Shhhaaallooooooom sweeeetest friends!!!!
A huuuuuge mazellll tooovvvvvv to HaRav HaGaon R' Leon Meyer and his holy and special Rebbetzin Hila on the birth of their son this past Shabbos. May he grow up to be a great Talmid Chochom like his father and a tzadik like both his parents and shine in the world, always in good health and happiness. A special mazel tov to the grandparents!
This dvar Torah should be li-ilui nishmas R' Chaim Ozer Dovid ben Bentzion Yaakov who was niftar a few days ago, grandfather of my beloved friend R'' Daniel Zweigbaum. The whole family should have a nechama and know no more sorrow.
Also a zchus for two of the most special people alive, closer to my heart than my ribs: R' Yehuda Yaacov ben Dina Chasha and R' Moshe Yehuda ben Pesha Dina who should have ONLY good things all of the days of their lives. A special mazel to R' Yehuda Yaacov upon the completion of ALL OF MASECHES NAZIR - no mean feat for this super nice guy.
In parshas Matos [and then we read Masei - SIYUM SEFER BAMIDBAR - KIDDUSHH! MEAT!] we read that Moshe is commanded to wage war against Midyan and then he will be taken from this world. The Medrash praises Moshe for not tarrying and getting right to it. He could have waited around, thus prolonging his life, but he didn't do that. Hashem commanded - and he had the Jews carry it out immediately. "Shnell" as they say in Sanskrit.
The question is: Why would we even suspect Moshe for a SECOND of pushing off the execution of G-d's command. He says - we must do.... What is the issue? It is ELEMENTARY??!!
The Sfas Emes [see תר"ן] explains that the issue is a lot more subtle than we realize. OF KORSE [if u can't spel. When I was a kid I lawst the speling be. I kan't understand wy] Moshe would not delay the execution of Hashem's command. But he might fulfill Hashem's bidding with RESERVATIONS [not at the King David - he wasn't born yet]. He might feel "Alright, I'll do it but I am not so happy about it. After all, this is going to mean my imminent demise".
So Chazal went "arois fun de keilim" [French for "blown away"] about Moshe who carried out Hashem's command with complete "gung-ho-gekeit".
That is a HUUUUGE lesson in life. It is not enough to do what is right but it also must be done with no personal interest, no bias, complete emotional investment in fulfilling the will of Hashem.
When Moshe commands them to get ready for battle, he says החלצו מאתכם אנשים לצבא. The Kotzker had an original interpretation of these words. He explained:
ויאמר משה אל העם לאמר החלצו מאתכם אנשים לצבא - אומר הקדוש מקאצק זי"ע: אז די ערשטע זאך דארף זיין "החלצו מאתכם" מזאל ארוס גיין פון דעם זיך פון די אנוכיות און נאך דעם וועט איר קענען זיין אנשים לצבא סאלדאטן פון דעם רבש"ע.
"Detach men for army service" means that first and foremost you must detach from yourselves! Remove from yourselves any trace of selfishness and ego centrism and only then you can go to the army and be soldiers of Hashem - אנשים לצבא.
In the words of our famous President [who will be turning 100 next year! Happy Birthday:-):-)] and whose airport I often land in, on January 20th 1961, before both my birth and perhaps more significantly - the birth of the New York Mets:
"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." [He is not our role model for other reasons - mostly relating to shmiras ha-bris and the fact that he was the first President not to wear a hat, thus making hats go out of style and creating a halachic shyla if we are obligated to daven with a hat or not - but a great speech nonetheless].
That is a great 9 days message. If we all put aside our personal interests and just work for the good of other people with zero ego and self-aggrandizement then we can successfully fix that horrible sin of sinas chinam. The gemara says [Yoma 9] - shockingly - that the Jews in fact performed chesed for each other, but in their hearts there was hatred and that caused the destruction. Singing "We want Moshiach now" and even waving yellow flags is nice and inspiring but not enough. I believe be-emunah shleima, no less than I believe that Ben Gurion had a bad hair cut, and that Hillary and Donald will never marry, that Moshiach will come when people remove all of those obstructions to unity, namely excessive self love and self absorption. Once we remove the I, the "zich" [in the words of the Kotzker], בוא יבוא גואל, our Redeemer will finally come [after friends took me out to Deli Kasbah - I have a feeling I know who he is...:-).
Where do we stand now? A lot of "zich", a ton of personal interests, power struggles, family and organizational ruptures etc. etc. that constitute, together with a tremendous amount of chesed and Torah where ever you go, the very mixed spiritual state of Klal Yisrael today.
With blessings for a sweet and uplifting Shabbos,
And much thanks and gratitude to everyone who helped me in any way on my soon to end sojourn in NY,