The Kehilla of Our Dreams, Yizkor 1999

by | Sep 17, 1999 | 0 comments

Two Kohanim were once racing toward the mizbeach. Each one wanted to do the service. Each one wanted the Mitzvah. One Kohein reached the Mizbeach seconds before the other. The loser took his ritual knife and stabbed the other Kohein in the heart. Everyone present gasped. The father of the stabbed Kohein stepped forward, approached the mizbeach and leaned over his son. Everyone braced themselves for the earth shattering moan of a bereaved father standing over his deceased son. The father struggled and finally pulled the knife out from his son’s chest. He stood up and said “Ladies and gentleman, my son has not yet died, the knife is not impure!” (Yoma 23)

This was one of the events that led to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. The Tanna Rebbe Tzadok witnessed the episode and began a fast that he continued for the rest of his life. Klal Yisroel lost all perspective. A father was more concerned about the purity of a knife than an ironic murder that just took place for the honor of Hashem.

The knife is not tamei!

It’s not that they weren’t frum. It is not that they didn’t care about G-d. If they didn’t care the whole story would not have happened. They cared but they lost perspective. They lost the point, the message, the meaning, and the reason for it all. It’s hard to believe that our people reached such a low but it is a lesson to us all. What can happen if we forget the point.

It’s a strange phenomenon. A paradox. Beauty is in the detail yet it’s almost the obsession with detail that causes us to lose sight of the main body of what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish. We must always take a step back and look at where we are going. If the result of our Torah is elitist instead of inclusive, hurtful instead of comforting, acrobatic instead of smooth, scandalous instead of honest than it’s time to check the compass.

One of G-d’s great designs for safeguarding perspective is kehilla. Kehilla represents the big picture. One of G-d’s great gifts to Monsey is this kehilla, Beis Torah. The Shul provides many services vital for the day to day living of an Orthodox Jew; it is a place to daven, to learn, to do Daf Yomi. The truth is that these are details that can be accomplished by any group of ten Jews. Any shtieble, living room or even basement can have a minyan. Kehilla is the big picture. Kehilla is the opposite of “each man doing what is proper in his own eyes”. It is the antithesis of fragmentation. In a kehilla we function as a family, we give in for the sake of peace, we adjust our schedules according to the needs of the Tzibur. We comfort each other and share in each other’s simchas. When someone has a problem with their children or their marriage they have somewhere to go and someone to talk to. They are not alone. Let me assure you that the above scenarios are not theoretical, they are day by day in the life of Beis Torah. Ashreinu! A Kehilla like this one is truly a fulfillment of what G-d really wants from us. It forces us to analyze the true will of Hashem on a daily basis. Veasu li mikdash veshachanti Bsocho.

At the time of the two racing Kohanim they had everything, technically, but they didn’t have a kehilla, hence G-d took away the building and even the city. There are Shuls that have tens of Minyonim a day but they are not kehillas they are real estate.

Our dream is for Holistic Judaism.

Our dream is for a Shul that has programs and activities for our children. A place that is safe and someone to talk to that is safe.

Our dream is for a Shul that does the type of chesed that no individual member is capable of.

Our dream is for a Shul where Limud HaTorah is paramount, where the level and needs of everyone is fulfilled.

Most important our dream represents a perspective what we can hand to the next generation.

Dreams cost a lot of money. I know many of you give a tremendous amount of Tzedaka. Keep it up. I’d like to make commitment to you however. If you can increase your funds I will do everything I can and I’m sure the president and the board will join me in continuing making this Shul a model center of Judaism. There will be more learning, more programs, more of the ingredients that will enable you to live a life of Torah. In the zchus of building our makom may we be zocheh to build Hashem’s makom in Yerushalayim and may we all merit a gmar chasima tova.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This