Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Defining Moment
In 1920 (or thereabouts) a car made its way down Rechov Yaffo. It was not the first car to arrive in Jerusalem or even the first car to drive down Rechov Yaffo, but it was unusual. All of the students, teachers and staff poured out of the Eitz Chaim Yeshiva to have a look at this great new invention. When they returned to their studies, they were impressed (and maybe a little ashamed) to find that the only one who had remained in Yeshiva and not allowed the passing car to interrupt his studies was a young boy named Shlomo Zalman Orbach.
Reb Shlomo Zalman went on to become one of the leading Torah authorities of his generation, but he did not remain in the Bais Medrash. As he grew older he spent many hours looking at elevators, cars and other modern machinery. He researched and wrote groundbreaking books on electricity, medicine and mechanics. Somebody asked the Rav: “What could you possibly have gained by learning for those ten minutes instead of stepping outside with all of your teachers and friends?”
“Those ten minutes didn’t make me more knowledgeable than my friends”, Reb Shlomo Zalman acknowledged, “and learning about cars is certainly not a waste of time. What I gained in those moments was my bond with the Torah. In those ten minutes of learning I developed an intimate relationship with the Torah that lasted me for a lifetime. I knew what I desired and I knew where I belonged. Nothing can tear me from my Torah.”
We all need moments that define us.