28 Av 5781 / Friday, August 06, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish OutlookForgo Meeting The President?!
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Forgo Meeting The President?!    

Forgo Meeting The President?!

When one does not cancel his set time to learn Torah - even to meet the President of the United States - he is worthy to defeat the Yetzer Hara.



A. Y. Cohen, who followed the Rebbe’s advice to leave Florida and attended Yeshivas Midrash Shmuel in Jerusalem, travelled back to Florida upon receiving the tragic news about the condo collapse with his father trapped inside. When the families of the victims met with the President, he was too engrossed in his sacred studies to attend. His commitment to serve the King of Kings through learning Torah overshadowed everything else. 




“And Eleazar HaKohen said to the soldiers who were coming to war, ‘this is the statute of the Torah’.” (Numbers/Bemidbar 31:21) 

The holy Seforim teach us, that the main war of 'Gog u’Magog' before Mashiach comes, will be a spiritual war, where those who seek to uproot our religion will fight to slaughter the Jewish souls through uprooting their sacred faith. There is a tradition from my holy ancestor the Ateres Tzvi of Ziditchov zy”a that this war will be where they will tempt people to stop studying Torah and instead study only foreign studies. 

In our times, we indeed see that society is fighting against us in such a manner. However, we express our gratitude to Hashem that there are various organizations which arrange Torah study times for people. This increases the strength of the soldiers in Hashem’s spiritual army, who are fighting with the spiritual weaponry of Torah, which is called a “double edged sword”. The Torah is the cure against the Yetzer Hara, and protects us and rescues us from sin. This elevates our entire life and environment. I saw with my own eyes in many places in the world, how this increase in the study of the Holy Torah brings people close, strengthens, and invigorates lost souls, as the light in the Torah returns them to the good path. 

The holy Rabbi Yehoshua Buchsbaum zt”l, the Galanter Rov, was wont to say: “Emperor Napoleon would say that war needs three things: money, more money, and even more money. We say that for the war against the Yetzer Hara we need three things: Torah study, more Torah study, and even more Torah study!" 

For this reason, every Jew needs to commit himself to a set time every day to study Torah, just like a soldier who accepts upon himself the duty to set aside set hours every day to exercise the practices of battle. 

It is cited in 'Sefer Reshis Chochmah' (Shaar Hakedushah ch. 14) that if someone fails to show up to study Torah at a set time to serve his Creator through Torah study, this is the same as someone who fails to show up to serve a human king at a set appointment, which is an insult to the honor of the king and one’s punishment is great. 

The Gemara also relates (Brachos 32b) the following story: One pious Chosid who was praying on the road, and a Roman General came along and greeted him, but the  Chosid did not respond to him as he was in the middle of davening. The Roman General waited until the Jew completed his prayer, and after the prayer he said: “When I greeted you, why did you not return my greeting?” The Jew answered him: “If you were standing in the presence of a human king and your friend came and greeted you, would you respond to him?” The Roman answered: “No, and if I had returned the greeting, I would lose my head”. The Jew answered him: “Is it not all the more so, if you said this about a human king, who is mortal and is here today and buried tomorrow, if I am here standing before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed is He, Who lives forever throughout eternity, how much more so!” Immediately, the Roman was assuaged of his anger, and this  Chosid  returned home in peace. 

The Maharal of Prague (Derech Chaim 3:7) writes along these lines that this is how Torah study is as well; that if someone interrupts their Torah study to speak with people about other subjects, this is like someone who is standing before a king and speaking with the king, and another person passes by and he stops speaking with the king in order to speak with the other person, as this is considered to be a tremendous insult to the Honor of the King. 

Along these lines, the gaon Rabbi Ephraim Oschry zt”l, the Rabbi of “Beis  Medrash  HaGadol”  in New York, told me personally the following story that he heard from his Rebbe,  the Chofetz Chaim zt”l: 

A merchant was once traveling with his family to a great fair to sell his wares. After he organized his merchandise, the merchant suddenly disappeared. The family went to search for him, and they found him in the Beis Medrash learning. They screamed at him and said that every moment he is sitting in the Beis Medrash he is losing the monetary profits he could gain from the buyers passing by at the fair, because they want to purchase the merchandise but cannot find the seller. 

The merchant responded to them, that in the previous night he had dreamt that he had died and went to the Heavenly Court, and his sentence was to go to Gehinnom, because he had wasted so much time with nonsense and did not study enough Torah during his lifetime. He begged the court for mercy and to give him another opportunity to rectify this and to gain more merits with Torah study. After much debate, the court determined that he was granted a reprieve and he was allowed to return to This World. Ever since he dreamt this, he thought constantly how this dream was indeed true and he could already be dead, and the fact that Hashem allowed him to continue to live was in order to fulfill the Creator’s Will through Torah study. Therefore, during the time of Torah study, he should be considered to be dead already, and free from any earthly obligations. 

With this understanding, we can explain that which Chazal say “Torah study is only sustainable among those who bring themselves to death over it” (Brachos 63b), that the set time for Torah study is sustainable for people who consider themselves dead at that time, therefore it is impossible to go and do anything else at a set appointment to serve the King of kings through Torah study, just as it is impossible to cause a dead person to do anything or to go anywhere, even if there is a rare and special opportunity, such as meeting the President of the United States, the leader of the free world. 

This is what is written here: “and Eleazar HaKohen told the soldiers who were coming to war”, these are the Jews coming to fight the spiritual war against the Yetzer Hara, “this is the 'chukas' (statute) of the Torah”, ‘chukas’ is a term of being set, that the war is fought through those who set times to study Torah without interruption, as through this one conquers the Yetzer Hara. 



A. Y. Cohen’s sister did meet the President.


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