Friday, May 15, 2009

Keeping Hashem in Mind

When the Sar Shalom of Belz, zt”l, was just seventeen and was already an accomplished scholar, he would spend time at the court of the Chozeh of Lublin, zt”l. Of course, there were many chassidim there and such a young man was rarely afforded much time with the rebbe. When it was time for the Sar Shalom of Belz to go home, he went to take leave of the rebbe, as is customary. To his great surprise he found that the Chozeh of Lublin had not yet davened. This was a departure from the rebbe’s usual schedule to daven in his beis midrash on time. When the Sar Shalom approached the Chozeh’s room he noticed that the Yehudi Hakadosh, zt”l—a close chassid of the Chozeh—was standing at the door.
“I would like to give shalom to the Chozeh before I leave town for now,” the Sar Shalom said to the Yehudi Hakadosh.
“I am afraid that is not possible at this time,” replied the Yehudi. “The rebbe has not yet davened since he has a question that is occupying his full attention and he does not give shalom before davening,.”
“What is his question?” inquired the Sar Shalom.
“As you know, it is a constant mitzvah to always remember Hashem. Yet it is virtually impossible for the vast majority of people to think of Hashem at all times. The rebbe is bothered that apparently most people violate this positive commandment, and wishes to find a way to justify this apparent blemish.”
“I believe I have an answer,” replied the Sar Shalom without missing a beat. “The gemara in Bava Metzia 11 brings the Mishnah in Pe’ah: ‘What is as yet in front of the harvester is not called shik’chah—is not a forgotten leaving that is free for the poor. Shik’chah only applies to that which was left behind the harvester. The reason for this is that the verse, ‘Do not return to take it,’ applies only to what he does not plan to go back to.
The Sar Shalom continued, “That is your answer. Since the Jewish people plans to immediately return to remembering Hashem, it is not called shik’chah, so even if they forget they do not violate this positive commandment. It is only one who leaves thoughts of Hashem ‘behind him’ without interest in returning to it that violates this mitzvah!”
When the Chozeh heard this answer he was overjoyed. From that day on he gave more honor to the Sar Shalom then many of his much older chassidim.

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