The Elderly Rebbe and the Boy - On Repentance

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The alternative title for this special study could be …

The Elderly Rebbe and the Boy

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.

The prayers we recite overflow with expressions of love and injunctions to love. It is at the very center of our beloved Torah, in chapter 19 of Vayikra - Leviticus, we find an instruction that is one of the most important of all: to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

“... thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am (Y-H-V-H - HaShem)Vayikra - Leviticus 19:18b (JPS version of the Torah).

And indeed to do so is one of the great principles of Torah. For love is an integral part of the regimen of holiness to which Leviticus calls its readers: not taking vengeance, treating strangers and the needy well, offering sacrifices correctly on the altar, observing the Sabbath, and performing many of other acts of justice and kindness. Every one of these Commandments are in fact a gift of Elohim, blessed be He, Who reaches out to us Jews and for that matter to all other peoples in love, and Whose loving instruction, the Torah guides us in loving our neighbors!

We need to understand that there are different kinds of love that what is spoken of in Vayikra - - Leviticus thus we really need to think a bit more about different kinds of love. Let’s stipulate at the outset that the Torah, just like philosophers and poets throughout the ages have written about love, and we need to understand that something about the different sorts of love and understand how they might be somehow related.

For example there is the kind of love that Ya’aqov - Jacob feels for Ra’hel - Rachel

“And Ya’aqov - Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” Bereshit – Genesis 29:20 (JPS version of the Torah).

And of course there is our most loved and greatest proclamation of our love of Elohim, blessed be He, with all of our heart, soul, and might, when we twice a day say the “Shema Yisrael” in Davarim - Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and in our other prayers in our daily Jewish liturgy, to the proclamation of Elohim’s Oneness.

Elsewhere in the Bible, there is the love of close friends, evident in the relationship of Dovid - David and Yehonatan - Jonathan (e.g. 1 Sam. 20:41-42, 2 Sam. 1:26).

That covers a range of love, but I would like to change to something else, for there was a wonderful and powerful story of a very special elderly Rabbi who shared something very special in his Shul one Shabbas that I like to tell you about and it is I believe, one of the most powerful stories of great love ever! I pray that it will touch you as it has touched me as well as it has touched countless thousands of other Yidden worldwide!

A Story of an Edel Polish Rebbe’s Powerful Message of Love:

This is a true story that occurred many years ago in Poland. And it is a lesson that we all who have just read this study on love should read, and I am sure that it will be firmly lodged somewhere in your memory bank, and that is wonderful, but above all heed to this vital and important message!

This wonderful Rebbe who so dearly loved the Elohim of his fathers on this one Shabbas after the reading of the Torah and the Prophets he was about to deliver his Sabbath study, but as he stood close to the Aron Kodesh (the Ark of the Covenant) he seemed to be pondering on the message that he was about to give. Somehow the congregation noticed that he seemed to be perplexed and he remained quiet for what seemed such a considerable time, although it was only several minutes.

After what seemed to be a lengthy silence and with such sadness in his eyes, he commenced to speak, and then with a tear in his eyes he said. And I will just write it in simple English, rather than in Yiddish, which he spoke of course.

“Family and friends, today I will be giving you my shortest, but the most important message I have ever given. ‘And it is this, but I ask you that you listen very carefully and take heed, (and then he spoke more loudly) Repent one day before you die!’”

The Rebbe then took a step back, and stood there in total silence for he finished his message that Elohim had laid so powerfully on his heart for his congregation on that day and it was complete.

Throughout the entire Synagogue there seemed to be a deadly silence and it seemed just to go on and on forever and some even began to look at one another wondering what to do?

But then after a spell, suddenly somewhere from out of the silence, one of the young students stood up and he spoke and asked;

“But Rabbi, how will we know when we are going to die?”

The Rebbi replied;

Therefore my son repent NOW, repent this very moment, for no-one knows when they are going to die. It could be today, it could be tomorrow. Be ready for HaShem ( (Y-H-V-H) therefore my son and all at this congregation, Repent Now!”

Beloved, this story contains a powerful truth, because none of us know when our time will come, we should realise that no one really knows when we are ready to leave this life? Or do we have the attitude the Judeans had at the time of the rebuilding the Temple as we are told in the book of Zecharyah - Zechariah, where they said “Let’s get on with our personal comfort and build our homes and live, and leave the spiritual things for later.”

Sadly, far too many have become so involved in our own lives and work, etc, than giving our all unto Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, and sharing that LOVE with your loved ones, neighbours, friends strangers and workmates!

When we are obedient unto Him, you will have the assurance, that through His grace and love our spiritual lives will be in order! And Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, will speak to your heart, and I pray that as you have been reading this study, you may take an opportunity to set some things right with individuals and especially with Elohim, blessed be He! Do it now!

For those who have a yearning to learn more about the Torah and grow in being a good and faithful Jew, there are many valuable studies on Hebraic Studies enter the index below. If you have any questions you are welcome to email me.

And remember our motto seen on the logo at the top of this page: “The More Torah, the More Life”, for Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, is the one who gave us our Life!”

Rabbi Reuven Ben Avraham.

 

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