Friday, June 19, 2009

The Spiritual Shot of Whiskey

Rav Naftoli of Ropshitz, zt”l, once traveled to a certain town with Rav Feivel of Zebruzh. After a fiery intense davening, the two sat down for coffee. Before partaking, Rav Naftoli sat for a moment and recounted his yichus all the way back to the Shelah HaKadosh.

Rav Feivel looked at Rav Naftoli and said, “I can only assume that you list your yichus so that the merit of your holy ancestors will help your tefillos ascend on high. But does your honor really stand in need the merit of his ancestors after such an intense davening?”

Rav Naftoli smiled and said, “Since you, my respected friend, have asked, I will explain why I list my ancestors. You got up at midnight and recited Tikkun Chatzos to mourn over the exile of the Shechinah and the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. You then immersed in a cold mikveh and learned until the morning. At dawn you started preparing yourself in earnest for Shacharis by saying Tehillim, learning Mishnayos, and generously giving tzedakah. When it came time to daven, you joined the tzibur for a davening full of intense deveikus. After davening, you sip a cup of coffee and feel fulfilled, knowing that you have outstripped your ancestors who never served Hashem as you have.

Like you, I also get up for Chatzos sometimes and learn a little. I can also daven what seems to be a nice davening. But when I have my coffee after davening, my innards churn as I think how inadequate my avodah is. How does my davening compare to that of my ancestors before me? Have I come to a small fraction of the avodah of the holy Shelah? Now you will understand that I list my forefathers as a way of stimulating myself to start to truly serve Hashem. Think of it as a spiritual shot of whiskey to warm me up!”

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