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19 Iyar 5760 - May 24, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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"Meoros HaDaf HaYomi" Insights into the Week's Learning. Stories, Mussar, Practical Halacha (Tractate "Kesubos" Daf 45- 51)(Vol. 51)

From the Sochatchov "Beis Medrash of Teachers of the Daf HaYomi" Bnei Brak

A Jewish Mother's Prayer

Moshe could not believe his eyes. Standing not far from him in the courtyard of the Hertzlia Beit Knesset HaGadol was a fine, G-d fearing avreich who bore an amazing resemblance to an old friend - the grandson of Zalman Oren, one of the top ministers in the government of David Ben Gurion. Could it be? Moshe came up to him and said, "Excuse me, but by any chance, is your name Oren?" To Moshe's amazement, the answer was affirmative. Not able to hold himself back, Moshe remarked, "Who would have believed Zalman Oren would have grandchildren who keep Torah and mitzvos!" The avreich answered, "Let me tell you an interesting story."

My grandmother, may her memory be blessed, was a simple woman. Friday afternoons, as the sun was setting and the shadows grew longer, Jewish women would be busily preparing for the holy Sabbath. On a table they had placed a cloth with candles on it, to be lit when it was time for the Shabbos to start -- spreading kedusha over the entire creation. The women would utter a prayer that they merit to bring up upright children, and see grandchildren going in the straight way, too. My grandmother was not at all Torah observant, but she, too, would light Shabbos candles, covering her eyes just as she remembered seeing her mother covering hers.

Her prayer about her offspring was different, though. She would say, with sincerity and heartfelt hope, "May my children go in the path of Ben Gurion. Master of the Universe - give me children who have children who will be like the Prime Minister - David Ben Gurion!" Shabbos candlelighting was the only Jewish practice that remained to her, and Friday afternoons, she felt the kedusha of the Shabbos, and wanted to continue with the practice. She knew it was a time to say a prayer and ask for something, and not knowing any better, she picked the prayer that she picked.

Many times, after she lit, she would say to herself, "Why should I say a prayer now? I'm not religious, so what good will it do me?" Still, she kept saying her prayer, every week, and understandably, her aspirations were glued on the likes of Ben Gurion.

Her husband Zalman was one of Ben Gurion's cabinet ministers and closest aid, and whenever her husband would speak about Ben Gurion, it would be only with praise and admiration.

It was the first of Cheshvan, 5713. My grandfather came home with wonder on his face. As always, as he sat at the table waiting for the hot water to boil for his coffee, he began to tell of what had happened that day.

"Today," he said, "the prime minister went to Bnei Brak and met with the Chazon Ish - Rav Karelitz. I do not have words to describe how he was affected by that meeting. The prime minister is known to always be very calm and collected, but when he left that meeting he was so impressed by the Chazon Ish, he was extremely excited. He could not stop talking about him, and was not able to be calm until he finally said, `If I had not seen him myself, I would never have believed that such people exist.'" Zalman and his family talked about the matter for days, and my grandfather did not realize how all this affected my grandmother.

The next Friday afternoon, she stood across from the candles and prepared herself to say a different prayer. Earlier that day, she had said to herself, "If Ben Gurion thinks so highly of this man, then he must be someone special!" She lit the two candles, circled her hands above them, covered her eyes and said, "Master of the Universe! May it be Your Will that my descendants go in the way of HaRav Karelitz, for if Ben Gurion is impressed by him, he must be a very great person. Master of the Universe! Give me grandchildren like HaRav Karelitz!"

It did not matter that she did not know the Chazon Ish. If Ben Gurion thought so highly of him, she did, too! From then on, every Friday when she lit candles, a small tear would appear in the corner of each of her eyes, and she would pray, in unknowing simplicity, "Master of the Universe! May they be like HaRav Karelitz!"

The years went by. A generation came, and then another. In time, the short but heartfelt prayer bore fruit. The world of Torah continued to stand, and eventually met up with one of her grandchildren. So here I am, keeping all the mitzvos, working hard at reach out programs trying to bring other Jews back into the fold, and "going in the way of HaRav Karelitz."

So often, a person who considers himself average will discourage himself from taking a small step in the right direction, to improve and uplift himself. He is convinced that he will never become a tzaddik, and never become a talmid chacham, so he passes up opportunities for progress in those directions. If he sees a certain step as a minor detail or only slight progress, while in his eyes, the distance to be traveled is so very far, he says to himself, "Why bother?"

My grandmother's was a simple prayer from a simple person - without kavanot or yichudim. She was not a Gadol HaDor, and not wife of a Gadol HaDor. Who knows what would have become of me had my grandmother listened to that voice in her heart that sought to discourage her by saying, "What good will it do you? You're not religious!" What if she had given in to it and said, "You're right! I'm going to stop this silly praying!" But no, she continued on, praying for the welfare of her grandchildren, and the prayer helped, for now she has a grandson who keeps the Torah and mitzvot!

This moving story is a lesson for all of us - good is good, even if it is only a small good. A step forward is never to be treated lightly, even if looks like a small step. Don't treat such small steps lightly, and never allow a step backwards! Never stand still and never give up, and silence that voice that only wants prevent your growth!

With Blessings of the Torah The Editor

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