Monday, October 20, 2008

The Beating of the Aravos

The medrash writes that the arava represents the lips. What, then, does the vigorous beating of the aravos on the ground signify? One lesson we can learn is that through continuous, vigorous, and sincere prayer—even just repeatedly crying: “hoshah na” on this holy day— anything can be accomplished.
But Rav Yehudah d’Modena, zt”l, teaches a different lesson: since the arava represents a Jew who is devoid of Torah and mitzvos, the beating it gets signifies that suffering in this world purifies even such a person and makes him worthy of eternal reward.
A young boy from London afflicted with cancer was taken to the States for treatment where the doctors said that if they go through with their plan, the boy could live a few more weeks. But would he be willing to go through terrible pain just to buy a few more weeks of life? The treatment alone would incapacitate him. At most, he would be able to daven for a few moments a day.
After hearing how difficult the course of treatment would be, the boy decided to refuse further medical intervention. Rabbi Ezriel Tauber, shlit”a, was called in to speak with him, and after their conversation the boy’s attitude changed completely.
He told his doctors, “I’ve decided that I do want the treatment along with all of the suffering that it will bring.”
What had Rabbi Tauber told this young boy? “If you live another second believing in Hashem even without pain, it’s worth absolutely everything. But with your pain, the reward that is yours cannot be measured at all.”
The boy lived a few more weeks, and his family testified later that until the very end he exhibited such willing acceptance of his suffering, even joy in it, because he could feel that every instant of pain sanctified by belief in Hashem made such a difference.

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