10, 2008

parshas Ki Teitzei and Hakoras Hatov

Since Rav Wolbe, zt”l, was committed to giving mussar shmuessen throughout the month of Elul in many different yeshivos, he used to take time to personally prepare for the Yomim Noraim during Av. Elul itself was naturally very busy, and so Rav Wolbe rarely had time to respond to late-summer queries in writing until after the Yomim Noraim altogether. Many of those responses open with Rav Wolbe’s profuse apologies for the delay, but we have an interesting letter on record that serves as an enlightening exception.
A certain man who had provided Rav Wolbe with assistance while the Rav was living abroad received his response during Elul itself. Since the letter offered an opportunity for Rav Wolbe to express his gratitude, there was no possibility of delaying a warm and effusive response. He wrote, “…My heart compels me to write these few lines to you as the Yomim Noraim approach. My dear friend! I will not soon forget the friendship and dedication you showed me when I was with you. May Hashem pay you back in full!
“The aliyah of the day is the fourth of parshas Ki Teitzei where we find the laws of conversion. I was very inspired that the entire difference between an Amonite, a Moabite, an Edomite, and an Egyptian is only in how much hakaras hatov they had toward us and how much gratitude we must have toward them. We know that the nations of Amon and Moav who did not show their appreciation for Avraham Avinu’s rescue of their forefather are to be forever kept at a distance (see Ramban). Although the Egyptians drowned our children, they did harbor us in an emergency, and so they may marry into the Jewish people after the third generation. And even though Eisav went out to greet us with the sword, his progeny are permitted immediately because he is our brother! How wondrous it is to contemplate the far-reaching consequences of showing gratitude!”
Rav Wolbe closed the letter: “From your friend who loves you and is grateful to you for the rest of his life!”

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