Friday, February 25, 2011

“Woe to the Children”

Once there were terrible decrees against the klal. After things began getting more and more pressured, an additional decree was passed that made things even harder. The Chasam Sofer, zt”l, was very upset by this final decree and was heard to say, “I have no choice but to complain on high.”
He gathered all the Jews of the city and gave a fiery discourse, “Our sages teach that when the Jewish people enter shul and recite אמן יהא שמה רבא מברך, a heavenly voice emerges and says, ‘Fortunate is the King who is praised in His house. What is it to the father whose children have been exiled? Woe to the children who have been exiled from their Father’s table.’
“Hashem doesn’t need the beis hamikdash or our sacrifices. Does He eat meat? Surely His entire pleasure is that He commanded us and we do what He said to fulfill His will. It follows that when we are in exile and still do Hashem’s will, He has the same pleasure from us as He did when the holy temple stood. It is even possible to give Hashem greater pleasure when we do His will despite the hardships of bitter exile. As our sages teach, the Jewish people are likened to a date palm which has only one heart. We too have only one heart for our Father in heaven.
“We see that He loses nothing from our exile. It is we who lose while in exile, since when we offered sacrifices on the altar, Hashem’s presence shined on us and we could easily attain ruach hakodesh. Due to our many sins we were exiled from our land, and we cannot ascend three times a year to fulfill our duty. This is the meaning of the heavenly voice. Hashem says, ‘What is it to the father whose children have been exiled?’ What does He lack when we are in exile? Nothing at all. He still gets at least the same pleasure when we do His will as He did before. But, ‘Woe to the children who have been exiled from their Father’s table,’ completely bereft of all spiritual good...”
Shortly after this the decrees were nullified, but the Chasam Sofer’s feet began to hurt him. He attributed it to having resorted to a sharp tone in his plea as we find in the gemara in Sukkah regarding Levi.

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