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).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yahrtzeit: HaRav Mordechai Dov Ber Twerski (Elul 15)

The following piece originally appeared in Turning Pages (pg. 197-198):

The Big Blizzard and The World Without Motty

Written by the Rebbe, Harav Michel Twerski, shlit"a

There is something awe-inspiring in a blizzard. I was reminded of its magnitude during this past winter's most major snowstorm as I watched the interplay of wind and snow from the comfort of my living room window.

One cannot but be struck by the august power by which the blizzard is driven, the deep sense of peace in the core of its howling fury, the exalted majesty in the elegant snowdrifts crafted by the veiled hand of the Divine. Stepping out into a blizzard, however, is an experience of virtual contraposition. Almost instantaneously all musings of power, peace and majesty surrender to the more primitive considerations of survival. Slapped by icy winds, buffeted by mighty gusts and stung by battalions of snow-tipped spears, the blizzard rapidly deteriorates into a contest between man and storm, raw human will and the forces of nature. All reasoning stops, leaving nothing but the defiant resolve of the wayfarer to prevail over the angry, snow-laden winds. Granted that no one in their right mind would venture frivolously into a gale, nonetheless venture we do, and have done so from the dawn of time What force sustains puny man in his struggle against the tempest?

Curiously, it was that question singly and alone which made its way to my storm-frozen mind, as I resolutely marched through the hazards of our recent blizzard. The answer which presented itself was disarmingly simple, and was clearly more visceral than intellectual.

Despite its simplicity, I am quite sure of its validity. We can, I reasoned, stand up to winter's ferocity and triumph over its frigid blasts because we know that at the end of our struggle, we return to a reassuring hearth, a warm fire, the cozy embrace of home.

As I look back up at this conclusion, a number of noteworthy thoughts come to mind. The first suggests that there is something of a metaphor in all of this for life in general. Man's capacity to contend with adversity draws upon the deep-seated conviction that beyond his travail lies relief and solace. Even Adam, I suspect, found his exile from the Garden of Eden tolerable only because he knew that at the end of time he could once again return to Paradise.

My second reflection concerns the more specific challenge manifest in the realm of people. Of all the trials we face in life, the most complex and the most painful arise out of our dealings with other human beings. Human interaction is regularly fraught with disappointment, frustration, instability, confusion and betrayal. In the growing decadence of our times, people seem more opportunistic, selfish and hypocritical, painfully devoid of responsibility, constancy of spirit and soulfulness. We venture out into the human blizzard, day after day, only to return battered and drained from yet another skirmish in the theater of blighted hope. Tragically, for the modem wayfarer, there is no blaze in the fireplace, no warm homestead, secure and dependable, to which to return.

All of which summons to mind the recent passing of my older brother, Motty, of blessed memory, because Motty was such an uncommon exception to the rule. For myself and countless others, Motty was that warm reliable hearth to which we could repair with our aching hearts, confident that he would cheer our souls, recharge our flagging spirits, and renew our faith in the decency of man. He was unfailingly wise and insightful, unselfish and giving, gentle and empathic, inspiring and uplifting. Even more remarkably, Motty had the singular capacity to be, at one and the same time, old and young, serious and playful, devout and funny, iron-willed and open-minded. Come what may, we were certain of one constant in our social venue, and that was Motty’s inviolate wisdom and mirth. For many of us, the human landscape has become increasingly vacuous and desolate, such that our daily journey into the blizzard of life is overcast with frightening shadows. Given all that, it is evident that we will not easily be consoled over Motty's death. What little solace we can salvage from the embers in our now darkened fireplace suggest that we must collectively deepen our resolve to rekindle a fire, a steadfast fire, in our own hearth. It must be a blaze which will defy the winds of our times, to offer the promise of warmth and hope, of caring and giving, to the many pilgrims who brave the blizzards of life. It will not and cannot be Motty's radiant fire, but we may yet be able to offer life's weary travelers the anticipation that when they come home, a bright cheerful light will greet them and a warm fire will be blazing in their hearth.

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