In his senior years, when the Chofetz Chaim had already become frail and had difficulty moving about, Rav Chaim Ozer requested that he come from Radin to Vilna in order to speak on the subject of taharas mishpacha. Rav Chaim Ozer was convinced that the simplicity and purity of the Chofetz Chaim would definitely bring about results in the Vilna Kehilla. Those close to the Chofetz Chaim tried to dissuade him from making this journey, due to the danger of travelling this long distance at his age. In the end, the Chofetz Chaim chose to go and spoke on Friday night to over 6000 women and Shabbos morning to over 6000 men – his words were received warmly.
At the time of shalosh seudos, some individuals were given the privilege to spend a few moments together with the Chofetz Chaim, either to gaze at his holy countenance, receive directives in life, or to ask halachic queries. One man came to ask the Chofeitz Chaim for advice. After the Chofetz Chaim answered him, the Chofetz Chaim cupped this person’s hands in his own and spoke soothing words of chizuk, in emunah and bitachon. After the man left, the Chofetz Chaim’s attendants overheard him talking to himself “This entire trip to Vilna was worthwhile in order to help this one Jew.” With all the warm words that were said in speeches and were readily accepted, the Chofetz Chaim was not sure that they struck a chord in the listeners’ ears. Whereas, the meeting with this one man, which seemed to be merely incidental to the trip, could possibly be the real redeeming value of this strenuous excursion to Vilna.
We sometimes wonder, is it the long sichas mussar, the warm embrace or sometimes just a phone call from someone showing that they cared that gives us the courage and ability to endure our troubled times. As Chumash Bereishis winds down and Klal Yisroel gears up for the galus of Mitzrayim, it is obvious that even though the twelve tribes rallied around their father for all these years, the specialness of the moment of these blessings is what gave each of them the power to achieve their goals.
I have a cousin – a rosh yeshiva of note in America – who is a person that is well thought out and planned. His son (today a married man) describes the special event of being punished by his father. His father would call him in with an angry face and explain what he did wrong, and then he would ask his son to repeat it back to him. Afterwards he would give his child the punishment he deserved. A few minutes after the punishment was over, he would make himself available for the child to ask for forgiveness. After the child apologized, the father would give him a hug and a kiss and say, “let’s move forward.” The man commented that that hug and kiss that came after the punishment gave him that special connection to his father.
In Galus MItzrayim we cried out to Hashem. That outcry fostered the special relationship that the Torah refers to as “v’yodah Hashem” – to know Hashem. As we go through Sefer Shemos, may we all merit to feel Hashem’s personal love. Chazak Chazak v’Nischazeik!!