ליל שישי לסדר
ואת משמרת בני ישראל לעבוד את עבודת
כ”ח אייר תש״פ

To our Kehilla,

Last week after keriyas hatorah one of the mispallelim in our “courtyard minyon” in front of our locked Beis Medrash asked me the following question: “Hashem gave us the tochacha to provide us with advance warning for tragedies that may befall us if we act in an improper fashion. Yet the custom is that the tochacha is said at a lower decibel level. Why shouldn’t we say it at a higher level – to scream at us (so to speak) – so that we the words will penetrate and cause us to act properly?

The Yeshiva of Volozhin, headed by Reb Chaim Volozhiner, was opened at the same time as the Yeshiva of Reb Ephraim Zalman Margolis. The yeshiva of Volozhin enjoyed success for nearly 90 years, whereas the yeshiva of Reb Ephraim Zalman Margolis closed shortly after opening. Rabbi Margolis asked Reb Chaim Volozhiner, “Why is your yeshiva more successful than mine was?” Reb Chaim answered, “What did you do for a chanukas habayis for your yeshiva?”  Reb Ephraim Zalman Margolis answered that they had a seuda with a band for the chanukas habayis. Reb Chaim said to him, “Before we started Yeshivas Volozhin, we fasted for a week straight. This is the key to our success!”

This story is the story that came to mind as we go back to our Beis Medrash to reembrace it. There are some who may feel an adrenalin flow because Hashem let us back in. How should we channel this energy when reentering?

Maybe some of you may remember from your elementary school days that when someone was expelled from the classroom and was then undeservingly let back in, if he walked back into class with a smug look on his face, there was already “trouble”! It is expected from that student, who was given a second chance (or third or fourth chance) to be extra particular in following the rules of conduct and decorum of the classroom. If he would later commit a small misdemeanor, he would be punished more severely than others committing the same act.

Now that we are reentering shul, we have an obligation as a group to improve our prayers and our conduct. As an individual, when returning to the shul, we understand that there are those who are not coming to shul because they recognize that there still maybe an element of danger. Our conduct is going to be scrutinized by Hashem. It may also be that those who choose to come to shul are the ones who will determine if our shul remains open. The returnees are representing those who did not yet merit to return to shul.

The kabbalah that we make should be on two different levels:

  1. Upgrade our personal prayers.
  2. Enhance the honor and holiness of the shul.

I am not at this point going to demand something from the public, for as this Shabbos sets in, I hope that we will see improvement in many areas. Each person, on their own, and all of us together, enhancing our prayers and the holiness of the shul.

If someone would like a suggestion of what they should to take on personally, I am happy to be of service.

Im yirzeh Hashem, there will not be a need for me to make a public appeal to reinforce certain conducts, as I am sure that you will make Hashem proud of us. The prayers will show the lessons that we all learned during our exile, and we will be good representatives of our brethren here in the Holy Land and the world over.

“יהי רצון שתשרה שכינה במעשה ידיכם”

Rabbi Avrohom Baruch Zachariash