Monday, June 25, 2012

The Atoning Table

Many are confused as to why chassidic rebbes conduct tischen. After all, isn’t this bitul Torah for those who could learn? They would likely be surprised to hear that the Avnei Nezer, zt”l—a great lamdan—would praise the greatness of chassidic tischen. “What the tables of the rebbes achieved we shall only comprehend when our righteous Moshiach arrives.” Rav Elchonon Halperin, shlit”a, explains this practice with a statement brought of our sages. “In Menahcos 97 we find that one’s table atones for him. Rashi explains that one’s table atones in the merit of feeding poor people at the table. Yet imagine the embarrassment of destitute people who have no choice but to take their meals as charity as another’s table. Surely only a very rare person can give the poor food in a manner which will not be a huge embarrassment. Most people eating at the table of another out of necessity feel nothing less than bitter darkness. “But at the table of tzaddikim, everyone eats for free. Both the poor and the wealthy join together and one who is hungry can obtain as much food as he wants in an honorable manner. No one feels above his friend, since everyone is there for the same reason and is treated the same way. All those who attend a tisch feel a sense of togetherness that emerges out of holy love and companionship. With such a pleasant atmosphere is it any wonder that we cannot imagine the great atonement of a chassidic tisch?”

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