Tuesday, August 16, 2011

“Seek Hashem When He is to be Found”

Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, explains how, when Hashem treats his tzaddikim with strict justice, He is feared and exalted and praised. “Our sages teach that—like Yom Kippur—the death of the righteous atones for sins.[1] It follows that just as Yom Kippur does not atone without teshuvah, the same is true regarding the death of tzaddikim. But where do we find that one does teshuvah when tzaddikim die?
“The answer can be found on Zevachim 115. There we find that the verse 'נורא אלוקים ממקדשיך'—‘Hashem is Awesome from Your Mikdash,’ can be read instead as, ממקודשיך—from Your holy ones. The gemara learns from this that when Hashem punishes tzaddikim, He is feared, exalted, and praised. This means that people are catalyzed into doing teshuvah when Hashem’s stern justice is manifest in the world.
“Just like during the ten days of teshuvah the verse states 'דרשו ה' בממצאו'—‘Seek Hashem when He is to be found,’ when tzaddikim leave the world and are eulogized properly, this inspires people to do teshuvah as well. It is easier to do teshuvah during aseres yemei teshuvah precisely because during this time middas hadin is revealed in the world. When tzaddikim pass away, the eulogies cause distress and are easily aroused to teshuvah. This time is auspicious from on high and it is easier to do teshuvah than at other times.
“This explains why a heavenly echo proclaimed that all who had attended Rebbi’s funeral merited olam haba. They all merited olam haba since during that holy time they all became complete ba’alei teshuvah!”[2]

[1] מועד קטן דף כ"ח

[2] משנת דרבי אהרן, שמיני

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