As we prepare for Pesach our enemies do not rest,
Rachmono litzlan. Yet we continue with our learning
At the end of Nisan, before the summer zman of
yeshivos and kollelim, we can expect, as usual, many
impressive public events in Eretz Yisroel. Major
organizations engage in promoting Torah and mitzvah-
observance and use this opportunity to acquaint the public
with their specific aims and to raise people's awareness of
Although all this is of unquestionable importance, is it
appropriate for us to engage in these activities when so
much else is happening, much of it tragic?
Numerous critical decisions have to be made. The violence
has been going on for more than six months. Yet there is a
new government in Israel and a new government in Washington.
Maybe something will change. The dangers can not be ignored,
but there are opportunities.
The ticking clock on the northern border of Eretz Yisroel is
also a problem to those responsible for these fateful
decisions. What will terrorists located in Lebanon do now
that they are so firmly established on the northern border?
Will Syria back an escalation of terrorist activities?
With all these problems hovering above the heads of Israeli
citizens, the meetings take place. The community is
preparing for Pesach. Thousands are continuing their
learning in the yeshivas that open up for bein
After realizing the fateful political and security problems
we were facing, some will wonder if all this is appropriate.
Our straying brethren, those neither privileged to see the
Torah's radiance nor to possess emunah, are unable to
understand how we can engage in such matters when momentous
decisions regarding the entire yishuv of Eretz
Yisroel are the order of the day.
Actually even the Torah-observant are likely to ask: Is this
our spiritual obligation at such a time? The anti-religious
are making headway and secularism is spreading like wild
fire. How will some more chidushei Torah help in
saving am Yisroel from the spiritual crisis
A few years ago a similar event was held and
then too the atmosphere was politically tense because of a
security threat. When the organizers of the event came to
invite HaRav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz, the rosh yeshiva of
Yeshiva LeTze'irim of Yeshivas Ponevezh and member of the
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, the rosh yeshiva pointed out to
them what Maran HaRav Chaim Grodzensky zt'l wrote in
the introduction to his sefer Achiezer.
In that introduction he explains why precisely at such a
time, a person must completely devote himself to increasing
Torah study, analyzing Torah more intensely, and writing
chidushei Torah. Rabbenu Chaim Ozer wrote the
following about his initiative to print chidushei
Torah at such a time:
"Dreary thoughts dwell within any intelligent person. Is
such a critical time fit for printing seforim? A
person will surely ask, `Are you not saying shirah
while am Yisroel is drowning in a sea of tears?
Internal and external enemies are attempting to undermine
the foundations of Torah, and with poisonous and explosive
materials want to ruin the whole edifice of Torah
observance. Why now are you decorating Hashem's palaces with
trinkets and flowers? Hashem's very palace is ablaze! The
flame has even caught hold of the Oron Hakodesh. The
Luchos and the parchment are engulfed in the blaze,
and you are engaging in flower decorations?"
"Nonetheless this is the strong adherence of the ancient
Jewish People to their Elokim and Torah, a strength
used throughout the various generations, periods, and times.
Even when a sharp sword was placed on its neck, Am
Yisroel continued its daily delight with Hashem's Torah.
Even during the period of the Churban when the
viability of the nation definitely seemed endangered and the
Tzedukim gained increased power, never for a moment did the
Perushim divert their attention from the Torah of
"Yavneh and its sages, the remnants of our nation, were
survivors who lit the way for Yisroel in golus as the
amud he'onon once did. Through them the kesav
vekaboloh was saved and transmitted. Our sages in Eretz
Yisroel and Bovel sealed in the Talmuds, the
Mishnah and the Gemora all of our tradition,
the foundations of Torah and the details of its ways. Within
it lies all the spirit of Klal Yisroel and the
greatness of its soul.
"Wherever Yisroel wandered with its staff, in every place to
which they were exiled, the Shechinah was always with
them, and they invariably prepared a sanctuary to study
Torah. From the time Yisroel was exiled from its land, the
unbroken chain of geonim who explained the Torah, of
poskim, rishonim, acharonim, continued -- even during
the times of shmad, evil decrees, persecutions, and
wandering -- to provide a basis for the Torah. In this way
they built the venerable edifice for Toras Yisroel and left
room for others to elevate themselves in Torah-study too.
These enormous giants allowed midgets to climb upon their
shoulders so that in every generation they could strengthen
the sublime and splendid building of kodesh, so that
no one will succeed in disrupting its tohoroh.
"For those privileged to study Torah it was a remedy for
life. Studying deeply and reflecting in the ways of Torah
study was a source of living water. Every yeshiva student
was a strong fortress for Judaism. Spreading Torah study was
a safeguard against persecution and a protector against
those who strayed and were leading others astray. The Torah
and its glow brought them back to Torah and helped them
survive assimilation among the nations."
The recognition that Torah study is the secret of our
existence is one of the foundations of our emunah.
Furthermore, Tanna Dvei Eliyahu teaches us that only
deep study of Torah, while saying chidushei Torah,
protects Am Yisroel at times of danger and war.
Devoroh Hanevi'ah says in shiras Devorah
(Shofetim 5:8), "They chose new gods; then was war in
the gates, was there a shield or spear seen among forty
thousand in Yisroel?" Tanna Dvei Eliyahu (13) writes:
"How fortunate is one who is mechadeish divrei Torah.
A person who is mechadeish divrei Torah can be
compared to what HaKodosh Boruch Hu says: "My son,
build for Me a beis midrash since the immense reward
that I have in My storehouse is yours and for you I am
saving Yisroel, as is written `They chose new gods; then
was war in the gates, was there a shield or spear seen among
forty thousand in Yisroel?' From [this posuk] they
teach us that when the forty thousand in Yisroel gathered
together and went out to war with two talmidei
chachomim among them, it was as if holding a shield
and guard with a sharp sword in their hands. It is
therefore written: `Was there a shield or spear seen among
forty thousand in Yisroel?' "
Yeshu'os Yaakov, a commentary on Tanna Dvei
Eliyohu, cites in the name of R' Shmuel Laniado, the
author of the Kli Yokor on Nevi'im Rishonim:
"As I found in the Tanna Dvei Eliyahu who explains
`They chose new gods' to mean that Hashem chooses
chidushei Torah and imparts tremendous reward to
those expounding those chidushim. The 40,000 of
Yisroel who gathered together to wage this war were
victorious in the zechus of those engaged in Torah
studies and said chidushei Torah. We rely on them as
if they are holding a shield and spear."
See also the Yismach Moshe on parshas Vezos
HaBerochoh who explains according to the Tanna Dvei
Eliyohu what is written in the Yerushalmi of
Shekolim that the broken luchos were in the
Aron Hakodesh that went in front of the nation when
they went to fight in a war. The broken luchos
symbolize forgetting Torah studies. [But the first time
Torah was forgotten was] the halochos forgotten
during the mourning over Moshe Rabbenu [which were, however]
restored through pilpul. In that way, the broken
luchos signify chidushei Torah, in whose
zechus we are victorious in wars.
The Torah study that helps us triumph in wars is not casual
Torah study. It is only profound Torah study, clarifying
sugyos and saying chidushei Torah from the
Talmud's depth, that can protect us from our enemies and
dangers. "They chose new gods; then was war in the gates,
was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in
Every ben Torah toiling to understand a shiur
of his rav and composing chidushei Torah in
gemora is like a shield protecting us and a spear
against all the enemies who want to destroy us. A
ma'arochoh, a long involved pilpul, in
understanding halochos of the Rambam's Mishneh
Torah, for example, foils the designs of Hizbullah. A
chaburah said in kollel wrecks the terrorist
infrastructure. Neither heavy bombers nor assault
helicopters will save us. Only the pilpul of the
yeshiva and kollel students safeguard Am
Yisroel. Also our current spiritual war against the
secularism that is gaining ground will be decided through
our labor over Torah studies.
The same questions are always asked "about internal and
external enemies who are trying to undermine the foundations
of Torah, who are attempting with poisonous and explosive
materials to ruin the whole edifice of Torah observance.
Why, some say, are you now decorating Hashem's palaces with
trinkets and flowers? All of Hashem's palace is ablaze. The
flame has even caught hold of the Oron Hakodesh. The
luchos and the parchment are engulfed in the blaze,
and you are engaging in decorations of gorgeous flowers?"
These were the issues raised at the time of HaRav Chaim Ozer
Grodzensky, and they can be answered with the insight that
the best way to protect our nation is through studying Torah
in depth. "Studying deeply and reflecting in the ways of
Torah study is a source of living water. Every yeshiva
student is a strong fortress for Judaism. Dissemination of
Torah study is a guard against persecution and a protector
against those who stray and leads others astray. The Torah
and its luminescence return them to Torah and helped them
survive to this day without assimilating among the
The chidushei Torah said by the talmidim in
yeshivos and kollelim, together with dikduk in
mitzvos, shemiras haloshon, and helping to return our
straying brethren to our Father in Heaven, is the firm
ground on which am Yisroel stands, and they -- and
only they -- guarantee our spiritual and material