Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Behar 5771: The Heritage of His Fathers

"וכי ימוך אחיך עמך ונמכר לך...ואל אחזת אבתיו ישוב"
 (ויקרא כה, לט-מא)
"If your brother becomes impoverished and is sold to you...and he will return to the heritage of his fathers". (Vayikra 25:39-41)

Imagine the following scenario: A young man, twenty years old, is found guilty of stealing and he does not have with what to pay back what he has taken. His situation meets all the requirements of the Torah and he is sold into slavery to pay off what he has stolen. Six years later he has the opportunity to return home and for whatever reason he says, "I love my master" and he is then re-enslaved "forever", which the Chazal tell us means until the next yovel. Now, this occurred in the first year after yovel. So he is a slave from age twenty until he is seventy years old. We can imagine someone who was a slave for fifty years most likely identifies fairly strongly as a slave. People know him as Moishele Eved. However, the Torah tells us that he goes free after the yovel and he returns to his family, to the heritage of his fathers. Nobody is allowed remind him that he was a slave. We may not refer to him as a slave. He is not demeaned in any way by the fact that he was a slave his entire life. This is because he returns "to the heritage of his fathers". He was not born a slave. He may have been a slave practically his entire life but because he comes from a place of dignity, that identification is strong enough to essentially erase fifty years of slave mentality.

The Rebbe said that in his "over a yovel" of counseling, he has seen countless cases of people who, for one reason or another, had no childhood. They had verbally or physically abusive parents. If it wasn't their parents then it was a teacher or someone else prominent in their lives as a child. Some people grew up without parents entirely and they had no one too care for them in a way that provided them with a secure self-image and wholesome values. Many of them live frightened, angry, empty lives. No yovel can free them. These people, who today are somewhere between their forties and eighties, even if they could be freed from the mangled blackness and emptiness of their upbringing, have no "heritage of their fathers" to return to. There is no solid background for them to rely on. If they had a childhood, it was wrought with all the wrong experiences and influences.

Today, we have a responsibility to give our young people a childhood. Not just a loving and safe atmosphere for them to become who they are meant to become, but we must do absolutely everything in our power to see to it that they are not exposed to the toxic world that is available on every wireless device today. It is not just the images that are seared into a child's psyche for the rest of his life. There are attitudes and ideals that are so antithetical to Torah and that children are defenseless against.

Everyone goes through some form of slavery, a troubled, constricted period in their life. Most of the time we are freed from it, either by our own efforts or the passage of time. But we are able to ultimately remove the shackles and emerge free and with our dignity and integrity intact because we have a past to go back to and draw on to create a future for ourselves. A pure and healthy past is what enables us to move forward. We must provide a past for our children to nurse from in the future. אל אחזת אבתיו ישוב, "and he will return to the heritage of his ancestors".

(Shabbos Parshas Behar 5771, after davening)

1 comment:

Yankel said...

I just wanted to thank Yitzi for all his time and effort that he puts into the "shteeble" for us to be together and grow from the torah of Milwaukee! יישר כחך!!!