Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Matter What

Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, zt”l, was an extraordinary scholar as well as a great tzaddik, yet he also made time to give a daily shiur for baalei batim in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Yerushalayim.
One of the regular attendees once approached Rav Abramsky and said sheepishly, “I really love your shiurim since what you say really speaks to me. But your words are so sweet that within a few minutes I fall fast asleep for the rest of the shiur. Do you think that I should continue coming?”
Now anyone ought to know that it is better to go to a shiur even if he falls asleep than to waste the time in idle pursuits. But Rav Abramsky also understood that his job was to convince this discouraged baal habayis to continue coming to the shiur. Merely telling him he was better off staying certainly would not give him the chizuk to persevere. So Rav Abramsky chose to give an inspiring answer instead.
“The gemara states that a kohein must sanctify his hands and feet when entering the Azarah. The gemara there discusses various questions of when one must sanctify himself and what type of action works to sanctify him. Interestingly, the Rambam writes that one who sanctified his hands and feet at the laver and then falls asleep must sanctify himself again when he wakes up. The Sefas Emes explains that since when one slumbers his neshamah goes on high, this is the same as leaving the azarah. It follows that he must again sanctify his hands and feet.
Rav Abramsky appealed to the baal habayis, “Think about it. When you fall asleep at the shiur, your soul ascends on high and you can be melamed zechus on our shiur before the heavenly tribunal and point out that there are still some Jews who love Torah and attend shiurim even when doing so is difficult for them!”
His words were spoken with such warmth and they entered this man’s heart and encouraged him to stay. Eventually, he began to remain awake during the shiur and he later became an accomplished scholar thanks to this shiur.

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