HARAV Y. REUVEN RUBIN SHLITA
Over the years I have been asked to speak at a myriad of places and interesting circumstances. Every such invitation comes with its own uniqueness. No two audiences are the same, and every participant will hear my words through their own set of emotional filters. I always face such events with a mixture of nerves and anticipation, after all, I want to share whatever is being asked of me, and present it in a clear and elucidating fashion. At the same time, I always have a sense of edginess when speaking to a large group, it could be a bit of natural insecurity on my part, or just a normal response of being openly vulnerable to mainly strangers who may be judging me on a manifold of levels. Writing is the same, in that a writer never knows if what he has written is ever being understood or even read. The difference is that in public speaking one sees the response, whilst the writer’s world remains shrouded in silence.
Last week I was invited to speak for a unique audience that I will never see, but sincerely believe are the most important group I have ever been given the zechus in addressing.
‘LeHatzmiach’ is a comparatively new communal organisation that has in the short span of its existence made a powerful impact in the lives of many of our hiemisha children. The brainchild of a young energetic Kollel Yingerman, the organisers match youngsters with mentors throughout the London area. Many of these boys find they need extra help in conquering the intricacies of learning. Most just need some help and support and in time will find their way into the vastness of Torah learning. This support, given with warmth and understanding can change a child’s life, bringing Klall Yisroel untold nachas and Kiddush Hashem. Everyone in chinuch knows how special and wondrous this help can be, but until now, it has a bit of a hit or miss quest in matching up the students to competent mentors. The young Asken I mentioned, saw the need and has given himself over entirely to creating just such an organisation. I have watched ‘LeHatzmiach’ grow, seen how the organisers have undertaken the task of fund raising, to the point of giving up nights and days just to go collecting door to door, table by table at simchas, all for the singular focus of giving our youngsters the best chance of making learning part of their lives.
At this point I better declare a personal interest in all this. The young energetic founder of ‘LeHatzmiach’ is my grandson, Reb Shlomo Yechiel Schreibhand, and I play a small roll in being a trustee. That being made clear, allow me to tell you about my latest speaking engagement. As part of the vital work the group is doing during these turbulent times, they have created an extensive telephone channel where a youngster can dial in to hear a selection of Torah content, all in Yiddish and given by well-known Rabbonim, Mechanchim and askonim. I was asked if I wouldn’t mind being interviewed by the well known Mechanech, Reb Yoseph Kaufman, about my experiences as a Rov in South Manchester. I was a bit hesitant, firstly because I was going to be heard by youngsters, always a daunting prospect, and secondly it was going to be in Yiddish, a most warm language but not one I usually speak publicly in. For obvious reasons I couldn’t say no, and after schmoozing with Reb Yoseph I felt I could give it a try. I must admit, within minutes I felt that adrenaline flow kick in and I for one, was very comfortable speaking to our young even in their absence.
I regaled them with a few stories, and tried my best to give them chizuk. I personally feel that throughout this whole COVID threat, the young are the worst effected. They hear stuff us grownups shouldn’t even be saying, foolish false news that often just adds to the fears in young minds. They suffer when schools are closed, shuls locked down, friends not able to visit, missed hugs from grandparents and so much more. It is our young who are often lost in the onrushing cascade of our own fears, and no one is articulating any sense of understanding of what they are meant to be thinking throughout all this. Our young must hear from us words of positive strength and hope. They should be given to understand that they have an opportunity to create Kiddush Hashem in a unique time and that the Eibishter loves all their efforts to do mitzvos. This telephone channel is a light in a scary world, and I am humbled to be able to share in some way in their outreach.
In Parshas Vayeira we find that as Avrohom Avinu was about to sacrifice his beloved son Yitzchok Avinu, the Torah tells us:
“A Malach of Hashem called to him from Shomayim and said Avrohom Avrohom!” (22:11)
The Sifsei Tzadik asks why did the Torah add that the Malach called Avrohom from Shomayim, where else would a Malach call from? He goes on to explain that as we see from Rashi, Avrohom felt upset with himself, in that he was ready to do this ultimate sacrifice for Hashem and was being told not to. He felt he must have been found wanting in his avodah to Hashem. However, we are taught that whenever we fulfil a mitzvah we create a Malach, an Angel that resides in Shomayim and speaks for our wholeness. The posuk is telling Avrohom Avinu that he had in fact created a Malach through his actions, and that the Malach was already in the Shomayim vouchsafing his righteousness.
Let us tell our young how they are creating Beautiful Malochim, in fact the pathways in Himmel are packed with their Angelic Mitzvos during these difficult times. Let us lift our children up, all of whom are children of our holy Avos Avrohom Yitzchok and Yaakov. Give them the support they need to create Malochim through their precious actions. In this zechus, may we all see the Final Redemption, soon and in our Days. Amein!