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16 Elul 5773 - August 22, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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What Do You Say to an Avreich Whose Food Budget is Cut?

by HaRav Gershon Edelstein

In the days of the Ponovezher Rov we learned Torah in the yeshiva under duress (mitoch hadechak). There were times when the bread was rationed out. Packages of margarine were divided into eight portions, and each student got one. This was breakfast.

For supper we got an eighth of a package of margarine with bread. Also they added a little jelly. One could not take as much as he wanted. Everyone got a little bit on his plate. There was also tea with a little sugar.

For lunch they brought soup so that there would be something to eat with the bread. No one ate lunch without bread since it was impossible to be satisfied without it. There was not enough to eat, and this is what we ate.

Nonetheless, we did not feel it to be Torah under duress, since at the end of the day we were full from the bread. If someone was still hungry he took another piece of bread. We did not have peiros Ginnosar or Chamei Tiveria (references to pleasurable experiences discussed in the Gemora).

The truth is that today the situation is the Boruch Hashem we do have "peiros Ginnosar." One can eat lunch without bread and still be satisfied. It can be said of those avreichim, bnei aliyah the first part of the mishna in Ovos, "Eat bread with salt," but to continue with the continuation of the mishna: "You will be happy and fortunate in Olom Hazeh."

And the truth is that when it says to eat bread with salt it does not mean literally that one must eat bread with salt, but that [one's commitment must be such that] even if he does not have enough to eat, and he will eat bread and salt, nonetheless, "You will toil in Torah" and "You will be happy and fortunate in Olom Hazeh."

The main point is that one have no aspirations for gashmiyus, and thus even if he has more than bread and salt, this is not what he aspires to. Rather he eats more so that he will have more strength to learn, to worship the Creator. The gashmiyus is not the goal. The goal is ruchniyus, and the gashmiyus is the means to ruchniyus.

This is the aspiration that one must have in a time like this. And if even in a time in which he will bread and salt, he will still toil in Torah, then certainly we are "happy and fortunate in Olom Hazeh."


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