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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Open Your Tent!

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber


As I prepare this essay the world is in the middle of a nightmare in Mumbai. Innocent people were slaughtered, hostages have been taken and closer to home, we are all praying for a miracle for those that have dedicated their lives to Ahavat Yisroel manning a Chabad House in Mumbai.

I remember on 9/11 when I asked my Rebbe, Rav Chaim P. Scheinberg what we should do, think and pray. He told me that middas hadin (G-d’s attribute of justice) is dominating the world. “The only way to battle G-d’s midas hadin is by doing chesed. Our acts of loving kindness will change the mechanism of the world to kindness.”

I dedicate this article to Rabbi Gabriel Holzberg and his wife Rivki who have dedicated their lives to the Jewish people. May Hashem hear our prayers.

“And it is for you my brother to know, that even if a person reaches the highest spiritual level possible in perfecting his soul; even if he is as holy as the prophets and conducts himself with complete dedication and love to G-d, – even so he does not even begin to approach the merit of one who helps others. One who guides his fellowman to walk on a good and straight path, who brings people to serving the Creator has not only his own merit but is accredited with the ongoing compounded merit of everyone he has helped…” (Chovos HaLevovos Ahavas , 5)

“And G-d appeared to him (Yitzchok) and said, “Do not descend to Egypt; dwell in the land that I shall show you. Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you … and establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father…” (Breishis 26; 1-5)

Who was Yitzchok? Our Patriarch; the man who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice by letting his father slaughter him on Mount Moriah; the creator of Tefilas Mincha and the progenitor of the Jewish people. Yet when G-d promises him the Land of Israel he explains that He is doing so only in the merit of his father Abraham! Doesn’t Yitzchok have enough of his own merit to be privileged to live in the Land of Israel?

The answer is that Yitzchok reached the highest level of holiness a human being can achieve. But, thus far he never got involved in outreach! He never opened his tent on all four sides and never taught the people who their creator was. He never pulled others aside to help and advise them to walk on a straight path. In Kabalistic language, Yitzchok was tzimtzum – contraction. He was concentrated on G-d, holiness, his household and the generations that would come forth from him.

Not so his father Abraham who devoted his life to helping others. So Yitzchok can inherit the Land of Israel; but only because his father was Abraham. (Sforno ibid)

The message: We need Israel, we need community, we need leadership, we need the Geulah – we need to integrate the message of Abraham “open your tent!”

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