Thursday, October 18, 2012

337 - Tisha B'Av

Divrei Hesped on Maran Hagaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt"l

Excerpts from Rav Wolbe's hesped on the Chazon Ish (Da'as Shlomo, Zman Matan Toraseinu pg. 440-444). His description is ever so fitting for Rav Elyashiv.
"We have great people living in our midst, but he was different from all of them. Rav Chaim Volozhin established an official Yeshiva; the first of its kind in hundreds of years. Volozhin was the mother of all Yeshivos, and many of those who studied there went on to open their own Yeshivos. Every Yeshiva had its own inimitable style, and its stamp was indelibly imprinted and easily recognizable upon those who studied within each Yeshiva. However, for a person to achieve true greatness and clarity even in the most profound intricacies of Torah, without having attended a Yeshiva, is almost unattainable. Yet, here we have a person who did not attend any Yeshiva. He toiled in Torah lishma for tens of years and turned into a scholar of immense proportions."

"Referring to Elkanah, the Pasuk (Shmuel I 1, 3) states, "And that man rose from his city." The Medrash (Shmuel 1) explains that, "He rose within his house, he rose within his courtyard, he rose within his city, he rose within the entire Jewish Nation; and all his ascensions came from within himself!" He started learning in his own house, with his father, and coupled with his pure heart and holy intentions, he succeeded in attaining all the greatness that he attained.

"If we wish to know what type of person the Torah seeks to create through the performance of its 613 mitzvos, all we have to do is look at him. We say in Shema, "V'Shenantam L'vanecha." The Gemara explains that the words of Torah should be "sharp" in one's mouth to the point that if he would be asked a question he would be able to answer without hesitating. This is how he learned. Every facet of Torah was plumbed and studied with the intention of arriving at the practical application of the topic at hand. Hence, whatever question was posed, he already had the answer on the tip of his tongue.

"Everyone was cognizant of his greatness as was evident by the [hundreds of thousands of] people who attended his funeral; encompassing every stripe of our Nation.

It is exceedingly amazing that our generation, despite the great hester panim, merited this man. Appropriately, he too, acted with utmost simplicity and hester and stayed within the four cubits of halachah his entire life, never leaving his spiritual abode that he created for himself in search of more attention getting actions.

"How fortunate we were, that whenever any difficult question arose we would say, "Let's go to him," and his advice was like the answers given by the U'rim V'Tumim (breastplate worn on the Kohen Gadol's chest). Even those distant from Torah recognized his greatness, for such is the strength of the Torah; it forces one to recognize its greatness and subjugate himself before it.

"It is written in Seforim that a person is like a Bais Hamikdash, and how much more so is this true regarding a righteous person. The Bais Hamikdash was a place where Hashem's Shechina was revealed and exceedingly evident. Whoever would enter came in contact with the Shechina, and whoever would remain there was purified of his flaws and left cleansed from his sins. The same applies to a tzaddik, and this is how we felt when we merited standing in his presence. Who didn't grow from merely standing before him?"

Chazal tell us, that the death of tzaddikim is comparable to the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. What are we missing in the absence of the Bais Hamikdash? We're missing the palpable connection to Hashem. We're missing the feeling similar to the one sensed when standing in the presence of a spiritual giant, but on a grander scale. We're missing the ability to live our lives with real purpose focused on what is truly important as personified by Rav Elyashiv.

May we merit seeing the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash speedily in our days, and the day when death will cease to exist, Amein.

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