Chazal tell us that the Tzfardeia – the frogs – went into the ovens in order to die “al kiddush Hashem”. Years later, Chananiah, Mishoel and Azaria reasoned: If the frogs went into a fire to die “al kiddush Hashem”, how much more so should we? The Chasam Sofer explains that if these frogs had been created specifically for the miracle of the plagues in Egypt and were not “regular” frogs living a normal life along the Nile river, then these great prophets would not have been able to make this kal v’chomer, for how could a regular person know that he is obligated to forfeit his life in such a situation? But now that we know that the frogs were not created especially for the purpose of kiddush Hashem yet they still were willing to give up their lives for the sake of Hashem, we can deduce this lesson from them.
Many times people are called upon to do something and they feel it just is “not me” because it doesn’t conform to what they feel is their purpose in life. There is a well-known story about the Chofetz Chaim: A man created a gemach, which he occupied himself with during his spare time. This chesed organization became very successful and began to cut into the time he needed to earn a living. He asked the Chofetz Chaim if he was obligated to have his business suffer for the sake of the chesed or can he close down the chesed organization? The Chofetz Chaim told him “This must be a decree of Hashem; you found yourself in a situation and now you must accept the challenge.”
I have a friend who asked me to bring a well known gadol to the Yahrzeit assembly for his father, who during his life was a Rosh Yeshiva. After the event, I asked my friend what his connection to this posek was. He told me the following story:
My father was learning after the Second World War in Rabbi Schneider’s yeshiva in London. Rabbi Schneider told all the boys that they must search all of the monasteries to find the war-displaced Jewish children and bring them back to Yiddeshkeit. My father did not follow the rallying call and stayed in the beis medrash to learn. Rabbi Schneider asked him “Why are you here and not going to do what I asked? We are at war, and we have to go to battle to save the lives of our brethren.” To this my father, a promising lad, replied “Even in war, there are infantry men and generals. I want to be a general and stay in the Beis Medrash.” Rabbi Schneider took a strong stance and said, “Even though that is your wish, I command you to take part in this mission.” My father was the one who found this world-famous posek living amongst gentiles and brought him back to Yeshiva, and the rest is history.
This boy thought that he had one mission in life: To become a Rosh Yeshiva, and indeed he was successful at that. He did not realize that with taking just a little time off he could touch the lives of tens of thousands of people. Just like the frogs in the plague, who had a life of their own, gave it away, not only causing a sanctification of G-d’s name at that time, but also bringing about the sanctification many years later by Chananiah, Mishoel and Azaria.
As the Melaveh Malkah is upon us, there are those who may think “it is not for me – it is for others”. It seems to me that all who read this article are part of the group that should be attending. May Hashem grant us the Divine Help that is necessary to bring our dreams to fruition.
Looking forward to greeting you at the Melave Malka.
Good Shabbos and Good Voch.