Every respectable synagogue has its beggars.

Friday, 25 March, 2022 - 7:20 am

Dear Friends, Every respectable synagogue has its beggars. They come every day, stand there for a few hours and give the praying men the merit of giving tzedakah. In the famous Beit Midrash of Chabad, 770, in Brooklyn, there is group of elderly beggars of Russian origin. They have been there for several decades, and are an integral part of the scenery. The Yeshiva boys once asked one of them: “If you were to win the American lottery of hundreds of millions of dollars, what would you do?” The man answered immediately: “I would give every one of my beggar colleagues a million dollars so that they won’t come anymore, so that I’ll have the whole synagogue to myself.” Funny, isn’t it? I would call it a galut (exile) mentality. Even when the poor man becomes rich he thinks like a beggar. A person with a geulah (redemption) mentality will not go back to being a beggar after he has won the lottery. But don’t we think the same way in our lives? Do we know to dream, at least, beyond the limitations and conventions of the galut way of life? How many times do we want to do something but are certain that we will fail? How many times do we not even dare to dream of something, because it is beyond our conception? But if we take upon ourselves a geulah mentality, we will see that we can do so much more – and then we might even dare to dream big. Rabbi Shlomo Efraim of Luntschitz, the author of the “Kli Yakar” commentary, explains at the beginning of parashat Shemini that the number eight is beyond nature, since the nature of the world, since creation, is connected to the number seven. The world, after all, was created in seven days, and continues to work in cycles of seven. He brings what Chazal say in masechet Arachin, that in the times of Mashiach the kinor (lyre) will have eight strings. To my understanding, the kinor of the Leviyim in the Beit Mikdash had seven strings, while in the times of Mashiach it will have eight. Why eight? Because the days of the Mashiach will be something beyond nature. And so, there is no more opportune time than this Shabbat to look into this idea, to test our way of thinking and to attempt to think in a “shmoneh” mode – that of geulah. We should think like masters and not like hired help, because otherwise, even if we win the lottery, we will go back to being beggars. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski
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