Thursday, March 7, 2013

Learning at Aliyos Yerushalayim with Rabbi Snyder and Roi

I had a great time learning Torah at Aliyos Yerushalayim yesterday. The regular crew was on hand for the most part, but a guy I'd never met before happened to be my chevrusa.

I found learning with him an eye-opening experience. You know how it goes: you meet someone and don't expect much of them till they flat out blow you away with some of the most profound things you've ever heard. Well, this was the case with Roi last night.

We opened up one of the Mishnayos on the shelf. Ta'anis. It seemed Roi had gone over the material before. While his Hebrew's far from perfect, he really had a good handle of the stuff we were going over.

One of the most interesting things we discussed was the concept of how we pray for rain (מוריד הגשם) after the end of Pesach. One of the Tana'im asks why we shouldn't pray for rain the whole year around if we're praising Hashem for granting us the water--rather than asking him to fulfill a specific request (like we do in the rest of the prayers in the שמונה אשרה). Even though it might not be the season for rain, can't we still praise the Almighty?

I don't remember what the answer he received was, but the idea in question is one of ביטחון and אמונה. We're praising G-d for his great strength and omnipotence--not necessarily asking anything but lavishing praise on the Almighty who feeds and clothes us (and creates the world anew every second of the day).

We're also praying for every one of our physical, as well as our spiritual needs. Hashem is our Father, and just like a child would ask his parents for everything he needs, we ask Hashem to grant us our wishes.

Nothing in this world is guaranteed, but too often, people takes things for granted. The very fact that I was born into a good family with parents who've always loved me, and helped me every step of the way is a tremendous blessing. I was also given a formal education. I've made so many good, loyal friends, who've always been there for me. And, most importantly, I'm still alive. That's a tremendous blessing in of itself.

For many years, I wasn't aware of the blessings that had been bestowed on me. I didn't know just how lucky I was. Now I know.

Roi also mentioned another fascinating concept: we learn that if there's a period of drought, and there are no rains till very late in the winter, the Torah scholars, the תלמידים חכמים are the first ones to beseach Hashem to bless us with rain. Who are these "Torah scholars?"

Roi expained that these are the leaders of the generation; the people who hold authority, the ones that are responsible for everyone else. We should keep in mind that the Torah scholars of our day are our true leaders. They're the only ones who have the belief necessary to lead us out of the last exile. We need to look to them--not to the synical, hypocritical politicians for instruction on how to lead our lives.

May this Torah lesson be a merit to the continued health of my beloved friend, life-long mentor and grandmother, Elga bat Chana (שתהיה) and a return to full health of the husband of my 7-8th grade teacher, Mrs. Davis, Lou ben Berta, and my close friend, Avraham ben Leah....Also to the return to health of Alexander ben Yulia and Chaim ben Avraham.

רפואה שלמא לכל חולינו, ולכל חוליי עמחה ישראל. אמן, כן יחי רצון

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