Thursday, January 25, 2007


The Ponovezher Rav relates the following story. He recalled how it was only a short while after he arrived to the Yeshiva in Radin and one morning after Shacharis, the Chafetz Chaim was standing by the doorway of the Yeshiva with his tallis bag in his hand. He looked at me in a striking manner as the baalei mussar commonly do when they wish to speak with someone. I went over to him and he grabbed my arm and said, “You are kohanim and I want to ask you a question. The Gemora in Taanis 17a states that Rebbe maintains that it is appropriate for kohanim nowadays to abstain from drinking wine. This is because we anticipate the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh at any moment and the kohanim will be needed to perform the service. However, since the kohanim cannot identify as to which mishmar they belong to and there will be a long line of kohanim by Eliyahu Hanavi discovering their mishmar, by that time the effect of the wine will dissipate and they will be able to perform the service.”

The Chafetz Chaim continued, “This is a legitimate answer regarding wine, but what will a kohen who is not familiar with the correct methods of performing the service do? Kohanim who are not proficient in all facets of the service will not be able to serve. Sleep and traveling can help a drunkard but what is the remedy for an ignorant kohen?”

He concluded by telling me “You are a kohen and we are anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s arrival any moment. You must be prepared to perform the service in the Beis Hamikdosh. It is essential that you begin to learn the halachos of kodoshim immediately.”

The Ponovezher Rav said, “I had just arrived from learning in Telz and I was accustomed to making distinctions. I answered the Chafetz Chaim and regrets what I said then even today.
I told him that since he, the Chafetz Chaim was a kohen, and he is proficient with all the laws of kodoshim, so I will observe how the Rebbe performs the service and I will do it in that precise manner.”

The Chafetz Chaim didn’t retract and said sternly, “Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon you to learn kodoshim.”

It was these words that inspired the Ponovezher Rav to join the Kodoshim Kollel.

The Maggid from Eretz Yisroel, Rav Yaakov Galinsky says over that the Ponovezher Rav once told him this story in his house and he added one point. The Rav was greatly disturbed as to how he could have even contemplated that he would merit being able to stand next to the Chafetz Chaim in the Beis Hamikdosh.

The Chafetz Chaim told him then that the Gemora Sotah (5a) states that Hashem says regarding one who is haughty, “I and him cannot exist in the world together.”

Why is one who is conceited worse than a wicked person or a thief that they both can merit Hashem’s kindness and they are not pushed away so strongly?

The Chafetz Chaim explained that one who is haughty is actually a fool. Regarding what can a person honestly brag about? Everything comes from Hashem. A person that understands that and nevertheless chooses to be arrogant, he is a foolish person and Hashem does not reside together with fools. (Meir Einei Yisroel – chelek hey)


Velvel said...

Good thinking for a Telzer - not bad.

Avromi said...

פעם, בערב שבת בין השמשות, נכנס אליו גדול אחד, נתן לו שלום ותיכף שאל: מה מדברים בחוץ אודות המשיח? ולא היה בפיו מענה, והמשיך לומר: הן זוהי הצרה שאין מדברים אודות המשיח, הלא כתוב "אחכה לו" ואיך לא מחכים? איני יכול להבין - הלא כתוב "אחכה לו"!

Source for this and other stories similar to this