Sunday, August 22, 2010

True Empathy

During one of the conventions of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah around the year תשי"ב, the gedolim wondered what to do about the terrible decrees of Stalin against the Jewish people in the Soviet Union. Should they organize a protest outside the Russian consulate in the United States? Or would it be wiser to just try to help their unfortunate brethren as quietly as possible? After all, any protest could potentially be harmful for Jews under Soviet rule.
Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, the Boyaner Rebbe, zt’l, and the Kopitzhnitzer Rebbe were among those who felt that vigorous protest was the proper path to take. Most delegates disagreed. Suddenly, the Bluzhiver Rebbe, zt”l, got up and explained why they were obligated to protest despite knowing that their protest will be ignored. “Our sages recount that Pharaoh consulted with three advisors about his plan to persecute the Jews: Bilaam, Yisro, and Iyov. Bilaam concurred with Pharaoh’s vision and was killed for it. Yisro ran away and merited that his descendants sat in the Lishkas Hagazis. Iyov remained silent and endured suffering.
“We may well ask what the connection is between Iyov’s silence and his suffering. Are we not taught that Hashem punishes measure for measure? The answer is that Iyov—like Yisro—knew that Pharaoh should be stopped. He refrained from protesting because he was sure that any protest would be in vain. Hashem judged him with suffering to show him that if one truly suffers he cries out even though he knows that his cries are futile. He cries out because it hurts, without a thought of whether this will help. This taught Iyov that if one sees suffering and he does not cry out, this shows that it does not hurt him. If he was in pain over the other’s trouble, a cry would burst out with no conscious thought at all.”

No comments: