Today's Date: Sat August 18, 2018 | יום שבת שופטים, ז אלול תשע"ח

Shevi'i Shel Pesach - Recounting Miracles


נסים ונפלאות עד אין מספר

“Miracles and wonders without number!” (Iyov 9:10)


There is a special mitzvah to recount the miracles and wonders that Hashem performed for us, especially the miracles that happened during our miraculous Exodus from Egypt and the splitting of the sea. On the seventh day of Pesach, Jews everywhere gather to sing the Shira – the praise that was sung at the sea – and to recount the miracles that happened at that time. Why is it so important to retell the miraculous events that happened so many thousands of years ago?


The verse says in Tehillim (60:6): “You gave for those who fear You a test to be tested.” The word neis – test, that used in this verse, can also mean a miracle. Tzaddikim would interpret these words to mean: “You gave for those who fear You a miracle to experience more miracles.”  By recounting the miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people, we gain the ability to bring about more miracles. Many tzaddikim used this method to bring miraculous yeshuos (salvation) to people in need. By retelling miraculous stories, they inspired those very miracles today.


The word mispar – number, has the same root as the word sipor – telling a story. The verse can now be read: “Miracles and wonders until we cannot stop retelling them!” That is, by repeating the miraculous stories again and again, more miracles will happen, which will result in more stories being told.


This is why we keep on recounting the miracles that Hashem performed for us thousands of years ago. As our sages say: “The more a person tells these stories, the more he is praised!” On the seventh day of Pesach we gather to recount the miracles that Hashem performed for us, and through this we are able to benefit from tremendousyeshuosrefuos and good fortune.


Today is the yartzeit of the tzaddik Reb Berish of Zidichov. My grandfather, the Chaber Rav zt”l, told me the following amazing story:

Reb Berish lived in Zidichov and in Veretzky, and afterwards he settled in Munkacz. During the First World War, the battlefield was very close to his hometown and he decided to flee to Hungary by train. On Friday he was still traveling, and Reb Berish didn’t want to travel on Shabbos. He asked the conductor to stop the train in Ladani over Shabbos, but the conductor refused to hear of it, unless he would receive a clear directive from the mayor to sidetrack the train over Shabbos. One of the local community leaders went to the mayor and brought him a gift, asking him to instruct the conductor to keep the train side-railed over Shabbos. The mayor accepted the bribe and he managed to find an excuse due to which the train was indeed side-railed for Shabbos.


That Shabbos was the Shabbos between Yom Kippur and Succos. The Jews of Ladani had a very uplifting Shabbos with their esteemed guest, and they begged Reb Berish to stay with them for Succos. Reb Berish agreed and he stayed in Ladani over Succos; in fact, he stayed there for several weeks.


During the Rebbe’s stay in Ladani, my grandfather the Chaber Rav went to visit the tzaddik. He unburdened himself to the Rebbe that he was commanded by the government to travel to Debreczin, where he was to report to the military conscription office. He begged the Rebbe to save him from the terrible ordeal of serving in the hostile army.


Reb Berish told him to calculate how many chickens would be needed for eight days, and he then requested that he should donate and slaughter those chickens, so that by the eighth day he shall be exempted from military service. My grandfather did as the Rebbe said; he slaughtered the chickens and then traveled to Debreczin. When he arrived, he was first commanded to shave off his beard and cut off his peyos. Grandfather begged them to waive this requirement out of consideration for his rabbinical status. Some of the officers at the military base agreed that as a rabbi he should be exempt from shaving his beard, but several other officers were adamant that he should not receive any special permission to keep his beard and peyos. A commotion ensued, until the commanding officer came over to see what was going on. When he heard what the problem was, he turned to my grandfather and said: “Oh, so you are a rabbi! As a rabbi, you must be a good speaker. There will be a ceremony this week during which we will distribute medals to a number of local officers, and I would like to honor you with a speech.”


My grandfather was indeed an excellent speaker, but speaking to non-Jewish officers was certainly not his line! Besides, he didn’t even speak Hungarian fluently, just barely to get by. How could he even consider addressing a large, prestigious military gathering? Grandfather went to the town’s Rav to present his problem, and asked the Rav to help him put together a speech. The Rav replied that he was much too busy to write a speech, and he told him to go to a certain person who would be able to help him. That person told Grandfather that the commanding officer certainly wasn’t serious about the speech. “He must have told you that to poke fun at you,” he claimed. “Just forget about it and don’t even consider making a fool out of yourself! It is impossible that the officer truly wanted to honor you with a speech at such an important gathering.”


However, Grandfather did want to have a prepared speech, yet no one was willing to help him. He went to the officer and complained that he wasn’t feeling well. The officer sent him to the doctor in order to see if he really wasn’t feeling well or he was just pretending. The doctor concluded that Grandfather was completely healthy, and the officer then told him that he shouldn’t even think of getting out of that speech…


Grandfather was quite anxious at this point and he prayed and begged Hashem to give him the inspiration for a speech that would be well received by the non-Jewish audience. During his heartfelt prayers, he fell asleep and dreamt of his father, Reb Baruch Dertzker, who appeared to him and asked: “Why are you crying?” Grandfather told him his problem, and his father reassured him: “Don’t worry.”


When Grandfather woke up, he noticed the sefer Chovos Halvovos nearby. He opened the sefer at random and found the section where the Chovos Halvovos discusses the various limbs and organs of the human body. Although it appears as if the visible limbs and organs such as the hands, feet and mouth are doing everything for the person, the truth is that the internal organs are even more important than the external ones. The heart, brain and liver, as well as all of the other internal organs, are behind every thought and action. Without the brain, the hands cannot move and without the heart, the person cannot utter a word.


As Grandfather reviewed this section of the sefer, it occurred to him that this was an excellent analogy to the soldiers and officers who served “behind the scenes” and weren’t sent to the frontlines. Although it may seem as if only those who are fighting the actual battles on the front were doing all the work, in truth the officers who faithfully perform their duties at whatever positions they were holding throughout the various towns and cities were the ones who were keeping the war-effort running smoothly.


Now, with this insight in mind, Grandfather went to the person who was recommended by the Rav to help him with his speech, and asked him to help express this concept in Hungarian. The person still felt that Grandfather was overdoing it, but since he already had the concept ready he was willing to help him phrase it nicely in Hungarian.


That Wednesday, my grandfather went to the military gathering. The commanding officer was pleased to see him and asked him if he prepared a speech. When Grandfather replied in the affirmative, the officer asked to see his notes. Grandfather gave him the papers, and the officer was quite impressed. At the start of the event, the commanding officer announced that the Rabbi would speak first, because his speech was extremely important and everyone must listen carefully to his words. The officer’s favorable disposition to the Jewish rabbi was most surprising, in view of the fact that Jews were being deliberately mistreated by the military at that time.


Grandfather began his speech, carefully describing the importance of the internal organs of the body. “Although our external organs are seen hard at work, they are not the ones who are truly in control,” he explained. “The hands, feet, mouth and ears are what we see, but the heart, brain and other internal organs make it possible for our outward limbs to perform these actions.” He then continued to explain that the same was true regarding the war effort. There are soldiers who fight the battle on the front, sacrificing their blood. At the same time, there are soldiers who are fulfilling various positions throughout the country in order to keep the war-effort running smoothly. “Without all of you, the soldiers on the front would be unable to carry out their duties!” Grandfather exclaimed. “You are doing extremely important work.”


When Grandfather concluded his speech, the applause was deafening. His words were extremely well received, because at that time the soldiers who were on the frontlines had complained that it was unfair to allow the other soldiers to serve in their hometowns. Grandfather’s speech made a deep impression on the higher-ups in the military and they decided not to send some of the troops who were already slated to go to the front.


The commanding officer was very pleased with Grandfather’s speech and wanted to release him from military duty. He instructed Grandfather to visit the doctor again, and this time he hinted to the doctor what should be written in the medical report. Grandfather received the white slip, which released him from serving in the military. This happened on the eighth day after he conscripted, just as the Rebbe had told him.


Hashem empowered tzaddikim to perform miracles! May Hashem help all of us that we should see the miracles we are yearning for. Everyone should be blessed with good health, plenty of parnassa and nachas. In the merit of recounting the miracles that happened during the Exodus, we will see so many miracles without number that we won’t be able to stop retelling them!

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:
Shmuel ben Chaim
Feinberg A"H
5708-5769 9 Shvat

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:

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